Saturday, February 6, 2010

Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette is a 2006 film directed by Sophia Coppola based from the book written by Antonia Fraser on the life of the Last True Queen of France, Marie Antoinette. 

Marie Antoinette won an Academy Award for Best Costume Design   

Marie Antoinette starts with Maria Theresa choosing her youngest daughter Maria Antonia to marry the Dauphin of France, Louis Auguste, in order to cement an alliance between Austria and France. Maria is taken to a small island in the Middle of the Rhine where she is to give up anything that is Austrian (even her favourite dog) and trade it for something French. After this ritual is done she is no longer Archduchess Maria Antonia but is now Marie Antoinette, Dauphine of France.

Marie meets her new husband the shy, Louis Auguste. The couple are quickly married but the marriage remains unconsummated. The sexless marriage is not her only concern, Marie begins to find that life in Versailles is difficult, finding no privacy, always having servants and attendant follow her. The courtiers don't like her because she is Austrian and a foreigner and mock her for not providing France with an heir. 

All of the Court is gossiping about Louis XV sex life with Madame du Barry. Du Barry was born of low birth and is only welcome at court because the King bought her the title of Comtesse. She is disliked among all the women of the court because of her low birth and haughty nature. Marie snubs Du Barry and refuses to talk to her. She is convinced by her Mother to say at least something to the Comtesse in order to please the king. She complies but says that she will never speak to Du Barry again after this.

After many attempts to seduce the Dauphin and failing each time, the Dauphine begins to wonder what is wrong with her. She begins to buy and buy and buy. She becomes a shopaholic. Thinking that all of these fancy gowns and lavish shoes will make her prettier and more attractive to the Dauphin and everyone else. She begins making louche friends and getting into plenty of trouble because of it. The group sneaks out of the Palace and into Paris, where she meets Count Axel Fersen for the first time. 

Louis XV dies and Louis Auguste becomes King Louis XVI of France and Marie becomes Queen Marie Antoinette. The France that Louis inherits is restless because of high taxes. Marie continues with her frivolous spending and now Louis throws in his lot with the Americans against the English in the American Civil War. 

Marie Antoinette's brother, Emperor Joseph II of Austria, comes over to visit to advise Marie on her spending and parties but really it's to help solve the marital bed. He manages to solve the issue and Louis and Marie have intercourse resulting in the birth of a daughter, Marie-Therese.

Marie starts spending nearly all of her time at her paradise, The Petit Trianon. Completely ignoring her social responsibilities as Queen. During her time at the Trianon, she begins an affair with Axel Fersen. 

The country is heaped in debt and the people blame it all on Marie Antoinette. They begin a propaganda war that still lingers today. The Queen no longer like she social scene preferring to stay with her family. Her Mother soon dies and shotrly after that she gives birth to a son, Louis Joseph and a daughter (who soon dies).

An angry mob storms the Bastile and heads for Versailles. The King sends all of the nobility out of the country but he stays. And Marie, as his wife, believes it's her duty to stay with him. The crowd storms Versailles in search for the Queen (with the intention of killing her) but she has already fled to the King's apartment. The crowd calls for the Queen's blood. She goes onto the balcony and bows to the crowd causing some to go "Viva the Queen". 

The royal family is taken from Versailles to the Tuileries. The final scene shows Marie Antoinette's room; destroyed.

I give this movie a 4/5. I really liked this movie because of it's less "mouth to mouth" narration and more "heart to heart". You can understand what Marie Antoinette was feeling and I think Kirsten Dunst did a good job of that. Sophia did a pretty good job on this movie. A negative of this movie was that it ignores the politics surrounding France at the time. The cast was nice. Everyone worked well with each other. The eensy-weensy thing that ticked me off  was that I thought Jason Schwartzman didn't have the girth to play Louis XVI. This movie won't teach you a history lesson but it will show you a side of Marie Antoinette; the human side.     



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