Ever after, my library

The 1998 romance Ever After, starring Drew Barrymore, Anjelica Huston, and Dougray Scott and set during the French Renaissance, is one of my personal favorites. There’s something so charming and earnest about this film (despite Drew’s shaky accent). And it highlights the intelligence of Drew Barrymore’s Cinderella role (called Danielle in the film, or Nicole when she takes her mother’s name as a disguise), as she loves reading and views books as treasures not to be taken for granted. Attagirl! 🙂

About halfway through the film, Prince Henry (Scott) takes Danielle/Nicole (Barrymore) on a “first date” of sorts. This is how he makes his (smart) move:

Prince Henry: The Franciscans have an astonishing library. Since you are so fond of reading, I thought you might join me?

Danielle/Nicole:  It is not fair, Sire. You have found my weakness… but I have yet to learn yours.

Reel Librarians:  Ever After monastery library

The monastery library in Ever After, as seen from above, with a quick glimpse of the monastery librarians

They walk down the stairs of the monastery library and look over a railing at the monks in the library. Although we see the monks for a few seconds only, I am categorizing them as monastery librarians. These Information Providers can carry on with their work in the Class IV section of librarian films.

As they lean over the railing and drink in the sight of all those books, Henry challenges Danielle/Nicole on her love of reading.

Prince Henry:  Pick one. [a book]

Danielle/Nicole:  I could no sooner choose a favourite star in the heavens.

Prince Henry:  What is it that touches you so?

Danielle/Nicole:  I guess it’s because… when I was young, my father would stay up late and read to me. He was addicted to the written word. I would fall asleep listening to the sound of his voice.

Prince Henry:  What sort of books?

Danielle/Nicole:  Science, philosophy. I suppose they remind me of him. He died when I was eight. Utopia was the last book he brought home.

Prince Henry:  Which explains why you quote it.

Danielle/Nicole:  I would rather hear his voice again than any sound in the world.

Henry turns away and walks down the stairs, as seen below.

Reel Librarians:  Ever After monastery library

An open book — a Bible, perchance? — in the monastery library in Ever After

Danielle/Nicole:  Is something wrong?

Prince Henry:  In all my years of study, not one tutor ever demonstrated the passion you have shown me in the last two days. You have more conviction in one memory… than I have in my entire being.

And in the film, she inspires him to found a university! ♥ Later, he reveals his master plan to his parents, King Francis and Queen Marie (in real life, King Francis I and Claude, Queen Consort of France):

I want to build a university, with the largest library in Europe, where people of any station can study, no matter their station.

Reel Librarians:  Ever After monastery library

I was able to capture this cool transition shot of the library juxtaposed with Dougray Scott’s face. Two handsome shots in one!

And did he? Hmmm… not so much. In real life, it was Henry’s father, Francis I (who ruled France from 1515-1547) who was well-known as dedicated patron of the arts and libraries. He greatly improved the royal library by expanding its collection and opening up the library to scholars around the world (meaning Europe, I’m sure). In 1537, Francis I also signed the Ordonnance de Montpellier into law, decreeing that a copy of every book to be sold in France also had to have a copy deposited into the royal library. Although apparently this decree was not widely followed (and abolished during the French Revolution in the late 1700s), it does provide a precedent, hundreds of years later, for the Library of Congress!

What was Henry II known for in real life? Although apparently not a great supporter of libraries — or perhaps overshadowed by his father’s love of libraries? — Henry II did introduce the concept of patents to document personal inventions.

For libraries and archives, this father-and-son duo had it covered! 🙂

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