• Fabrice Lucchini and Sandrine Kiberlain in 'Beaumarchais the Scoundrel' (1996)
To celebrate the flamboyant drama 'Versailles' gracing our screens this month on SBS, we've selected some of the most extravagant period movies available at SBS On Demand.
SBS Movies

19 Aug 2016 - 3:36 PM  UPDATED 19 Aug 2016 - 4:23 PM

The lavish TV series Versailles premieres on SBS this month*. You won't want to miss a minute of this thrilling account of the evolution (both sexual and political) of King Louis XIV.

Before you can revel in this whirlwind of luscious wigs, froufrou dresses and feathered hats, get into the Versailles spirit with these sumptuous costume dramas available at SBS On Demand.



UK/USA, 1999
Genre: Drama, Romance
Language: English
Director: Martha Fiennes
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Lena Headey, Liv Tyler
What's it about?
Martha Fiennes directs her older brother Ralph in this innovative adaptation of the classic 19th Century Russian novel. Eugene Onegin is a jaded socialite whose indifference jeopardises an opportunity to experience deep and abiding love. In the tradition of Dr Zhivago, Onegin features great performances, clever dialogue and stunning cinematography. 

Watch The Movie Show's original ★★★ ½ review


All the World's Mornings

France, 1991
Genre: Drama, Romance, History
Language: French
Director: Alain Corneau
Starring: Jean-Pierre Marielle, Gerard Depardieu, Guillaume Depardieu
What's it about?
Enjoy a double dose of Depardieu in this acclaimed biography of Marin Marais, a famous violist at Louis XIV's court. Gerard and his late son Guillaume both play Marais through the ages, as he is mentored by an uncompromising taskmaster, Monsieur de Sainte Colombe. Accompanied by sublime baroque music, the film follows the intense and complicated master-student dynamic - and speaking of intensity, there's plenty of that too, in Marais's relationship with Colombe's daughter... 

Watch The Movie Show's original ★★★ review


Lady Chatterley

France, 2006
Genre: Drama
Language: French
Director: Pascale Ferran
Starring: Marina Hands, Jean-Louis Coullo'ch, Hippolyte Girardot
What's it about?
D.H. Lawrence's classic tale of adultery gets the big screen treatment it deserves in this celebrated adaptation. Lady Chatterley swept the César Awards in 2007 with multiple awards, including best picture and best actress, for Marina Hands' unforgettable turn as a cloistered aristocrat embroiled in a torrid affair with her groundskeeper. 


Wuthering Heights

UK, 2011
Genre: Drama, Romance
Language: English
Director: Andrea Arnold
Starring: Kaya Scodelario, James Howson, James Northcote
What's it about?
Director Andrea Arnold gives us her gritty, stripped-bare take on Emily Brontë's epic novel, about the stormy love between Heathcliff and Cathy. 

SBS On Demand: Andrea Arnold Double Bill



France, 2007
Genre: Comedy, History
Language: French
Director: Laurent Tirard
Starring: Romain Duris, Fabrice Luchini, Ludivine Sagnier
What's it about?
Romain Duris (The Beat That My Heart Skipped) gives free reign to his comedic talent in this irresistible farce that reimagines Molière's formative years. Before he became the famous writer of comic satire such as 'The Misanthrope', a young Moliere was a failed actor and bankrupt, hired by the wealthy Monsieur Jourdain to woo a French countess with a series of love letters. 

Watch The Movie Show's original ★★★★ review


Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

Spain, France, Germany, USA, 2006
Genre: Drama, Crime, Fantasy
Language: English
Director: Tom Tykwer
Starring: Ben Whishaw, Dustin Hoffman, Alan Rickman
What's it about?
For something completely different, try German director Tom Tykwer (Run Lola, Run)'s gripping thriller about obsession and murder in 18th century France. Jean-Baptiste Grenouille (Ben Whishaw) is a gifted perfumer on a homicidal quest for the perfect scent. 


Colonel Chabert

France, 1994
Genre: Drama
Language: French
Director: Yves Angelo
Starring: Gerard Depardieu, Fanny Ardant, Fabrice Luchini
What's it about?
Gérard Depardieu gives a brilliant performance in this adaptation of Honoré de Balzac's classic critique of French society. A decade after being presumed killed in action in the Napoleonic Wars, Colonel Chabert (Depardieu) returns to Paris, to learn that his wealth has been squandered by his "widow" and her new husband. The colonel sets out to reclaim his money and restore his legacy.



UK, 1992
Genre: Drama
Language: English
Director: Sally Potter
Starring: Tilda Swinton, Quentin Crisp, Billy Zane
What's it about?
In one of her most famous roles, Tilda Swinton plays Virginia Woolf's gender-bending hero(ine), the eternally youthful nobleman, Orlando. Orlando experiences four centuries of sexual politics (right up until the 1990s), initially as a man, and eventually, as a woman. Her final transformation leads to a struggle to retain her property and status. David Stratton said of the film, "You can't imagine a better film adaptation than this one."

Watch The Movie Show's original ★★★★ ½ review 
SBS On Demand: Tilda Swinton collection
Top 5 Tilda Swinton performances


Beaumarchais the Scoundrel

France, 1996
Genre: Adventure, History, Romance
Language: French
Director: Édouard Molinaro
Starring: Fabrice Luchini, Sandrine Kiberlain, Judith Godreche
What's it about?
Fabrice Lucchini (The Women on the 6th Floor) is excellent in this entertaining and lavish biopic exploring playwright Pierre de Beaumarchais's extraordinary life. The author of the scandalous Figaro plays was also a magistrate, arms dealer, secret agent for Louis XV, a supporter of the American War of Independence - and a voracious womaniser.

Watch The Movie Show's original ★★★ review


The Princess of Montpensier

France, 2010
Genre: Drama, History
Language: French
Director: Bertrand Tavernier
Starring: Melanie Thierry, Lambert Wilson, Gaspard Ulliel
What's it about?
This swashbuckling romance directed by French veteran filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier (The French Minister) contrasts the violence of the 16th Century religious wars, with masculine pride in intimate relationships. A beautiful young aristocrat is pursued by four suitors even as she is negotiated into an arranged marriage by her father. Features a complex performance by Melanie Thierry as the 'princess' of the title. 

Read ★★★ ½ review



Spain, 2004
Genre: Comedy
Language: Spanish
Director: Joaquín Oristrell
Starring: Leonor Watling, Luis Tosar, Núria Prims
What's it about?
This rollicking Freudian farce is set in 1913 Barcelona as an expectant, ultra-modern woman is thrust into a complex mystery around her missing psychiatrist husband. As she searches for him with the help of her conservative brother-in-law, she discovers a strange manuscript on hysteria and female sexuality, which proves the launching point for a Sherlock Holmes kind of adventure, where hypnosis, love, danger, and every imaginable taboo are intertwined. 


*Versailles airs Thursday, 25 August at 9:30pm (AEST) on SBS from August 25. The first 2 episodes are available now at SBS On Demand.


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