Filmmaking legend Roberto Rossellini brings his passion for realism and unerring eye for the everyday to this portrait of the early years of the reign of France’s “Sun King,” and in the process reinvents the costume drama. The death of chief minister Cardinal Mazarin, the construction of the palace at Versailles, the extravagant meals of the royal court: all are recounted with the same meticulous quotidian detail that Rossellini brought to his contemporary portraits of postwar Italy. The Taking of Power by Louis XIV dares to place a larger-than-life figure at the level of mere mortal. —The Criterion Collection
Rossellini was one of the directors of the Italian neorealist cinema, contributing films such as Roma città aperta (Rome, Open City 1945) to the movement.
In 1937, Rossellini made his first documentary, Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune. After this essay, he was called to assist Goffredo Alessandrini in making Luciano Serra pilota, one of the most successful Italian films of the first half of the 20th century. In 1940 he was called to assist Francesco De Robertis on Uomini sul Fondo.His close friendship with Vittorio Mussolini, son of Il Duce, has been interpreted as a possible reason for having been preferred to other apprentices.
Some authors describe the first part of his career as a sequence of trilogies. His first feature film, La nave bianca (1942) was sponsored by the audiovisual propaganda centre of Navy Department and is the first work in Rossellini’s “Fascist Trilogy”, together with Un pilota ritorna (1942) and Uomo dalla Croce (1943). To this period belongs… read more
If all Rossellini had accomplished here was to humanize (and gently humiliate) one of history's more Olympian figures by staging a pseudo-neo-realist film on the set of a grandiose costume drama, well, that would be worthy of note for its brio and wit. But he accomplished more than that, giving rich life through the accumulation of almost tossed-off details -- in dialogue as well as mise-en-scene -- both to the banal horrors of court life and to the era's defining power struggle between monarchists, nobles, and bourgeois. Blindingly good stuff.
For Roberto Rossellini, miracles and revolutions could be embodied in a gesture, an embrace, a sudden discovery. Throughout The Taking of Power
Above: Marcello Di Falco (center right) as Cosimo de' Medici. Credit: Courtesy of the Criterion Collection. Roberto Rossellini must have