Royal Affairs In Versailles

  • 1953
  • 2 HR 32 MIN
  • NR
  • Historical

An impressive historical document which stars not Welles, Colbert, Aumont, or writer-director Guitry, but the Palace of Versailles itself. The magnificent decor, which is both amazing and repulsive at the same time, appears as it did in the late 1700s before the peasants took it upon themselves to revolt. Guitry, France's most historically minded filmmaker,...read more

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An impressive historical document which stars not Welles, Colbert, Aumont, or writer-director Guitry, but the Palace of Versailles itself. The magnificent decor, which is both amazing and repulsive at the same time, appears as it did in the late 1700s before the peasants took it upon

themselves to revolt. Guitry, France's most historically minded filmmaker, was the first to receive permission to film at Versailles (THE THREE MUSKETEERS was also shot there in 1973). The idea of the film is to trace the history of the great palace beginning with its construction by Louis le Vau

and J.H. Mansart (played by Jean-Louis Allibert and Pierre Lord) through its occupation by the young Louis XIV (Marchal), the older Louis XIV (Guitry), and the revolution of Louis XVI (Boka). We also see visits made by Welles' Ben Franklin, Gravet's Moliere, Queant's Racine, as well as countless

other French historical figures. However, instead of a strict historical lecture, ROYAL AFFAIRS AT VERSAILLES underlines the ambiguities of the word "affair." Guitry has admitted that he is less concerned with accuracy than with the period's atmosphere or, using his word, its "heart." It is of no

importance to Guitry that though Robespierre and Marie Antoinette never met, they do in the film. The joy Guitry finds is in imagining what would have occurred had they met. This rather scandalous approach to history was not met with approval by the committee in charge of Versailles. Whether or

not the film stays faithful to documents and chronology is unimportant; what makes ROYAL AFFAIRS AT VERSAILLES so interesting is that the audience feels it's visited Versailles during the 1700s. Originally released in France in 1953 at 165 minutes. (In French, English subtitles.)

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