Death Seen and Heard
You are old. You feel a bit ill. You retire to your bed. You have no energy,you cannot bear to stand. You find it difficult to eat, then unbearable to drink such is the pain of swallowing. The doctors try everything even experimental drugs but nothing works. You are of course dying. As the man said no one gets out of here alive. Not even Louis XIV, the Sun King.
We all know three quotes from the French throne, Let them eat cake, L’etat c’est moi and Apres moi la deluge. Two were said by the Sun King the man who built Versailles.
The Death of Louis XIV is a classic art film, Beautifully made, highly praised, with limited appeal, blink and you wont catch it (the Minema at the Bloomsbury Curzon twice daily) and probably too long.
But like all good art it has a point. Its nearly all shot in the candle lit bed room. The endless close ups reveal the noses and warts of Rembrandt’s portraits. The doctors try this and that,the cooks refine the food more and more, some of the statesmen try and get a decision out the man. Sweetly his beautiful hounds are brought in to say good bye,its almost the last real sign of life from Le Roi Soliel. Priests come and go.In desperation they let a man with an elixir made of bulls blood, bulls sperm and frog fat have a go. He rather beautifully is not drawn by a heavy weight Dutchman but by the livelier, quicksilver Caravaggio.
Sometimes the compelling gloom is lifted by the distant sound of marching bands, sometimes by heart breaking choral arias. But the gangrene spreads. Even kings must go the way of all flesh. And this being a snuff as well as an art movie on the death bed they cut Louis open to check the size of his spleen. Actually surprisingly there were one or two other (very dark) jokes. Not least the wig.