Vatel is the cook of Prince Condé. When the prince invites Louis XIV to hunt, he has to give lavish banquets in order to fall in his favor. But when Vatel falls in love with the king's mistress, love and duty come into conflict.
In 1671, with war brewing with Holland, a penniless prince invites Louis XIV to three days of festivities at a chateau in Chantilly. The prince wants a commission as a general, so the extravagances are to impress the king. In charge of all is the steward, Vatel, a man of honor, talent, and low birth. The prince is craven in his longing for stature: no task is too menial or dishonorable for him to give Vatel. While Vatel tries to sustain dignity, he finds himself attracted to Anne de Montausier, the king's newest mistress. In Vatel, she finds someone who's authentic, living out his principles within the casual cruelties of court politics. Can the two of them escape unscathed?Written by
The film opened the 2000 Cannes Film Festival. See more »
Effiat quotes Melville's Captain Ahab (Moby Dick) when playing with the whale, but it was another 200 years before Melville wrote Moby Dick. See more »
Harmony and contrast. All beauty comes from these two things. You see, Colin, few object are beautiful or ugly of themselves. To know that is the beginning of being an artist.
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I simply never get enough of this film. It's one of the few that I have to re-watch, every so often.
Now, one of the things that struck me most strongly was the fact of Vatel and Anne's goodness -- this, in spite of where Louis' example might have led them -- with the people who worked with them.
The scenes with Vatel and Colin; with Anne and Louise... especially the one where Louise drops the vase that Vatel sent to Anne (and Anne says "It's alright, Louise... it's alright") ... these are made almost painfully beautiful by the contrasting scenes with the aristocrats running amok.
But, Vatel's words come back to me here: "Harmony and Contrast -- All beauty comes from those two things".
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