REVIEW: Sex, violence, nudity, dwarves… Titillating Versailles premiere sets out to rival Game of Thrones
The BBC’s latest offering of Versailles gave us splendour, opulence, and rather an eyeful last night, for the price of just £24million. The historical drama, centred on the louche King Louis XIV and his plans to transfer his power base from Paris to Versailles, was peppered liberally with naked bodies and heavy breathing.
An early attempt was made on the King’s life by four Spanish assassins; one of whom was swiftly dispatched in prison by being bludgeoned with a hammer. There were several scenes of messy, bloody violence to counter the beautifully splendid surrounds and wardrobe of the aristocratic milieu in the royal court.
The BBC wardrobe department was at its best in the parade of magnificently attired and coiffured aristocrats. Who could blame the King’s brother, Phillipe, for frittering a small fortune of fifty thousand on shoes? “You haven’t seen the shoes!” he countered when chastised by the King for his extravagance.
The sex factor was amply provided by the delectable Noemie Schmidt in the role of Henriette, the King’s lover and sister-in-law. She was portrayed like the Venus Rising when she ascended soaking wet from the lake in a clingy, transparent gown which showed off every inch of her flawless assets. Not much need for imagination required.
With her golden locks and elfin face, it was easy to see why the King was captivated by Henriette’s charms in contrast to his dour, stern faced queen played by Elisa Lasowski. Her husband Philippe in the meantime was not left twiddling his thumbs in the bed chamber. He was well serviced by one Monsieur Chevalier.
There was also much pressure to produce a male heir by Louis’ Spanish queen, who was shown to have a most singular delectation for dwarves under her billowing skirt.
Heaving bosoms and naked bodies aside, there was also plenty of intrigue with spying and counter-spying to keep things interesting. Who can the King trust? “Do you have my back?” he kept asking his brother throughout, as he himself was well aware of the dangers he faced from within.
Last night’s episode ended with the dramatic birthing scene of Louis’ much anticipated royal heir. The climax was the baby that was proffered to the King, and we shall not spoil it by revealing the shocking outcome.
Sex and violence, nudity and dwarves… Haven’t we already seen these all too familiar ingredients in the Game of Thrones franchise? Versailles was altogether less gritty, earthy viewing than that show, but this initial serving should be enough to keep viewers following it when it continues next Wednesday at 9pm on BBC Two.