Saturday, December 11, 2010

Roberto Rossellini - La Prise de pouvoir par Louis XIV AKA The Rise of Louis XIV [+Extras] (1966)

Given the opportunity to turn out a Sacha Guitry-style spectacle, director Roberto Rossellini charts his own neorealist course for The Rise of Louis XIV. It's as if a documentary cameraman was let loose in the royal court of the 17th Century Sun King, here played by Jean-Marie Patte. The use of unfamiliar actors in the major roles adds to the film's realism. Though shown to be the product of a decadent lifestyle, Louis is depicted as being trapped by his royalty, forced in spite of himself to be a raconteur and trendsetter. The Rise of Louis XIV was one of several innovative films made for French television by the Italian Rossellini.

Historical background, by metalluk

Roberto Rossellini was a trend setter as a filmmaker but never felt compelled to stand by his own trends indefinitely. His films date from the beginning of the 1940’s but he first made his mark on the industry with Open City, a film about the Italian resistance using footage of actual actions undertaken by resistance fighters in Rome. Open City is often cited as the film that inaugurated the Italian film movement that became known as Neorealism. Rossellini followed that remarkable success with another in 1946, Paisan, that portrayed the allied liberation of Sicily through a series of vignettes. The Rise of Louis XIV, by contrast, was from the last phase of Rossellini’s career, when he had turned to making epic films for television. This is perhaps the best of the films from this late phase of Rosselini’s work. He died in 1977.

The importance of Louis XIV (1638-1715) as an historic figure can hardly be overstated. He succeeded to the throne at age five but during his minority, France was effectively governed by Cardinal Jules Mazarin, who served as prime minister from 1643 until his death in 1661. Louis married in 1660 to Marie Thérèse, the daughter of Philip IV of Spain, but pursued affairs for years with a number of women of his court. After Mazarin’s death, Louis surprised the nobility by declaring his intention to act thereafter as his own prime minister. The principal theme of his reign and the present film parallels that explored in Eisenstein’s biographical film Ivan the Terrible (see my review at Eisenstein: The Sound Years), namely, consolidation of power in the central monarchy at the expense of the aristocracy. Interestingly, the results were similar in each case. Centralization of power benefited the masses of each country initially and brought Russia (in Ivan’s case) and France (in Louis’s instance) into international prominence and a modernized standing. The arts were benefited in each country by the power vested in the central court. With full consolidation of power, however, both Ivan and Louis engaged in reckless international adventurism, involving their respective countries in destructive conflicts and losing war efforts that resulted in slaughter of countless soldiers and, ultimately, national impoverishment.

As a personality, however, there is no denying that Louis personified royal brilliance. He became known as the “Sun King” because of the majestic glamour of his court. He used image and fashion in a way that is today more characteristic of film stars and rock idols to become the focal point of all activities within France. Louis became The State in a way few rulers have ever been. Over the course of his 72 year reign, he took a country that was in shambles, created a golden era of financial reform, modernization, and artistic expression, and then, finally, left his country in shambles once again at the end of the War of Spanish Succession (1701-1714). He reigned for so long a period of time that is was his great-grandson, Louis XV (1710-1774) who ultimately succeeded him followed by his triple-great-grandson, Louis XVI (1754-1793), who married Marie Antoinette. The inability of these successors to restore the finances or power of France or to improve the lot of the peasants led directly to the French Revolution in which Louis XVI lost his head to the guillotine.

Taking Power - A multimedia essay put together by Rossellini expert Tag Gallagher is both a mini commentary on the film and a summary of Rossellini's historical period. Using clips from this film and many others, as well as the occasional painting of real historical figures and photographs of Rossellini at work, Gallagher explains the director's intention with the movie and the overall thematic arc of these later films. He also explains how some of the distancing effect of Patte's acting was by design, and how Rossellini conversely used inventive camera technology to move in closer. (
Interview with Renzo Rossellini - son of Roberto and often his assistant or second-unit director, explains why Rossellini moved to television and the strange conditions of shooting The Taking of Power, and Renzo shares an anecdote about taking over the filming of the dining room scene. (
Interview with Jean-Dominque de La Rochefoucauld and Michelle Podroznik - artistic advisor La Rochefoucauld and script supervisor Podroznik explain some of the origins of the project, Rossellini's working methods, special effects, and how and why the film differs some from history. They also cover some of the same ground as the younger Rossellini in terms of the elder's view of television as a tool. One must wonder what Roberto Rossellini would think of the many new delivery systems available today in terms of reaching people and using film to educate. ( Prise de pouvoir par Louis XIV (Roberto Rossellini, 1966).part01.rar Prise de pouvoir par Louis XIV (Roberto Rossellini, 1966).part02.rar Prise de pouvoir par Louis XIV (Roberto Rossellini, 1966).part03.rar Prise de pouvoir par Louis XIV (Roberto Rossellini, 1966).part04.rar Prise de pouvoir par Louis XIV (Roberto Rossellini, 1966).part05.rar Prise de pouvoir par Louis XIV (Roberto Rossellini, 1966).part06.rar Prise de pouvoir par Louis XIV (Roberto Rossellini, 1966).part07.rar Prise de pouvoir par Louis XIV (Roberto Rossellini, 1966).part08.rar Prise de pouvoir par Louis XIV (Roberto Rossellini, 1966).part09.rar Prise de pouvoir par Louis XIV (Roberto Rossellini, 1966).part10.rar Prise de pouvoir par Louis XIV (Roberto Rossellini, 1966).part11.rar Prise de pouvoir par Louis XIV (Roberto Rossellini, 1966).part12.rar Prise de pouvoir par Louis XIV (Roberto Rossellini, 1966).part13.rar Prise de pouvoir par Louis XIV (Roberto Rossellini, 1966).part14.rar Prise de pouvoir par Louis XIV (Roberto Rossellini, 1966).part15.rar Prise de pouvoir par Louis XIV (Roberto Rossellini, 1966).part16.rar

included: English [SRT]
For Spanish
no pass