10 Reasons Why You Should Watch ‘Le Roi danse’ (and if you already have, you should watch it again!)
Film synopsis from Wikipedia: The film, presenting libertine and pagan Lully as a natural ally of the early Enlightenment figure Louis XIV of France in his conflicts with the Catholic establishment, focuses on Lully’s personal and possibly romantic relationship with the King, as well as his camaraderie with Molière and rivalry with Robert Cambert.
1) It’s a superb movie. It’s cinematically intriguing and breathtaking. There are some intriguing themes about love and loyalty, as well as deity, religion and the Enlightenment. Also the visuals are to die for (gif source):
2) Just the ballet scenes in general. The dancing is so on point and fascinating! Not to mention there’s a lot going on with Louis and ballet, how it’s for his glory, but how he argues he’s using it to ease poltiical tensions. Plus, it’s King Louis XIV doing ballet (gif source):
3) The acting is so on point, SO much talent. Benoît Magimel’s portrayal of Louis’s transition from artistic rebel to, after his mother’s death, grim stoic is astounding. There’s also Tchéky Karyo as a charming, sympathetic, and very human Molière. His performance is somehow poignant in how natural it is. My personal favorite was Boris Terral’s performance as Lully, though. You can just tell he lived and breathed that role (He also looks like how I imagine Camille Desmoulins on a good day). (gif source):
4) The costumes are amazing. You also get to see many of Louis’s ballet costumes in stunning historical accuracy:
5) The relationships between the characters are compelling. The combative relationship between Louis and his mother, between Madeleine Lambert (Lully’s wife) and the composer Cambert, between opera singer Julie (who is Madeleine’s neice!) and Lully…and many more. My personal favorites, however, are Lully and Molière’s friendship, and the complex relationship between Lully and the King. So much so that they earn their own bullet points.
6) Lully and Molière’s friendship is great. Yes it goes sour, which is very dramatic in of itself, but their friendship is quite charming. There’s even scene where they basically (jokingly?) get married:
7) There’s also Lully’s feelings toward King Louis, which are a huge driving force for the movie. It’s not even subtext that Lully has romantic feelings for him. It’s shown outright when Lully leaves his wife in labor to go to the King’s rescue. It’s stated outright when Lully declares that he loves only the King.
8) Which brings me to this film’s treatment of sexuality. A treatment that, actually, is fairly historically accurate. Lully sleeps with women, but also participates in the ‘Italian manners’ aka same-sex sexuality between men. He even refers to a particular marquis’s page as ‘lovely as a girl, better than a girl’.
Some admonish Lully for his proclivities.
Others don’t mind. And others completely accept it. His wife is well aware of it, and doesn’t condemn him for it. There are spaces where Lully can entertain these passions, and others where he can’t. This is quite in line with history at the time. And although historically it was infrequently invoked, the capital punishment for sodomy is referenced:
So basically lots of bonus points for that. Although, we don’t get to see Louis’s brother Philippe, who historically had a vast preference for men and was connected with many men of the court who has similar preferences. Lully and Philippe knew each other in real life, so it would’ve been nice to see that interaction in the movie.
9) Which brings us to the skillful blending of fact and fiction. Molière’s death, as portrayed in the film, really did happen. Lully really was admonished for his same-sex activities. Lully really was that cutthroat about his relationship with the King. However, like movies such as Amadeus, there is a blending of fact and fiction. Gaps are filled in, in manners that can be debated as to their historical accuracy. Nonetheless it’s a skillful blend that maintains an amount of historical accuracy but also cinematic drama.
10) It’s easyto watch, since it’s on Youtube. The movie is in French, and there are English subtitles.
On May 14th, 1643, Louis XIII died, leaving his five-year-old son Louis XIV on the throne. Louis XIV, also popularly known as the Sun King (5 September 1638–1 September 1715) was the King of France and King of Navarre from 14 May 1643 until his death. He was a king for 72 years, the longest recorded rule of any European monarch, and is often seen as the typical example of absolutism.