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The Taking of Power by Louis XIV (The Criterion Collection) (1966)

Pierre Barrat , Maurice Barrier , Roberto Rossellini  |  Unrated |  DVD
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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The Taking of Power by Louis XIV (The Criterion Collection) + Eclipse Series 14: Rossellini's History Films - Renaissance and Enlightenment (Blaise Pascal / The Age of the Medici / Cartesius) (The Criterion Collection)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Pierre Barrat, Maurice Barrier, François Bernard, André Dumas, Raymond Jourdan
  • Directors: Roberto Rossellini
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: January 13, 2009
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #174,404 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Filmmaking legend Roberto Rossellini brings his passion for realism and unerring eye for the everyday to this portrait of the early years of the reign of France s Sun King, and in the process reinvents the costume drama. The death of chief minister Cardinal Mazarin, the construction of the palace at Versailles, the extravagant meals of the royal court: all are recounted with the same meticulous quotidian detail that Rossellini brought to his contemporary portraits of postwar Italy. The Taking of Power by Louis XIV dares to place a larger-than-life figure at the level of mere mortal.
New, restored digital transfer
Taking Power, a multimedia essay by Tag Gallagher, author of The Adventures of Roberto Rossellini
The Last Utopia, a documentary about Rossellini s late career
Video interview with artistic advisor Jean Dominique de la Rochefoucauld and script supervisor Michelle Podroznik
Video interview with Renzo Rossellini
New and improved English subtitle translation
PLUS: A new essay by critic Colin McCabe


Essential cinema. --Jonathan Rosenbaum

Unrivaled lucidity and honesty...a new moral cinema of history. --Time Out

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Sun King takes over, and Roberto Rossellini was there February 10, 2009
Roberto Rossellini was an intriguing director who made a handful of great films and an awful lot of mish mash. While Rossellini never found much popular acclaim for most of his movies, he certainly found it among some of his fellow directors, notably Truffaut and Scorsese. Whether that means Rossellini was a great director might depend on how you much you appreciate artists praising each other. It is, however, just about impossible to underestimate Rossellini's impact on neorealism in movies, just as it's impossible not to take seriously any director who could make Open City, Paisan and Il Generale Della Rovere.

So what is The Taking of Power by Louis XIV? Rossellini made it for French television when his career and reputation had faded. He was 60, and would be dead eleven years later. He still made movies regularly and, increasingly, worked in television on major presentations. He made movies because this is what directors do. He wasn't forgotten, exactly, and there were those who saw in him the neorealistic genius he once was. Perhaps he forgot along the way that the story must engage, and that dedicated technique may not always be enough. If Luigi Minecolli had been the director of The Taking of Power by Louis XIV instead of a director named Roberto Rossellini, would the TV production be remembered, even by cineastes? Well, who remembers the director of The First Churchills?

Louis, in 1661, is about to grasp the power of his throne. He's 22 years old and has worn the crown since just before his fifth birthday.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
This was one of Rossellini's first TV films, shot for French TV near the end of his career. Rossellini has been the least of my favorite filmmakers from Italy, not because he isn't talented, but I just never got into his films like I did the other famous Italian filmmakers. But after having viewed this film (and his subsequent TV work), I respect him much more, and these later films are my favorites of his work.

This film, shot for French television, is a cousin to Rossellini's historical films of the Enlightenment (The Age of Medici, Cartesius, and Blaise Pascal). This may be the best out of all four of those films. It's the most visually opulent of the four films, with stunning costumes and set design, and photographically it's beautiful. That's quite astounding considering it was shot on 16mm film, which doesn't age very well. Kudos to Criterion for restoring it well. While the performances in the Italian TV films were mostly perfunctory, in this film they are livelier and more interesting. It could be because Rossellini was working with direct sound (something he never did in his Italian films), and the performances are enriched because of that. Jean Marie Patte, who plays the king, is stiff at times, obviously reading from cue cards in a few scenes. Rossellini gave his actors their lines just before they shot, and had cue cards on the set if they couldn't remember, so it's not all Jean Marie's fault. It's a bit distracting, but it doesn't detract too much from the overall experience of the film.

There are some striking scenes in the film, one near the end film in a garden, and when a key rival of Louis is arrested. The courtoom intrigue is absolutely fascinating. There are also surprising parallels between today's world and the world inherited by Louis XIV.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A narrow recommendation June 11, 2011
'The Taking of Power by Louis XIV' concerns the short period of time between the death of Cardinal Mazerin - the real power behind the French throne - and when the future Sun King consolidates his autonomy. Directed by famed neorealist Roberto Rossellini toward the end of his career for French television, the film is fascinating in its depiction of 17th century habits and customs, although emotionless and somewhat dry also. It ends up being a peculiar film, probably most appealing to history buffs of this particular period, and film enthusiasts who will want to breakdown Rossellini's technique. By no means is it reserved only for these two groups, but I do think it's safe to say that this film does not indulge in the dramatic (often melodramatic) 'hooks' that often distinguish more contemporary period films - as was, apparently, Rossellini's intention.

Criterion, as usual, does a nice job with the extras on the disc, one of which, a 'multimedia' essay (film clips are shown to illustrate the narration), I thought neatly explained many of Rossellini's directorial quirks, and added an entirely new dimension to the film. Jean-Marie Patte, who played the title role, was not a professional actor, although Rossellini supposedly used his wooden and unemotional acting to reflect certain qualities he wanted the audience to associate with Louis. That's all well and good if the viewer picks that up as they are watching the film - unfortunately I'm not that observant. I only end up feeling slightly uncomfortable at how uncomfortable Patte looks in the role. Not until after the 'essay' do I see what Rossellini was striving for - and I have to admit that I don't buy all of it, but I still found it extremely worthwhile as a short education on filmmaking.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars The Taking Of A Nap
There is a documentary concerning the film contained within this Criterion Collection edition. In it, a historian of film cites one of the most impressive features of the film as... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Clayton
3.0 out of 5 stars A Movie of Unequaled Beauty and Boredom
You know how there are movies that come along that are about historical events or people and get the facts wrong, almost defiantly so. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Hunter
5.0 out of 5 stars A monument in the history of television
The absolute masterpiece of all Rossellini's television works. The amazing climax of his prophetical "pedagogical revolution of the television industry".
Published 12 months ago by Educational
3.0 out of 5 stars Odd History Film
History films: It's interesting to me that beginning in the 1960's (one of the most fascinating cultural moments in our history) Rossellini turns away from the present and begins... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Doug Anderson
3.0 out of 5 stars King Louis clumps about like a troll - ballet history is trommeled!
For fleshing out some dry history, this film is good - you can see what they might have worn, how they addressed each other, what their court looked like; however, I wonder if the... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Michele Mennett
1.0 out of 5 stars The taking of power.....yawn.
I have to admit that I have tried watching this movie three or four times....each time I have fallen asleep, and had to rewind it to find out what the hell was going on. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Daniel S. Cooter
1.0 out of 5 stars Quelle misere!
Who knew a movie about the Sun King Louis XIV could be so boring! Insipid dialogue, stilted acting, costumes that look like they were made by the mothers of Louis' kindergarden... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Written Word
4.0 out of 5 stars The making of the Sun King
If there is a downfall to this movie than I would say it is the miscast of the role for Louis XIV. Actor picked for this role is so dull that at times feels like one is observing... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Your Majesty!
Roberto Roselini reflects with absolute mastery, the last days of Mazarin, the scenes of this event, sensitive issues of state, tax adjustments, the reorganization of the economy,... Read more
Published on October 1, 2011 by Hiram Gomez Pardo
5.0 out of 5 stars Great!
I realy love history, this movie is just fantastic for everyone to understand how things happened in that time...
Published on July 20, 2009 by A. Ferreira
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