Drama. Two talented landscape artists begin a romance while building a garden in King Louis XIV's palace at Versailles.
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This film contains some scenes of a sexual nature
-Your Majesty. You stink in my linen.
-Papa, we've made you breakfast.
Only Francoise is too little to carry the tray,
so we have Philippe to help.
-Yes, Uncle. I am the strongest.
-I could carry it.
Indeed, but you're engaged presently in being changed.
Go quick and then we shall eat on your return.
-Good morning, Majesty!
-How did you sleep, my sweet?
-I sleep wonderful, Majesty.
How handsome you look today.
Thank you, my dear.
It's today I must wear my new gown, Sire.
In the evening.
KING LOUIS: Be it known that we intend to hold court
at the Palace of Versailles
within the coming month of May.
Do you see how important it is to elicit the appropriate response?
KING LOUIS: To this auspicious end,
the finest examples of humanity
shall embody the true glory of France
in a palace of eternal and resounding splendour.
Your eloquence they must love,
your demeanour they must fear.
I have further commanded
that the greatest masters of France will realise this vision
unparalleled in the history of the world
in gardens of exquisite
and matchless beauty.
..shall be here.
-The light is fading, master.
KNOCKING ON DOOR
A week tomorrow at 11:00.
Don't forget about the length.
If you stand on the hem, you'll rip it at the waist.
It's pinching me here.
-Master Le Notre,
I am delighted to make your acquaintance.
I've long been an admirer of your work.
Too clever by half, if you ask me.
And riding on his father's name.
The strategy I employ is to imitate.
They cannot resist flattery.
'Tis all vanity to these bigwigs.
Of course, once you're in, you must have the talent.
Speaking of vanity,
there's a hat, now, gentlemen.
-Who is this person?
-That's Madame de Barra.
I'm astounded by that.
What of her reputation, do we know it?
Certainly nothing to justify her presence here.
Monsieur Mauve's plans.
How many more candidates, Claude?
Three more, monsieur, after this one, but the end is in sight.
Dullness or disrespect, that is my apparent choice.
If the king's demands were not so vast,
I would build the gardens myself.
And in the meantime...
-Madame de Barra.
-That a new coat?
-The wife's idea.
Be covered in mud by Tuesday,
but by then she thinks we'll have this job,
so the coat will have been a worthwhile extravagance.
Gentlemen, I've not had the pleasure.
Jean Risse and Daniel Le Vielle,
Madame Sabine de Barra.
You're all here for the interview?
We are, and you?
Been in Paris long, madame?
-And you've worked for someone before that?
I know all the contractors in the provinces.
All the gentlemen, that is.
There is no gentleman, monsieur.
-I work for myself.
We all to be interviewed at this time?
We're here early to spy out the other candidates.
-I've been in already.
-Oh, how did you fare?
Spent upwards of an hour with him.
Very detailed examination of the work, so, you know, we shall see.
You must have impressed him.
I worked for his father.
I'm not disheartened.
DOOR OPENS, MEN LAUGHING
He seems not disheartened, too.
-Madame de Barra.
Best of fates to you.
Claude Moulin, madame.
Secretary to Master Le Notre.
Have you met the master before?
I have not.
I'm delighted to make your acquaintance.
I have long been an admirer of your work.
I am so pleased to attend...
These are your plans, madame?
Yes. Some are to be seen around the country.
Others are still in progress,
not yet completed.
However, as required, there are two sets of plans to your instructions.
The fifth and sixth, I believe.
Perhaps at the bottom...
I have examined them.
May I ask you a question, madame?
By all means, master.
Are you a believer in order?
-Order over landscape?
Well, I admire it.
Looking at these plans, there seems to be no trace.
I would not agree.
I think there is pattern enough
in number six to suggest absolutely...
Do you believe in order over landscape?
Order seems to demand that we look back to Rome or to the Renaissance.
What I'm saying is, surely,
isn't there something uniquely French
as yet not celebrated by us?
Which needs the rules of order to attain it.
All of my work...
..is based on a principle you choose to deny.
I wonder that you tender yourself
for a position with someone you believe...
..to be outdated.
Sir, I... I have nothing but admiration
for the scale of your work.
You were the first to use such techniques.
I must apologise for any insult that I may have unwittingly...
when you have been in the public eye
and available for ridicule
for as long as my family has,
you will think again about this conversation.
Good day to you.
Three minutes, would you say?
How was the interview? Well?
Not so well.
You have a preferred candidate, master?
The king wants to improve on perfection
and reach for the impossible.
I'm surrounded by barbarians.
No doubt it's death if I fail him.
Prison, more like.
Get your hands dirty, see what grows.
That's what your father would have done.
You once said, "No man, however grand,
"knows what he wants until you give it to him."
DOG BARKING, CHILD LAUGHS
KNOCK ON DOOR
-A gentleman wishes to see you.
Monsieur Le Notre.
-Don't worry, I'll stay.
Tell... Tell him one moment.
Madame will be with you presently.
My father taught me gardening.
He encouraged me to see beauty and recreate it,
not as an exercise, more as an act of faith.
He told me that God put us first into a garden,
and when we lost Eden, we were fated to search and reinvent it again,
but only some of us have the gift of knowing this.
Only some of us have that gift.
I spied on you today before you attended the interview.
You moved one of my pots.
I was curious.
I will not take up too much of your time.
I have been looking again at your plans.
You did not care for them. I am none the less for it.
In plain truth, I am used to it.
I did not say I did not care for your plans.
I said I could find no order in them.
This abundance of chaos,
this is your Eden?
My search for it.
I spoke today of the pressure of being in the public eye.
I will spare you any repetition, but, madame, in my world,
even anarchy is by royal command,
and chaos must adhere to budget.
LE NOTRE: Welcome to Versailles.
You found your way here without too much effort, I hope.
The map you sent was wonderfully accurate.
I shall need it to get back out again.
We shall be travelling about a bit.
Madame de Barra, Monsieur Sualem and De Ville.
They are building the Marly waterworks
and an aqueduct from there to Versailles,
which we hope will alleviate the severe water shortage here.
LE NOTRE: Madame de Barra will be constructing
the Rockwork Grove here at Versailles.
Water, or rather the lack of it,
will be a pressing concern.
Master, the king's ambitions are already...
Are vast and ever changing, and our task is to meet them.
With respect, no man can meet infinite demand.
The king's commands are not infinite, De Ville.
They are the king's commands.
Well, quite so, but the aqueduct can only do so much.
When we began construction,
I was under the impression that...
The past is history.
Our task is to suppress nature to our will,
according to the present plans.
But, monsieur, the money being spent.
The aqueduct will carry sufficient water
to the gardens of Versailles because it must.
That is your brief.
It is essentially your plan,
number six in your submission, I believe.
This part is entirely original to myself.
It fits onto this end of your plan.
Now you can see the extent of the enterprise.
It's a large, flat area.
An arena with tiered sides.
will be up here.
It's an outdoor ballroom.
LE NOTRE: There is a pool of builders.
Select whatever supplies you care to.
Commission whatever embellishments you think appropriate.
Time is not unlimited.
Here's the budget.
Try not to exceed it.
These gardens should be large enough
to embrace voices other than my own.
LE NOTRE: Madame de Barra.
Monsieur, forgive me for disturbing you at home,
but I've been reworking the plans.
If... If we fill
a reservoir at the top of the hill,
we would have enough water to run the fountains
and the building works.
We don't need water continually if we just recycle it.
Pressure will force it back up to the start again.
And there's a river...
Well, thank you, madame.
I will examine these in more detail.
I must apologise if this adds to the turmoil.
I am trained to it.
Like a good plant, I submit.
-MADAME LE NOTRE:
-We waited an hour for a gaming table.
Montespan and Lauzun had monopolized them.
Anyway, then came the news her house was on fire.
We felt sure this would end her winning streak.
Apparently not. The marquise played on.
Her children were safe, what could she do?
She showed wonderful spirit and was clapped for it.
How does this dress look on me, Andre?
Andre, are you listening?
You look very well in it.
What are you studying that's so important?
Are these the drawings that woman brought to the house?
Button these gloves for me, Andre.
Perhaps that's what makes us a good match.
but unable for the more delicate manoeuvres.
Don't forget that, Andre.
I'm the expert.
You're merely the gardener, however grand.
Without me to promote your interests, well,
use your famous imagination.
That's more than enough for one day.
Where are you...
Where are you going?
-The sight of you, madame.
What time were you up this morning?
Did you not sleep again?
I don't remember.
You must take more care.
You'll never last at this rate.
Then what will become of us?
-I always think of something.
What does it say?
What does it say?
Anyone you know?
Need to know your way around the crews.
Otherwise, you end up with the wasters.
The lot you had before,
they're cooling their heels on another site.
Won't bother us again. Same with the timber suppliers.
One of your friends at the interview recommended them.
Perhaps he hadn't thought it through.
And you have?
If you fail, we all fail.
Not pretty, I'll grant, but it's true.
So, I learned after some inquiries
who had the commissions, and everybody had good labourers
coming out their ears except you.
Thanks to your friends at the interview.
Some men take losing harder than others.
I, on the other hand, have a leviathan for a wife
and am very used to being on the losing end.
She issued very precise instructions
which, as I say, I would never dare go against.
"Ask her for work."
Well, a man snaps like a carrot exposed to the leviathan.
Besides, I have little ones.
They make me proud,
even if I am humbled elsewhere.
Can I take this off now?
I've been issued an invitation to the Louvre.
Supper, too, I expect. Very nice.
Will there be others there?
CROWD CHATTERING LOUDLY
KING LOUIS: Versailles shall be the heart of our kingdom,
inhabited by the finest examples of humanity,
fit for the gods of old to behold
and finding their echo in gardens
where each new turn brings another excitement.
Fountains whose gentle flow
is balm enough to ease a ringing ear.
Scented groves of orange blossom blown by temperate winds.
KING LOUIS SPEAKING INDISTINCTLY
What light, what beauty, what hope.
CROWD CHATTERING LOUDLY
Oh, pardon me.
I believe this is the way forward, madame.
Some cool night air is, I think,
in order, madame, do you not?
Your first time at court, madame?
Is... Is that where I am?
Where did you imagine yourself to be?
Well, I don't know.
A reception for the gardeners of Versailles.
-A sort of shed affair?
A tiara amongst the weeds.
I think I...
I have underestimated the event on some level, monsieur.
Antoine Nompar de Caumont,
Marquis de Puyguilhem, Duc de Lauzun.
-Sabine de Barra.
Now, let me give you the grand tour.
What do you know of us, madame, we mice in a trap?
Not a thing, I'm sorry to say.
Winter, summer, autumn, spring, we are here.
We may not leave without permission of the king.
Yes, mice in a trap.
A small community, there's only about 2,000 of us.
Everybody knows everybody else.
Everybody has worked their way through the group.
"Worked their way through"?
Fought with, had an affair with, that kind of thing.
Marquise de Montespan. Late, as usual.
She's the king's mistress. Has at least four of his children,
but his attention has wandered.
Now there is a new star rising.
-Madame de Maintenon.
-And she is here?
-Devoted to God.
Never attends anything as frivolous as a party,
unlike some people.
Don't look. They're talking about us.
Madame de Barra.
Am I... Am I late?
One of your gardeners? Perfect.
I must accompany the marquise to supper.
I could surrender my new friend into your care?
Guard her well, monsieur.
The vultures are circling.
It has been my pleasure.
-It seems an extraordinary life.
But you may come and go?
I'm out and about.
And now they're all moving to Versailles.
To a village.
Will you not join them?
I would go slowly mad.
Do they think of you as a vegetable grower or something?
You show no consideration for my vanity, madame.
I'm quite sure you possess none.
What of you, Madame Sabine de Barra?
Are you prone?
You remember my hat?
It would be impossible to forget.
It was a considerable expense.
And entirely unnecessary.
My dear old cabbage!
Give me a kiss instantly or I shall take grave offence.
-What a splendid hat.
-Do you think so?
I'm trying it out, I never wear a hat.
-Fear of squashing my wig.
But who's this?
Dear lady, you are prostrate. Allow me.
May I present
His Royal Highness Philippe, Duke of Orleans?
Your Highness, this is Madame Sabine de Barra.
How is it that a woman of such exquisite taste
falls in with a clay kicker like Andre here?
I must confess to being a clay kicker myself, Your Highness.
I am working for the master at Versailles.
I am unable to picture it.
Do tell us how it is that you are.
Oh. May I present Marquis du Vasse?
-Master Le Notre, Madame de Barra.
-But the mystery remains, madame.
What is a woman of such restrained sophistication
doing with Nolly here?
I speak from the opposite end of the fashion scale.
I don't apologise for it, I like it about myself.
Answer, madame. Stop me talking.
It was the only thing I knew how to do, for money.
And you enjoy your profession? It stimulates you?
It has seen me through some very hard times
and allowed me to be independent.
PRINCESS PALATINE: Dearest!
I simply do as I am told.
Even down to marrying large German women.
Though, I confess, I like her better than my last wife,
who is dead as a doornail now, thank God.
Do kiss me, husband. I am in need of affection.
It is wonderful to have access to one's spouse.
My dear, we're being very rude.
Princess Palatine, Duchess of Orleans,
may I present Madame de Barra, who...
Nolly, what is Madame de Barra engaged to do?
Hold for this, my dear, it will interest you.
She is to build a water cascade at Versailles.
Nothing like it will exist in the gardens.
PRINCESS PALATINE: How fascinating.
I am a great admirer of engineering.
Madame, you must promise to show us.
Perhaps Your Highnesses
would care to take lunch at the Louveciennes aqueduct?
Is it in the country?
I always disappear in the country.
But now that we are to move out to Versailles,
I shall become a human jellyfish.
A miserable, formless being.
We should love to come, Master Le Notre.
Everybody should really attend, I imagine.
Come, Madame de Barra.
Take a turnabout with me and tell me of your scheme.
With pleasure, Your Highness.
-Well, Nolly, Madame de Barra has certainly thrilled my dearest.
Has she thrilled you also?
She's very diverting and extremely clever at what she does, I think.
Do you indeed?
I am glad.
Thank you, sire.
My speech went down well, I thought.
"The finest examples of humanity" certainly enjoyed it.
We may be building with stone, but I can tell you it's a feather
compared to the weight of the state.
My brother tells me you're inviting
new ideas into the gardens. Why?
I've been persuaded to expand my horizons.
Have they been tested?
They are, in my opinion, appropriate.
Last year, we had the Nymphs and Shepherds costume party,
and it was not a bit funny, all those haggard faces under flaxen wigs.
We looked ancient.
I want a window to perfection
so that people can see the very best of themselves.
We've grown too old for jokes.
The work will be original but balanced.
The responsibility will be mine.
-MADAME LE NOTRE:
I did not see you there in the gloom.
Did you enjoy your evening?
As much, I imagine, as you did yours.
I did not expect to see you there.
You were with that woman.
You are reckless, madame.
# When youth has gone by
# The Phoenix will die
# In glorious splendour
# So men desire
# A woman's bright fire
# Before life is ended
# To love as you die
# Is a sweet goodbye
# To love as you die
# Is a sweet goodbye. #
I think you all, but especially the marquis. I croak unaccompanied.
PRINCESS PALATINE: Do you know that my husband and the marquis are lovers?
It has not stopped us having children, and he loved them dearly.
In battle, he's immensely brave.
And he has a good heart.
I am happy with my choice.
-Another thing about the country...
..is the muck.
One encounters it everywhere.
Or beasts making muck.
The country is full of muck.
-You sang beautifully.
I sometimes feel entirely defeated by life's extremities.
When I come to a place like this...
..gradually, a small courage takes hold of me
and I feel fitter for things.
-Do you feel that way often?
LE NOTRE: More so with time.
Your wife does not accompany you ever?
That is, she does not come out with you,
other times, besides now?
You're very direct, madame.
We have an arrangement.
I feel disloyal in discussing such matters.
You are also married?
My husband died.
Today you said I was reckless,
but to be reckless is to abandon safety,
but I think maybe it is safety that has abandoned me.
What is it?
I would like to walk on.
There's something you should see.
It's a shrine.
The queen is dead.
-MADAME LE NOTRE:
-Did you have fun on your picnic, Andre?
I take it, madame, you are unaware of events?
What do you mean, events?
The queen is dead, madame.
The king could marry again?
But no longer to your friend, the marquise, I think.
I feel sorry for Montespan.
Tread carefully, madame.
MAN #1: More on the wagon!
-No, the other one.
MAN #1: I want the seasoned wood.
-Here, pass it here.
Madame de Barra.
You've made some progress here.
I have a new foreman.
We've had to drain the soil below the fountain.
The ground is waterlogged.
It's a problem common to the gardens.
Do you sometimes forget to eat?
This is pate from Madame de la Tour.
She feeds the ducks on seaweed.
It was all she could afford.
Virtue from necessity.
What amuses you?
There was an Irish woman who died,
and her husband put on her tombstone,
"Here lies Eleanor Fitzgerald.
"Her virtues exceeded her failings."
How noble of him.
You think he showed her that before she died?
I'd have stuck an arrow in his eye.
Perhaps he was being truthful.
How is the king?
Shocked, I believe.
Poor little Spanish woman.
Has her head chopped off and her organs laid out neatly.
And all her friends, her maids, everyone,
must gather around the table.
Why would they chop her head off?
To see what she died of.
You must attend the funeral, I suppose?
Well, I should go.
KNOCK ON DOOR
It is I, King Monsieur.
Come, then, brother.
If the king does not eat, France does not eat.
I shall feed France,
and you must put up with it.
I'm not hungry.
I have rose jellies.
Have you lemon?
I wish to go to Marly.
And I wish to be alone.
Try not to bend the tops.
Monsieur de la Quintinie?
Madame Sabine de Barra.
I'm very happy to meet you.
I am directed by the Office of Buildings of Versailles
to order shrubs, such as I require, from your good self.
I have brought with me a selection of perennials
I thought we might exchange.
Is this the Four Seasons?
Yes, I believe so.
Good colour, too.
You say you have a selection of plants?
I had them unloaded into a little cart,
intending to have them conveyed here,
but there seems to be no-one about.
I wished to be alone, I had them sent away.
If you wish to be alone, I could come back.
No, no, no.
I find you are the very company I need today.
Nothing would suit me better than for me...
..the king's gardener...
..to take some advice on perennials.
Allow me, madame, to assist you.
Most kind, monsieur.
You are a devoted pear man, master.
I quite like them, not overly.
I think the master is playing a trick on me.
Well, yes, I do know of your book on pears.
My book on pears?
Oh, yes, I have written a book on pears.
I believe I said I liked them a lot in my book.
I believe you did.
You like flowers, master?
Madame de Barra, I love all flowers passionately.
However, I am banished from using as many as I would like
at Versailles by the Master Le Notre.
He indulges me in a few small parterres.
I'd hoped to be able to convert him when we took up residence.
You're wise to me now, madame.
May we ignore all that and continue as before?
Today, I am...
..Monsieur de la Quintinie.
And you are.
You are the better for the move to Versailles, sire?
It's good for the children to be away from the city.
I know it's a crush for everybody.
I felt, though, that I should never get the builders out
unless I moved in.
You are familiar with builders, Madame de Barra?
At present, I am building in your gardens at Versailles.
Which construction would that be?
The Rockwork Grove.
I am familiar with it.
I cannot claim it entirely as my own.
Master Le Notre took a simple sketch of mine
and made it outstanding, so...
You see my reluctance.
You admire the master, madame?
He is the most complete person I know.
You make me lonely for someone to describe me thus.
These are your flowers?
My wife died recently.
Did you hear?
I did, sire.
I remember the day of your marriage.
I hope so, it cost enough.
Though her father paid for a large portion.
Astray in his wits, bless him.
A long bloodline, never a good thing.
She was an innocent, really.
But she was nice.
And devoted to me.
I found this after she died.
It's just an account of our lives.
The writing's like a child's. CHUCKLES
You see here?
"Today I saved a flower from His Majesty."
And then the time and the place.
This little woman's secret life.
I feel the loss of it.
I should like to marry again.
This time someone I choose,
not the state.
Has Your Majesty someone in mind?
I have, but the lady's very pious.
Most evenings I stroll over to her rooms, and we just sit and talk.
But it is the ease of it I like.
Unfortunately, she is of no birth,
so, you see, I am at a little impasse.
If you were to be married to
the lady of your choosing...
..would it be necessary for everyone to know?
If the ceremony were private, between the couple...
..who would be in a position to argue the outcome?
They would be foolish to do so afterwards, when it was done.
So much to contend.
And what of you, Madame de Barra?
What pulse drives you?
There is someone you love?
I cannot say.
Because... Because of something private.
What is so private that it cannot be shared in love?
The time has come, madame,
for us both to face down our past
and live in the present.
I shall write a letter from one gardener to another,
shall we say, in return for seeds sown.
It will bring you to the court...
..where my eye...
..will always be on you.
I shall not forget our day in the garden, Madame de Barra.
-MADAME LE NOTRE:
-Are you still fiddling with your bits, Andre?
It helps me think.
It has the fleur-de-lis.
Is it from the king, I wonder?
Is it an invitation?
There is something you need, madame?
Andre? So secret?
I must inform you, since you ask,
that I leave for Fontainebleau at the end of the week.
I was not aware there were activities.
The marquise must have forgotten.
I will travel there alone.
Plainly, madame, that is the position.
If you will excuse me.
Madame de Barra.
Is she an aspect of your life I must now include?
Andre, a builder?
I'm a builder, madame.
You are funded by that profession.
Perhaps that is the fantasy between you and she.
So be it.
However, I must request that
you keep it separate from our lives.
If this liaison became common knowledge,
it would make me a laughing stock.
It makes my flesh crawl.
I remind you, madame, that it was YOU who embarked on this path.
You and only you dictated how we live now,
and you did it, madame,
when I needed you most.
I feel us at the edge of something here.
I'm trying to pull us back.
You knew the damage you inflicted,
but you have been free to live your life as you wished
without embarrassment from me.
I ask you now to extend me the same courtesy.
Andre, you must make the sensible choice here.
Do not exclude me, I beg you.
I begged you once.
Do you remember?
Allow me to give you the same advice you gave me then.
You said, "It is a matter of feeling special.
"If we are unable, one, to make the other feel special,
"we must just accept it,
"seek comfort elsewhere
"It is an honest contract, my dear.
"You'll grow used to it."
That is what you said.
What's the root ball like?
It's a bit dry.
Soak them overnight.
You may not need to.
Just secure them, then.
We should cover these tiers.
I need more rope.
I need more food.
In the warm.
You go on, I'll follow.
-MADAME LE NOTRE:
-Madame de Barra.
My name is Le Notre.
Did you ever see someone
and know that they were to play a role in your life?
You're a widow, I believe.
How lonely that must be.
I've known for some time that Andre had some secret happiness,
but my husband's ambitions are married only to mine.
You're not the first diversion,
and I believe at the moment,
not the only one.
You will come and you will go.
Understand me, madame.
It suits my husband and I this way.
-We found the sluice gate that connects the reservoir to the fountain.
If we fill it, the pressure in the pipes will build,
and we can flood the grove.
-Use the wood to hold it down!
The sluice gate must be open!
We need more hands!
To hell with that.
Will it mend?
It will mend.
The tiers were too weak.
The gate was left open.
You cannot be blamed for that, or the storm.
What should I do?
Like a well-trained plant?
Like a well-trained plant.
Am I part of an amusement for you?
Not at all.
I'm unused to all this.
Is it honest?
I have not been honest since I watched you in my garden.
Your heart beats fiercely. Mine just ticks.
I have not gifts to offer such a wonder.
If you are hungry, I'll feed you.
If I am mad, you will tell me.
You are not mad.
You don't know all of me yet.
Are you hungry?
LE NOTRE: Are you not happy?
That's what is making me cry.
Don't ask me.
-What am I to say? "It is original"?
Do you expect that of us?
You've been working with Madame de Barra.
Are you committed to this design?
-If I may say, Your Majesty,
I was just as sceptical as you are in the beginning, like.
I'm a convert, so to speak, Your Majesty.
Even now, the setbacks were due to nature, sire.
Perfection does not bow to nature.
What on earth are those things?
-Well, sire, I'm glad you asked me that, because that, really,
is what Madame de Barra is.
May I show Your Majesty?
You will recall what I said about Nymphs and Shepherds.
As we age, we see things more clearly.
..is it worthy of us?
There's no precedent for Madame de Barra's vision.
Trust is all we can give to those who reach into the new, sire.
But when beauty can be described with such imagination,
then her art, above all I know...
..is worthy of the king.
I see only mud.
Your words we will weigh later.
For now, inform Madame de Barra
that I shall see her at Fontainebleau.
Well, look who's here?!
Were you here all night?
He said all he could see was mud.
This will all work out.
I can call in some favours owed.
We can...double our hours,
and with the extra work force we'll get through it.
But you need to be the boss man.
Charm them all. As well as His Majesty.
Think you can remember how to?
The master's with you, anyway.
Did you hear him out there?
Looked as if he hadn't slept either.
I wondered when that fire would get lit.
I do not know...
..what story this tells
or what harm it is part of.
This is a bad end for both of us...
..and I am sorry for it.
-Welcome to Fontainebleau.
-How beautiful you look.
I believe it is compulsory.
Indeed. However, some of the ladies find it more of a challenge.
I am bound to say, I see no trace of that challenge in you.
Do not talk to me about it, madame.
I am ruined by the expense, and worse,
it is interfering with my gaming.
I must confess that escorting you down is something of a coup.
There are several parties who are anxious to meet you.
I am no-one.
What could the interest be?
Madame, you answer yourself.
You see how they look at you?
You are no-one where everybody is someone,
and yet you are here.
That makes you more the someone.
Especially if you have conversation.
Words just tumble.
People are looking our way with interest, because of my mirth.
But the hordes may not have you yet.
I am under strict instruction to convey you to one person in particular.
The Marquise de Montespan.
Heavens, the lengths I've had to go to, madame.
I have had to bribe, lie and use every form of deception to meet you.
How much did you pay the maitre d'hotel?
Five gold louis. Was that too much?
Money well spent.
Lauzun, I love you dearly.
Kiss me now and leave me to explore my prize.
I shall enjoy you later.
-Good fortune at the tables.
I feel lucky tonight.
My dearest friend and a most divine lover.
What can I say, madame?
Events overtook us before I had the king's interest.
Is this your first time at Fontainebleau?
-Have you no birth?
Not a drop. No blood whatsoever.
You are here entirely on your own merits.
I know a famous man.
Ah, I see.
I was going to offer you Lauzun,
but you're ahead of the game.
And Madame de Barra.
I'm so happy to see you again.
Oh, please, call me madame.
It's affectionate, and everybody does.
Come. My secret space.
-Do you dig earth?
Yet you're not blackened by the sun.
Perhaps a little.
And never had the smallpox. Your skin is clear.
Show us your breasts. Are they pretty?
Would you like to see mine? Mine are the most beautiful.
Yes, they are, apart from Suzanne, who's 70.
Oh, yes, hers are perfect.
-You see, here, touch.
Your eyes are the colour of the sea.
This gown is cut differently.
I like it at the waist.
Are you married?
-WOMAN #1: Did you like your husband?
-Yes. WOMAN #2:
Palatine has lost her son, too.
He was four.
So little and beautiful.
Charles was one.
I lost Joan and Ann together.
I lost my husband and my son on the battlefield.
They died in each other's arms.
I'm barely here.
How did they die?
-Do you find it hard to speak of it?
WOMAN #4: That can happen.
I put everything in a trunk.
All their clothes, shoes...
I haven't had the courage to go in there since.
When you are strong enough, my dear,
when you are strong enough.
DE MONTESPAN: We're not allowed to speak of death at court.
The king does not like it,
but we speak about it amongst ourselves.
Nobody may ban a child from its mother's heart.
I commended all my children into Maintenon's care.
How she has turned on me now.
Saintly old bitch.
It is an amazement to me a convent has not claimed her.
Costume's not as lavish. ALL LAUGH
FOOTSTEPS APPROACHING, WOMAN SHUSHING
Oh. The king comes.
Have you been presented before?
Your Majesty, it is my pleasure
to present Madame de Barra.
Is it a Four Seasons?
-It is, Sire.
For the most famous gardener in the world.
A light, honest scent.
Natural and unforced.
Some of the roses seem faded...
That fate awaits all roses, Sire.
All roses are open to the elements, Your Majesty.
They bud, bloom and fade.
Is that so, madame?
The rose grows entirely unaware,
changing naturally from one state to another,
and although the elements may treat her cruelly...
..she knows nothing of it and continues to her end
without judgment on her beauty.
Alas, 'tis not the same for us.
If such a rose could speak...
..what would she say?
Yes, I am here...
and gave service under nature's eye,
..and after me, my children will be.
Is there any greater contribution or more graceful end?
A wise rose.
And what protection can the gardener afford this rose
from the harsh elements of change?
..and a little warmth from the sun
are our best hope, Your Majesty.
I'm obliged to you, madame, for that sweet reminder.
Now walk with me.
And tell me of
your progress in our garden.
That was very brave tonight.
I hoped he might listen.
Who's there? I saw them die.
I can hear her so clearly.
I feel her.
I am unlocked.
There you are.
I'm off on business to Chartres.
Thought I would take Marie-Claire.
There's a good puppet stand and a pie shop.
Marie-Claire! Are you there?
Papa! Did you find her?
-Here is Belle Boobie asleep with Mama.
MARIE-CLAIRE: You naughty doll!
Come here and I shall punish you.
Oh, my goodness. Is she all right?
Don't be silly. She's made of cloth.
Heavens! What a relief! I shall have to sit down now.
Sabine, I have something to tell you.
-We've not been close of late.
And most men take mistresses in due course in such circumstances.
What's her name?
Where does she live?
Not too far.
There's the coach now.
We'll talk again on this matter.
When will you be back?
This evening, madame.
Do not "madame" me, Philippe.
Marie-Claire, tie your laces. You'll fall over them.
-I can't, Mama.
Master, look at this.
Jean, the wheel.
-I told the master.
He said it would do until Berry.
I did not kiss Mama.
She was the most beautiful thing I ever made,
and I killed her.
Did you intend them to die? Is that what you planned?
It was... It was your husband's choice.
He took away the child.
No, it was my fault.
It was my fault. I let him take her away.
What if no-one person is to blame?
And what use is blame?
It is enough to have it happen to you.
It is enough to recover from it.
That is as much as we may ask of ourselves.
That is enough.
What is it that would help you?
If you held me.
What will happen to your wife?
This was not the way we started.
So we must have taught each other how to behave.
I am to blame for it as much as she.
She will live her own life.
She knows that now.
We will shape each other.
This isn't the right way.
-Yes, it is. We're behind that fence.
For heaven's sake!
I have to rent this.
Waste of money!
What do you mean?
No-one will see us.
The music comes from the heavens.
Fair winds, Sabine.
Madame is lucky in her friends.
LE NOTRE: He loves it.
-Do I look very flushed?
No, you look beautiful.
Are you flattering me?
Is that wrong?
Call me madame again.
1680s France. Sabine de Barra's designs for part of the gardens of Versailles cause taciturn landscape architect Andre Le Notre to take an interest in her fresh outlook. Though Sabine is not afraid to get her hands dirty, her introduction to the muddied morality of the royal court of Louis XIV proves much harder work, with secrets and sadness buried just beneath the surface glamour.
Sumptuous historical drama from BBC Films, inspired by true events.