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Murray State Cinema International presents "Vatel" This Week

Vatel film poster
MSU Cinema International presents "Vatel" on Thursday, February 17th, and Saturday, February 19th, at 7:30 p.m. on the third floor of the Curris Center.

This week, Murray State's Cinema International program presents the 2000 film Vatel, directed by Roland Joffé. Program director Dr. Thérèse St. Paul speaks to Tracy Ross about the upcoming screenings.

From the MSU Cinema International website:

"Set in the late 17th century, this is the tragic story of the famous chef and Maitre d'Hotel at the court of Prince Louis II de Bourbon-Condé, Françoise Vatel. It showcases the beginnings of the French concept of haute cuisine. Almost ruined, the Prince of Condé, general in the armies of Louis XIV, invites the Sun King to his Chateau of Chantilly to flatter him.

He puts enormous pressure on Monsieur Vatel to organize the most lavish week of food and entertainment to please the monarch. The movie paints with amazing accuracy the excesses of the aristocrats in contrast with the growing poverty and exploitation of the common folk."

"[The film] was first written in French, then translated by a famous playwright. It is English with famous actors, like Uma Thurman. It's an interesting hybrid," St. Paul says.

"It puts everything into terms of chiaroscuro—darkness and lightness," she continues. "The light is all the fast brilliance of the court as opposed to the darkness of the kitchen. Hell is basically what these people go through. Some of them die. It's not just food. There's lavish entertainment, shows with fireworks, water games."

St. Paul says the film paints an accurate portrait of 17th century France. Vatel includes visual elements like interesting period costumes and historically accurate kitchen and home set-ups. But it also includes unseen historical context, like French colonization and social inequity.

"It's beautiful eye candy, but there is a dark side to it," St. Paul says. "It's a commentary that is possibly appropriate for us today. We'll have some good [post-film] discussion because some of my students will be there to join in and give a little intro. Though it's a 2000s movie, I think it's a cult film, a must-see."

Cinema International presents Vatel on Thursday, February 17th, in the Barkley Room, and Saturday, February 19th, in the Curris Center Theater. Both screenings are at 7:30 p.m. and on the third floor of the Curris Center on MSU's main campus.

Discussions will immediately follow the screenings, both free and open to the general public. Masks are required.

For more information on the MSU Cinema International program, visit its website.

Tracy started working for WKMS in 1994 while attending Murray State University. After receiving his Bachelors and Masters degrees from MSU he was hired as Operations/Web/Sports Director in 2000. Tracy hosted All Things Considered from 2004-2012 and has served as host/producer of several music shows including Cafe Jazz, and Jazz Horizons. In 2001, Tracy revived Beyond The Edge, a legacy alternative music program that had been on hiatus for several years. Tracy was named Program Director in 2011 and created the midday music and conversation program Sounds Good in 2012 which he hosts Monday-Thursday. Tracy lives in Murray with his wife, son and daughter.
Melanie Davis-McAfee graduated from Murray State University in 2018 with a BA in Music Business. She has been working for WKMS as a Music and Operations Assistant since 2017. Melanie hosts the late-night alternative show Alien Lanes, Fridays at 11 pm with co-host Tim Peyton. She also produces Rick Nance's Kitchen Sink and Datebook and writes Sounds Good stories for the web.
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