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A Bad Month for Blogging, Sire

July 30, 2012

It is the nadir of a blogger’s career: the blog post about not blogging. The reader will notice the abundance of recent non-blogging. Not blogging has been one of my main occupations during the month of July. So much so that upon coming to blog, it is difficult to think of anything but not blogging. Though I am also thinking about the performance of Jean-Marie Patte, as Louis, in Roberto Rossellini’s The Taking of Power by Louis XIV. Patte was a non-actor who was extremely nervous in front of the camera. He also did not learn his lines, and most of the time was reading them off a blackboard. It was the genius of Rossellini to take these deficiencies and turn them to advantage, to create a fascinating and persuasive portrayal of the king. We see him as a man who is completely ill at ease with himself and his royal position, but sternly trying to carry on nonetheless. We get to appreciate just what a damn awkward thing it is, to be The King. It is a role very few people are born to play, even if they are, literally, born to play it. The movie seems to suggest that Louis’s lack of a regal character may have led him to his despotism. A tall, handsome, confident, and charismatic man may have been more willing to simply revel in the glories of being king, and not insisted, as Louis did, upon seizing an unprecedented amount of political power. Maybe Louis XIV became the Sun King because he was so unprepossessing as a man, and his ruthlessness was born out of timidity.

I have no idea how historically accurate this is, but that is not very relevant to my love of this performance and this movie. The Taking of Power by Louis XIV is an oddity, a pedagogical period film made for French television by the great master of Italian neo-realism. It is not for every taste, but I like it even more than Rossellini’s great War Trilogy, the only other work by him that I have seen.

So now I have blogged again, and it wasn’t so bad. Even so, I can see why I have fallen out of the habit, because it is a bit of a pain and all for no clear purpose. Like being the king of France.

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