Previously at the ICA - Films
14 Jul 2017 – 16 Aug 2017
It is August 1715 and Louis XIV feels a pain in his leg after a long walk. The next days, the king keeps fulfilling his duties and obligations, but his sleep is troubled and he has a serious fever. He barely eats and weakens increasingly. This is the start of the slow agony of the King of France from gangrene. Surrounded by his doctors and closest advisors, he speaks in frantic, whispered tones about their options with little knowledge of his illness.
Albert Serra's new film, The Death of Louis XIV, is an adaptation of the Duc de Saint-Simon’s memoirs, starring Jean-Pierre Léaud as the Sun-King. The cult actor, who worked with all major directors from the Nouvelle Vague after being discovered in François Truffaut's The 400 Blows, plays the dying king who can barely move from his bed in the Château de Versailles. His relatives and his closest counsellors come in turns at his bedside, but he attends only a few meetings and can hardly rule his kingdom. His secret wife Madame de Maintenon and his doctor Fagon dread his last breath, and try to hide it from the public to preserve the future of France. Shot in rich colour with extraordinary lighting, Jean-Pierre Léaud, in his costume, hair and poses, fully embodies the last few days of the longest serving king of France, who, with his seventy two years in power, changed the face of the monarchy and of France.
The Death of Louis XIV, dir. Albert Serra, France-Portugal-Spain 2016, 115 mins, French and Latin with English subtitles, certificate 12A
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