The Death of Louis XIV
The following are comments about the movie “La Mort de Louis XVI” (“The Death of Louis XIV”) by its director, Albert Serra, who is one of the special guests at the Hiroshima International Film Festival 2017.
After enjoying the movie, the Spanish director referred to three main aspects of it; the basis of the movie, the distinguished participation of Jean-Pierre Léaud in the role of King Louis XIV, and his feelings as director.
Origins of the movie
After a canceled project of a theatrical performance of the mentioned French king, Serra started to consider the idea of producing a movie with a similar plot. As this character is very famous and his story was carefully registered in history books, there was relatively less liberty filming some aspects of this new adaptation.
Regarding the king himself, the director recognized that personally he was not interested in the character, but in its experimental value.
Jean-Pierre Léaud interpreting an old king
Regarding the participation of Jean-Pierre Léaud in the main role of Louis XIV, Serra shared that he has a deep admiration and respect for this actor, who was perfect for the role. The director affirmed that Léaud completely fulfilled his role and deserves multiple merits for this interpretation.
Jean-Pierre Léaud has been famous during decades because of his roles as a young and troubled boy, and this movie was his first experience interpreting an old man. According to Serra, if we add the fact that Léaud is a bit “crazy,” the final results of the movie were completely unpredictable.
The director affirmed that Léaud excels in creating special relation with the camera and through it, a special connection with the audience, however, the use of three cameras for filming this movie prevented him to use this “magic” for several days. Serra was deeply concerned about this problem, but according to his words, after some time and without any apparent reason, Léaud just succeeded in solving this situation.
Finally, the director was required to put a lot of pressure on the filming of the movie, but as he does not like to interact with actors (specially with Léaud), the process was considerably complex.
Feelings as director of the movie
Serra thinks that digital technologies of video and audio always produce different results. Moreover, he declared that coincidences really matter in any process, including the filming of a movie.
Another characteristic of the movie is that most of it was filmed in one room. As the pillar topic of the plot is the agony of the king, his facial expressions are vital to capture whatever is happening outside of the narrow space.
The group of doctors of the king and their actions are documented in history and according to Serra, even one of them occupies a high place in the ranking of the worst doctors in history. Those kinds of medical mistakes were not rare during that time. However, medical knowledge has improved considerably during the following centuries.
According to history, King Louis XIV, also known as “Sun King”, was the main representative of the monarchical absolutism. He was a powerful king who controlled everyone and everything, except, ironically, how he was supposed to die.
Irony is included in Serra's jobs and it is an important element in creating and breaking balances in narrative structures. The director considered it important to stress that while death is a current topic, in the movie it is considered without additional drama and with naturalness, as describing the death of older family members.