Marie Antoinette: A Film by David Grubin
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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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very interesting DVD. I had been reading a book about Marie Antoinette and hope to visit Versailles soon.Published 7 months ago by Jennifer
This film uses a number of experts and original art to tell the story of the life of Marie Antoinette. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Mr. T. Whaymand
I love anything about the Palace of Versailles and French aristocracy. History was never my strong suit until I took my first trip to Europe. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Sherry Shelton
Best biography on film I have seen that sticks to the facts.Published 16 months ago by Jason Portland