Watch The Queen of Versailles
- 1 hr 40 min
The Queen of Versailles is a fascinating and thought-provoking documentary film from 2012 that follows the lives of billionaire couple Jackie and David Siegel as they struggle to build the largest and most expensive private home in the United States - a replica of the famous Palace of Versailles in France. Directed by Lauren Greenfield, the film begins at the height of the Siegels' success in the early 2000s, as they flaunt their opulent lifestyle and extravagant spending. David Siegel is the founder and CEO of Westgate Resorts, the largest privately owned timeshare company in the world, and he and Jackie live the ultimate American dream, with a private jet, a staff of 19, and six children.
However, when the 2008 financial crisis hits, the Siegels' world comes crashing down. Westgate Resorts loses a significant amount of its value, and the Siegels find themselves unable to pay the bills for their half-finished Versailles-inspired mansion in Florida. The film follows their downward trajectory as they struggle to maintain their lifestyle and their business, and the viewer is given a glimpse into the complex and fascinating world of extreme wealth and ambition.
At its core, The Queen of Versailles touches on themes of excess, greed, and the American Dream. The Siegels are an extreme example of a culture that values material wealth and status above all else, and the film encourages the audience to question whether this way of life is sustainable or desirable. There is a sense of schadenfreude in watching the Siegels fall from grace, but at the same time, the film also shows the human side of their story, as they struggle to come to terms with their new reality and adapt to the challenges facing them.
One of the strengths of The Queen of Versailles is its ability to capture the contradictions and complexities of the Siegels' lives. On the one hand, the Siegels are portrayed as selfish and out of touch with reality, as they complain about having to downsize their staff and live in a smaller house, while at the same time, they have no understanding of the plight of the working-class Americans who lost their jobs and homes in the wake of the financial crisis. On the other hand, the film also shows the vulnerability and humanity of the Siegels, as they struggle with health issues, family conflicts, and the loss of their dream.
The film also does an excellent job of contextualizing the Siegels' story within the broader societal and economic factors that contributed to the financial crisis. Through interviews with experts and everyday Americans who were affected by the crisis, the film shows how the Siegels' excessive lifestyle was part of a broader culture of greed and speculation that fueled the economic boom and bust. The film thus becomes not just a portrait of one family's downfall, but a commentary on the larger social and economic issues facing the country.
Overall, The Queen of Versailles is a must-see documentary that offers a unique and compelling window into the lives of the super-rich and the consequences of their wealth. Through its deft storytelling and nuanced characterizations, the film illuminates the many contradictions and complexities of extreme wealth and the American Dream, and in doing so, it raises important questions about the values and priorities of our society.
The Queen of Versailles is a 2012 documentary with a runtime of 1 hour and 40 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.1 and a MetaScore of 80.