Free Audience Diversity and Realism in the Film “A Little Chaos” By Allan Rickman Essay Sample
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Diversity exists between the actual audiences that enjoyed the heritage films because they had broader film tastes compared modern bourgeois consumers. According to Monk, the viewers of the custom (old) films of the seventeenth century were highly diverse demographically, culturally, and politically. It is the main argument that Monk develops about the heritage cinema (film) in her book “Heritage Film Audiences.” The film “A Little Chaos,” despite being a 2015 film, is a heritage film because of its historical setting in the seventeenth-century French society. The film narrates the story of the French king, Louis XVI. However, it also documents the realist art of the time because the king performs the final finishes on Versailles, which is a royal winery in Paris.
Monk’s argument about the huge variation in taste among the traditional viewers of films is clearly evident in “A Little Chaos.” The film addresses various themes, a factor that proves that it targets different audiences. Firstly, the film is about the historical and political events that occurred in French in 1682. King Louis XVI transferred his court to Paris with the aim of exerting control of his subjects. The film shows him putting the last finishes on the Versailles. The fact that the film narrates the history of a political class means that the viewers who are interested in the past politics of France are its audiences.
The film portrays the heritage French kings, especially Henry XVI, as people with reptilian charisma. The king possesses a knowing look on his face. His eyes are narrow and the eyebrows that he raises. His work is to monitor the courtiers. However, other than the political narrative of the Versailles, the film also narrates the social life of the people who lived in the town. Their behavior includes fornication and gossiping without worrying about the presence of their leaders. They indulge in prostitution under the watchful eyes of the king. Such narratives in the film support Monk’s hypothesis that the heritage films had highly diverse audiences.
The film further supports the hypothesis by including the audiences who are interested in the seventeenth-century art. The character Sabine De Barra gains the king’s architect’s favor when he (Andre Le Notre) chooses her to device the rockwork groove at the Versailles. She gives it the design of a ballroom in the outdoor location with flowing water.
Considering Sabine’s artistic style of designing the rockwork groove, the film qualifies as a historical cinema that uses realism. The character disturbs the perfect order in which the king believes. She does not design the groove by following the master’s order. She gives the groove a modernist design. Sabine, in this film, is a widowed person that also lost her child through a road accident. However, the aspects of modernity that she portrays in her artistic design prove that she is a strong-willed character. Her actions show that she does not fit in the time and place setting of the film.
It is impossible to believe that a female character such as Sabine lived during the seventeenth century. There is a huge disparity between the character and the people who surround her. The film’s producer does not attempt to model Sabine as a typical or traditional woman of the film’s century. Instead, the producer appears to focus towards modeling her as the modernist woman whose existence in the 17th century was nearly impossible.
Monk explains that the Bourgeois audience is less diverse compared to the one of the heritage films. Sabine’s character is a manifestation of the attributes of the modern Bourgeois film consumer. Her characters and actions are one-sided in a manner that only portrays her as a modernist and not the traditional human of the seventeenth century. Her actions in the saloon demonstrate her modernity. She does not bow to social order as she lacks vanity. She is a beautiful woman but she is not proud of it like the other women in the saloon.
The conversation that Sabine starts with the king in the garden shows her unwillingness to respect social order and the fact that she is a modernist woman. She fails to recognize the king immediately due to the position of his wigs that almost cover his face. Consequently, Sabine assumes that the king is one of the gardeners, and she talks to him about horticulture.
The women of the 17th century were characteristically illiterate people who did not understand subjects like horticulture. Therefore, the fact that she talks about the topic with command means that she is an educated woman of the modern time, and she does not fit in the far-fetched time setting of the film. In fact, Sabine’s modernist attribute comes out clearly when she realizes that she talks to the king. Unlike the seventeenth century woman who would become apologetic, she continues speaking to the king without any interruption or fear.
Despite the presence of the character (Sabine) who does not fall in the group of a traditional woman who is submissive to ‘dominant’ men, the film’s audience diversity by including the theme of romantic relationships. There is a suspicious romantic affair between Andre and Sabine. Andre is McCrory’s husband. However, they agree that his wife can get into a sexual affair with any other man she wants. The agreement brings the aspect of modernity into the film, moving it further from its setting.
Traditionally, men expected their wives to submit to them faithfully, and it was impossible to witness the kind of agreement between Andre and his wife. The film gains its realism when McCrory becomes furious after learning of the relationship between Sabine and Andre. McCrory displays her human character of anger, showing that the agreement she had with the husband was a fictitious one. In reality, McCrory is the modern woman who is realistic enough to demand faithfulness from her husband.
As the film winds, it attempts to authenticate Sabine as a human character, although this happens belatedly. The flashback of the accident scene where Sabine’s only daughter died reveals Rickman’s attempt to humanize Sabine. The fact that she lost her only daughter is what Rickman depends on to explain her trait. However, it is difficult for the audience to accept that Sabine is a woman who existed in the film’s period (setting). For example, the death of her daughter cannot explain her competence in horticulture and her nature of talking to the king confidently on the topic. It is impossible to convince the audience that Sabine is a 17th century woman but only the death of her daughter changes her behavior to those of a modern woman.
In conclusion, “A Little Chaos” is a heritage film because its setting is the seventeenth century French society. It dramatizes the life of the ruling class and their subjects. However, it covers a range of topical issues that include politics, servitude, and the social lives of the rulers and their subjects. The diverse topics in the film prove Monk’s hypothesis right: that the audiences for heritage films are more diverse than the modern Bourgeois audiences. Despite choosing a historical period in the distant past, the actions of some of the characters prove that they (the characters) do not represent the people of film’s timeframe. Sabine is a typical example of a character whose traits do not befit her as the traditional woman that existed in the seventeenth century.
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