The Death of Louis XIV: Death by Boredom


The Death of Louis XIV (2016) has been on my watch-list for a while now, and I recently scored a DVD of it. I’ve heard nothing but praise for this film, and I knew going in that it probably would be less of a period piece and more of a conceptual exploration of the decline and death of a powerful man. Which, honestly, also sounded kind of interesting. So, while I wasn’t expecting a lot of costume content, I at least was hoping that it would be worthwhile to watch from a psychological standpoint.

I made it 30 minutes. I hate to say it, but this is essentially a movie about an elderly man chewing food while wearing increasingly ridiculous wigs. If that’s your bag, then rock on! If not, well, you’re not going to miss a lot if you skip it.

I will say that it did remind me a lot of my grandfather’s death some 20-odd years ago. The way everyone was huddled in the wings, watching him slowly decline, waiting for a sign that he was either going to rally or that it was actually over. Not to diminish his passing in any way, but it also reminded me that dying can be a boring slog for everyone involved. And The Death of Louis XIV was incredibly accurate in that respect.

2016 Death of Louis XIV

Louis sporting one of the less-weird wigs.

2016 Death of Louis XIV

The opening scene. Lasts a good ten minutes. Is more or less nothing but Louis laying in bed while doctors and courtiers murmur and fuss around him.

The Death of Louis XIV (2016)

The wigs get weirder as Louis gets weaker.

2016 Death of Louis XIV

Louis and his grandson and heir have a chat.

2016 Death of Louis XIV

Maintenon actually cracking a smile? Hard to say. She spends most of the film lurking on the fringes looking grim.


Have you made it through The Death of Louis XIV?


About the author

Sarah Lorraine

Sarah has an undergraduate degree in Clothing & Textile Design and a Master's in Art History and Visual Culture, with an emphasis on fashion history. When she’s not caught in paralyzing existential dread, she's drinking craft cocktails and writing about historical costume in film and television. She's been pissing people off on the internet since 1995.

5 Responses

  1. Penny H

    Ha! yes, I did watch the whole thing, though probably not in one sitting, because of 1) your MCM post of December ’17, 2) Jean-Pierre Léaud, 3) francophile obligation. Unfortunately I forget things I’ve watched so quickly, I really don’t think I got any more out of it than you did in thirty minutes. (To be able to watch movies like this, it really helps to have trained on things like Visconti’s Ludwig (1973) and Last Year at Marienbad.)

  2. Al Don

    I was likewise disappointed by this film. I thought it was well shot and believably acted but an absolute chore to sit through. I find the high praise for it all a bit baffling.

  3. picasso Manu

    Weeeell… On the one hand, I’m not sure what you were expecting. After all, the death of one old man (albeit the king of France) was pretty much what was marked on the tin. On the other hand, we frenchies sometimes like to bore ourselves to stupor in theaters… must be an antidote to all that coffee we drink, I’m sure.


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