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Louis XVI in film

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Louis XVI in film

Post  Sophie on Thu May 30, 2013 5:14 pm

"Louis XVI, l'homme qui ne voulait pas être roi!"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5g9EuXPtR0

Here in this forum we've already had some discussions about which actors/actresses seem to be the most authentic in the role of the royal family. I stated somewhere that I can't find my perfect Antoinette, but now I found at least a Louis (Gabriel Dufay) that resembles the most of the Louis XVI in my head, if we talk about faces and general manners. I have the feeling that the casting was influenced by this portrait:



I don't know if it's a good film or not, for I don't understand a single word from it Laughing It's a part of some documentary series which handle with the kings of France during the Versailles period. Sadly, because of the limitations based on the series, it shows nothing about the revolution or about Louis' childhood and youth, but I've read in some German-speaking forums that it destroys at least some stereotypes about the poor King. And I simply like the idea of making Louis the protagonist, after so many films having left his character in an unconcerned role behind Antoinette...

What's your opinion? Do you like this actor or would you prefer someone else in the role of Louis? Smile
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Re: Louis XVI in film

Post  Elena on Thu May 30, 2013 8:20 pm

C'est magnifique! cheers What a wonderful portrayal of Louis XVI! Thank you, dear Sophie, for sharing this with us. And thank you for starting this thread! He was an idealistic young king who wanted more than anything else to help his people.

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Re: Louis XVI in film

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Sun Jun 29, 2014 11:16 pm

Yes! I love this look for Louis!! Very tall and handsome Smile

Which other portrayals do you think are the best and most accurate?
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Re: Louis XVI in film

Post  Sophie on Mon Jun 30, 2014 7:44 pm

Kaitlyn Lauren wrote:Which other portrayals do you think are the best and most accurate?

Antoine Gouy in L'évasion de Louis XVI is also remarkable. Sadly, my only access to it are Youtube videos. This is probably the only movie where Louis is shown as an active character. Once he raises his sword when he seen his family in danger. His scenes with Antoinette are sparkling erotic and romantic - even if I think (from the trailer and the short Youtube cuts) that the film didn't miss the obligatory Fersen subplot.

Jean-François Balmer (The French Revolution) is also good, but he's a more passive and apathetic Louis. In this adaptation, everything is a bit too cold and emotionless for me, most of all Antoinette herself. And there's the guy from the new Farewell, my Queen-film, who looks quite similar to the portraits, but I don't know how he plays because of my aversion against the whole film.

There are, unfortunately, many inaccurate portrayals with typical errors in his appearance. Louis is sometimes too small (Coppola film 2006), too old (Jefferson in Paris - this guy was at least 60!) or unhealthy fat (documentary 2006). The older interpretations as well as those that are admittedly inauthentic, like the MA film from 1938 or Start the Revolution Without Me, portray him as a handicapped retard.

These many different interpretations clearly show that posterity knows nothing about this mysterious man. And it's also worth mentioning that nearly all films are Marie Antoinette-centered documentaries or biopics, and until now nobody found Louis' character exciting enough to make him the protagonist. Even the one with Dufay is only a third episode of a series after Louis XIV and Louis XV. I have many ideas for period dramas and/or screenplays starring Louis, but as I see it, nobody really cares...  Sad
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Re: Louis XVI in film

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Mon Jun 30, 2014 9:17 pm

I completely agree!!Smile

And I care!! I would LOVE to see more accurate portrayals of Louis. Do you have anyone in particular you think could do him justice?

He was better looking than most people show him. Of course, it matters much more than he was a good man. But still. It only makes the case for Fersen if he's shown as ugly in my opinion!

I agree about the actor who portrayed him in L'évasion de Louis XVI. Very handsome, noble, and brave. I do feel that he was a bit too jealous though and violent. And there was too much Fersen in it. But some of the parts with Louis and Antoinette were quite tender. Smile

I thought Jason Schwartman was cute as Louis but he was too short. Coppola's film was a great disappointment especially with the affair and portraying Louis an inept and disinterested in consummating the marriage.

Jean was a good Louis! But I agree, he seemed a little too apathetic. I didn't like Antoinette complaining to Fersen about Louis' indecisiveness. But otherwise, this was a decent series! He even had a higher, slightly nasally voice which Louis is said to have had. People just have seen this as a defect. But it could be because of his shyness. Although he spoke well and gave decent speeches despite "awkwardness." He could cut a regal figure when he wanted. He wasn't just a simpleton. Poor Louis. People redeem his wife at his expense but making him seem unpleasant.

I definitely agree with all you have said and wish there were better movies and biographies out there!
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Re: Louis XVI in film

Post  Sophie on Tue Jul 01, 2014 9:09 am

Kaitlyn Lauren wrote:Do you have anyone in particular you think could do him justice?

Honestly? Myself Laughing I've been planning to write a history play about him for a long time. (I had a strong desire to write my ideas down here, however I realized that want to protect them from all unknown people who might visit this site. But if anyone of the forum members is interested, I'll send it as a private message with pleasure.) The only reason why I didn't write it until then is the question of the language. Should I write it in Hungarian? My compatriots wouldn't care of it and other nations would be shut out of the whole thing. English? I have too many grammatical and terminology mistakes. German? Maybe... but then, what next? Is there any Austrian or German community who would have interest in it? French? Then I have to wait at least 10 years of learning language. Argh, it's so difficult to decide...
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Re: Louis XVI in film

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Wed Jul 02, 2014 5:57 pm

I think you could do it!! Smile

You could get away with doing it in any language you wish. It could always be translated later. I think it's quite impressive that you are well versed in multiple languages. Unfortunately, I am not. English is my native tongue and I can speak Spanish almost fluently and recognize some French words. That is all :/

What's interesting about "L'evasion de Louis XVI" is that it portrays him with quite a temper. Apparently this is true. It took a lot to set him off and when it did, it was pretty bad. But that goes for anyone honestly.

He was normally very mild-tempered and kind but I imagine when people messed with his family, he let it go as portrayed in some of these films. Rather interesting...MA was also rather mild except she was more outwardly emotional than her husband.
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Re: Louis XVI in film

Post  Sophie on Wed Jul 02, 2014 8:26 pm

Kaitlyn Lauren wrote:I think you could do it!! Smile

You could get away with doing it in any language you wish. It could always be translated later. I think it's quite impressive that you are well versed in multiple languages. Unfortunately, I am not. English is my native tongue and I can speak Spanish almost fluently and recognize some French words. That is all :/

I'll do it, then! Today I decided for German, my strongest and most beloved language after Hungarian. But don't underestimate yourself, it's very impressing that you can speak Spanish!  king 

Kaitlyn Lauren wrote:What's interesting about "L'evasion de Louis XVI" is that it portrays him with quite a temper. Apparently this is true. It took a lot to set him off and when it did, it was pretty bad. But that goes for anyone honestly.  

He was normally very mild-tempered and kind but I imagine when people messed with his family, he let it go as portrayed in some of these films. Rather interesting...MA was also rather mild except she was more outwardly emotional than her husband.

It's an interesting thread. Many biographers and journalists, who tend to portray Louis and Antoinette's marriage as bad, nearly always come with the argument of their differences up. The most negative way is probably a Joseph II biography of late historian Ferenc Fejtő, who not only sees Louis as some disabled idiot, but also assumes that Antoinette "luckily learned to split her roles as queen and woman" and had an affair with both Coigny and Fersen. Fejtő has the unwavering argument that Louis and Antoinette's downfall during the Revolution was a logical consequence of their disability to act together. (Again, all that stuff is written in a biography about Joseph II - I don't know why Fejtő cared about the French royals' psychology at all if it wasn't the main topic of his work.)

I think these kinds of arguments have many weak parts.
1. I think Louis and Antoinette learned exactly during the Revolution how to act together.
2. None of them did ever claim that their marriage is bad, nor was it the common perception in their age. (Ask Leopoldina, Empress of Brazil, who was cheated and beaten by his royal husband. Antoinette was a totally lucky one with a tender family man like Louis.)
3. Just because a man and a woman are different, it doesn't mean that their relationship cannot work out. And although they had different personalities and attributions, they were alike in the most important cases. Both of them wanted to help the poor, hated the Versailles Court, liked to live as a common man/woman, loved tenderly their children, had the same religion and ideology... in short, one can debate what makes a relationship good or bad, but their gap was probably not as deep as some biographers want to see.

The main difference lies it their introverted and extroverted character, respectively. Both of them were lonely and isolated in the crowd of the Court, but Antoinette reacted on it with a wish to make friends and organize friendly events, while Louis shut the world out and remained by himself. Antoinette was the talkative, satirical, openly honest one, while Louis the quiet, mysterious and misunderstood. Antoinette was an exhibitionist hobby musician and actress, while Louis had his lonely hobbies in his workroom and on horseback. During the Revolution, Antoinette was the one who exchanged lots of letters with foreign powers, but we know much less letters written by Louis. Result: there are tons of Marie-Antoinette biographies, because it's quite easy to get access to her. Louis, the mute one, is rarely the protagonist, only a 2D-skeched supporting character of the many popular MA books. Just because he rarely spoke his mind, rarely wrote some letters, and so he remained a mystery for the posterity.

As I think, from these two types of people, the open and talkative ones are emotionally and spiritually much more stable. If something matters to them, they speak it out loud, that's the reason why they don't have much psychic wounds. However, such people who don't really talk about their problems (and look "stronger") are in reality the instable ones: if something really bad happens, they collapse - jitter, shout, attack other people among them in various ways. I think this is what happened to Louis in 1789, by the time Louis-Joseph died and the state problems overgrew him. I can easily imagine how he could fall down and sob (like in the L'homme... film) or that he even had some aggressive reactions (like in L'évasion). This is the most important point of the royal family, if you ask me: on the surface, Antoinette was an annoying know-it-all, while Louis was the quiet and "dumb" one. But the poor man had so many psychical loads from his childhood on, continued during his whole life as King, that there was a point where he had to be held up by his wife - a woman with a healthy soul - in order to fight further.

I hope you'll understand what I'd like to say with these long thoughts Wink
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Re: Louis XVI in film

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Wed Jul 02, 2014 9:18 pm

I agree entirely with your assessment of their marriage!! Smile

Yes, they were different, but that's what makes their relationship so endearing. But Louis did have his moments when he showed emotion. And he and Antoinette both possessed a sense of humor as well as bluntness. Louis being an introvert certainly contributed to this quality. Vincent Cronin in his excellent biography speaks of this.

Some of Louis' brusque comments were just his way of expressing himself. He wasn't without sentiment or feeling. On the contrary, he was quite sensitive like his wife. He just learned to keep his feelings inside more. Many times I imagine he just didn't know what to say and so it came out wrong. And perhaps he appeared to lack grace and dignity because he was simple. Louis certainly wasn't a typical courtier, or a strutting popinjay.

He and Antoinette both had breakdowns from time to time and were both honest, straightforward people. This is one quality that endeared Louis to her. She had "German frankness" and could appreciate his own open attitude. I think she was fortunate too! He was a loving husband who indulged her and respected her.

People take issue with him for not involving her him politics. Well, she probably didn't care for them much anyway. And who could blame Louis? His ancestors had always been "controlled" by women and he had been raised to despise anything Austrian. It's understandable he was wary of letting Antoinette get too involved. Of course, he relied on her greatly later on. But I don't believe, as has been suggested, that she took advantage of his gentle nature and affection for her, trying to control him, nor do I think he was bossy or controlling of her. He most definitely was not abusive.

Yes, Louis had a difficult childhood and it shaped how he came to view things and express himself later. He and Antoinette's differences were not too great. Yes, she was more outgoing but I don't think she was bored by him or purposefully tried to avoid him. Perhaps they both acted immaturely at first and didn't spend enough time together but that can be blamed on youth. They needed time to get used to each other first. It understandable. And I don't believe she made jokes at his expense or that either one meant to come across as cold to the other.

I think Louis regretted very much that he didn't spend enough time with his wife but this was due to his work ethic and duty as King. As much as he loved his wife, he couldn't let that interfere with his work. They had their ups and downs, and their faults, as we all do, but they have been much maligned and deserve better. And I definitely agree with your assessment about Louis not being the "dumb" one. He was a quiet and intelligent man. But also humble.

There were many instances where he did show himself to be warm and compassionate. I think they both were a mix of both. I'm sure even Antoinette, charming as she was, went through phases where she may not have been in the best of moods. Considering how much they were scrutinized it's no wonder they might have appeared distant!

They both longed for a peaceful life surrounded by friends and family. Yes, they were both devoted parents and devour Catholics. Certainly their youthful differences and faults are far less in number than their simularities and virtues.
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Re: Louis XVI in film

Post  Sophie on Wed Jan 28, 2015 4:01 pm

Some months ago, I wished that the 'Louis XVI, l'homme qui ne voulait pas être roi!'-docu will be translated in English someday. Today, I found the much shorter English version.

Results (I will totally suprise you Laughing ):
- It's shorter because they cut the film into pieces and show randomly chosen scenes. Betwen these scenes, contemporary experts are talking, instead of the original one where the story wasn't interrupted this way.
- After 4 minutes, they are immediately discussing the royal couple's sex life, and that all must have been Louis' fault. (Zweig, would you stop haunting us? Razz ) I don't know if this topic is coming up in the French version at all.
- They invited Fraser as a talking head. FRASER, who is so stuck on Zweig and who didn't write a word on Louis XVI, only in the context of Antoinette. And she is the "expert" they ganied for a stereotype-fighting docu about Louis. No, say it's not true.
If they wanted experts, why not inviting someone who wrote a bio on Louis XVI himself? Someone who tries to understand him a bit deeper than focusing on his genitals. Who understands that this docu is about the French political situation and Louis' struggles with it in the eve of the Revolution, and not the hundredth Coppola copy. In short, this is horrible. If there is a good one-hour film, they split it to pieces and spread the same old misbeliefs and narrow focus for the hundredth time... Sad
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Re: Louis XVI in film

Post  Elena on Sun Feb 01, 2015 4:14 pm

I am so disappointed to hear this! No Especially when there are amazing authors who have written so clearly that one can have no doubt of the truth of their research. The works of Petitfils and Philippe Delorme show how the medical reports state that Louis had no phimosis and that it was Antoinette's problem that prevented the full consummation of the marriage. I am so tired of this nonsense. Sleep

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Re: Louis XVI in film

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Sun Feb 01, 2015 5:48 pm

Oh good Lord. Will this ever end? Mad  And why so much speculation about their intimate life anyway? Ok so, I'm guilty of it too but mine is for pure curiosity ( I want to know the answer to everything, even it's it is unanswerable) and I have genuine curiosity because I love them as a couple and hope they did have a romantic marriage. It's clear they did have a happy and loving one despite the differences.

But yes, the phimosis theory is so old. Even my college professor ascribes to it, sheesh! And I'm disappointed to see that they cut out some parts from the French version. Neutral That one had some lovely moments. Particularly with Antoinette comforting her husband or that lovely part where she is shown pregnant with little Sophie and the couple is with their other three children. Very Happy Why, oh why, are these things omitted?

At least Fraser says there was no operation. But Lisa Hilton, referencing Joseph's letter and laughing at the king for his supposed ignorance in sexual matters, was not nice at all! affraid I think they did make an attempt to show Louis as well meaning and in a sympathetic light though. And I like the idea of him as a protagonist and not simply as a secondary character in Antoinette's story.
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Re: Louis XVI in film

Post  Elena on Sun Feb 01, 2015 6:24 pm

Philippe Delorme says that Louis would never have told Joseph any of the private matter that Joseph put in that letter and that Joseph was just gleaning things he had heard at court for Leopold's amusement.

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Re: Louis XVI in film

Post  Kaitlyn Lauren on Sun Feb 01, 2015 6:59 pm

I would agree with that! It seems very unlikely that Louis would have confided in his brother-in-law like that, being so explicit about their martial relations. And I think Joseph is wrong to assume what he did. At some point, it would have become instinctual for them despite their inexperience and innocence. And the King was intelligent enough to understand how it all worked!
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