The King’s Bore

Feb 20th, 2006 | By | Category: Columns

February; the most romantic month of the year, when everyone’s thoughts turn, panicked, to chocolate they forgot to buy for 13 days, and a small group of my friends gathers in Duane Reade to watch men snatch up boxes of Russell Stover and bet how long it will be before their girlfriends dump them.

Hint to the men; they sell Godiva at Barnes and Noble. If you must delay, please buy Godiva instead of the Russell Stover boxes with the price printed on them. This is my gift to you this Valentine’s Day. You’re welcome.

Sadly, it seems as though men throughout the ages have had problems with romance. Nowhere is this more evident than in a place I like to call The Past, where most of the movies I review take place.

This month’s movie, a proud resident of The Past, is the only romance I have ever seen that contains multiple rape scenes and a wooden traction tower. A warm welcome to The King’s Whore!

This masterpiece explores the intense relationship between a king and some chick he thinks is hot. Timothy Dalton stars, and if that’s not a mark of quality, I don’t know what is, except that Valeria Golino co-stars, and that immediately vaults it into the heavens of fine cinema.

Wait–accents = fine cinema, right? I’m just checking.

We open on The Past. Even though Tim D. is English and Valerie is Italian, we’re supposed to believe that everyone is Frenchish, which is spectacular attention to historical fact as often found in The Past.

Timothy Dalton plays a Frenchish king, since he’s British and the only famous guy in the cast; in later years, this part would go to Rufus Sewell. Valeria plays a young noblewoman married to some bland guy, which makes it improbable that they would be shocked when Timothy makes a move on Valeria. Granted, this move is pimp on a level only The Past would support, in that he orders her hubby to dump her under pain of death. Dalton rolls old-school.

Valeria is understandably annoyed by this turn of events, but as she is a Woman and this is The Past there is not much she can do about it. Instead, she gets measured for new clothes in a dressing room that’s bugged and covered in one-way glass, and if you ask me I think King Tim was filching a little from the James Bond set.

Then comes the happy day where she has to submit to his random lust.

Okay. Where do I begin?

Rape fantasies just do not compute with me; I understand wanting a guy to want to sex you, but really. Seriously. Come on now.

Hilariously, this is exactly the expression Valeria Golino wears during all their “sexy” interludes. The Really. Seriously. Come On Now face is now one of my favorite acting tricks of all time. When I get famous, expect to see it a lot.

However, it does lead to the single most amazing sex scene ever put on film.

[Scene: Dalton enters, pushes Valeria to the floor, starts making out with her. Her eyes are squeezed shut.]

Dalton: Oooohpn your AIIIZ! (I didn’t know Dalton talked like this until today, but I am transcribing phonetically, and he totally does. It’s awful.)

[Valeria opens her eyes, turns her head away from him. He looks troubled, but it doesn’t slow the humping any. He’s a multitasker.]

Dalton: Lhooq at meh! LHOOQ at meh!

[Valeria turns her head to look right at him, corpse-style.]

[Genevieve collapses to the floor, incapacitated by hysterical laughter.]

Dalton: DOM YOOH, woman, why won’t you LOHVE MEH?!

[Valeria gives Dalton the Phantom of the Opera Glare of Sister, Please.]

[Genevieve laughs so hard her larynx seizes up and she talks funny forever.]

Annnnd, scene.

Please note that there is another perspective on this, offered up in this scintillating review:

“Vittorio is a generous, but not a gentle lover, and delights in torturing his new conquest, making love to her while her hands are tied to the bed, and beating her violently when his temper is aroused.”

Ah, romance!

Now, there’s supposed to be a political subplot about the revolution (not the actual French Revolution, but some other revolution that happened in The Past), and of course because Tim Dalton loves her so much, he listens to Valeria’s opinion and bases his troop movements on what she says.

This? So inaccurate. Not historically, because in The Past you can kind of do whatever, but rather in the realm of characterization. No man listens to a woman AFTER he’s had sex with her. Get with it, writers!

Also, all this random country-mongering apparently drives even MORE of a wedge between them, which means they are basically at 120 degrees of distance and have to lean on furniture and stuff to stay upright, which looks funny.

Thank goodness she gets smallpox!

No, seriously. Smallpox.

He nurses her through the smallpox while bravely ignoring the troops he sent to war at her advice; thank God she’s still pretty afterwards, or he would have felt like a terrible king.

She still hates him. Maybe because if she wasn’t hanging around in his weird castle in The Past she never would have caught the fucking smallpox in the first place. Just a guess.

Once she’s recovered from the smallpox, she has the smarts to run the hell away from him, and he charges after her, and even though she has her kid in tow (she had a kid? You wacky Past!) she still manages to outrun a King and his entourage. My theories are twofold:

1) All his good hunters were killed in the war he started to get in her pants after he was already in them;

2) They were tragically weighed down by their own bling and eventually died.

Speaking of dying, King Dalton gets in a swordfight with Valeria’s husband (“sword fight,” if you get me, and I think you do) and is mortally wounded!

Now, according to this website, the beautiful, epic ending plays out like so:

“In a visually stunning and compelling end-sequence, Jeanne finally declares that she loves him: and he, for the second time, but the first in which he feels sincerity with both words and expression. But their love has come too late. He is a cripple, who no longer can protect her. Here, as his life is played to it’s ending, their roles are reversed. He is now helpless, tied by straps, buckles and laces into his “bed,” where before she was the one who was weak and physically restrained. As Jeanne touches the bared (except for confining laces) skin on his chest, so once he stroked her naked body. Now, as the allegory depicted at the beginning of the film promised, the wild and free fox which once frightened Jeanne by creeping into her home in Paris to snarl and terrify her from her own bed, then was attacked by dogs, took flight and struggled frantically to escape by a closed window, whining as it looked to her to help in it’s escape but was ultimately ripped to pieces by the dogs, so, too, the King must die.”

What this glowing recap does not mention is the scene in which this took place. It’s a big empty room, Valeria, and Dalton, who is trussed up in Ye Olde Traction, and I thought my larynx was okay after the sex scene, but watching Dalton emote in a balsa-wood tower they built from an Erector Set is quite possibly the pinnacle of human existence. If you thought Dalton was pimp before? Think again.

So, to sum up:

Rape is love, as long as you treat her smallpox afterwards.

Smallpox is totally not scarring or fatal, as long as you’re a movie star.

In The Past, anything can happen!

Sentences can go on about four times longer than you ever thought possible.

Timothy Dalton just wants you to LOHVE him.

Buy Godiva, guys. Seriously.


Genevieve is a prolific writer of speculative fiction living in New York, but you’ll never find her there because millions of people live there and Genevieve likes her privacy. Examples of her fiction can be found in Strange Horizons, Fantasy Magazine, Federations, and numerous other magazines and anthologies. Her first novel is forthcoming in 2011. Also? She has terrible taste in movies.


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