La prise de pouvoir par Louis XIV (Criterion DVD, 2008)
Directed by Roberto Rossellini
In French with English subtitles
For an altogether different take on the accumulation of power and wealth from an Italian filmmaker, you could do a whole lot worse than to sit down with this Roberto Rossellini-directed period piece originally produced for French TV in 1966. While Louis XIV has all the bad hair and gaudy finery of a generic costume drama, Rossellini's approach is anything but pedestrian. Drawing a Machiavelli-like bead on the 17th-century king's gradual transformation from a fun-loving mama's boy into the monarch who really stuck it to the French aristocracy, the director craftily constructs a meditation on both the nature and the trappings of power that's way more interesting than the silly looking photo below might lead you to believe. Since pudgy, non-professional actor Jean-Marie Patte is something of a revelation as the Sun King, an unexpected bonus from the extra features on this disc is learning how Rossellini channeled Patte's on-camera jitters and inability to remember his lines into a performance that's something special--how funny to think that what looks like supremely regal indifference on Louis XIV's part might be largely due to stage fright from the actor playing him! A minor gem. (http://www.criterion.com/)
Review of “Only The Hunted Run” by Neely Tucker
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