Skip to main content

Marie Antoinette (2006)

Marie Antoinette. Feature film. (2006, 123 mins) IMDB

...A different sort of historical film...

A

familiar story based on real events. It's been told before, so why tell it again? I do not know.

It's the late 1700s in Austria and France. Lots of costumes and more costumes. When inside a palace, the rooms are as gilded and ornate as any in the world. (I can't imagine how people can live in them, but another time and place). When outside, the grounds are trimmed and green and filled with colours from flowers. Oh, yes, and all those costumes.

There are horses to pull carriages and horses to carry men during the hunt. Then all those extras with their costumes. Filling an opera house. Filling a ball room. Filling the grounds as Marie makes her first entrance at Versailles.

I don't understand royalty and all their attendants. The film makes a point of odd aspects of being a young princess and later queen. When morning arrives for Marie, a curtain around her bed is pulled back and an audience stands around as she gets dressed. She's stripped naked and bathed and perfumed and dressed all the while many woman looking on. I don't get it. Not in real life or in the film. Certainly it's odd, but do we really need to see it?

The film starts with the young princess still living in Austria. An arrangement has been made where she'll go to France, marry the future king and become Queen. And off she goes to France. She gets married. The people around her gossip. She's alone in a new world.

A large focus of the first half of the film is on her getting pregnant, to give France a future king. It's tough to do when your husband won't have sex with you. Why that's the case is never explained in the movie although the implication is Louis XVI is a nerd and a dork.

The film wants to be a comedy, not a farce or satire. Why else would you cast Rip Torn as Louis XV and Jason Schwartzman as Louis XVI? As a comedy it fails because there's not much in the way of laughter and given the ending, I don't need to spell it out, it's not comedy.

Eventually Louis XV dies and Marie becomes Queen along side her husband. She eventually has three children one of whom dies, but trouble is brewing in North America and France sends money and soldiers to help. Meanwhile there is trouble in France. People are starving and their own revolution begins.

Act III of the film deals with this darker period in France's history and the life of Marie Antoinette. It ends when the couple and their children are forced from Versailles. Their fate known, but not shown.

It was clear from the start of the film the filmmakers wanted to bring something new and different and approachable for young audiences. It's the only reason pop/rock songs are played throughout.

The film's POV is entirely Marie's. Rarely does it shift to another scene where she's not in it. Those types of scenes where two other characters talk and we get some insight or advancement in the plot of the story. Not in this film.

What makes the film an historical film is the underlying story, setting and costumes, but from there the film diverts from traditional filmmaking. The music is one aspect of that divergence, the other is the narrative and POV we see. It looks like an historical film, but feels like something else. I'm not sure if it's good or bad, but it's different.

Part of the difference is the lack of dialogue. Much of the first act is devoid of dialogue. It's a procession of visuals as Marie transverses from young girl to young wife. And while you might think that's boring, it isn't. There's a story being told with pictures. Granted most people would be bored with it.

There are certainly times when I felt a replay of musical notes and I mean that in a figurative sense. A replay of notes from LOST IN TRANSITION and this film. I suppose you could say directors have signatures and preferences and I sensed it but I can't point to something specific at the moment.

While I was never bored or uninterested with this film, I wasn't enthralled or carried away either. There must be some attempt to parallel Marie's life with modern day women, and I suppose if I thought about it long enough I'd come up with something. If that's not the intention and reason for making this film, then why bother. The film is devoid of suspense. We know her life story.

Some may argue, it's about rewriting her life story, I should say, they want to put a positive light on this person's life, fine, except why? It obviously won't change history and what does it matter what we think of her.

Posted 2009/03/07 at 19h57ET in Movie Commentary.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Day 5: Writing a Novel—The Deep Blue Hold

Monday, November 21st, 2016 No work on the novel on Day 4. Note: Unedited writings from my notebook for this novel. Square bracket items represent added comments.
At 18:31—Office ... if I use Leänne instead of Leanne how will people react... Y esterday was Sunday and I took it off, plus I was dealing with some mental health issues. I know this story is something that is simply a matter of putting in the time to make it happen. I’m supposed to be working on it as much as I can but I haven’t been doing that. Two main reasons. It’s been a while since I’ve worked on a story. Then there’s the issues of my mental health. Things happen. I get down and it impacts on my writing. I might be using it as an excuse, but it’s clearly something I need to deal with. I have to find a schedule I can work with. Perhaps I need to put this first and cut out other things. Not sure but I will figure it out. A name for the hero came to me. For the moment going with Leanne or is it Leanna? Should be Le…

Writing a Novel: The Deep Blue Hold–Introduction

Thursday, March 9th, 2017 ... I fight my insecurities and doubts and I withdraw farther away from people and life ... I n November 2016 I started work on a new novel with the working title: The Deep Blue Cage. A few weeks after I started, I stopped. I was feeling too depressed about everything including the idea of writing a new novel. It happens to me at various times, with varying degrees, and it is debilitating. The ultimate issue was: Why bother? Why bother write another novel no one will read and no one will care about. I also found I was dreading the writing process more and more. It was painful to think about. I walked away and focused on other things. Or tried to. That didn’t work either. I felt trapped and unsure where I should head, what I should do. I even asked the big question, what the hell is life about anyway. There’s no one answer to this question despite the proclamations of some and because I believe I can think critically, can reason, I look at it from many a…

Day 6: Writing a Novel—The Deep Blue Hold

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016 Note: Unedited writings from my notebook for this novel. Square bracket items represent added comments.
At 20:44—Office ... Lost at sea, she's rescued by a ship and wished she had never set foot on it.... N othing new on this story. Nothing came to me while I was sleeping or when on my errands. I thought something would come about, but nope. So be it. I have two chapters written. Not sure if they are any good but they are there. And so Chp. 3 to write. And I don’t see the scene because I’m not sure what should happen. The question is what is the cliffhanger. Nope. 3 about her, not the ship and crew. And I’ve already written the last line of the chapter. She wakes up and feels immense pain. Not sure if I should mention blood in the water. This chapter or the following. So it’s early dawn or not quite sunrise. And she’s in the cockpit unconscious. But how do I write it from her POV if she’s out. Hmmm. I can do it but should I do it? And I don’t w…