About the Production

Planting the Seeds

“This is a human, and in many ways very modern, story,” says writer, director and star of A Little Chaos, Alan Rickman.

A Little Chaos tells the story of the creation of the Rockwork Grove, a unique element of France’s “SunKing” Louis XIV’s magnificent Palace of Versailles. While a famous and celebrated architect, Andre LeNotre, (Matthias Schoenaerts) is tasked with overseeing the creation of an outdoor ballroom, he turns to a landscape designer but outsider to the courts Sabine De Barra (Kate Winslet) to bring a fresh perspective.

“While their respective visions of beauty for the garden might initially be seen as contradictory, a true meeting of minds begins to take shape,” Alan Rickman explains. “Any audience member will be able to enter this story, whether knowing a lot about the period or nothing at all.”

Location, Location, Location(s)

Despite the film telling the story of the creation of the most famous garden of France, filming actually took place in the beautiful palaces and gardens of England.

Kate Winslet marvels, “We have such incredible palaces in England. There are these beautiful stately homes that we were very fortunate to access. Our crew cleverly made it feel like that opulent, decadent, French world!”

Production took place into some of England’s foremost stately homes, including Blenheim, Waddesdon, Hampton Court Palace, Cliveden, Ham House, Ashridge Park and Chenies Manor.

At Blenheim, the production was even able to film scenes in rooms that had never before been shown on-screen; the rooms were used to portray the Louvre museum, among other locales.

Alan Rickman reveals, “There are in fact a bust and a huge painting of Louis XIV at Blenheim; we couldn’t show either of these, but at least we had a sense of the right world.”

Constant Gardening

The emotional heart of A Little Chaos beats in an extraordinary world of landscape gardening and garden design, a world that loomed large in the period.

Alan Rickman explains, “If you look at any drawings, etchings, or illustrations of the time, flowers were not featuring. It was all architectural. Everything was made on such a huge scale: vistas, lakes, fountains, avenues.”

As relayed in A Little Chaos, creating the gardens at Versailles became an obsession for the King. Rickman says, “Louis XIV had so much power that he could decide to move the entire court out of the Louvre, build a palace at Versailles and then demand the greatest gardens that had ever been built in the world – all on swampland.”

The Rockwork Grove is real, and still stands at Versailles today. Having made a visit to the actual site, Kate Winslet found it to be “magical standing in the centre of the Rockwork Grove all alone. Standing in our version of the Grove, I had that same feeling.”

Full Bloom

The steadily evolving garden provides the backdrop to the slowly blossoming love affair between the two designers, Sabine La Barra and Andre Le Notre.

Speaking of the love story, Kate Winslet explained: “The meeting of the minds is also a meeting of two souls who unlock each other’s hearts and creativity. This story holds the wonderful quality of gently revealing details of these individuals’ lives – past and present – so you begin to sense that they are kindred spirits even though you wouldn’t initially think so at first.”

Matthias Schoenaerts: “Sabine’s totally different feeling for nature and for gardening and for design are all ultimately refreshing to Le Notre. He has a very mathematical way of working; all his designs are very geometrical and based on math principles. Everything is, and has become, calculated. But when this woman enters his life personally and professionally, something in him is triggered because deep down he has the same creativity. She helps him rediscover that in himself.”