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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
Doing a remake of Les Rois Maudits is a little like doing a remake of Citizen Kane. You've got an awful lot of pressure! The text is powerful but most of the actors can't get a hold of it. Mind you, the producers have mostly hired good actors, but in many instances (Philippe Torreton for example), they can't get inside their characters, because it's not in their range. Others, like Julie Depardieu or Jeanne Moreau in some instances, are just pathetic!
Josée Dayan, the director, has a reputation for not taking many shots, so that the actors play on their "first energy". The result is interesting in some scenes, but you often get the feeling that there isn't any actor direction at all, which is very dangerous with this text, which requires some kind of classical training for the actors (No wonder the best actor was Eric Ruf, of La Comédie Française).
No wonder why in most stores in Paris you see more space for the 1972 version than for this year's!
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