Sunday, February 5, 2017

Versailles - For Francophiles Only?

J'aime la France. J'aime tout sur la France.

Did you get that? Maybe not all of it, but the general gist. With that said, I enjoyed the first season of Versailles very much. It tells of the obstacles faced by Louis XIV of France as he struggled to build the Palace of Versailles in his ancestral hunting lodge. The project is intended as a sign of a strong France in the face of the discontented and divided nobility as well as foreign enemies-England and the Netherlands most prominently.

The royal family
I enjoyed the portrayal of the sun king before he was the sun king, seeing him more human and vulnerable to powerful influences and oppositional forces all around him. In that very complex tale, we have several interesting characters: country nobles who want Louis to go back to Paris and stay there, people who stay close for the sake of spying, mistresses vying for Louis's favor, an unfaithful queen, the king's brother (Duke de Orleans) who struggles with his own aspirations, a war veteran serving as royal gardener who seems to have gained the king's ear, the doctor's daughter who knows more about medicine than he does...and the list goes on and on. But because they're all staying in the same vicinity, they don't have divergent storylines that you only get a bit of once in a while. Their stories revolve around Louis, with him at the center of every episode-as well he should be. The result was that each episode was well balanced, and I watched the entire first season in two or three seamless sittings. Each individual episode had enough connecting threads and plot twists to goad you into a binge.

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The sun is always shining in the king's garden. Me, on my 5th
wedding anniversary
The production values for the most part are excellent-the wigs on the king and the duke make me flaming mad that this is no longer fashionable, and the costumes are phenomenal, right down to the lowliest servant. Although, the colors of their most resplendent set are usually very muted, like the sun never shines in France, which is simply not true. My one other complaint is the amount of sex in the storyline. It needed to be there to an extent to establish relationships, but it was saturated, to the point of being gratuitous. Perhaps the writers were thinking it would help people understand Versailles as decadent, but I could have gotten that with a third of the trysts I was privy to.

I will absolutely be watching the upcoming seasons, but there is something that makes me wonder whether people who only have a shrugging interest in France or its history will enjoy this as much as I did. If that's the case...c'est la vie.

Rating: 8/10

1 comment:

  1. Your reviews of televisions shows are great. Do you have any plans to review Stranger Things? Would love to hear your take!