Ridicule is a French film by Patrice Leconte released in 1996 .

At the 22 nd César ceremony , the film receives four César , including Best Film and Best Director . He was also nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film .


In this world (ie the court), a vice is nothing but a ridicule kills.  ”

Gregory Ponceludon de Malavoy ( Charles Berling ), young aristocrat penniless and candid, arrives at the court of Louis XVI at Versailles to obtain the means to dry the marshes of the Dombes , sources of epidemics that decimate the families of his peasants . He takes part in this life where the honor and the words of spirit (if possible bad ones) are the center of a refined and decadent effervescence.

During the film, the Baron de Malavoy will indeed have the opportunity to make the spirit with unparalleled vivacity. Most provincial gentlemen, like him, concerned about their lands, undergo, on the eve of the French Revolution , the bureaucratic heaviness of the French state , but the baron makes his way in the heart willy-nilly.

The Marquis de Bellegarde ( Jean Rochefort ) ended by giving him a helping hand, by giving him shelter and introducing him to the court where Gregory measured a talent that dread courtiers already installed. As a result, intrigues are formed between an ephemeral favorite of the king, the abbot of Villecourt ( Bernard Giraudeau ), his mistress, Madame de Blayac ( Fanny Ardant ), Grégoire and the daughter of the Marquis de Bellegarde, Mathilde ( Judith Godrèche ).

Gregory faces many intrigues before he can reach the king in private session. While the rendezvous was fixed, Gregory kills in the course of a duel an officer of the king then refuses the love of Madame de Blayac; the king then refuses to receive ” for the moment ” a man who has killed one of his officers.

Grégoire, invited to a reception where he is stumbled (croc-en-leg) during a dance so as to ridicule him – remember that the fear of ridicule is terrible in this environment – leaves Versailles after pronouncing a diatribe bleeding in which he denounces the absurdity and “ridicule” of the fight of courtiers, which can plunge the humiliated into the darkest misery.

In 1794 , during the revolutionary period , the Marquis de Bellegarde, now a refugee in Great Britain , seems however nostalgic of this period, and the final decoration perfectly shows his state of mind (an English sky covered with clouds, a melancholic landscape .. .).

Always faithful to his will to clean up the lands of Dombes, the citizen Grégoire Ponceludon gets from the revolutionary government, in his recent quality of hydrographer engineer of the Civil Engineering , to realize this important company alongside Mathilde, become his wife meanwhile .

Technical sheet

  • Title: Ridicule
  • Hangs: He spares no one …
  • Director: Patrice Leconte
  • Scenario: Rémi Waterhouse with the collaboration of Michel Fessler and Eric Vicaut
  • Photography: Thierry Arbogast
  • Sets: Ivan Maussion
  • Costumes: Christian Gasc
  • Editing: Joëlle Hache
  • Sound: Dominique Hennequin
  • Music: Antoine Duhamel
  • Producer: Gilles Legrand , Philippe Carcassonne and Frédéric Brillion
  • Format: 35 mm – Color
  • Country of origin: France
  • Language: French
  • Filming locations :
    • Castle of Neuville ( Yvelines )
    • Castle of Champs-sur-Marne ( Seine-et-Marne ) 1
    • Gardens of the Palace of Versailles ( Yvelines )
  • Genre: Drama
  • Duration: 102 minutes (1h42)
  • Release date : 


  • Charles Berling : Baron Grégoire Ponceludon of Malavoy
  • Jean Rochefort : the Marquis de Bellegarde
  • Fanny Ardant : Countess of Blayac
  • Judith Godrèche : Mathilde de Bellegarde
  • Bernard Giraudeau : the abbot of Villecourt
  • Bruno Zanardi : Paul
  • Bernard Dhéran : Count Montalieri
  • Albert Delpy : the Baron de Guéret
  • Carlo Brandt : the knight of Milletail
  • Urban Cancelier : Louis XVI
  • Jacques Mathou : the abbot of the Sword
  • Maurice Chevit : the notary
  • Philippe du Janerand : Mr. Chérin , the genealogist
  • Philippe Magnan : the baron of Malenval
  • José Fumanal : Colonel of Chevernoy
  • Lucien Pascal : the count of Blayac
  • Marie Pillet : Charlotte, the housekeeper
  • Laurent Valo : Simon, the deaf student
  • Fabrice Eberhard : the knight of Saint-Tronchain
  • Antonin Lebas-Joly : Leonard
  • Mirabelle Kirkland : Marie Antoinette


Ridiculous shows life at the 18th century court century, where the only way to address the king is to use wit, intelligence and beautiful language. Rivalry is omnipresent in the salons, the nobles humble each other, to increase their esteem with the king. One of the protagonists of the film even goes so far as to kill himself after thinking he missed a meeting with the king very little. The monarch appears as a pitiless, selfish god capable of leading men to death without even realizing it. The hero of the Ridicule, the Baron de Malavoy, although stranger to this spirit, is obliged to enter it to be able to address the king, in order to obtain the funds necessary for the draining of the swamps of the Dombes. It is discovered very quickly a particular gift for the beautiful language,

Historically speaking, the film seems close to the descriptions that came to us from the court under the Ancien Régime : the Comte de Bussy-Rabutin describes in his memoirs on the beginning of the reign of Louis XIV , the inaccessible aspect of the sovereign, and the extreme difficulty that he has to send messages to the king, while he comes from one of the oldest and influential families of the kingdom.

The Duke of Saint-Simon , in his memoirs, recounts his embassy in Spain for the marriage of Louis XV and the Infanta Marie Anne Victoire of Spain , and appreciates the weekly sessions at which the King of Spain receives any applicant , unlike what happens in France. We can also quote the testimony of Norbert Elias who describes the phenomenon of court in which can be locked Louis XV but especially Louis XVI . The king becomes almost inaccessible, unlike Henry IV (1589-1610), who traveled all over France and slept in modest hostels.

It should be noted that, at that time, verbal talking books circulated regularly and were learned and used (Rothschild Sotheby’s sale, May 2006, the personal copy of the Marquis de Marigny – brother of the Marquise de Pompadour ).

However, if the costumes seem consistent with the descriptions of the time, cf. for example the festive book entitled “The Marriage of the Dauphin” – son of Louis XV – 2 , 3 , the film takes some liberties, depicting grotesquely Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette especially.

Awards and Distinctions

  • Opening of the 1996 Cannes Film Festival
  • 1997 :
    • Caesar of the best film
    • Cesar Award for Best Director – Patrice Leconte
    • Caesar of the best decorations – Ivan Maussion
    • Caesar of the best costumes – Christian Gasc
    • Lumières Award for Best Film
    • Nomination: Oscar for best foreign film
    • David di Donatello (Best foreign film)
    • BAFTA (Best foreign film)

Around the film

  • The authors have probably taken the name of the character played by Charles Berling, “Ponceludon de Malavoy”, a personality of the world of letters champenois Aubin Louis Hédouin Malavois , born in 1783 in Épernay, died in Reims in 1866. He derives his nickname “Pons-Ludon” from the name of a property he had between Reims and Cormontreuil. It was a certain Count Pierre-Emmanuel Luneau who took over the property of M. Hedouin. For the record, the still existing house is located on one of the former marshes drained in the xviii th century.
  • The outdoor scenes of the residence of the Marquis de Bellegarde were filmed at the Château de Villiers-le-Bâcle , owned by comedian Yves Lecoq .
  • Actors Albert Delpy and Marie Pillet are spouses at the time of the film.
  • Note the presence of a historical figure quite interesting vis-à-vis the themes of language, expression and understanding through Paul, the deaf student of the Marquis de Bellegarde, who is sent to the Father Charles-Michel of L’Epée . The abbot of L’Epée was one of the first to take an interest in the question of public education for the deaf, with a primary role for sign language as the language of instruction.
  • The daughter of the Marquis de Bellegarde, incarnated by Judith Godrèche, a typical Enlightenment character , fascinated by science and technology, embarked on the creation of a primal diving suit (she misses drowning by testing it in a well ), powered by a bellows pump, called “hydrostatergatic machine”. This detail is historically correct, the real model being the Fréminet’s suit (1774).

Notes and references

  1. ↑ Claire Bommelaer, “Champs-sur-Marne, the French elegance – A Mecca of cinema”, in Le Figaro, Tuesday, July 2, 2013, page 29.
  2. ↑ Fact sheets available on [ebibliophilie.com ebibliophilie.com]
  3. ↑ Similarly, copies of the “Coronation of Louis XVI,” 30 last pages of engravings, represent major outfits for the coronation of the kingdom and are close to those chosen by the director.

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