“The Death of Louis XIV”tells the last period of the French King Louis XIV in the early eighteenth century. The king, who is usually prestigious, is unable to govern because of illness, so he can only recuperate in the dim bedroom.
Louis XIV, who originally thought he could return to the throne immediately, did not expect death.
The original hope became despair as the condition deteriorated: hope disappeared, appetite disappeared, soul disappeared.
Louis XIV was weakened, aged, and died under the witness of his entourage, harem, relatives and friends, and doctors.
The scene of the movie is very single, and all shooting is done in the king’s bedroom.
Director Albert Serra rented a castle in Europe to complete the filming. All the props in the room were arranged later, but the shooting angle was very variable.
The film centers on the bed of Louis XIV and narrates around the bed. It can be said to be a complete single room film.
Albert Serra made a historical drama about death as early as 2013, called “Història de la meva mort”.
Although the subject matter of the film is very serious, Albert Serra continues his style as always, adding a comedy element to the historical drama.
Both movies have a strong sense of calm and even suffocation, making people afraid to breathe.
“The Death of Louis XIV” hasn’t circulated from the beginning to the 60th minute, and the atmosphere in the theater is still.
Albert Serra uses a long lens to stretch people’s patience. The audience waits for the next second of surprise, but often the characters just continue ordinary trivial things again after experiencing this silence.
People can’t help but laugh at their misunderstanding of characters: people always expect more from historical figures.
At the same time, the protagonist and the supporting characters around him are full of sharp contrasts and contradictions. Louis XIV’s stubbornness and even the childish and blind worship of the attendants make people cold.
Whenever the character’s sense of gap appears, the sense of history disappears, and the audience can imagine the boss, neighbors and even partners as Louis XIV.
Albert Serra can resonate with the least familiar subject matter in this way.
The director’s mastery of the atmosphere can be said to be terrifying. With the beginning of the movie, the voice of chewing popcorn ceased.
The serious atmosphere crushed all dynamics and suppressed all movements. But there is a kind of power in this stillness, and this kind of power constantly suppresses the hearts of the audience.
Jean-Pierre, whose acting skills are so impressive, gave the audience a visual and spiritual torture. When his interpretation of Louis XIV was suffering, the audience felt sad, helpless, and even nauseated.
But just when everyone thought that was it, and when death was nothing but helplessness, the music suddenly sounded, and the camera suddenly zoomed in. The water-filled eyes of Louis XIV lying on the bed stared at the audience on the opposite side of the screen tightly, and his eyes were long. Up to a few minutes.
There are no lines and no lines here. Louis XIV’s eyes were not morbid, cowardly, or desperate; they were determined.
His eyes did not face the timidity of death, but there was a calm and firmness. The power of the whole movie is conveyed through that look.
Is this Serra’s definition of humanity and death? Constant suffering can’t destroy humanity, humanity will stand up after being constantly crushed.
A generation of kings is helpless but extremely calm in the face of the passing of life. What happens when we face death? This is the question mark left by the death of Louis to the audience.
This is also the best thing the audience thinks about this movie: when the movie is closed and the audience leaves, what they take away is not conviction, but doubt.
This movie made the audience feel more ignorant and insignificant before life and death, and it also made me want to explore more.
Unlike Albert Serra’s previous works, “The Death of Louis XIV” is a monolithic work.
The director explained in previous interviews: the subject matter of the film is single, the characters revolve around Louis XIV, and the time revolves around Louis’s death.
This single method of film production is old-school, which can easily cause the audience to lose contact with the characters, and it is difficult to resonate.
But such an honest presentation is loyal to history. Albert Serra hopes that people can appear alive through history, rather than live out the past through memories.
As always, Albert Serra used historical themes to shock the audience.
We will never be Louis XIV, but we can feel the pain of Louis XIV and the heavy blow of history.