The King's daughters (you'll be a woman, girl)
Where a castle is drowning.
The first hour of this movie directed by Patricia Mazuy allows you to think you are watching a foray into a school for girl only, in the XVIIth century. The mission of this unique institution is to make them become free, cultured and independent. And this is because the rest of the movie is more about its creator, Françoise de Maintenon, last wife of king Louis XIV, and how much she wants to be forgiven for her sins because of all the moral pressure aroud her, that I can not write about anything else but female condition through ages.
Education could be the main theme of the movie, but it's more like a gate road to go further. They promise these little girls the best, to be stuffed, have comfort and to rise their spirit. So they dream about being intendants, play to be lawyers, judges and defendants, all these offices being reserved to men. We could judge the XVIIth century with haughtiness thinking we are safe in our times when girls and boys are mixed at school. But is there a real difference ? Are girls still pulling a fast one on them, as in Saint-Cyr where their innocence was making them believe in all these promises made at their arrival in the school ? At the time when quotas are voted to impose women at high positions they are prepared to hold down, what is the difference with the wildest dreams of the King's daughters ?
Of course, you're not designed to enter a convent after you successfully complete middle school and you can sign up for University. But the marshland, where Saint-Cyr is sinking, are maybe still there, under the feet of all the women who want to be free, as a perpetual threat.
Anyway, this project of Françoise de Maintenon is only a lifeline for her, and her only, so that she even sacrifices her so-called beloved Demoiselles. She claims it and she seems to enjoy deeply the moment when she has the blood of the little Lucie de Fontenelle all over her face, after the young girl has flagellated herself. It recalls the myth of virgins blood which could make old ladies look younger and it purifies Françoise from her past sins, allowing her to look into the future, to her salvation into Paradise. She has been a poor young noble who dreamed of a brighter life and the movie depicts her as an schemer who made anything possible to make her dreams come true, even if she lost her integrity in the battle because of a sex-maniac Louis XIV.
She's alone and lonely, torn between her life here below, where she feels degraded by everything she has done to reach the top which is deeply condemned by the moral of her times, and the school that could redeem her and lead her to her salavation.
In fact, she's the first victim of what she seems to fight against at the beginning of the film. She played all her cards and has lost the game. No one will see her as she really is, she will be misjudged because of her past behaviour. She is only guided by a growing and oppressive fear of burning in Hell and never reaching Paradise. Her favorite girl, Lucie, dies nearly in her arms, and she's glad that this little angel has joined heaven, the school becomes a convent, she's gaining her heaven too after all, but she let life pass her by. Religious morality burnt everything, books, toys boxes, and the joy of the Demoiselles.
But in the last scene of the movie, we see Anne, girlfriend of the dead Lucie, who is runing away from Saint-Cyr, whirling on her horse and disapearing when the Saint-Cyr Françoise wanted so much is drowning in the depths of the marshland where Mansart built it.
But for one Anne, how many Françoise are beat by self-righteous in the name of a cruel morality that burns everything on its way and looks like Hell they promess to people who choose an other direction.
Tags: the king s daughters, saint-cyr, patricia mazuy, isabelle huppert, louis xiv, woman, girl, morality
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