The Taking of Power by Louis XIV

Director: Roberto Rossellini
Year Released: 1966
Rating: 3.5

After Cardinal Mazarin kicks it, the Sun King is able and willing to start running France his way … and as it turns out he's a control-freak: he supervises the architectural constructions, he designs the outfits, he imprisons his finance manager, he spends frivolously, he demands oversight of every aspect of government. The period detail is quite nice and Rossellini's ideas do come through - about the ridiculous opulence of the monarchy, about the King as Political and Artistic Dictator - despite none of this being what you could call 'dynamic filmmaking' as the cast looks like they're reading their lines from cue cards off screen (in a way, the minimalist, borderline amateur aesthetic offsets the inherent pretentiousness of a costume drama). Louis XIV is a much more riveting character than other historical individuals (like Descartes and Pascal) Rossellini chose to turn his camera on in his later years.