Ridicule is a French movie that seeks to bring an understanding of how matters were at the time of the French revolution. It is based in the 18th Century around the court of Versailles where moral decadence is so rampant. The social status of individuals in the story can rise and fluctuate depending on one’s ability to win in witty duels and steer away from any form of self ridicule which is very similar to the way matters were in France in the 18th Century.1
Aiming at exposing the social injustices in France at the time, the story revolves around Ponceludon de Malovey, an engineer from the Dombes region of Lyon. He realizes that his people are suffering a lot due to the mosquito infestation in a nearby swamp. He realizes that he has to do something for his people to alleviate the suffering. This sets him on course to Versailles where he intends to meet the King so that he can ask for his assistance and consent in his quest. It is during his efforts to seek an audience with the king that the corrupt nature of the society is depicted. All the people that he interacts with have crooked and selfish ways. The film is a clear depiction of the social evils that led to the French revolution of the 18th Cent
In looking at how well the film covers the matters as they were in France at the time, there is the need to look back into the history as it is recorded and compare this to the films produced. This is in a bid to assess the accuracy of the films in covering the events in history. Looking at the manner in which it was planed and how it captures the setting, it cannot be denied that there was the involvement of academic historians.2 Of course, the films do not tell the story just as it was. Rather, they tend to be more hilarious, with the ability to remain in the minds of the viewers long after watching the film. This comes about due to the time invested in researching, analyzing and recreating the events that occurred at the time in question. In this case, the film tried to recreate the matters as they were in the old French system. However, the film is not a documentary that records the actual events as they were.3 It is a creation of the scenes that existed, citing several incidents which relate back to the actual happenings at the time. The paragraphs below look in greater detail at actual events which occurred during the French revolution and how this is captured in the film.
The film can be said to capture the end of the wrong regime in France.4 This is seen as the regime when the strong people did not have value for the poor and the disadvantaged. Rather, they took advantage of them, ridiculed them and laughed at the misfortune of others. This is captured in the film where there is a presentation in court about the Abbe de I’Epee’s work with deaf people and the development of sign language.5
Rather than the high and mighty identifying with the plight of the poor, they mercilessly ridicule them. This leaves the viewer wondering how the nobles are expected to protect the disadvantaged while it is they who make fun of them. At this point, the film depicts the matters exactly as they were when the noble in France did not attach any importance to the poor and the disadvantaged.
It has been reported earlier in this essay that the media is very influential in dealing with the matters of the society. Just as the media in the modern day is misused by those in power, the same used to happen in France in the 1700s.6 There is an indication that having the accounts could not have been possible without the use of the media. The media is used in spreading the public opinion as well as the opinion of the leaders. It is also used as a highway for the propagation of propaganda among the politicians. Well, this is a matter of reality. It is seen in the modern society and also existed in the society at the time in question.
In the film, it can be seen that the people concerned with information at the time participated in spreading of rumors on others. For instance, it is noted that the individuals spread bad rumors about others. When an individual made a fool of himself in the play, he was laughed at and even given a nick-name that aligned to the act that the individual had done. Since dancing was one of the things that people got involved in at the time, the rumor mongers were ready to take up the negative happenings at the dance floor and use it against the unlucky individuals. Well, this just shows how the unjust society in the France of 1770s functioned.
More often than not, revolutions are pioneered by people who have seen the light. These people are mostly comprised of professionals who have a greater understanding of how the systems work. The French Revolution was sparked by an advertisement by a medical doctor.7 On February 15, 1772, there was an advertisement in the Affiches des Trois-Eveches placed by Antoine Clesse, a surgeon-herniotomist. His announcement claimed that he had bandages and trusses that could treat all kinds of wounds. Furthermore, he indicated that he was a qualified dentist who could help people with their dental problems should they ask for the same.
Well, this might not seem as much. However, it sparked the minds of the people where they realized that the noble had been depriving them of the services that they were entitled to. The advertisement made the people realize that the government at the time was not doing enough to address their issues. It was egocentric, selfish and comprised of people who placed their interests before the interests of the larger community. This awakening made the people wake up and demand their rights.
A similar scenario is depicted in the film. The main character is an engineer who realizes that his people lack a basic health provision. He sets out to help the people acquire this service, only to encounter a lot of hindrances from achieving his initial objective. He is persistent enough to pursue his course. However, even as he appear to be at the brink of achieving what he wanted, he realizes that the dream is near yet so far; he can have a sitting with the king but has to wait. At this point, his patience wears out and he goes away to find a solution in his own way, something that he accomplishes. He employs the help of a friend to drain the swamp and restore peace to his people. This act presents what happened during the revolution.
The people came to a realization that they could not rely on the government to accord them what they needed. As such, they rallied their efforts towards a worthy course, and withdrew the government at the time. This act indicates the unity of purpose, and the fact that when the people lose their patience, they can come together and achieve what they need. The French revolution is an indication of the same.
Even though there is evidence as to what might have happened during the French revolution, there is still the need to look into actual matter as they were at the time. A closer analysis of the events at the time reveals that the people were really dissatisfied with what was happening.8 They felt that their leaders were not interested in the welfare of the community as a whole. There was a much corruption in the government. Public property and resources were misused with such impunity. There was no way that they could allow such a thing to continue. When the people’s patience ran out, they took matters in their own hands. They could not allow this to continue happening in their land. A similar scenario is captured in the film. The most of the characters holding high positions are depicted as crooked people who have no concern at all for anyone else.9 They cheat in their game of wits and when discovered, they try to weave their way around by extending favors so that their dirty secrets are not exposed. This is an actual perception of the matters as they were at the time.
It is also indicated that the leaders of the government at the time complied to the corrupt ways. They manipulated all the forums they could to pursues their evil motives. The platforms that were mostly manipulated included status quo, religion, faction, region and other assemblies that could help them continue exploiting the people and misusing their resources. It was not until after the revolution that the truth came out clear; the people understood that the leaders were going astray but did not have the right means to deal with them. When they got the chance, the French Revolution resulted.
Looking at the account of the revolution against the events captured in Ridicule, it is very clear that the film was well researched. It captures most of the concerns that the people had at the time. Several vices come out very clearly. First of all, there is the corruption of the leaders. They are ready to manipulate all the systems, including those meant to maintain law and order in the land, so that they can advance their own selfish desires. Disrespect and disregard for the poor and the less fortunate in the land is also captured. The film clearly brings out this by showing the nobles ridiculing the deaf people during their presentation. Vandalism and embezzlement of public resources is also captured. These vices come out very clearly in the film. As such, it can be said that this film is a good account of the events that transpired before, during and after the French Revolution.
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