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Marie Antoinette: A Film by David Grubin

4.5 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Her name is synonymous with the French monarchy and all its excesses, but there is more to the story of Marie Antoinette than the simple tale of how a frivolous sovereign helped provoke the uprising that became the French Revolution. Acclaimed documentary filmmaker David Grubin paints a surprising portrait of a courageous figure and traces her journey from the splendors of a childhood in the mighty Austro-Hungarian Empire to a French guillotine.

Special Features

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Product Details

  • Actors: .
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    PG
    Parental Guidance Suggested
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: November 28, 2006
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000GH3CQG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,077 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Marie Antoinette: A Film by David Grubin" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Marie Antoinette was born November 2, 1755 in Vienna, Austria. She was the youngest and most beautiful daughter of Francis Stephen I and Maria Theresa Emperor and Empress of the Holy Roman Empire. Marie Antoinette was brought up believing her destiny was to become queen of France, the hope of forging an alliance with the two countries. She married the crown prince of France in 1770. Four years later she became queen when her husband was crowned King Louis XVI

One of the most interesting facets of this two-hour special on Marie Antoinette was that she never said the famous line "let them eat cake." In fact, the poor Marie was remarkably naive about the needs of the French peasantry and even about her adopted country. Living in a secluded life in the palace of Versailles, she had never seen the sea and spent most of her short life confined within the walls of the palace and gardens.

This fascinating documentary, which aired on PBS last night - in preparation for Sofia Coppola's big-screen dramatization, starring Kirsten Dunst - expels many of the myths associated with this deeply misunderstood Queen. She was indeed only a child - just fifteen - when her mother Maria Theresa married her off to the teenage Prince Louis.

Naive about the role of a Queen, Marie a woman of great charm and beauty, spent much of her time gambling and partying, spending money from the public coffers, oblivious to who paid for it all. The fact that Louis was Unable to produce a heir was a source of great consternation in the court, and as the years went by with still no child, Marie found an outlet by building a private world on the Versailles grounds, Le Petit Trianon, a private retreat where she could get back to nature.
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Format: DVD
I never really given much thought to Marie Antoinette. All I knew about the former queen of France was that she was beheaded after found guilty of various crimes ranging from corruption to treason. After I saw the lifeless Sophia Coppola film "Marie Antoinette", my curiousity about the former queen was piqued. This PBS documentary was aired not too long ago but I missed seeing most of it. I was fortunate to find a copy to rent through the web based rental service I use.

I found "Marie Antoinette" the documentary far more engaging. The life of Marie Antoinette is indeed fascinating. She almost reminds me of Paris Hilton of her day with her lack of intellectual curiousity and love of frivolous spending and other means of pleasure. It is hard not to see the comparison between the deceased queen of France and the current queen of overexposure.

In the PBS documentary, the filmmaker goes further in depth of Marie Antoinette's life after she and Louis tries to leave Paris, France and eventually their gruesome fate at the hands of the guillotine. I would have liked to have heard more about Marie's life prior to her marriage to Louis (like it was covered in thorough detail in Antoina Fraser's book). Blair Brown does a superb job as narrator. I found this documentary extremely well produced and thought out. There are other documentaries on Marie Antoinette but I only imagine that they would be not as good as PBS's two hour documentary on Marie Antoinette. I had fun learning about Marie Antoinette which led me to check out more books and documentaries about the former queen of France.
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Format: DVD
After listening to Antonia Fraser's excellent and exhaustive biography of Marie Antoinette on audiobook (MARIE ANTOINETTE: THE JOURNEY), I immediately hopped onto Netflix in search of a related documentary or two. The only one to catch my eye was David Grubin's MARIE ANTOINETTE: A FILM. Try as I might, I can't help but critique Grubin's film in relation to Fraser's biography.

Grubin's MARIE ANTOINETTE clocks in at about two hours, compared to the 20+ hour narration of Fraser's MARIE ANTOINETTE. While it might seem unfair to compare the two for this reason alone, they do share a similar story arc and cover much the same ground. In fact, Grubin includes snippets of interviews with several French historians in MARIE ANTOINETTE, one of whom is Antonia Fraser herself!

Given the time limitation, Grubin does a decent enough job of detailing the life and death of Marie Antoinette, starting with her childhood in Vienna, Austria, and ending with her death at the hands of "revolutionaries" in Paris, France. Even so, Grubin barely scratches the surface; for example, though he attempts to examine Marie Antoinette's psychological, social and intellectual development, the audience is only beginning to get a feel for Marie Antoinette the person by film's end. Additionally, Grubin raises a few controversial points - such as Marie Antoinette's relationship with Count Ferson - which is unfortunate, because he's unable to examine points of contention on anything but a superficial level. For example, Fraser dealt with historical controversies by returning to contemporary accounts of the events (diaries, letters, etc.), detailing various modern views on the issue, and then concluding with her own reasoned interpretation of the evidence. Grubin simply doesn't have enough time to do the same.
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