Voltaire (1933)




Director:     John G. Adolfi

Starring:     George Arliss (Voltaire),  Doris Kenyon (Mme. Pompadour),  Margaret Lindsay (Nanette Calas),  Reginald Owen (King Louis XV),  Alan Mowbray (Count de Sarnac),  Theodore Newton (Francois), Gordon Westcott (The Captain), David Torrence (Dr. Tronchin),  Murray Kinnell (Emile, Voltaire's servant), Doris Lloyd (Mme. Clairon, Actress).

 Voltaire (George Arliss), French writer and philosopher, who was one of the leaders of the Enlightenment.  He became a central figure in the 18th-century philosophical movement typified by the writers of the famous French Encyclopédie.





Spoiler Warning:





Historical Background:


1694 --  born François Marie Arouet in Paris, son of a notary. He is educated by the Jesuits at the College Louis-le-Grand.

Early on he becomes known as a brilliant and sarcastic wit, but a lampoon accusing the French regent Philippe II, duc d'Orléans, of heinous crimes, resulted in his imprisonment in the Bastille for 11 months.

1718  -- production of  his first tragedy Œdipe to great enthusiasm.

In his first philosophical poem, Le pour et le contre (For and Against), Voltaire gives eloquent expression to both his anti-Christian views and his rationalist, deist creed.

A quarrel with a member of an illustrious French family, the chevalier de Rohan, resulted in Voltaire's second incarceration in the Bastille, from which he was released within two weeks on his promise to quit France and proceed to England. Spends about two years in London.

1728  -- publication of the enlarged Poème de la ligue, retitled La Henriade (The Henriad) that defends religious toleration to great success.  

1728 --  returns to France, residing in Paris.

1734  --  Lettres philosophiques (The Philosophical Letters) is a covert attack upon the political and ecclesiastical institutions of France and once again he has to get out of Paris. He finds refuge at the Château de Cirey in the independent duchy of Lorraine. There he forms a friendship with the aristocratic and learned Gabrielle Émilie Le Tonnelier de Breteuil, marquise du Châtelet, who exerts a strong intellectual influence upon him.  This in a period of intense literary activity for Voltaire.

Through the influence of the marquise de Pompadour, the famous mistress of Louis XV, he becomes a court favorite; is appointed historiographer of France, and then a gentleman of the king's bedchamber.

1745  --  Poème de Fontenoy

1746  --  gets elected to the French Academy.

1749  -- Madame du Châtelet dies.

1750  -- Voltaire accepts an invitation from Frederick II of Prussia to become a permanent resident at the Prussian court and travels to Berlin.  Remains only two years because he is a bit to witty for the tastes of the autocratic king.

1752-1758  --  migratory existence.

1756  -- completes his most ambitious work, the Essai sur l'histoire générale et sur les moeurs et l'esprit des nations (Essay on General History and on the Customs and the Character of Nations), in which he decries supernaturalism and denounces religion and the power of the clergy, although he still believes in the existence of God.

1758  --following some years of migratory existence, he settles at Ferney, where he spends the remaining 20 years of his life.

1759  --  Candide, which depicts the woes heaped upon the world in the name of religion. For Christianity he wants to substitute deism, a purely rational religion, that says that God created the world and then left its working out to man alone and that God does not intervene in man's conduct.  Deism deeply affects the belief system of many of the Founding Fathers of the U.S.A.

1760  --  the tragedy Tancrède

1764  --  Dictionnaire philosophique

Via his pen, he becomes a defender of the persecuted.

1778  -- dies in Paris.


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