Henri 4 (2009)
Director: Jo Baier.
Starring: Julien Boisselier (Henri III de Navarra - Henri IV), Joachim Król (Théodore Agrippa d'Aubigné), Andreas Schmidt (Guillaume du Bartas), Roger Casamajor (Maximilien de Béthune 'Rosny'), Armelle Deutsch (Marguerite de Valois 'Margot'), Chloé Stefani (Gabrielle d'Estrées), Sven Pippig (Beauvoise), Sandra Hüller (Catherine), Hannelore Hoger (Catharina de Medici), Ulrich Noethen (Charles IX), Devid Striesow (Henri de Valois - Duc d'Anjou), Adam Markiewicz (François - Duc d'Alençon), Gabriela Maria Schmeide (Marie de Medici), Christine Urspruch (Leonora), Marta Calvó (Jeanne d'Albret).
King Henry IV of France (reigned 1589-1610) from his rise as the Huguenot Henry of Navarre to a very popular King of France
"France, 1561. The most powerful country in Europe is torn apart by a religious war. On the one side: a majority of Catholics who control the court in Paris. On the other side: the Protestants, known as the Huguenots. At the beginning, they were a small minority. Soon they were joined by anyone who was discontented with the government in Paris. Catherine de' Medici rules there. She is trying to hold on to power for her three sons. But in southern France, in the small Kingdom of Navarre, an adversary is growing. One she knows nothing about."
Henry is playing with some of the poorest of children. He tells the children that he is a prince and if they treat him badly they will be punished at his command. Some of the kids believe it, some are skeptical. An aide comes running yelling for the prince. Henry shouts out to the man, named Beauvois. The man says that Henry has to return to the castle at once because he has an important visitor. Henry is given a bath. While drying off from the bath, a cleric comes to speak with him. The cleric acts in a strange matter that scares the boy a little, but the cleric goes down to the floor to greet Henry and this calms Henry. The cleric says that Henry will be the King one day. He tells Henry's mother to protect her son because he will be King of France. The man's name is Nostradamus.
Admiral Coligny, the great leader of the Huguenots, became as a father to Henry. He tells Henry: "You are our hope for the throne of France." The Admiral and others teach Henry that the Catholics are their worst enemies.
The Prince, still a young boy, goes into battle and is very frightened by the experience. He gets knocked off his horse. An enemy soldier comes after him but is slain by the soldier watching out for the Prince. The blood of the dead man splashes onto Henry's face.
Back at camp the Prince washes his pants. His protector says that in
his first battle he too "filled my pants". The man's name is Agrippa.
He doesn't know who Henry is until another man comes over to them and
acknowledges the Prince of Navarre.
Agrippa apologizes to the Prince for not knowing him. The other man is Guillaume du Bartas.
The Prince has trouble sleeping at night and tells Beauvois that he wants to go home. Beauvois tells Henry that this tent now is his home. As narrator Henry says that his early life was filled with war and death and hatred for everything Catholic.
Now a young man, the Prince makes loves to a young woman. (brief nudity) Beauvois peeks into the tent to tell Henry that his mother, Queen Jeanne, is coming. Mother comes in and says: "It reeks of fish in your tent." She then tells him to come to the Admiral's tent.
The Prince comes to the tent and his mother tells him that Catherine now wants peace with the Huguenots. Catherine offers her daughter Margot in marriage to Henry. Henry laughs. Mother comments that they say Margot's beauty is beyond compare.
Paris, Louvre Palace. Margot's brother shouts out that Margot is a sow! Catherine scolds him for speaking that way about his sister. The brother says: "That bitch slept with Guise!" This news angers mother and she asks why does her daughter have to spread his legs wide open for every man? The brother says he hates Guise and his mother does too. And Guise is a threat to the French King. The problem is that the people love Guise.
Margot comes upstairs and asks what is her brother saying about her? The King chases after Margot who runs from him. He is angry with her about Guise. Mother tells her son to spank his sister. He puts Margot over his knee and spanks her. Mother then bites her daughter's naked buttocks. Margot screams in pain. The King now pushes Margot off his lap and onto the floor. Catherine now tells her that they are going to marry her off to Henry of Navarre. Margot rejects the very idea and shouts: "Never!" She says that the man smells of garlic and he acts like a peasant. Moreover, the man's a Huguenot! Catherine says the marriage represents a reconciliation of the two faiths. She wants peace in her country.
Henry's mother is happy about her son giving in and agreeing to marry Margot. But now there is a bit of a rift between mother and son. Henry tells Beauvois that Margot will not love him. Beauvois says it's not so bad having to make lover to a beautiful woman. And besides: "Nothing will make you happier than the joy of those you bring peace to."
Paris, 1572. The two mothers speak about the upcoming marriage between their offspring.
Henry dances with a pretty blonde woman named Fleurette in a tavern. Beauvois comes with an extra horse and shouts for the Prince. He is expected at the court! Henri goes with a large escort of men.
A man races through the streets of Paris shouting that the Huguenots are coming and they should hide. Henry finds the streets empty as he enters Paris. He says he thought Paris would have been livelier. The Admiral and his escort come around the corner. Henry asks him why are the streets deserted? "They fear your revenge."
The Admiral has bad news for Henry. His mother is dead. The mother's aide says that Catherine says that his mother was poisoned, but the Admiral says that's not true! In private Catherine says the Admiral is lying.
The Admiral says Henry's mother was very ill and her lungs failed her. Henry wants to know what the King of France has said. The Admiral just says that he and Charles IX are now friends. The man still doesn't like Huguenots, but he supports Charles against his mother. The mother is their only threat.
Catherine says hello to Henry and tells him to kiss her. Henry does so. She now tells him to let her be his mother. Henry just says: "If you so wish."
Catherine is very open with Henry. She says that King Charles is at times very peculiar. "He speaks madly of murder." She asks him please do not listen to Charles.
Henry meets Margot in the palace garden. She is rough with him from the start and then she says she is not going to marry him. He really does try to be nice to her, but when he realizes she's plays a rough game, he grabs her forcefully by the neck and kisses her on the mouth several times. Next we see them, they are in bed having passionate sex. (some nudity)
Now Henry goes to see Charles, who is currently blacksmithing. He asks Henry if he has already been under his sister's robes? Everyone else has been there. What a strange welcome. But now he says welcome to his brother-in-law. He also tells Henry that he is very healthy and so Henry is going to have to wait awhile for his death. Henry says he does not wish for the King's death. Charles says everybody wishes for his death, including his mother and brothers. And now Charles really kisses Henry hard on the lips. Henry doesn't say anything, but he didn't like that.
Margot again tells her mother that she's not marrying that peasant. And yet the two stand outside of the church and get married. It is very warm outside. When it comes time for Margot to say I do, she remains quiet. Her brother Charles comes up behind her and pokes her hard with two stiff fingers on each side of her back so that she gives out with some noise that the priests take for I do. The couple are married.
At night Henry goes into be with his wife. She tells him to shut the door. (brief nudity) While a wild party goes on below, the royal couple have sex. (some nudity) After sex, Henry comes down to the party. The Admiral and Charles are sitting side by side. Charles introduces Henry to his brother d'Anjou, who, says Charles, lusts after boys and the throne. He is also the favorite of mother Catherine. And then he introduces the little monster d'Alencon, who also lusts for the throne. Charles is really drunk and he tries to get into a fight with d'Anjou. He then gets sentimental and tells Henry that no matter what happens, Henry is to know that it wasn't Charles' fault. "I am just afraid."
Now Guise shows up. The King falls over onto the floor. Guise tells Navarre to help him get the King back onto his feet. When the King is up and erect, he pushes Guise away from him. He calls Guise the spawn of the devil. Catherine comes up. The King speaks lowly saying here comes the devil. Catherine says she needs to speak to the King and Charles goes off with her.
Now Guise introduces himself and his brother, Mayenne, to Navarre.
Catherine tells her son that the people are full of hatred and they want blood! They want the blood of the Huguenots and, especially, of the Admiral! Charles tells her not to touch the Admiral. Charles goes downstairs.
Mother speaks with her son d'Anjou. She wants Guise to have to get his hands bloody. Guise has long wanted revenge on Coligny, so let him have it. Then the Huguenots will want revenge on Guise and then "our" problem will solve itself.
The Admiral comes out onto the streets. There he is shot down with a pistol from a window across the street. Someone says that Guise did it. Henry runs to check on the Admiral who is said to be still living. Henry finds him badly wounded. He asks if the Admiral still thinks it was Guise? The Admiral says that Guise believes that he's to blame for his father's death. Henry asks if the Admiral was to blame? The Admiral says no. Rather it was Guise's father who wanted to kill him. He merely preempted the father. Guise wants the throne and the people are on his side.
Catherine and d'Anjou come to speak with the King. She says she desired the Admiral's death, but did not order it. So, now the King, will have to order the Admiral killed. If Charles will not issue the order, then Guise will destroy them. Charles says he won't order it, so his mother calls him a coward. This infuriates Charles and he goes into a rant on how he will kill all the Huguenots. Now Catherine is happy.
Beauvois warns Henry that the people are rising against the Huguenots. The marriage not only did not appease the people -- it enraged them against the Huguenots. Beauvois says he believes that they were deliberately lured to Paris for this. He wants Henry to get out of Paris, but Henry says he's going to his quarters at the Louvre. And now here comes Guise and his murderers. They attack a group of Huguenots. A man is sent upstairs to kill the Admiral. The man throws the body out the window and down to the street. The Catholic men kill both Huguenot men and women.
Henry and his two body guards seek shelter with Charles. Navarre wants to know what did the King order!? Charles shouts that he did nothing. Navarre says: "You're massacring my Huguenots!" Now Charles says he had no choice. He had to strike before the Huguenots did. Navarre notices that blood is flowing under the door and into the room. Blood drops from the ceiling onto Charles and he thinks he's dying because of all this fear. He tells Navarre that it was his mother that wanted this done to the Huguenots.
The three Huguenots go to the front door and open it. In falls quite a few dead bodies piled up just outside the door. There are dead bodies all over the place. He sees his friend Beauvois being dragged to the Seine River to be thrown into the waters. But Beauvois is still alive. Bloody, but still alive. So, the man pulling the body takes out his sword and whacks Beauvois with it.
Navarre is back with Charles. A Huguenot lays on the King's bed dying. Margot goes over to Henry and asks why did he leave her alone? He grabs her by the throat and asks her if she knew about this? She says that she knew nothing. "Your mother ordered this massacre." He then pushes her to the floor. Margot says now that she loves him. He says: "Love died tonight, Margot. Our love has been wiped out." Margot says no. She adds: "We cannot become enemies. We must not."
Navarre goes down to see Charles playing cards. Then Catherine comes up to see Charles. With her are Margot and d'Anjou. Charles says to Navarre: "Be alert! Here comes death." Catherine says they survived and that calls for a celebration. She orders that music be played. While the people dance, blood drips down on their heads and clothing. Navarre grabs up Margot and, dances around with her. He takes her to their room and throws her on the bed. He flips her over and has sex with her.
Navarre tells Margot that he has to get away from her. She tells him that he must stay in the Louvre because that was the condition to permit Navarre to live.
Navarre speaks with Catherine. She has the nerve to say: "All this slaughter disgusts me. The mob too." She tells Navarre that he lives because she wanted him to live. Catherine tells him to convert to Catholicism. Navarre does not like the idea.
Catherine says that thousands had to be sacrificed so than millions could be saved. Navarre surprises her by dancing around the room. He says that he will become Catholic under one condition. That his sister and his companions go free. He leaves the room. Catherine starts laughing.
Charles is still laid up in bed. Henry comes in to see him. 30,000 people were killed in the name of the King. The King says he's also dying. He can feel it. He also says it was he who spared Henry's life.
Suddenly Henry realizes that d'Anjou is going to be deemed King of France as King Henry III to succeed his brother King Charles IX.
Guise takes Navarre for a hunt, along with other nobles. All of a sudden, Navarre veers off from the Hunt. Guise's brother shouts to Guise that Navarre is escaping. They go after Navarre. A man with a boat waits for him and Navarre gets on the boat. The boatman starts rowing away. Guise and others arrive at the river bank and take pistol shots at the boat, but Navarre escapes.
Catherine learns the news that Navarre has escaped. She asks her daughter if she knew, but Margot says no. Catherine is really angry saying that it all starts over again.
Navarre is in bed for awhile, but he soon recovers from his adventure. Navarre now meets the young fellow named Rosny who rowed him across the river.
Catherine tells Henry III that his brother d'Alençon has died. Henry III says: "We Valois die before our time." He also says that he is the last of the House of Valois. She tells Henry III to sire a son. Henry III says that's not within his power. Then Catherine turns to Margot, but she says she cannot have children. Then she should bring back her husband. She says: "Only with him can we hold power."
Margot goes to see Henry, but gets a pretty cold reception. She has a message for him. Her mother and brother want him to come back to Paris. Henry says no. Margot leaves in her carriage while yelling out how she hates Henry of Navarre.
So Catherine's only alternative is to fight. Henry of Navarre is on the field again with his men. Catherine has three times as many soldiers. And her soldiers hold the high ground on a cliff. The Catholics open fire with their cannon. The two armies below fight each other. The Catholic commander is knocked off his horse and beaten badly by the enemy. The Catholic second-in-command now calls a retreat since he figures the commander is dead. The Catholics run for the hills.
Henry of Navarre wonders if they have won the battle? Rosny says yes because the enemy left the field. But at such a loss in Protestant lives. They counted 1,000 dead. Among the dead is his trusty bodyguard du Bartas.
Henry III hides in his room. Margot forces him out of his little hiding place. She tells him the people now call out for Guise and for Henry III's head. The King tells her to get out because now he banishes her. Margot leaves the room. Guise comes in saying: "Sire, your army is vanquished whilst you cower in bed." He says the King is finished. No, says Henry, Guise is finished. He gives the order and his men jump from their hiding places and kill Guise. Now Henry III is so happy that Guise is dead. He brags about it to his mother. Catherine tells her son to make peace with Navarre.
The army is hungry. Someone suggests that Navarre visit a friendly estate for assistance. He goes with an aide Agrippa. Inside the house a woman holds a crossbow on the King of Navarre. The woman comes out with her crossbow pointed downward. Her sister Gabrielle comes out of hiding and Henry likes her immediately. It is from Gabrielle that Henry learns that Catherine has died. She died peacefully in her bed.
Henry leaves after telling Gabrielle that he will return. And now he goes to see Henry III who called for a meeting. Just as he arrives, he and his mean hear a commotion. Somebody shots that he has killed the King. Henry of Navaree and his men rush up the stairs and find Henry III bloody and very weak. The King now says Henry of Navarre is very close to the throne. Then Henry III reminds Henry of Navarre that he must become Catholic. The King dies.
Some of the people says Long live the King! to Henry of Navarre, but Mayenne says France can't have a Protestant King. He leaves the room. Marshal Biron pledges his support to Henry of Navarre. That pleases Henry very much and now he says they certainly will conquer Paris!
Four months later. The Huguenots are still besieging Paris. Some say the town can't be conquered. Rosny comes back out of the Paris walls and says they still demand a Catholic King. Henry says he is stopping the siege because he doesn't want to starve the people of Paris.
Henry is thinking of converting to Catholicism for the sake of France. Agrippa does not like the idea one bit. He says Henry will be betraying the Huguenots.
Gabrielle comes to see Henry. That makes Henry very happy. Gabrielle is pretty sharp. She wants some assurances from Henry before she commits herself to him. She wants the King's patronage for her family. He agrees, so now she starts taking off her clothes.
Henry converts to Catholicism. In the crowd is a potential assassin, but he is spotted and killed right in the cathedral.
Henry becomes King Henry IV of France. At night there is a celebration complete with fireworks. There is also a dance performance. Gabrielle's father gets into trouble and the King has to get him out of it. He does so, tactfully, but he tells Gabrielle that there won't be a second time. Gabrielle asks that the King put her father in charge of the military artillery.
Frances faces hard economic times and there is plenty of starvation. King Henry IV says he is going to do something about it.
Six months later. Bad news: Calais has been invaded and is now under Spanish occupation. Calais first, now Amiens has fallen. The French have lost 40 cannons and the blame falls on Gabrielle's father. And there are no funds to fight a war with Spain.
King Henry IV and his forces are now facing the military forces of Spain. There is dissension in the ranks of the soldiers for many say they will not fight without their getting their pay. It doesn't look good.
Gabrielle comes to the battlefield in a coach. She has brought money to pay the troops. She has 10 sacks of gold courtesy of merchant Monsieur Zamet. She says she mortgaged everything to win this battle. Now the French soldiers fight. The battle comes right to the tent where Gabrielle is staying. She is very frightened. Finally, the sounds of battle stop. Henry IV comes into the tent to tell Gabrielle that France has prevailed! Then Henry falls to the ground from exhaustion.
Henry makes Gabrielle the Duchess of Beaufort for her efforts to win the battle.
The King grants religious freedom to the Huguenots. "Nobody will be persecuted for different beliefs than the majority." He says both Catholics and Huguenots are his people and he loves them the same.
Gabrielle is pregnant. He says he is going to marry her.
Now the Pope gives the French King problems. His legate delivers the message that there can be no such thing as religious freedom. Furthermore, the King's power depends on the Pope's grace. The legate says he came because Henry IV asked the Pope for a divorce from Margot. The papal suggestion is that King Henry IV marry the beautiful niece of the Duke of Tuscany: Marie de' Medici.
Henry wants nothing to do with the House of Medici. He is, after all, already familiar with the House of Medici.
Henry goes to stay in a monastery for awhile to show his piety to the Pope. This is what the papal legate suggested.
At night a man comes into the room of Gabrielle and scares the hell out of her. He leaves when she starts screaming bloody murder. She is very angry with Agrippa for not responding faster.
Gabrielle is taken to a kind of "safe house". It's the home on Zamet. She intends to stay at his home until the King returns.
For breakfast the next day, Gabrielle eats an orange. She says it tastes bitter. She stands up and then falls down. The King rushes to see her. Gabrielle dies before the King can get back to see her. The King gets very mad at Agrippa and starts pummeling him with his fists. An aide stops the King and says that Gabrielle died because of her child.
The doctor comes to tell the King what happened. He says that the lady died because her own body poisoned her. The child was in the abdomen, nearly rotten.
The new wife-to-be now comes to Paris. When she arrives the King goes to her room to meet her. She offers her hand for him to kiss it, but he just gives her a big kiss on the lips. Then shortly after that he starts taking off his clothes to make an heir for him and France. He puts his heart into it. (brief nudity)
The new wife gives birth to a baby boy. The King holds the boy up in the air and shouts to the crowd: "Our reign is assured!" There is music and a pretty young lady dances for the royal couple. Her breasts are visible through the material she uses for her costume. This makes the Queen feel uncomfortable.
At night the Queen goes to give the dancer a piece of her mind. She asks her who gave her permission to dance naked before the King? Henrietta says the Princess Margot who was banished to Auvergne. Marie sees the feet of a man behind a curtain and she rips the curtain down revealing her husband. She starts really hitting him.
Agrippa leaves the service of His Majesty. He says Marie is no Gabrielle. And he sees that the King does not love the new wife as he did Gabrielle.
The King has a high fever. Rosny comes to the King with a confession. He says that Gabrielle was actually poisoned. He probably could have prevented the poisoning, but he did nothing. He was worried for France. He asks for the King's forgiveness.
The Queen berates the King for the garter she found under his bed. She says everyone at court says the King is a horny old goat! She states that the King has never loved her. Then she says she hates the King and will hate him for her whole life.
The Queen hires a professional hit man with red hair named Ravaillac. The King's son runs to his father and tells him that mother is meeting a red man. Red hair and red beard. The Queen is crowned Queen. She looks very happy. The little son points out the red man to his father.
May 14, 1610. Riding in his carriage through the streets of Paris, a horse and wagon blocks the way of the carriage. The red man walks up to the carriage and stabs the King twice, once in the mid-section and once in the chest. The assassin shouts that he has saved the world. He has murdered the heretic.
His widow, Marie de' Medici, served as regent for their nine-year-old son, Louis XIII, until 1617.
Good account of the lives of four French monarchs: Charles IX, Henry III, Henry IV and Louis XIII. There was a great deal of court politics and intrigue to see who would be the next monarch. Behind the scenes, the mother of kings, Catherine de' Medici was pulling the levers of power, using her three sons and her daughter Margot as pawns in a game. Part of the game was the problem of the struggle for power between the Catholics and the French Huguenots. Catherine initiated the massacre of a great many Huguenots living in Paris on St. Bartholomew's Day as one of her tools of power. At the same time, she hooks her family's star to the fate of the Huguenot Henry of Navarre figuring he would be king soon. He becomes Henry IV of France. The political machinations are interesting to watch and provide a lot of twists and turns in the plot.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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