Based on the novel of the same name by Maurice Druon, Les Rois maudits (The Cursed Kings) is the second television adaptation of this seven-volume book which is widely agreed to be an ... See full summary »
Based on the novel of the same name by Maurice Druon, Les Rois maudits (The Cursed Kings) is the second television adaptation of this seven-volume book which is widely agreed to be an accurate representation of actual events. It is the early 1300's and the treasury of France, under the rule of Philippe IV (Philippe le Bel or Philippe the Beautiful), is empty. The king decides the only solution is to raid the treasures of the Knights Templar (amongst others) and concocts various charges of treason, heresy and deviance against the Knights and their Grand Master Jacques de Molay. Having confessed under torture to the crimes of which he is accused, de Molay is condemned to be burned at the stake. With his dying breath he curses the king, the king's advisor (Guillaume de Nogaret), the pope (Pope Clement V) and the thirteen succeeding generations of their families. There follows one of the most dramatic periods in French history, half a century of political intrigue, murder, treason, war ... Written by
Basically, because they could. The original series was and probably still is the best and most literate TV series ever made on this planet. The producers of this remake kept, for the most part, the very same dialogs, which is a very good thing, but have also shortened and simplified them (a.k.a. dumbing down), which robs the characters of their individuality and turns them into soap opera nimrods. They also "glamourized" many parts and replaced the very stylized, evocative and economical sets of the first series - which truly channelled the spirit of medieval illustrations while giving precedence to the acting, the character development, the story and the costumes - with impressive 3-D sets and some amazing CGI work and special effects. What they couldn't replace was Jean Piat's and Hélène Duc's talent and presence. The new cast is stellar but today's actors just pale by comparison with what came before... Whereas Hélène Duc was malevolence incarnate, Jeanne Moreau just aged badly and is scary to look at... They also couldn't replace Georges Delerue's genius in the music department and they used every opportunity given them to show every execution, rape, hanging, torture scene, burning at the stake, etc. in lurid and sadistic detail, something they learned from the so-called euro historical dramas of the last decade, which I call the history-as-a-series-of-body-fluids school and which owes more to Quentin Tarantino than Maurice Druon. What was only suggested is now shown without any shame or embarrassment. I'm not sure this is progress. But you'll certainly get a great many people riveted to their TV screens and maybe get a few of them to actually buy and read the book when they are sufficiently recovered from the shock...
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