Florence and the Machine’s “King” and “The Law According to Lidia Poet”
I was blown away by this scene and this song. Let me tell you more about it.
Rarely has a song so perfectly heightened the narrative of a film than Florence and the Machine’s operatic soliloquy, “King,” which plays in the Netflix true-life drama, The Law According to Lidia Poet.
In the final cliffhanger scene (Season 1/Episode 6), Lidia Poet, the show’s central character, reaches a personal, professional, emotional, and geographical crossroads. It’s one of those deeply introspective moments we’ve all faced in our own lives, sometimes multiple times. The decision made and judgment reached in that instant will impact us, and those around us, for the rest of our lives. Sound familiar?
These “crossroads” questions — about family, career, and where to go in life — are inherently much tougher for women. Women face far more difficult decisions often wrought with societal pressure and family expectation which are not typically placed upon men. The price of failure, making a wrong decision, has always been higher for women (and their children).
Lidia Poet (1855-1949) was a real person. She lived in the Piedmont region of northwest Italy. Although Piedmont was known as one of the epicenters of progressive ideas and free expression nearing the end of the 19th century, old-world attitudes still shackled most opportunities for women. Poet was a pioneer who was the first female to graduate from the University of Turin School of Law. Despite her academic excellence and personal ambition, she was repeatedly denied the right to practice as an attorney. Italian magistrates deemed women unfit to argue as advocates or serve in official court duties. Poet would not become a licensed attorney in Italian courts until she reached the age of 65. However, in the 40-year interim, she fought relentlessly for women’s rights and suffrage.
The first season of The Law According to Lidia Poet tells the story (in six parts) of the struggling young 20-something law school grad eager to break down barriers, often driven by her own naive optimism. Poet is very much a “modern” single woman, engaging in multiple relationships (she is later forced to choose her suiter, and decide if she wishes to marry at all), but also constantly constrained by the norms of a society certain to change, but painfully slow to get there. As is customary with so many other Italian-language programs (notably, 7 Women and a Murder on Netflix, My Brilliant Friend on HBO), the cinematography is spellbinding.
Combining actual history with the values of the present and then trying to craft a story around it can be messy. The series is flawed, sometimes uneven, and likely stretches the truth in parts. But it also remains engaging throughout. Given the stunning fashions, manner of storytelling, quirky camera work, and rock-indie music in the score (remember, this is the 1890s) the show’s creators are clearly aiming for a younger audience. The novelty takes the best of the classical but predictable Merchant-Ivory formula and spices things up significantly with connectivity to contemporary emotions, which are every bit as relevant now as then. Ambition, love, and struggle are timeless and universal.
Interesting as it was, as the series came to an end last night, though impressed, I had no prescribed intent to review the show nor write anything, that was, until the rivering final five-minute scene. Introduce Florence and the Machine, and the song — “King.” If you’ve gone along with Lidia’s story up until now, everything in her life comes to an apex. I was so stunned that I stopped the program and watched it again. Then, I went to Google to search for the song I’d just heard. That’s the power of the music, the meaning of the message, and the perfection of a stunning conclusion, which we can only hope leads to a Season 2.
Since this show is new, there’s almost nothing available (yet) on YouTube. The final scene has not been posted. Instead, here’s a live performance by Florence and the Machine on The Jimmy Fallon Show when the song was first released last year (Feb. 2022).
life sucked then, and still does now
Absolutely.. the song makes the ending epic. You can see the complete journey.
It is as if you wrote the words out of my head. I resonate with everything that you have described. Beautiful.