Monday, 26 December 2016

Palace of Versailles, France







   
The movie MERVEILLEUSE ANGÉLIQUE (a coproduction between France, Italy and Germany, English title: Angélique, the Road to Versailles) from 1965 is the second of five films about Angélique de Sancé de Monteloup (Michèle Mercier), the red-haired heroine who tries to makes a living for herself in mid-seventeenth century France. As the English title implies, her adventures bring her to the French court in Versailles.

Latona fountain, Palace de Versailles, 6 August 2016
In the first movie Angélique is bethroted against her will to the rich count Jeoffrey de Peyrac (Robert Hoessein) but eventually falls in love with him. The marriage comes to an end when he is being accused of sorcery and executed. In this film, Angélique tries to make a new living for herself. She starts working, first in an inn, later in a chocolate shop. Her cousin Philippe de Plessis-Bellières (Claude Giraud) introduces her in Versailles to King Louis XIV (Jacques Toja), the Sun King.

The arrival of Angélique in Versailles, the final scene of the movie, was filmed on location in the gardens of the Palace of Versailles. She arrives on a coach and exits near the statue "Gladiateur Mourant Ludovisi" (Dying gladiator, 1681) by Michel Monier, based on a Roman original that was discovered on the territory of the Villa Lodivisi in Italy. The trees in the background have been replaced by a hedge. Angélique then walks towards the palace where Philippe is waiting for her.

Merveilleuse Angélique, 1:36:04
Gardens of the Palace of Versailles, 5 August 2016
Merveilleuse Angélique, 1:36:11
Gardens of the Palace of Versailles, 5 August 2016
Merveilleuse Angélique, 1:36:12
Gardens of the Palace of Versailles, 5 August 2016
Merveilleuse Angélique, 1:36:18
Gardens of the Palace of Versailles, 5 August 2016


Latona fountain, Palace of Versailles, 5 August 2016
The King and his entourage are walking in the gardens, heading for the palace and pass the Latona fountain, originally an oval pond commissioned by King Louis XIII. His son had it turned into a fountain and in 1667 the brothers Gaspard and Balthazar Marsy were ordered to decorate the new construction with animal figures, including 20 frogs. Because King Louis XIV liked to compare himself to Apollo, the sun god, he had a statue of Latona, put in the middle of the fountain.

She was the mother of Apollo, and also of Diana. In his narrative poem Metamorphoses Ovid tells the story of how Latona attempted to drink water out of a pond. When Lycean peasants did not allow her to do so, she turned them into frogs.

Latona fountain, Palace of Versailles, 5 August 2016
This moment was depicted by the brothers Marsy for the fountain, Gaspard made the statue of Latona and her children and Balthazar made the peasants, half human and half frog. Between 1687 and 1689 the fountain was again reconstructed. The statue of Latona was put on a marble pyramid with four tiers. Because Gaspard and Balthazar Marsy had died in 1681 and 1674, Claude Bertin was commissioned to add more animal figures, including turtles and lizards.


Merveilleuse Angélique, 1:35:35
Latona fountain, Palace of Versailles, 5 August 2016
Merveilleuse Angélique, 1:36:21
Latona fountain, Palace of Versailles, 5 August 2016

After being introduced to Angélique, the King takes the steps to walk to the palace. Angélique and Philippe remain in the garden, all by themselves. In the film the fountain looks grey, but in 2013 the structure was completely renovated and several figures were painted gold. During the first day of our visit the fountain was not working, as in the film, when we returned the following day we were able to see it in full glory.

Merveilleuse Angélique, 1:37:34
Gardens of Palace of Versailles, 5 August 2016
Merveilleuse Angélique, 1:36:56
Gardens of Palace of Versailles, 5 August 2016
Merveilleuse Angélique, 1:38:12
Gardens of Palace of Versailles, 5 August 2016
Merveilleuse Angélique, 1:38:27
Latona fountain, Palace of Versailles, 5 August 2016
Merveilleuse Angélique, 1:38:44
Latona fountain, Palace of Versailles, 6 August 2016

The palace and its gardens are open to the public all year long and can also be visited separately. When visiting both, it is advised to buy a two-day ‘passport’, more information on the website Château de Versailles.

Screenshots © Prodis/KSM
 

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Chenonceau Castle, France




  
The tragic life of the Scottish Queen Mary Stuart (1542-1587) is the centre of the film MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS from 1971. The story is historically not always correct, for example the two encounters between Mary (Vanessa Redgrave) and the English Queen Elizabeth I (Glenda Jackson) never happened.
      
Mary, Queen of Scots, 1:47:26
Mary did however spent her youth in France, partially due to the fact that six days after she was born she had become Queen of Scotland by heritage. Because of the tensions between the Catholics and the Protestants in Scotland her life was endangered. At age five she was sent to France and grew up at the French court. It was agreed that she would marry the Dauphin Francis (Richard Denning), the French heir to the throne.
   
They were married in 1558 but their marriage ended already after two years because Francis died from an ear condition, shortly after he and Mary had become King Francis II and Queen Mary of France. At age 18 Mary was a widow and returned to Scotland. The first four minutes of the movie show that Mary and Francis were a happy couple, although they look older than they were in real life.
      
Chenonceau Castle, 3 August 2016
In the early hours of the morning Mary and Francis walk outside of the Chenonceau Castle, located in the Loire Valley. The original castle dates back from 1432 and was altered and expanded several times. In 1535 it became property of the royal family. Catherina de’ Medici, mother of Francis II, organised a fireworks display at the castle in 1559 to celebrate the ascension of her son to the throne and one year later Mary and Francis were married at the château.
        
The gracious castle is situated in the river Cher. The film first shows the main residence with its many towers, built between 1513 and 1521 on the remains of a fortified mill and manor. Mary and Francis leave the main entrance, cross the bridge and walk towards the courtyard, enclosed by a moat.

Mary, Queen of Scots, 0:02:14
Chenonceau Castle, 3 August 2016
Mary, Queen of Scots, 0:02:27
Chenonceau Castle, 3 August 2016
Mary, Queen of Scots, 0:02:31
Chenonceau Castle, 3 August 2016

At the courtyard they pass the tower of Marques, built in 1230 as part of the mill and manor of the Marques family. In 1499 it was sold due to financial difficulties and all buildings were demolished with the exception of the tower.

Mary, Queen of Scots, 0:02:33
Chenonceau Castle, 3 August 2016
Mary, Queen of Scots, 0:02:58
Chenonceau Castle, 3 August 2016

Daine de Poitiers, mistress of King Henri II, was offered the castle as a gift by the king. She commissioned to build the arched bridge on the other side of the castle in 1566. After the king had died in 1559 she was forced to move to a much smaller castle, the Château de Chaumont, by the king’s widow, Catherina de’ Medici. She had the geometric gardens added in 1568 and between 1570 and 1576 she ordered the bridge to be turned into a Italian style grand gallery. Francis had died ten years prior to these extensions, but in the movie he is seen with both the gallery and the gardens.

Mary, Queen of Scots, 0:03:12
Chenonceau Castle, 3 August 2016
Mary, Queen of Scots, 0:03:30
Chenonceau Castle, 3 August 2016

When the king dies, the castle is seen at night. In reality he died in Orléans.
Today, Chenonceau is a museum where the history of the illustrious castle and its residents is being told. Since 1913 it is property of the Menier family, famous for Chocolat Menier, currently Nestlé.

Mary, Queen of Scots, 0:09:53
Chenonceau Castle, 3 August 2016

Screenshots © Universal

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Mont-Saint-Michel, France




 
Animators are sometimes inspired by real-life locations. The kingdom Corona from the animated Walt Disney movie TANGLED from 2004, situated on an island, was based on Mont-Saint-Michel, a tidal island in France.

Tangled, 1:01:34
Princess Rapunzel, abducted as a child, has been raised in a tower by the mean Mother Gothel. Her hair was never cut and is longer than the tower. Her eightteenth birthday is approaching and she manages to escape from the tower to visit Corona, not knowing she was born there. Mont-Saint-Michel has an abbey on top of the island, in the movie it is the royal palace. The bridge that connects the island with the mainland is curved, but in the movie it is straight and made of stone to give it a more medieval look.

The kingdom is seen by day as well as by night. Mont-Saint-Michel is not being lit after dark. Less than 50 people live on the island permanently, but during daytime thousands of tourists make a visit, especially in high season.

Tangled, 0:01:39
Mont-Saint-Michel, 29 July 2016
Tangled, 1:05:15
Mont-Saint-Michel, 28 July 2016

During the end credits the kingdom is seen twice again. Its location is very similar to Mont-Saint-Michel and the mainland of Normandy. It is possible to walk to the island when the tide is low, but should only be done with a guide because some areas have quicksand and are dangerous.

Tangled, 1:31:24
Mont-Saint-Michel, 29 July 2016
Tangled, 1:32:38
Mont-Saint-Michel, 29 July 2016






 
Six years earlier Mont-Saint-Michel was seen in another Disney production, MICKEY DONALD GOOFY: THE THREE MUSKETEERS, a direct to dvd movie released in August 2004.

Mickey Donald Goofy: The Three Musketeers, 0:59:35
In this colourful adaption of the classic novel by Alexandre Dumas from 1844, Mickey, Donald and Goofy all dream of being a musketeer serving Minnie, princess of France. Captain Pete orders them to protect the princess. He thinks the trio is not able to carry out this task and hopes that he will become the king of France. When Minnie and Daisy, her lady-in-waiting, are being kidnapped, Mickey is being captured and put in prison by Pete. Luckily, Donald and Goofy manage to help him escape.

Although situated in 19th century France, the design for the palace and other buildings were not based on existing locations, with the exception of the prison. Mickey’s dungeon is at Mont-Saint-Michel, which is not a strange choice: after the French Revolution in 1791 the monks were expelled from the abbey which would then serve as a prison until 1864. The island is seen both at low tide, when the road becomes visible, and at high tide, surrounded by water. Some elements are identical, like the small tower on the left and the fortress wall.

Mickey Donald Goofy: The Three Musketeers, 0:40:22
Mont-Saint-Michel, 28 July 2016
Mickey Donald Goofy: The Three Musketeers, 0:47:36
Mont-Saint-Michel, 29 July 2016
Mickey Donald Goofy: The Three Musketeers, 0:48:07
Mont-Saint-Michel, 28 July 2016
Mickey Donald Goofy: The Three Musketeers, 0:48:25
Mont-Saint-Michel, 29 July 2016

Screenshots © Walt Disney Pictures