Being a bit of a history nerd I do love a good period piece drama. I wouldn’t say I am an expert by any means on King Louis but familiar enough to see how this was told on screen…made by English …and spoken in English…I was curious as to how it would look/feel. There has been a lot of hype around Versaille so I decided to binge watch 4 eps on SBS demand (always waiting in Australia arghh) to immerse myself completely in it.
My initial emotional reaction was one of immense hair (wig) envy of both colour and loose curls…sigh. Especially Louis – he has that lovely chocolate brown I struggle to acquire.Then mid diet coke sip I thought just buy wigs! Even the delightful Alex Vlahos, who plays Philippe Louis’s brother ( a bit of a dreamboat..like a lot of a dreamboat actually), has referenced the extravagance of the production stating :
“My wig cost £4,000 and I had three – the set alone cost millions and the scale was massive, bigger than anything I had ever done,” he says. “The sets were so lavish they had recreated the interior of the real Versailles down to the last centimetre.”
Indeed it is is visually stunning to watch. Sure, a 24 million (GBP) budget helps with this in terms of location, set, costumes. An overwhelming sense of grandeur and opulence has been successfully created with no detail spared. An aesthetically pleasing cast too … that are doing this production justice I had to giggle when the Guardian referred to the very lovely George Blagden as “Louis the phowarteenth”. I can confirm is accurate – wonderful, glowing skin and eyes – radiant indeed as the sun king – definitely using BB cream. The dynamic between Louis and Philippe is fascinating to me and I am enjoying the tension between them and the constant push pull they have.
There have been some unfavourable reviews and the series has been referred to as a “stinker” – I think they have missed the point …where they harp on about the extravagance and sex scenes – historically we can obtain that Louis XIV was “intensely, fantastically dramatic” and therefore the setting and cast reflects this element that is at the core of his personality and reign. What I love about this production thus far, is it is explaining the man, his drives, his passions and his relationships – history fills in the rest with facts and war dates, triumphs and accolades, achievements etc . I care about the person – the interpretation of Louis. So many reviewers are just so quick to judge – love to see these reviewers make something of this scale! Appreciate it for what it is… It’s just very romantic how the show has been put together and this insight is not to be overlooked. It is a vital element to the series. Louis to me, was a dreamer, a visionary , idealistic and romantic. Everything that surrounds his world and that is his world must reflect this. Bien joue Simon Mirren and David Wolstencraft and the writer’s Andrew Bampfield and Sasha Halis.
It is hard not to be captivated by the Palace of Versaille that is developing around each episode. I like to think that as the palace grows and expands, so too is Louis and his mighty personality and style.
It may not be War and Peace (seriously that book has 560,000 words ) but it is still enjoyable to watch and truly is visuellement superbe! (that’s the best my French will allow for..and just one more non costumed pic for general happiness)