WriterPatricia Mazuy, Yves Dangerfield, Yves Thomas Release date17 May 2000 (2000-05-17) ScreenplayPatricia Mazuy, Yves Thomas, Philippe Lauro-Baranes CastIsabelle Huppert (Madame de Maintenon), Jean-Pierre Kalfon (Louis XIV), Jean-François Balmer (Racine), Nina Meurisse (Lucie de Fontenelle), Morgane Moré (Anne de Grandcamp), Bernard Waver (l'abbé Gobelin) Similar moviesMusic by John Cale, Louis XIV of France movies, Isabelle Huppert movies
The King's Daughters (French: Saint-Cyr) is a 2000 French period drama film directed by Patricia Mazuy. It was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival. It was adapted from the novel La maison d’Esther by Yves Dangerfield.
In March 1685, Louis XIV’s final wife Madame de Maintenon wishes to set up a boarding school for young daughters of noble families that have fallen on hard times, the Maison royale de Saint-Louis, a school where girls receive a pious but liberal education. The first difficulty is that the students from the provinces all speak different regional languages and dialects and the first task is to teach them all to speak a standardised Parisian French.
After a few years of indifference, the school’s first aims prove impossible to attain. An important crisis arises from a performance by the students of an extract from Iphigenie by Racine. This provokes too much passion among the actors and so Madame de Maintenon asks Racine to write her a play for her students that praises virtue – this proves to be Esther. The students put on the new play and, when the king and his court attend the production, Madame de Maintenon realises that this had made the nobles of the court view her protégées as targets for seduction and marriage. Marriage proposals mount up and one nobleman even manages to break into the school.
Madame de Maintenon decides to impose stricter rules and plunges into religion in an attempt to expiate her past. She asks an abbot to help her keep students on the right Christian moral path and keep them safe from the world. Instead of turning its students into an elite for the world outside, the school falls prey to realities, cuts itself off from reality and falls apart – the film ends with its final failure and closure.