The Taking of Power by Louis XIV
After the death of Cardinal Mazarin, young king Louis XIV decides to assert his power to control the aristocracy.After the death of Cardinal Mazarin, young king Louis XIV decides to assert his power to control the aristocracy.After the death of Cardinal Mazarin, young king Louis XIV decides to assert his power to control the aristocracy.
Rossellini, in obedience to the rules of Italian realism, looked for someone who looked like Louis XIV as he conceived him to be. He found him with mailman Patte. Unfortunately, he misunderstood his history. We know that Louis XIV was probably no taller than 5 foot 4 inches. We also know that in later life the king tended to be pudgy, but this was not true or at least not reported by our sources. In fact, from age 16 until age 31 Louis XIV was a dancer who performed in court ballets. No one describes him as being fat. Patte is a pudgy short man by our standards today. What Rossellini either did not know or chose to omit is that all Frenchmen in the seventeenth century were short by our standards. Thus, in this film we see a short fat king of seventeenth century size striding amidst twentieth-century actors. If he wanted to show Louis XIV in real size, he should have made everyone else seventeenth century size.
The film does a good job at showing the atmosphere at the death of Mazarin and the king's efforts to make his court in his image. Unfortunately, the lack of budget shows when the king tries to instill some majesty. He is reduced to wearing ribbons rather than sporting jewelry and fine clothing. Also, the surroundings are rather bland, like they look today, rather than resplendent with decoration and luxury.
Rossellini makes his points and the film works for educational purposes but there is no real drama. Everything moves slowly. The viewer is left wondering what is happening and why should we be watching.
- Mar 14, 2004