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Written and directed by Academy Award® winner Sofia Coppola (2003, Best Writing, Lost In Translation), Marie Antoinette is an electrifying yet intimate retelling of the turbulent life of history’s favorite villainess. Kirsten Dunst portrays the ill-fated child princess who married France’s young and indifferent King Louis XVI (Jason Schwartzman). Feeling isolated in a royal court rife with scandal and intrigue, Marie Antoinette defied both royalty and commoners by living like a rock star, which served only to seal her fate.
While much was made of the fact that Marie Antoinette elicited boos at Cannes, the many favorable reviews attracted less attention. Inspired by Antonia Fraser's biography, Sofia Coppola fashions a portrait that's just as dreamy as The Virgin Suicides, her first literary adaptation, and the Oscar-winning Lost in Translation. Set to a soundtrack of post-punk (a conceit that adds more interest than resonance), the teenaged Marie (Kirsten Dunst, quite good) may be shallow, but she's rarely unsympathetic. The story begins in the late-18th century as the Austrian Archduchess agrees to marry Louis-Auguste (Jason Schwartzman). After bidding adieu to her mother, Maria Theresa (Marianne Faithfull), she travels to France, where King Louis XV (Rip Torn) sets the rules--and the list is endless (Judy Davis' Comtesse de Noailles is the primary enforcer). As for the Dauphin, he's just a boy, really, with more interest in his key collection than their marriage bed. Should Marie produce an heir, it might be enough to sustain her--since life is nothing but an endless shopping spree--but clouds gather on the horizon as an impoverished populace rises up against their extravagant leaders. Coppola merely suggests what happens next, although history paints a darker picture. Filmed in and around the Chateau of Versailles, Marie Antoinette is a riot of rustling gowns, sparkling jewels, and Manolo Blahnik-designed shoes. To say that style trumps substance does its maker a disservice, but the look of the thing does leave the deepest impression. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
Extras from Marie Antoinette (click for larger image)
Featurette: On the filming of Marie Antoinette:
Film Clip: "The Introduction"
Film Clip: "The Royal Treatment"
Beyond Marie Antoinette at Amazon.com
The Book, Marie Antoinette: The Journey
More Period Pieces With A Twist
The Films of Kirsten Dunst
- "The Making of Marie Antoinette" featurette
- Deleted Scenes
- Cribs with Louis XVI
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You get the feeling that Coppola wants the viewer to understand where Antoinette came from in her own perspective, so that you might better understand how someone could rot away in high fashion, delicacies, and opulence. It's a lovely piece of art film that captures the wealthiest times in France, the disassociated royalty, while also notably attempting to persuade you of Marie's humanity.
A character study within a historical picture, Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette is a blissful stroll through the garden, but be careful not to stay there too long, lest you give into the luxury. In all, Marie Antoinette is an exquisite narrative and emotional take on a much maligned historical figure treated with the utmost respect and care. Sofia Coppola has never filmed sorrow with such sublime reverence and reason. It's her Virgin Suicides on a much larger scale with a massive budget well spent. I highly recommend Marie Antoinette.
She attended opera and every social activity which crossed her bored path as the Dauphin still didn't care for her physically and her mother would send almost threatening letters to her saying that she must get him to be 'interested' in her or the whole works fall in the balance and on her teenaged shoulders... The alliance between Austria and France. Sofia Coppola spins a great tale of French royalty loosely based on the historical view of the young queen. Even though we understand from the beginning how this will end, Coppola, fortunately, spares us the details and we are left to view the growth of this queen. Although history is harsh in its recounting of Marie Antionette, here she is given a much fairer treatment to what she was, but this was not a complete historical account, but more a personally done account with feeling of a young teenaged woman charged by her family and the French society for holding down an alliance betwixt two dominant countries of the time... Resplendent with color and light, splendor and vivid imagery of costumes and sets, this look into Marie Antoinette is my absolute favorite to date.