The Death of Louis XIV
May 7, 2016 · Knoxville Museum of Art · 2:00 p.m.
Albert Serra will join us to discuss his film. Special thanks to the University of Tennessee Cinema Studies program for sponsoring his visit, and to Cinema Guild, the film’s US distributor, for allowing us to screen it.
Versailles, August 1715. Back from hunting, Louis XIV – magisterially interpreted by New Wave icon and honorary Palme d’Or recipient (Jean-Pierre Léaud) – feels pain in his leg. A serious fever erupts, which marks the beginning of the agony of the greatest King of France. Surrounded by a horde of doctors and his closest counselors who come in turns at his bedside sensing the impending power vacuum, the Sun King struggles to run the country from his bed.
Based on extensive medical records and the memoirs of the Duke of Saint-Simon and other courtiers, The Death of Louis XIV is a wry neoclassical chamber drama, a work of pure magic by Albert Serra, one of today’s most singular directors.
“A mesmerizing elegy.”–Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
“The most beautiful film at Cannes 2016.”–Jonathan Romney, Sight and Sound
“An instant classic.”–Filmmaker Magazine
“Serra has crafted a ravishing, darkly witty evocation of 18th-century aristocracy and a neoclassical period piece as reminiscent of the historical films of Visconti and Rossellini as the modernist literary adaptations of Rohmer and Oliveira.”–Jordan Cronk, Film Comment
About the Filmmaker
Albert Serra is a Catalan artist and director. Having studied philosophy and literature, he wrote plays and produced works on video. Honor of the Knights, a loose adaptation of Don Quixote featuring nonprofessional actors from his village, won international recognition. A traditional Catalan Christmas song, “El cant dels ocells,” inspired his second film, Birdsong, the story of the Magi following their guiding star to Jesus in Bethlehem. In 2013, he received the Golden Leopard in Locarno for Story of my Death, based on Casanova’s memoirs.