QUEEN OF VERSAILLES

I just saw a documentary that has not yet left my brain.  I viewed this film 24 hours ago, and I am having trouble thinking about anything else.  I cannot stop talking about it. Last night, I even dreamed about it.  So naturally, I have to share this with you, as I cannot imagine writing about anything else.

I won’t bore you with all the details about the film, but will just give you a taste of the story.

David Siegel, a billionaire in Florida, was building the largest single family home in America. It has 90,000 square feet. He and his family are living in a nice house already, with their eight children. But they were eager to finish the construction of their new home, so that they could play on their own baseball field and two tennis courts. But the economy crisis happened, and Siegel’s business got hit hard. The film starts as David and Jackie are riding high…spending money like there is no tomorrow. Then we see how their world becomes a little more stressful with major cutbacks in their spending power.

The film, which is fantastic as a documentary, is really all about Jackie and how she conducts her life as the wife of a billionaire. Her comments will make you scratch and shake your head. She was planning on having a couple of children, but when she realized that she could have nannies, she decided to have more. The nannies are a big part of their lives, and it is hard to imagine how these children live without the hired help.

You see this life of wasteful spending and decadence. When the economic crisis happens, they have to lay off most of the house staff. They still have a driver and a few nannies. So the house is filthy, there is no one to clean it anymore and there is no one to cook. There is dog poop all around the house and why? Because the staff are no longer there to take care of it. This is a family who are very good at  consuming and collecting stuff. Even after she has been told to cut back on her spending, Jackie goes Christmas shopping and loads up 4 or 5 carts of toys. And many of the toys the children already have. And that is the point: these are people who have too much and still want more.

What makes this a compelling film is that this is not a story about evil people. Jackie actually comes across as good hearted. She seems naïve at times about the world, but she is never mean. There is a scene where she goes back to her childhood home and visits with her oldest friend. She is very loving to her and tries to help with her financial problems. She clearly loves her husband and needs a lot of attention and affection. Meanwhile, this man is losing millions of dollars and he is angry because they are leaving too many lights on. You see a man, who at the start of filming is on top of the world and smiling and boastful about his life. And then you see someone who is sad and worried and not sure how he will survive. You see his wife, who is almost compulsive about shopping, trying to cut back by flying commercial to visit her friend in New York. While renting a car at Hertz, she asked what was the name of her driver. She honestly believed that a driver came with the rental car. This is someone who has lived a plush life a little too long and is struggling with the real world.

This film really makes you think about what you value in life. It makes you wonder if you are the alien or are they?  Are we weird for having children clean their room? Is there something wrong with us for wanting to have a clean kitchen? And when do we say this is enough, I have more than I need, thank you very much. This documentary makes you see what is important in life and that you do NOT want to be like them. That does not mean that wealthy people cannot be thoughtful, compassionate and raise responsible children. Wealth does not mean that you stop caring about your community, just ask Bill and Melinda Gates.

I urge you to see this film and then look at your world. It looks awfully good.

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Comments

  • Karen  On November 25, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    I found it fascinating!

  • Aledys Ver  On November 25, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    As I was reading, I couldn’t help thinking exactly the same thing you ask: are these people the ones that are out of touch with the real world is are we… Sometimes having just enough is good enough, isn’t it?

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