Gaumont and Paris-based LGM Cinema have set The Hills Have Eyes and Horns helmer Alexandre Aja to direct The Marquis. Billed as an epic and sensual 17th century-set romance drama, it’s based on the true story of the Marquis de Montespan. The English-language, $25M pic starts shooting at the end of the year/early 2017.
Inspired by Jean Teulé’s novel, Le Montespan, which has been adapted by Aja, it covers the doomed and passionate relationship between the Marquis Louis Henri de Montespan and his wife Athénaïs, who became the mistress of Louis XIV, aka the Sun King. Although having one’s wife spend time in bed with the monarch was perceived as a source of prestige for aristocrats at the time, the Marquis vowed to get his wife back at all costs.
Aja, best known for his genre work, is looking to bring a modern edge to the period piece about “an extremely passionate couple, who, for nearly 30 years sought to free themselves from the muck of this hypocritical society they lived in.” He’s also intending to show that muck, straying from the frequent depiction of beauty and elegance in the court of Louis XIV. “It was the filthiest century in the history of France, with the doctors advising to never wash, with women peeing and defecating under their beautiful dresses … or their completely strange dental ‘hygiene’ which included filling their cavities with butter and honey that would ooze out every now and then during casual conversation. … I really wanted the reader and future viewer to feel drenched in all these flavors, to immerse themselves in a world never before shown in such a raw and honest light.”