Synopsis: In 1671, with war brewing with Holland, a penniless prince invites Louis XIV to three days of festivities at a chateau in Chantilly. The prince wants a commission as a general, so the extravagances are to impress the king. In charge of all is the steward, Vatel, a man of honor, talent, and low birth. The prince is craven in his longing for stature: no task is too menial or dishonorable for him to give Vatel. While Vatel tries to sustain dignity, he finds himself attracted to Anne de Montausier, the king's newest mistress. In Vatel, she finds someone who's authentic, living out his principles within the casual cruelties of court politics. Can the two of them escape unscathed?
Director(s): Roland Joffé
Production: Miramax
  Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 2 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
103 min

April the 10th 1671.

M. Le Prince de Cond

his Majesty gives me reasons to believe that he would accept

an invitation to visit you at Chantilly.

The visit will last 3 days.

The King instructs me to say that he wants no fuss.

Merely the simple pleasures of life in the country.

In other words,

if you value his Majesty's favor,

you will set no limit...

to the extravagance and ingenuity of the festivities.

I will present myself beforehand to approve the arrangements.

Marquis de Lauzun,

in the service of his Majesty, Louis XIV of France.

[Footsteps approaching]

On that table!

- Good morning, Monsieur.

- Good morning, Monsieur.

Good morning.

The Princess's apartments are at the disposal of the Queen.

Naturally I shall place mine at the disposal of his Majesty.

From the King's anti-chambre, we pass through the music room.

And next,

to the apartments of the Queen.

Her Majesty's bedroom,

drawing room,

and a further bedroom beyond for her Majesty's lady-in-waiting.

Lady-in-waiting. Madame de Montausier.

Madame de Montausier.

Anne de Montausier.

Her Majesty will be comfortable,

and convenient.

The King won't be going to her bed, he did his duty 2 clays ago.

Remarkably well informed.

The Queen confesses the morning after...

- When was it?


Remarkably well informed...

This room is to serve as the Council Chamber and...

the King's bedroom.

And a second bedroom through here,

with access also from the private corridor.

And this of course,

we have allocated to the Duchesse de la Valliere.



This room is for the Marquise de Montespan.

And La Valliere?

Anywhere. Put her in the attic.

I prefer it, M. Le Prince, if my rooms were north facing.

- I don't like the sun coming in.

Your rooms, Lauzun?

I myself will manage with only one room for three days...

as well as the Princess.

Every corner and cupboard is spoken for.

Even so to accommodate the Court we have to use every farmhouse...

for miles around.

MY room?

No. I won't have you disturbed, Vatel.

You haven't slept for a week as it is.

Have that cleaned!

The first day. The glory of sun, the bounty of nature.

Trees, birds, butterflies,

fruits and flowers.

The second day, on the lake,

fireworks. The sun banishes the night.

The lamps are on their way from Paris now.

For Friday, the fish banquet will be presented on a sea of ice.

Neptune's tribute to Helios, the Sun God.

The King will catch cold.

No, my prince. The braziers will be lit one hour before the banquet.

Then the ice will melt.

I have forbidden it to melt, my Prince.

Ha ha ha. Well, our fate is in your hands.

The first day, noon.

Good day to you.

Now, how can I help you?

Excuse me, sir, but we'll only talk to the top, nobody else.

I regret his Majesty is busy at this moment.

His host, the Prince de Cond likewise.

Not them.

The man in charge,

the Master of Pleasures and Festivities: Vatel.

Oh, Vatel.

Slightly more difficult.

Yeah. I'll see what I can do. Please follow.

- How many geese?

- 60, Monsieur.

Monsieur Vatel.

Monsieur Vatel.

You're trespassing here, M. Alcalet.

All of us are owed money.


We've come to tell you. From this moment, nothing on credit.


Not a single cabbage leaf or a cracked coffee cup...

or a table napkin, nothing, until our bills are paid!

- Exactly.

- Pay up!

We have businesses to run and families to provide for.

- When will we get what we're owed?

What you are owed now is true.

As things stand, we cannot honor our debts.

Not for the months and years gone by, still less for these festivities.

We cannot pay you a single sou,

nor will we ever.

You have only one chance of getting your money.

By giving me everything I ask for, instantly.

And of the very best quality and then more of the same.

This visit is a reconciliation.

If the King is pleased by the festivities,

then the royal coffers will open.

It's up to you.

If we give you more credit, will we get our money back?

The Prince has said so.

My master is a man of honor.

On that I stake my life. You will be paid.

Excellent. Excellent.

Good morning.


- Monsieur Vatel.

- Hello, monsieur.

Very good.

Are you going down, Madame? I'm going up.


Where is Montausier?

Explain to her the Queen does not wait on her lady-in-waiting!

Forgive me, Madame. Oh, please.

Let me...

Allow me.

I hope your birds will be happy with us.


- That's good.

- Oui, Monsieur.

What do you think, your Highness?

Effiat, Monsieur has chosen the boy already.

Here we are!

Ah, yes. Put him in with the fruit...

There, you need a wash.

All right, boy. Let's clean you.

Effiat, get in! Get in with...

with him.

Monsieur, the King's brother wants him for his page.

He chose me.

Get him dressed and put him to work.


What would you have me tell his Highness,

the King's brother?

Tell him I don't get my boys from his boudoir.

And he won't get his from my kitchen.


Indeed, I will.

It's not very wise upsetting...

the King's brother, you know.

He could make things go badly for us if he chooses.

Monsieur Vatel.

The Princess...

has been bitten... by a monkey!

Master Steward, you've filled my garden with savage beasts!

I've been badly bitten. Where were you?

Busy, your Highness. We have some unwelcome visitors.




Doctor Bourdelot!

I've been badly bitten...

on the arm.

They told me a poultice made of rose petals.

What's your name?

Franois Vatel, Madame.

Monsieur Vatel.

You were at Vaux-le-Vicomte 10 years ago.

Yes, Madame. I was steward to Nicolas Fouquet.

His Majesty's Minister of Finance.

You mean his Majesty's prisoner for life in the fortress of Pignerol.

That is so.

That was my first banquet.

Six thousand guests to meet the King.

Diamonds and saddle horses given away as prizes in childish games.

That was overdoing it, don't you think?

It showed how much Fouquet had been stealing.

Gourville, why has the King really come here?


The King will never forget that Cond fought against him in the civil war.

That was a long time ago. The King was a child.

If there's a war with the Dutch, the King will need Cond...

so your part in this, my dear Vatel, is to show the King...

we bow the head and bend the knee.

I'm passing red hot stones.


- Your Majesty.

What exactly do you need to borrow so much money for?

The better to serve France, your Majesty.

Well, our envoys from Holland aren't here yet?

Not yet, your Majesty.

Peace with the Dutch is good for nothing. Except tulips.

How many tulips do we have at Versailles?

Two million, Sire.

And my gardener hates flowers.

He would love a war with the Dutch.

Indeed, Sire.

But, would your Majesty please recall...

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Jeanne Labrune

Jeanne Labrune (born 21 June 1950) is a French screenwriter and film director. She has directed 13 films since 1978. Her film Sand and Blood was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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