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Jefferson in Paris (1995)

One of the obsessive speculations in American history is whether Thomas Jefferson, in the years before he became president, had an affair with (and fathered a child with) his 15-year-old ... See full summary »

Director:

James Ivory

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2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Nick Nolte ... Thomas Jefferson
Gwyneth Paltrow ... Patsy Jefferson
Estelle Eonnet Estelle Eonnet ... Polly Jefferson
Thandie Newton ... Sally Hemings
Seth Gilliam ... James Hemings
Todd Boyce ... William Short
Nigel Whitmey Nigel Whitmey ... John Trumbull
Nicolas Silberg Nicolas Silberg ... Monsieur Petit
Catherine Samie ... Cook
Lionel Robert Lionel Robert ... Cook's Helper
Stanislas Carré de Malberg ... Surgeon
Jean Rupert Jean Rupert ... Surgeon
Yvette Petit Yvette Petit ... Dressmaker
Paolo Mantini Paolo Mantini ... Hairdresser
Frédéric van den Driessche ... Mutilated Officer (as F. van den Driessche)
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Storyline

One of the obsessive speculations in American history is whether Thomas Jefferson, in the years before he became president, had an affair with (and fathered a child with) his 15-year-old slave Sally Hemings. JEFFERSON IN PARIS follows Jefferson to France (as the U.S. ambassador to the court of Louis XVI), following the death of his wife his friendships and flirtations with the French, his relationship with his daughters and slaves from home (especially Sally), against the backdrop of the beginning of the French Revolution. Written by Michael C. Berch <mcb@postmodern.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for mature theme, some images of violence and a bawdy puppet show | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | France

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

31 March 1995 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Jefferson em Paris See more »

Filming Locations:

France See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$14,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$61,349, 31 March 1995, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$2,474,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Sally Hemmings' gown made from the patterned gray fabric selected by Thomas Jefferson and Mrs. Cosway is the same costume worn by Jessica Oyelowo (Sarah) in Sleepy Hollow (1999), and by Billie Piper (Fanny Price) during the play rehearsal scene in Mansfield Park (2007). See more »

Goofs

There are many references to Italy, which did not exist until 1880 except as a collection of independent States. See more »

Quotes

Thomas Jefferson: Independence is not a toy for children to play with, but the privilege of a fully matured mind.
See more »


Soundtracks

Dardanus (excerpts)
Music by Antonio Sacchini
Performed by Jean-Paul Fouchécourt (tenor) with Les Arts Florissants
Conducted by William Christie
See more »

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User Reviews

The brand new world...
28 March 2002 | by dbdumonteilSee all my reviews

...and the old one collapsing.How tempting!Jefferson,who epitomizes democracy and freedom visiting the old wreck,France on the eve of revolution.

Ivory's precedent works were masterpieces (Howards end and remnants of the day)but they took place in England and they were not really historical,even if "remnants" made a fine blend of the historical background with the storybook elements.When it comes to history,and mainly French history,all we get here is a full load of clichés:Marie-Antoinette, playing with her flock of sheep,Doctor Guillotin,showing his new machine (he used to say that the condemned person could feel a nice fresh sensation before dying!),La Fayette and his wife Adrienne,and of course,the de rigueur lines (c'est une révolte?Non sire,c'est une révolution").The only daring gesture,so to speak,is the puppet theater,but even that was already in Ettore Scola's "la nuit de Varennes",(1982)with much more finesse,at that.A lot of French actors appear,which is the least Ivory could do but they are not always well cast:Michel Lonsdale is a very competent one,but he's too old to be a credible king (64 when Louis XVI was about 30!)Charlotte de Turckheim is an ugly Marie-Antoinette and some scenes in which she appears ,probably influenced by "Fellini-Casanova" (1977),do not help. This is Jean-Pierre Aumont's farewell to the screen (he was in Carné's "hotel du nord" in 1938!)in a very small part:I thought he was playing Mirabeau,but actually it's an obscure D'Hancarville.Lambert Wilson ,on the other hand,is a good choice for La Fayette,but h,most of the time,he's reduced to a walk-on.

As for the American side of the story,of course,Ivory focuses on slavery,and deservedly so.The French cannot understand that a country so in love with freedom could approve of such a thing.But it finally boils down to Nolte-and-black babe affair and it's overlong and tedious.The first scene between Jefferson and the abbess promised great things.But it's a disappointment when they meet again towards the end.

All in all,this is a lavish production,which is sometimes entertaining,but which lacks epic strength and has missed its date with

destiny.


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