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On DVD: "The Taking of Power by Louis Xiv," "The Order of Myths"

By Michael Atkinson

Roberto Rossellini has never been the most accessible of cinema culture demigods -- his neo-realist trilogy seems more influential than timeless these days, and his Ingrid Bergman films often feel offhand and crude. In 1962, as critic Colin McCabe recounts in his essay for Criterion's release of "The Taking of Power by Louis Xiv" (1966), Rossellini renounced cinema per se, and promised he would from then on make only historical films for television. It's these films, in a string that lasted 13 years, that are the hardest to see and the most frustrating; the filmmaker's perspective grew more inhospitable and pedagogic the more he saw postwar culture slide into amnesiac self-indulgence. But, ironically, this irascibility resulted in a kind of stringency Rossellini never had before; "Louis Xiv" may be the least deliberately "passionate" film ever made by an Italian, perhaps partially because it is French.

There's no underselling the movie's

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