© High Sea Production, Scope Pictures

Ein Königlicher Tausch (The Royal Exchange, L‘Echange des Princesses)
France/Belgium 2017

Opening 28 Feb 2019

Directed by: Marc Dugain
Writing credits: Marc Dugain
Principal actors: Igor Van Dessel, Julianne Lepoureau, Lambert Wilson, Anamaria Vartolomei, Mustii

Did you ever dream about being a princess and that you would be rescued by some prince in a faraway land? Like a Rocco painting, the scene unfolds as the nanny of Ludwig XV is informed of the death of Louis XIV (A famous king with the longest reign in history) and he, Louis XV (Igor Van Dessel), the five-year-old grandson would take the throne and would become known as the sun king having the second longest reign as king. It is a drama that we are used to watching where we expect historical characters elaborately dressed to be chatting and eating away at large tables filled with food amidst maidens dancing in the background. These characters would be at the same time indulging themselves in the world of politics, power, and sexual intrigues. But this is where the Senegal born French director Marc Dugain says absolutely not!  Perhaps it is due to his studies in politics or that he himself is a writer of historical fiction, that he decides to stray from the norm and recreate a historical moment for us which brings back a harsh reality true to this historical past. He chose a very brief moment in time which is the period of 1721 to 1725 where two princesses Maria Anna Victoria (Julianne Lepoureau) and Louise Elizabeth (Anamaria Vartolomei) are exchanged, each to be wed in order to bring peace to France and Spain.  There is no thought of age, love, intelligence, beauty not to mention the hardship of travel disease or the difference between cultures and ideas.

The costumes are elaborately beautiful, but flawed, which makes the environment realistic, lush and believable. The characters may at times seem strange to us since they are restrained by their freedom but feel true to that moment in time. It is an outstanding movie in every way, from the music, to the costumes, to the acting (special mention of Mustii’s role of the Duc de Conte, who made me laugh every time he entered the room) and for the end realization that this mythical idea of becoming a princess should remain in my dreams. (Shelly Schoeneshoefer)

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