Ridicule and The Fictional World of Archives

Feature Film Release Date (France): 1996

This superb historical drama, which opened the 1996 Cannes Film Festival and based on a true story, includes a few scenes involving archival records. Directed by Patrice Leconte, the story has Grégoire Ponceludon de Malavoy (Charles Berling), an engineer of the noble class, travelling to Versailles to seek an audience with the King for financial aid to construct a dyking system to drain a swamp that is a breeding ground for disease and death.

Pleading his case with the jaded members of the the Court and guided by a helpful physician, Bellegarde (Jean Rochefort), the engineer proves more than a match with his mastery of wit. While peasant children on his estate are dying, Ponceludon must suffer the most outrageous barbs, but he gives back more than he gets, eventually besting his nemesis, the Abbé.

One scene features a room whose walls are covered with floor to ceiling bookcases holding studies submitted to the Court on the recommendation of various advisors (the Left and the Right Wing). Another scene features a memorable character, Le Genéalogiste, who amidst his family trees and documents proving noble descent, dines while consulting with the engineer. At first unsucessful, the engineer allows himself to be seduced by a paramour, Madame de Blayac (Fanny Ardant), who smooths the way through Le Genéalogiste to the King.

  1. Official Web Site
  2. The Internet Movie Database

CONTENTS: The Fictional World of Archives

Submitted by David Mattison, 1998.10.25. Updated 1998.10.25.