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This film contrasts the attitudes of three elements of 18th century French society to nature and each other. The first part of the film deals with the Royal version of returning to nature symbolise...d by Marie-Antoinette's 'Little Hamlet' in the grounds of Versailles. To try and obtain an accurate perspective on the reality of 18th century rural life the film concentrates on the realtionship between one particular aristocrat - the Marechal de Contades - and his peasants in the area around the town of Maze in West France. it contrasts the Marechal's life-style and his chateau with the farm and work of a local smallholder.
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Module code and title: A204, The Enlightenment
Item code: A204; 07
First transmission date: 08-05-1980
Published: 1980
Rights Statement:
Restrictions on use:
Duration: 00:23:21
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Producer: Tony Coe
Contributors: Arnold de Contades; Clive Emsley
Publisher: BBC Open University
Keyword(s): 18th Century French society; Aristocracy; Peasantry
Footage description: The programme opens with shots of Versailles, with music over. Shots of the grounds of the palace, over which Emsley briefly describes it's function. Film of the arcadian peasant hamlet Le Petit Hameau, built for Marie-Antoinette. From the hamlet Emsley explains its purpose and criticises its general appearance. Fragonard paintings from the Loves of Shepherds series are shown, with music played over. Emsley argues that Le Petit Hameau is 'monstrous'. Over an animated map of 18th century France he comments on the reality of peasant life, and indicates the location of Anjou, which is to be studied in this programme. Shots of Angers, over which Emsley describes the town's size in the 18th century. Shots of the small town of Maze, near Angers. Prolonged shots of Maze's market and then a cafe with traditional folk. Emsley explains why modern Maze evokes 18th century France. Over numerous shots of traditional buildings he comments on the survival of old houses and barns. Shots of townspeople, over which Emsley explains that the Chateau of Montgeoffroy is less than a mile from Maze. Interview outside the Chateau with Arnold de Contades, descendant of the 18th century occupant, the Marechal de Contades. Arnold describes the erection of the Chateau, details of which are seen on film. He then outlines the life of Marechal, two portraits of whom are shown. Further shots of the Chateau. Views of the estate of Montgeoffroy, over which Emsley describes the economic relationship that existed between the Chateau and the surrounding area. An animated map show the Anjou estates owned by Montgeoffroy in the 18th century. Film of the Chateau's farmyard from where Emsley describes the Marechal's account book. Film of the yard of a modern peasant farm in Anjou. Prints depict the 18th century peasantry. Emsley describes how this particular farmyard has expanded over the centuries. He describes the lifestyle of the peasants who lived there and contrasts it with Le Petit Hameau. Numerous shots of buildings in the farmyard. Film of the present owner of the farm ploughing with a horse. An 18th century French song is played over. Emsley, in voiceover, comments on the nature of 18th century peasant farming. Film of Frenchmen out shooting game, over which Emsley describes the depredations to peasant crops that resulted from the hunting activities of the 18th century aristocracy. He also describes natural disasters that could befall the peasant farmer. Emsley comments on 18th century representatives of the French peasantry, over works by Boucher, Greuze, Guerard and Fragonard. He dismisses most as being unrealistic. He also provides a brief example of aristocratic philanthropy. The final sequence comes from the grounds of the Chateau of Montgeoffroy. Prints of the revolutionaries of 1789 are shown, over which Emsley explains that Montgeoffroy remained free from attack during the revolution. In interview Arnold de Contades describes the association of Herault de Sechelles with Montgeoffroy, and outlines the revolutionary's career. A portrait of Herault is shown.
Production number: FOUA007R
Videofinder number: 2264
Available to public: no