Quatres Saisons – Kindness, unbribed.

A Little Chaos is about garden features (a dance space at Versailles). It is also a film about women. This is perhaps no where more evident than in the hinge scene that carries the heroine, Sabine de Barra, through to her presentation to King Louis XIV, the Sun King.

She is handed off by Lauzun to Mme de Montespan who conducts her to room apart where for the first time in the film the story explores an all-female space. The script explains the moment thus

A small room full to the brim of women. Music. They crowd round DE BARRA.

As they are being introduced, they look directly at her, they study her openly, touch her hand, turn it over, take off her rings, try them on themselves. Look at her shoes. One tugs her hair to find out if it is real. DE BARRA yells, they all laugh.

The atmosphere of frivolity turns in an instant to the intent listening of what amounts to a consciousness-raising group as the women enumerate their losses. Mme de Montespan explains why such moments are snatched from the time at court.

We are not allowed to speak of death at court. The King does not like it, so he has banned it. But we speak about it amongst ourselves. Nobody can ban a child from its mother’s heart. So.

Then we get the vital filler of back story about the Marquise de Maintenon who has usurped Mme de Montespan’s place in the King’s affection. In the next scene, Sabine is then presented to the King and its coded exchange about some roses having being “over-scented and overblown” — worth quoting in extenso.


All roses are open to the elements your majesty. They bud, bloom and fade,


Continue, Madame.


In the garden the rose grows entirely unaware, she follows a pattern of growth, changing naturally from one state to another, in order that future seasons may exist, and although the elements may treat her cruelly, she knows nothing of it, and continues to her end, without judgement on her beauty. Alas, it is not the same for us.

MONTESPAN listens intently.


If such a rose could speak, what would she say?



And what protection can we afford this rose from these harsh elements of change?


A little warmth, from the sun, can do wonders for the growth of a rose, your majesty.


We shall see, Madame de Barra. Now walk with us, and describe your progress in our garden.

The script’s “little warmth” turns in the movie (see trailer) into a speech that underscores the identificatory moment.

[overblown roses] That fate awaits all roses, sire. […] Under nature’s eye, all roses may bloom. Although the elements may treat us cruelly, patience, care, and a little warmth from the sun are our best hope.

Not a wonder that in both script and movie, Mme de Montespan’s words conclude with wonder “Kindness, unbribed.” Yes, kindness and gentleness born from handling thorns.

And so for day 1543

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