Monday, February 28, 2011

Movie Review: Marie Antoinette

One of my favorite movies of all time is Marie Antoinette (as directed by Sophia Coppola). My favorite time period for decor and clothing (but definitely not hair) is the late 18th century. While I don't think decorating a house in this style looks anything other than gaudy and showy, I love visiting museums and old houses to look at housewares and fashion from a time when everything was made with such care as if it were art.

To that end, while Marie Antoinette is not the most historically accurate film (it's told through a very modern lens, with modern language, music, and other influences), it is visually stunning. Two other movies, The Duchess and The Young Victoria, have a similar feel to them, but nothing is as spectacular as Versailles. And this movie only makes me want to go to France that much more.

For anyone unfamiliar with the basic story, while America was fighting for their independence, a movement was simultaneously growing in France to protest the opulent and disinterested monarchy. Versailles was a grown-up theme park with frequent parties and bountiful leisure activities. The movie is set on this backdrop. While angry crowds protest at the gates of the palace grounds, Marie wades her way through trying to learn how to be a Parisian princess, early marriage with a stranger, and eventually becoming queen.
At first Kirsten Dunst's Antoinette is nervous and selfish. Then she is frustrated and selfish. Then something changes and while she still does not completely redeem herself, you start to see that maybe she wasn't so selfish and spoiled after all, but just a young girl trying to figure herself out and grow up. As her husband says at one point, "God help us, for we are too young to rule." And you get the idea that that's what Sophia Coppola was trying to get at. Maybe the last royals of colonial France were not horrible rulers, but just kids in a grown-up job. Very ill prepared and inexperienced. And how does that not differ from our lives today and the roles we all try to take on at a young age? Well, other than the fact that the fate of thousands if not millions of people depends on the daily decisions we make. And if we mess up, we don't have to deal with angry protesters and a date with a guillotine.

Despite the heavy subject matter, the movie doesn't feel heavy until the very end as Marie and her family leaves Versaille. And if you know anything about history, then you know where she is headed.

After everything, though, the movie's plot is not spectacular. The acting is not spectacular. If anything, it's all mildly entertaining enough so that you'll be amused, but not completely blown away. What really makes the movie is the scenery and the costumes. You can oooooo and aaaaaahhhh all you want and not feel guilty about it or spend thousands on a trip to France to get the real thing. And while you may not get much much obvious inspiration with the decor and clothing (because really, why were 2 foot high wigs ever in fashion?), but you will find some inspiration here and there if you know where to look.


Anonymous said...

Love the style of clothing back then! I might check it out but I'm not a huge Kirsten Dunst fan.

Thisishollywood said...

Useful information, many thanks to the author. It is puzzling to me now, but in general, the usefulness and significance is overwhelming. Very much thanks again and best of luck!
Movies pander to our wild senses, titillate our innermost emotions and just pep up our lives. Movies are today just a mini caricature of our real life. In a very big way, the real life has transformed and this is portrayed on the celluloid nowadays.

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