Marie Antoinette

| On
Friday, September 19, 2008
Marie Anoinette/ Sofia Coppola 2006

I liked this movie! I haven't read much about it, but I know from doing some googling for images that there was a really mixed reaction when it came out -- boos at Cannes, charges of excessive frivolity, shallowness, boo hoo princess (aimed equally at Coppola as Antoinette as far as I can tell), too like a music video, etc. etc. I acknowledge that there are legitimate reasons for disliking it (how generous I am to allow for people having their own opinions!), although the one I keep circling back to is "I was expecting something else." If you were hoping for Lost in Translation Goes Versailles, you might be disappointed (although this movie continues to examine the loneliness that was at the heart of LiT, it does not have Bill Murray singing karaoke or Scarlett in her underpants); if you were hoping for a gritty prequel to Les Miserables, no luck! The angry torch and pitchfork wielding mob is alluded to, but rarely seen. (I think you see all of it in the trailer.) I grudgingly allow that if you were hopping up and down for something somber, traditional, political, weighted with the lead cloak of 100% historical accuracy-- the presence of music by Bow Wow Wow or Siouxsie and the Banshees might strike you like the laughter of GWB strikes me. (UNBEARABLE.)

Don't get me wrong -- I love history, I love political intrigues and all that jazz. ("all that jazz": a term often used in historiography.) But I LOVE that Coppola didn't choose to tell this story in that way. Instead she focused on the girl/woman herself -- what would it have been like to be a political pawn (married to France to secure an alliance), have no personal privacy at all (30+ courtiers watching her give birth), to have access to great wealth, but have virtually no power or freedom? And perhaps most importantly in this story, to be a teenager on top of it all?! She paints Marie Antoinette as a high-spirited girl, which she was -- not a politician, not a barracuda, just a young clueless person trying to make the best of the circumstances she was born to.

I read someone out there on the intertubes refer to this movie as more of a tone poem than a biopic. This struck me as being an excellent description because so much of the mood of the film is conveyed in music and color. (it's funny! The trailer has basically all of the movie exposition, and it takes less than three minutes.)


Perhaps here is where I should say that I am around the same age as Sofia Coppola and that we probably had the same picture of Adam Ant taped to our walls. A lot of the images and music combined hit me right in a culturally resonant spot I didn't even know existed. (much of the 80's was pretty embarrassing.)

Speaking of images, this film is lovely to look at. The color palette is bright and beautiful, the costumes are amazing, the furnishings... the fact that they're IN Versailles and make it look like a place where people are living (albeit opulently) rather than just a museum is no small feat. The lighting is beautiful as well -- I thought the "back to nature" section of the movie (Antoinette removed to the country with her daughter) with its simpler clothing and white/green palette was particularly gorgeous. And the food!! Oh my god! Don't watch it if you're hungry, because you'll be miserable. (me, and the people of France. I know, I know.)

I don't know why I waited so long to watch it. I was intrigued by the trailer when it was in the theater, but didn't get to it in time. The DVD finally passed through my hands at the library with no other holds on it, so I brought it home. It's something I'd been meaning to do, but I had this idea that I wasn't going to like it. (Here's the truth behind that "idea:" I know how this story ends! Madame Guillotine!) I am a wuss and tend to protect myself if I'm feeling vulnerable. Right now I'm a stressed out wuss who didn't want to be gut punched by my DVD player. I think I can say without giving too much away that Coppola found her way to an ending that was satisfying and felt right without being exploitative.

This was going to be part of a longer post about movies and other stuff I've been watching lately, but I got carried away by the Adam Ant of it all.

3 comments on "Marie Antoinette"
  1. I think I am going to check this movie out. I have never seen it, and thought that it would be like the Romeo and Juliet that came out like 10 years ago, and I really liked the music but not the execution of the whole thing.

  2. My problem with Romeo and Juliet is always the same: they are too stupid to live! (although some argue that they are not stupid, just teenagers.) Anyway, while I liked that version of R+J, I can see why many people didn't. But I don't think MA is quite like that -- the language isn't Shakespeare while Leo DiCaprio rides around in a car with a loud hawaiian shirt, for one. It's not gimmicky, like r+j was.

    Anyway. I liked it! I thought it was beautiful and melancholy yet still with that elusive ADAM ANT factor.

  3. I fear I will not be able to resist the Ant Factor much longer.


Klik the button below to show emoticons and the its code
Hide Emoticon
Show Emoticon