Jean Baptiste Poquelin Molière (1622-73) was perhaps the greatest playwright of French history. His comedies have been performed, adapted and re-adapted continually from his day to ours not only in France, but around the world. It is certain that he lived and breathed for the theater: the company he toured with became first, the King’s Troupe (for the “Sun King,” Louis XIV), and later became what was even then the most prestigious theater company of France, the Comédie Française. The Comédie Française remains a national institution of unimaginable importance. Thanks to Molière’s devastating wit, the king’s patronage and protection was more than a formality: he offended many important people personally and in his comedies. This lavish biographical film chronicles his childhood experiences as a merchant’s son, going by the name of Pouquelin, up to the time he ran away to join the Béjart company of travelling players, and then follows his later years as a respected client of the king. Viewers will find their appreciation for this film enriched by prior knowledge of Molière, his plays, and his times. ~ Clarke Fountain, All Movie Guide
Who was Moliere? He is known everywhere as one of the world’s greatest playwrights. But who was he? Born Jean-Baptiste Poquelin in 1622, the son of a prosperous tapestry maker. His mother died when he was a boy. Growing up in the teeming streets of 17th century Paris, Jean Baptiste received a good Jesuit education and was fascinated by the street fairs and traveling carnivals that flourished in spite of the religious repression and hypocrisy of those cruel times. As a young man he joined the theatrical Bejart family to establish the Illustre-Theatre, which soon went bankrupt. The troupe reformed, found patronage, and went on the road for thirteen years, performing all over France. Poquelin developed his stagecraft adapting Commedia dell Arte plots to please brutalized peasants and cynical townspeople. He also married Madeline Bejart, the widowed daughter of the troupe’s founder. Later he entered into a love affair with Mme Bejart’s daughter, to the dismay of all. The troupe eventually returned to Paris and, on October 24, 1658, greatly impressed the 20-year old King Louis XIV, later to be called the Sun King. Moliere’s life became bound up with the magnificent court at Versailles, and with its intrigues. He wrote, staged and acted in the plays now famous all over the world. He fought with his enemies and his friends, enjoyed success followed by failure, organized court festivities and defended himself against increasingly fanatic religious authorities. Above all, his theater was taken from life as his life was theatrical.
* Philippe Caubère – Moliere
* Roger Planchon – Colbert
* Brigitte Catillon – Armande Bejart
* Odile Cointepas – Marie Cresse Poquelin
Subtitles:english, spanish, german