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USA: Miramax Films
Cast: Gerard Depardieu, Uma Thurman, Tim Roth, Julian Glover, Julian Sands, Timothy Spall, Jerome Pradon, Marine Delterme, Murray Lachlan Young, Nathalie Cerda, Nick Robinson, Arielle Dombasle, Hywel Bennett, Richard Griffiths, Sebatstien Davis
Director: Roland Joffe
Countries: France / UK
USA: 119 mins
USA Rated: PG-13 for sexual content and some violence
USA Release Date: 9 February 2001 (Wider Release)
USA Release Date: 25 December 2000 (Limited Release - Los Angeles and New York)
From Roland Joffe, director of THE MISSION and THE KILLING FIELDS, and Tom Stoppard, Academy Award-winner for SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE comes an epic true story of an ordinary man caught in a world of great power, corruption and extravagance, VATEL.
The year is 1671. Louis XIV (Julian Sands) rules at Versailles. But in the west of France, one province is out of favor-and on the verge of ruin. Prince de Conde (Julian Conde) has come up with a plan to get his province out of debt: he'll invite the king to his country chateau for a weekend of spectacle and merriment. If he can get back in the king's good graces, the royal coffers will open, and his region can avoid economic disaster.
Many historians say that Louis XIV revolutionized the French court by bankrupting the nobles, empowering the merchant class (creating a pact with government that persists to the present day) and controlling his subjects not by force, but by centralizing authority (i.e., money) at Versailles.
However Prince de Conde's whole plan rests on the one man who can deliver the sumptuous food, elaborate entertainment and all-out decadence fit for this king - François Vatel (Gerard Depardieu).
The central friendship in the movie-between Vatel and Anne de Montausier (Uma Thurman), a new lady-in-waiting at court-develops from her affection for his simplicity, kindness and humanity-all rare qualities in a court filled with hunters and prey. Both Anne and Vatel find themselves in the grips of a court where corruption is the only certain route to survival. Each of them ultimately resists it in their own way. In the end, Vatel comes to learn that he values freedom above all else, and that he is not the master of these festivities, but their slave. It's a realization that comes with devastating consequences.