• George Blagden in Versailles (SBS)Source: SBS
Power, kings, thrones, swords, horses, sex, war and wolves. No, this isn’t GoT, this is the mega-budget Franco-Canadian drama series Versailles.
By
Jeremy Cassar

29 Jun 2016 - 12:02 PM  UPDATED 22 Aug 2016 - 1:37 PM

The Palace of Versailles - that place tourists wait in line to see for a few hours then give up and return to Paris for a glass of wine - boasts one crazy mother of a history.

That’s what the epic cinematic drama Versailles, the first two episodes of which are on SBS On Demand, tells us, and since it’s based on recorded facts, we’re inclined to go with it. It’s a dark, unrelenting, meticulously produced show, and a 10-course degustation for the eyes as twisted and jaw-dropping as Game of Thrones.

Here’s a taste-test...

Important to note: Creator David Wolstencraft maintains the series is based on history, but opted to invent more personal storylines that could very well have happened behind and between the recorded facts. While most characters are based on real people, Wolstencraft had no qualms about introducing fictional characters.

 

The king and his appetite for power

Our (anti?) hero is King Louis XIV (George Blagden), a long-haired youth with a noticeable chip on both his royal shoulders. We meet him when the kingdom of France is in disarray, as is he and everyone in his servitude.

The heir to his dad’s chair since the age of four, this Louis is demanding, paranoid and emotionally erratic, and is fuelled by his late mother’s dying words:

You were anointed by God, blessed by the sun, but you do not yet possess what really matters – the power. Without it you will perish, and all of France along with you. For a King without a castle, is no King.”

Yeah thanks, Mum, no pressure.

 

He’s awaiting the pregnancy of his “proud Spanish queen”, an event that will have a decent-sized audience

Louis' wife, Marie-Therese (Elisa Lasowski), wants nothing more than to vacate the dump they’re in and return to Paris. She has little faith in her husband’s word, and seems to be holding onto a significant secret.

 

His primary solution is to renovate an old hunting lodge

Louis sets out to turn the ailing empire into a land of luxury, and will stop at nothing to remain on the throne for as long as humanly possible.

This all starts with dreams of turning his father/the former king’s ageing mansion of a hunting lodge into a palace. Louis aims to build and rebuild and expand a new kingdom of buildings - not merely a political facility, but a community and a home.

Of course, this obsessive project would involve him housing and keeping an eye on his nobles – some of whom aren’t exactly his biggest fans.

 

What does the king’s bro think about this grand plan?

Gay-in-secret Monsieur Philippe I (Alexander Vlahos) - also known as the Duke of Orleans or, more commonly, as "the King’s brother" - is on the nobles' side when it comes to Louis' lofty ambition, but despite such reservations, possesses an undeniable love for the king.

Fraternal love isn’t always enough to keep them closely blonded, however, and their relationship is almost always underscored by a degree of resentment or competitiveness.

We’ll see how these particular bros fare.

 

Yes, there are horses…

 

Wolves…

 

Swords…

 

Villains…

 

Violence…

 

Sex…

 

WTF moments…

 

Gorgeous moments…

 

And astonishing costumes…

Everything you need, really.

 

Episode 1 and 2 of Versailles are available on SBS on Demand. The full series airs in August. 

Watch episode 1 right here:

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