Paris 'unique' rooftops to be made Unesco world heritage site ?
February 5, 2015
New TV drama “Versailles” : one of France’s most ambitious TV series in recent years
February 7, 2015
The €27 million ($30 million) 10 hour English-language Franco-Canadian co-production will tell how the “Sun King,” Louis XIV, transformed a relatively modest hunting lodge in Versailles into a majestic palace that became the envy of Europe. This implied significant VFX and green-screen CGI work, plus careful choice of locations and studio sets that could convey the notion of a palace under construction.
The first series was shot by four different directors, including “Yves Saint Laurent” helmer Jalil Lespert. Shooting began in Aug. 2014 and is due to be concluded by the end of this month. 50% of the shooting took place in the studios of Bry-sur-Marne, in two sound stages covering a total area of 1000 m2, where the royal apartments were recreated. Canal Plus should premiere the show in September 2015.
The first season will see the young King evolve to become the Sun King, the King of the Kings. Characters both real or fictional, from courtesans to humble paysans, will guide us through a world of betrayals and secrecy, political manoeuvres and war declarations, revealing Versailles in all of its glory and brutality. A golden cage where arrivists, ready to do anything to get in, will never be able to get out.'
Did you know that ?
The palace and gardens of Versailles have supplied the backdrop to more than 180 films over the last 110 years. Some of the big-name pictures filmed at the palace include “Midnight in Paris,” one of Woody Allen’s biggest commercial hits, Benoit Jacquot’s “Farewell, My Queen” and Sofia Coppola’s “Marie-Antoinette.”But “Versailles” is by far the most ambitious project to occupy the Palace, and is the first TV series to be filmed there.
This posed a major logistical headache – since filming inside the Palace is only possible on Mondays, when it’s closed to the public. Further headaches were caused by the fact that a major contemporary art exhibition occupied part of the palace and the gardens and Mondays is also the only available day for delivering art works and other major supplies to the buildings.
The four or five costumes worn by the principals were custom made, cost thousands of Euros each, and were designed by Madeleine Fontaine, who has won two Césars (the French Oscar) and worked on Yves Saint Laurent.
French critics' anger as new series is being produced in English
During the 72-year reign of Louis XIV - the longest of any major European monarch - French became the universal language of the European elite.
So it is not exactly surprising that French critics have reacted angrily to the news he is to become the protagonist in a new 'dumbed down' television show - produced in English.
Critics have labelled it a 'crime' to have the great monarch speak in English - particularly as the ten-part series is being made by French station Canal Plus.
The decision to produce in English has been made because it will make the show easier to sell outside of France. Director of fiction at Canal Plus, Fabrice de la Patelliere, called it a 'pragmatic choice to enable the series to be exported'.
In France itself, viewers will be able to choose to watch the show with subtitles or dubbed in French.
Eight million tourists visit the Palace every year, and 12 million visit the gardens. But film/TV works such as “Versailles” will enable the Palace to enter the homes of billions of people around the world.