"Jefferson in Paris" is a 1995 historical drama directed by James Ivory. The movie portrays the life of the third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, during his period as the American ambassador to France from 1784 to 1789 in the years leading up to the French Revolution. The film is a critically engaged viewpoint on Jefferson's diplomatic mission to France and the intricacies of his individual life, particularly highlighting 2 ladies who were critical in his life - his European love interest Maria Cosway and Sally Hemings, his young servant.Plot Summary
As the newly appointed American Minister to France, Jefferson shows up in Paris, leaving his 2 children in the care of his sibling. He is quickly joined by his oldest child, Patsy, while his youngest child, Polly, joins him later on accompanied by Sally Hemings, a young enslaved lady.
The plot rotates around the clash of American simpleness and European decadence and sophistication. Jefferson at first discovers himself bewitched by the poetic charm of Paris and the complex politics. He begins a romantic relationship with a beautiful Anglo-Italian painter, Maria Cosway.The Intricate Love Triangles
In rather a complicated turn of occasions, Jefferson finds himself captured in a love triangle. He establishes a strong accessory to Maria Cosway, and they spend a considerable quantity of time together. On the other hand, the young and gorgeous Sally Hemings, who is also Jefferson's servant, also starts to appeal him. She ends up being an object of Jefferson's affection, too, leading to a complex love triangle.The Political Scenario
Concurrently, the movie explores the political scenario of the time. Jefferson is seen observing the decadence of the French royal court and the extreme hardship of the French individuals. He witnesses the storming of the Bastille, which marked the beginning of the French Revolution. Regardless of his compassion for the French individuals, he is careful not to include himself and his nation in the warfare, understanding that it might be disastrous for the freshly independent United States.Conclusion
The film concludes with Jefferson's return to America, leaving behind Maria Cosway and carrying Sally Hemings back with him. It subtly means the historic speculation about the intimate relationship between Jefferson and Hemings. Nevertheless, Hemings' life becomes all the more complicated as she is now pregnant with Jefferson's child. The narrative of the film ends as Jefferson prepares to function as United States Secretary of State under his good friend President George Washington.
"Jefferson in Paris" uses an exceptional narrative that beautifully juxtaposes political and personal lives. It sheds light on the complexities of Thomas Jefferson's tenure in Paris, providing a comprehensive image of the man beyond simply his political persona. It likewise addresses the cultural clash, social norms, inequality, and the struggle for freedom adequately and discreetly.