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Last Days of Louis XIV

Albert Serra
La Mort de Louis XIV
France, Spain, Portugal 2016 / 115’

The King is dead, long live Jean-Pierre Léaud! Following screenings at Cannes of The Last Days of Louis XIV, critics wrote that this was the role of a lifetime for one of the iconic actors of the French New Wave, who received a lifetime achievement award in Cannes. His face, which matured right along with each subsequent film by Truffaut, Godard, Eustache, Tsai, becomes motionless in Serra's film, fading and dying in a purple-and-gold fabric, wrapped in an absurd sheepskin wig. Serra shuns naturalism, focusing instead on the contrast between the immobilization of the patient and his inescapably progressive disease, between the body that is starting to decompose and attempts to maintain some semblance of regal taste during the ritual. He creates scenes inspired by 17th-century painting, filled with whispering servants and warm candlelight. The screenplay, based on medical reports and the memoirs of Saint-Simon, deals with the last days of the Sun King, dying of gangrene in the presence of helpless doctors. As usual with Serra, one of the leading neo-modernists in European cinema, the historical context is just a pretext for telling a story, in the spirit of Bresson's "pure cinema," about universal aspects of human life.

Agnieszka Szeffel

Albert Serra

A Catalonian director and producer, was born in Banyoles in 1975. He studied Spanish and Comparative Philology at the University of Barcelona. His second film, Quixotic/Honor de Cavelleria, a loose adaptation of the story of Don Quixote, appeared in the section Quinzaine des Réalisateurs at Cannes in 2006. Serra’s second film of 2008, Birdsong, found itself in the program Un Certain Regard, a prestigious section of the Cannes festival, and it was also recognized as the best Catalonian film of the year.

Filmography

2003 Crespiá

2006 Honor rycerza / Honor de cavallería / Honor of the Knights

2008 Śpiew ptaków / El cant dels ocells / Birdsong

2010 Els noms de Crist / The Names of Christ

2013 Historia mojej śmierci / Història de la meva mort / The Story of My Death

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Official site

Cast & Crew

director Albert Serra
screenplay Albert Serra, Thierry Lounas
cinematography Jonathan Ricquebourg
editing Ariadna Ribas, Artur Tort, Albert Serra
cast Jean-Pierre Léaud, Patrick d'Assumçao, Irène Silvagni, Bernard Belin, Marc Susini
producer Thierry Lounas, Joaquim Sapinho, Claire Bonnefoy, Montse Triola
production Capricci Films, Andergraun Films, Rosa Filmes, Bobi Lux
Polish distributor Stowarzyszenie Nowe Horyzonty
language French
colouration colour