Landscape Architect & Specifier News

MAR 2015

LASN is a photographically oriented, professional journal featuring topics of concern and state-of-the-art projects designed or influenced by registered Landscape Architects.

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120 Landscape Architect and Specifier News I n f o r m a t i o n R e q u e s t # 6 3 8 Landscape Architecture Comes to the Big Screen by LASN Editor Stephen Kelly I received an email invitation to attend a film screening in Los Angeles of a yet to be release movie called "A Little Chaos." The movie synopsis reads: "A romantic drama following Sabine (Kate Winslet), a strong- willed and talented landscape designer, who is chosen to build one of the main gardens at King Louis XIV's new palace at Versailles. In her new position of power, she challenges gender and class barriers, while also becoming professionally and romantically entangled with André Le Nôtre." Landscape architects know the name André Le Nôtre (1613–1700). At the age of 22, Le Nôtre, an architect by training, became the principal gardener for Gaston le duc d'Orléan, Louis XIV's brother. Two years later he took over his father's position as head gardener of the Tuileries; in his early 30s, Le Nôtre modernized the gardens of the Château de Fontainebleau; and in his 40s became the controller general of royal buildings. Already the preeminent landscape architect (paysagiste) in France, Le Nôtre was then engaged by Nicolas Fouquet in 1660 to design a garden for his newly built baroque castle just south of Paris designed by architect Louis Le Vau. Le Nôtre designed a stunning mile-long rectangular sculpted garden. Fouquet threw a grand fête at the estate on Aug. 17, 1661. The entertainment included the debut of Molière's first comedic ballet, Les Fâcheux, meaning the "unfortunates." Fouquet became the unfortunate one. Fouquet, just 26 years old, was Louis' minster of economy, finance and industry. Louis believed Fouquet siphoned state money to pay for his extravagant property, and imprisoned him for life and exiled his wife. Louis took the statuary, orange trees and tapestries from Fouquet's estate for his own hunting lodge, a modest estate that would evolve into his primary residence, a little place called Versailles. At Versailles Le Nôtre's gardens were geometric, had panoramic landscapes, symmetrical lawns, gravel paths, classical statuary and topiaries. Alan Rickman, one of the film's three writers, directs the film and plays the king. Le Nôtre is Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts, not so well-known outside Antwerp, and Stanley Tucci has the campy role of the king's brother, the duc d'Orléans. I missed the screening, but critic Matthew Turner of The List opines what the film "lacks in historical accuracy, it makes up for in sheer entertainment, thanks to strong performances, an emotionally engaging story and confident direction…" The critics pan the romantic chemistry, but like the scene where Sabine mistakes the king for a gardener. A Little Chaos is a period drama (circa 1661) about landscape architects— André Le Nôtre and Sabine de Barra— falling in love while designing gardens at Versailles for King Louis XIV. The movie is set for limited release on March 27. SourCE: WP:NFCC#4 L LICENSEd uNdEr FAIr uSE VIA WIKIPEdIA.

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