MSU Cinema International Kicks Off 2023 Spring Season with 2021 French Film, "Délicieux"
Murray State's Cinema International program regularly features foreign films of all genres on Murray State's main campus. The program kicks off its Spring 2023 season with a 2021 French film, Délicieux, or Delicious. Program director Dr. Thérèse St. Paul speaks with Austin Carter ahead of the film screenings.
NOTE: The screening locations for MSU Cinema International have changed. See the location and time information below.
From the MSU Cinema International website:
"France, 1789, just before the Revolution. With the help of an impoverished duchess, a chef sacked by his noble master finds the strength to free himself from his position as a servant and opens the first-ever restaurant. This fiction is based on the true historical context of the advent of restaurants in France after the fall of the class system. Exquisitely photographed by cinematographer Jean-Marie Dreujou, creating stunning pictures of food in a lush landscape. Delicious is a recipe for sumptuous cinematic delights."
"Before the Revolution, France was governed by monarchs," St. Paul explains. "The last one being Louis XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette. They were from a very long dynasty of French bourbon kings—the Sun King would be the 14th living in Versailles."
"The aristocrats, particularly those living in Versailles in the court, they were people of leisure. They didn't work, and they were benefitting from the work of the people underneath them. We all know Marie Antoinette said, 'let them eat cake.' The film captures this pre-revolutionary moment that reveals the pot is boiling. There's discontent. It's about to burst."
The class distinction of the time was not only represented by pedigree—whether a person was born into aristocracy—but in the foods they ate, St. Paul continues. "Roots grew in the earth, so they were for pigs and peasants, totally unfit for the aristocrats. Aristocrats were lofty, so they ate things that flew—lots of birds, grains, or seeds. You also hear the food tastes are changing due to their colonies [that provided] imports like sugar and potatoes."
"As know, heads rolled [during the Revolution]," St. Paul says, "but the chefs who were called officiers de bouche, literally mouth officers, who were serving the nobles in their castles, making these special, delicate dishes for them and them only, they became unemployed."
"The advent of restaurants was a way to democratize access to food for all classes. The bourgeoisie and the fallen aristocrats would eat together, sit together. There are beautiful scenes of food—wonderful pictures. Of course, the movie takes some liberties. The very first restaurant was in Paris and not in the countryside. But the film [answers questions like] why did restaurants start? Why were they born at that time?"
Délicieux highlights an aspect of the French Revolution that is often ignored, St. Paul says. "Inns and taverns always existed since the Middle Ages, but they served nothing sophisticated. It was bread, soup, mush. Roast and things like that. We're talking about preparation and presentation and the whole etiquette that went with the art of the table. To this day, the French are real sticklers for that."
"Some of the pictures [of the film] show almost these still-lifes from the Dutch masters. The care of the lighting and the detail in the description are picture-perfect in this movie, so it's a delight. It's mouthwatering and delightful," St. Paul concludes.
MSU Cinema International presents Delicious on Thursday, January 26th, and Saturday, January 28th, at 7:30 pm in Faculty Hall Room 208. Faculty Hall is located on 16th Street between Main and Chestnut. Screenings are free and open to the public.
For more information on the MSU Cinema International program, including upcoming screenings and how to donate, visit its website.