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Farewell My Queen [DVD] [2012] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

DVD

Price: £10.07
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Product details

  • Format: Colour, Dolby, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: R (Restricted) (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Cohen Media Group
  • DVD Release Date: 15 Jan 2013
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • ASIN: B009TT0BSE
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 28,922 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.4 out of 5 stars  27 reviews
67 of 73 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Moral Disintegration of the Palace of Versailles at the Moment of Revolution 29 Oct 2012
By Gerard D. Launay - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
We have all wanted, at some point in our lives, to be a fly on the wall at a moment of historical significance. The fly - this time - is a servant to Queen Marie Antoinette played magically by Lea Seydoux. The entire film revolves around "her" point of view.

Sidonie Laborde reads books to the Queen and is summoned at all hours of night and day to respond to Marie Antoinette's whims. It is apparent that Sidonie, a naive girl, has a schoolgirl crush on the Queen but is emotionally hurt by the fact that her majesty is in thrall to another beautiful woman, la Duchess de Polignac. There is a telling scene where Sidonie opens the chamber of la Duchesse when the other is fast asleep and nude, and she examines the woman from almost a clinical perspective - trying to understand where is the charm? But the love triangle takes second place to the reality of the urgent news that the Bastille Prison has just been stormed by the people of Paris and its jailer mutilated by the mob. The very existence of the monarchy and the nobles is on the precipice.

The plot imagines three days in which the idea of revolution swims in the heads of the nobles and servants of Versailles; they realize that their carefully shut off existence is coming to an end and scramble to figure out a way to survive. Most act badly...full of self interest...or even disloyalty. Reluctantly, Sidonie Laborde accepts the request of the Queen to act as a decoy by getting dressed up as the Queen's lover and leaving the palace in a lavish carriage. The purpose of the order is to allow both Queen and her lover to escape safely. Some palace servants wisely warn Sidonie to refuse to be a decoy...since they fear their companion is going to be killed within the day. As these servants see it, the harm the royalty inflicts on the people they rule is just a minor nuisance to King and Queen.

Impressive highlights of the film are the gorgeous cinematography and costumes. (Yes, opt for Blu-Ray to capture all that wonderful detail). The director shoots two sides of Versailles - its dark rooms and its splendid chambers. The rapid disintegration of palace life is tangible and realistic like the discovery of water rats running through the corridors.

Most of all, I was moved by Lea Seydoux's underplayed emotional performance as she struggles to grasp the enormity of all these events - intimate and historical. On balance, I recommend the film as one of the better entries of 2012.
32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A View From The Outside: A Fascinating Peek Into The Last Days Of Marie Antoinette's Court 1 Jan 2013
By K. Harris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
There was a subtle power to "Farewell, My Queen" that completely snuck up on me. I lead with this statement because I'm not often surprised by movies. As I was enjoying Benoit Jacquot's portrait of the last days of Marie Antoinette's court, I was admiring the staging, the performances, and the lush settings. Jacquot places everything through the eyes of one of Antoinette's ladies-in-waiting. As she catches glimpses of the court in turmoil and the escalating political tensions, so do the viewers. As it is constructed, I felt like a voyeur to the unfolding drama--a partner, of sorts, to the lead character. As such, "Farewell, My Queen" is less of a historical recounting of the events in question as it is a peek behind the curtain. This approach lends an unpredictability to a somewhat familiar subject. Even though I have seen dozens of dramatizations of Antoinette, this one seemed remarkably fresh as it was only peripherally about the central subject. It does, at times, seem remote but the emotional payoff is well worth waiting for.

Lea Seydoux plays Antoinette's reader. Devoted to her mistress, she sees only the best in the erratic noble. Many of the early scenes reveal the protocol and propriety expected within Versailles, and the daily routine of participating in court is well established in the serving classes. Seydoux, however, relishes every moment she gets to consort with the Queen. Wonderfully played by Diane Kruger, it is easy to see how her charms were captivating to the younger lady. Even as Seydoux's admiration borders on romantic love, she still supports the Queen's pursuit of another. Without big dramatic scenes, Seydoux quietly conveys an increasingly complex performance as she attempts to juggle the doom and chaos that are descending upon the house. Although Antoinette's fate is well documented, the film ultimately proves to be a strong character study of Seydoux and the role she'll play in history.

I didn't realize just how invested I was until deep into the picture. "Farewell, My Queen" is easy to appreciate for any number of technical reasons. But I also enjoyed the film's subtlety. I ended up absolutely loving this movie. Seydoux morphs from an innocent into someone far too knowledgeable about court politics and intrigue. And as bigger sacrifices are asked of her, the repercussions are seen simmering beneath her more poised exterior. At all times, the film makes you believe you are in the heart of the action and confusion. But in the end, where you really are is standing at Seydoux's side as she navigates this complex world where betrayal waits just around the corner. Not a conventional Antoinette biopic, "Farewell, My Queen" offers something far more unique and surprising. A wholehearted recommendation. KGHarris, 1/13.
38 of 48 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully shot - but emotionally distant - recreation of French palace life on the eve of revolution 23 Oct 2012
By Whitt Patrick Pond - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Farewell My Queen (Les adieux à la reine), directed by Benoît Jacquot with a screenplay written by Jacquot and Gilles Taurand and adapted from the novel of the same name by Chantal Thomas, is something of a mixed bag. On the plus side, it shows an extraordinary attention to detail when it comes to recreating life as it was at Versailles at the time of the French Revolution, in everything from the sets and the costumes down to the court behavior and social structure. But on the minus side however, it moves at a near glacial pace at times and doesn't really make a connection with the audience, always feeling a level removed emotionally.

Set at Versailles (much of the film was actually shot in and on the palace grounds at the real Versailles) on the eve of the French Revolution, the film is centered around the perspective of a young royal servant named Sidonie Laborde (Léa Seydoux) who serves as a reader to the Queen, Marie Antoinette (Diane Kruger). But as the film shows, being the royal reader was actually more akin to being the royal radio, something for the Queen to half-listen to in the background as she does other things. Which makes the character of Sidonie ideal as a witness to the goings on at court - always there, in the background, but largely unnoticed by the royals and the aristocrats who move about her in the same space but not at the same level.

The film proceeds to follow life at the palace over the next few days as the Revolution unfolds elsewhere, remote at first but gradually intruding more and more as rumors begin to creep in and a growing sense of uncertainty starts to pervade the royal court. But there does not seem to be any coherent story arc and no exposition is given to help us put any of this into some kind of chronological context. If you come to the film with a fairly well-grounded history of court life at the time of the French Revolution, then you will probably have a better sense of what is going on as the film progresses than I did. As it was, the film in and of itself failed to provide that, leaving me with more of a sense of muddled meandering than any actual plot progression.

What Farewell My Queen is best at is showing the life at Versailles at a kind of split-level - the life of the nobility as seen by their servants, and the life of the servants themselves, which in a way tend to mirror the lives of the nobility they serve in that one's status among the servant class is directly connected to the status of the particular noble they serve, with everyone constantly jockeying for anything that will give them an edge. Which makes information - and access to sources of information - the coin of the realm in this highly rarified world, particularly now that rumors of instability and revolution in the outside world (the world outside of Versailles, that is) are starting to seep into the palace, making nobility and servants alike increasingly uneasy. This is well brought out in the film as servants and even aristocrats are constantly searching out and bartering for information even as they pretend on the surface that nothing is wrong.

The other thing Farewell My Queen is best at is showing the gradual descent into disorder that takes place as people become increasingly unnerved and end up either being toppled from their positions - for real or suspected failure or disloyalty - or simply running off in an attempt to flee the approaching chaos before it reaches them. Staff functions slowly begin to break down as well, to the point that a servant makes the shocked comment that he saw the Queen having to actually open a door for herself because the servant who normally did it for her had disappeared. One of the best scenes shows Sidonie and a fellow servant looking out a window late at night and seeing a couple of mid-level aristocrats in the process of preparing to flee along with their servants, hurriedly loading up their elegant coach with paintings, furniture and whatever other valuables they can lay their hands on; rats deserting the royal ship they sense is sinking fast.

And yet one more point in Farewell My Queen's favor, at least artistically, is that Jacquot works to show what the real Versailles was like by not only shooting it on the actual historic location but also using only sunlight and candle light to illuminate the rooms, just the way they would have been back in 1789. He also shows that certain aspects of life were inescapable - even for the nobility - by showing how even the royal palace at Versailles had a rat problem, and how servants and even the nobility could end up looking disheveled if summoned suddenly. The difference in feel and appearance between the Versailles of Farewell My Queen and the usual ultra-sanitized and glamorized Hollywood version of a royal court is immediately felt and is vastly to the film's credit.

But for all of the artistry and atmosphere, Farewell My Queen ends up failing to make an emotional connection. Part of the reason is, I think, flaws in the ways the two main characters - the Queen and Sidonie - were written. Quite frankly, it's hard to sympathize with Diane Kruger's Marie Antoinette, who comes across as something of an insecure airhead with attention-deficit disorder. Perhaps in an attempt to compensate for this, writer/director Jacquot created a sub-plot implying a lesbian relationship between Antoinette and one of her ladies-in-waiting, Gabrielle de Polastron, the duchesse de Polignac (Virginie Ledoyen), but instead of adding anything it ends up making both characters even less believable - or sympathetic - as it comes across more as just neurotic neediness on the part of the Queen and clueless befuddlement on the part of Gabrielle. At the same time, Sidonie is something of an enigma. While on the one hand she displays something of a fascinated loyalty to the Queen she serves, Sidonie reveals nothing of herself. That this is done deliberately becomes clear in a scene where one of her fellow servants points this out, that Sidonie has never told anyone anything about herself - not a word about where she comes from, or what family she might have, what she thinks or feels or anything else. To which Sidonie responds with a silent look, after which she pretends the question was never asked. Mind you, there's nothing wrong with a character being enigmatic, but when everyone else in the film is left as little more than a title or a function, it doesn't give the audience much to connect with. The result, for me anyway, is that by the time the film reached it's supposed climax, I didn't really care because I never become invested emotionally in any of the characters.

This also comes out in the way that a number of scenes are visually crafted. In several scenes, you can actually sense the characters moving into position and then staying there for a moment, giving you the impression that, for that moment, you're looking at a painting from the period where the people and the setting have been preserved on canvas. But while this works artistically, it comes at a cost not only of further slowing the pace of the film, but of also draining the characters of any real sense of individuality or actual life. Once in a while a character gets to say or do something that causes them to rise, however briefly, above the film's at times stultifying devotion to atmosphere, but it's never enough to allow them to come fully to life.

Furthermore, the film ends up having a frustrating and almost claustrophobic feel as all of the real action - there is a revolution going on after all - takes place off-stage, and we only hear about it in whispers of rumor and occasional hurried deliveries of news. You frequently long to see some actual scenes of what's happening beyond the palace grounds, but the camera rarely goes there.

All in all, I can recommend Farewell My Queen for being a stylistically crafted film that's beautiful to look at, and for the way it conjures a sense of what court life at Versailles was like and the atmosphere that must have existed when that that life began to fall apart as the country was consumed by the French Revolution. But in terms of offering anything in the way of historical perspective or even an engaging storyline or set of characters, I'm afraid it falls more than a little short.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars NOT WHAT YOU EXPECT.... but worthy 22 Jan 2013
By MyD -- The Viewpoint - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
Much was made in the media of a relationship between Marie Antoinette and La duchesse Gabrielle de Polignac which suggests a same gender attraction as an element of this film. Further, the Queen's reader (described as a lady in waiting in some reviews, but little more than a higher class servant) has an equal infatuation or attraction for Marie Antoinette as the Queen does for the Duchesse. This is really not the point of the movie, though the triangle is used as a device to get to one of the important centers of what I believe the author is trying to convey. Devotion and betrayal, true sacrifice and perhaps a type of love in spite of betrayal. Aside from this, the movie takes some time to develop its themes and has a few shades of "upstairs downstairs" (mostly downstairs) view of life at the palace.

The beautiful palace and the magnificent dress are in almost every shot. The cinematography is magnificent. However, they are juxtaposed with the mundane conversations of both servants and masters. This juxtaposition is intentional and strips away all those trappings to focus on life and situation. There are no grand parties. The soundtrack of this movie is not the Baroque, Rococo, or neoclassicist dance music we are used to. It is the klesmatic, slightly disjointed, wandering and wondering of servants who seem the most out of tune with what is happening. Indeed, the movie spends a vast amount of it's time developing as it shows the daily prattling of servants and occasionally masters. The movie is beautiful, but there is no pomp and circumstance here. The servants (particularly Sidonie the Queen's reader) are that "fly on the wall", observing. One would think servants would have a greater understanding of what is happening with the masses outside than royals. However, this movie depicts a servant class even more isolated within the grounds precisely because they are not the privileged class. Their worlds are also about to radically change and they strive to ascertain what is happening as they notice the stir among the royals. We also see the more realistic "come to Jesus" moments for the royals as they realize what is happening. The publishing of "The List" was particularly poignant. The list is a document that details which persons must be beheaded in order to affect reformation in the country. Contrary to what another reviewer called "an outside view", this is perhaps the most inner view and frank perspective one could have of life within the palace at that moment. In my opinion, that is the greatest value of the movie over the relationships themselves. That may have not been the intent and I don't know how true to the novel it is. However, the time devoted to that perspective makes it hard to ignore. The greater focus lies there.

Sidonie's predicament develops against this backdrop. She desires an estimation and affection from the queen she cannot have. The Duchasse has it and values it only as a passport to privilage. In fact, it is said she herself was just a country maid (perhaps lower than Sidonie) before she ascended to her position. I can say the greatest single moment in the movie (with a very long setup) is where the final meeting between Marie A and Sidonie takes place and tremendous favors are asked of Sidonie, or demanded however you take it.

There is little by the way of titillation that the media would suggest. I would not even say I was that "entertained" by this movie. However, I was impressed. I did ultimately appreciate the viewpoint of life at Versailles that is never presented in movies about Marie A. I appreciated the irony of Sidonie's situation and the possibilities eventually presented to her. As I mentioned, this is not an entertainment piece. But it is a fairly serious film. Take that for whatever it means to you personally to decide if the movie is for you. I would not buy the movie, though I did already before I saw it first so I guess that's done! I would definitely not have missed it though. I will likely watch it again at least once some day.

Star studded (though Americans will not recognize all the names) and well acted. I would even call this movie MASTERFUL. Yet I was not particularly entertained!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Before the collapse 2 Jun 2013
By Grady Harp - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Les adieux à la reine (Farewell, My Queen) is a luxurious, visually stunning film about the moments before the citizens of France stormed the Bastille and headed for Versailles. Without a rather thorough understanding of that period of French history the film may leave some viewers confused as to the story line. This film is more about the manner in which Marie Antoinette functioned as a queen and as a woman with needs than it is about a precise description of what was occurring outside the palace walls.

In July 1789, the French Revolution is forming and gaining momentum. Seemingly oblivious to the people of France, at the Château de Versailles, King Louis XVI (Xavier Beauvois), Queen Marie-Antoinette (Diane Kruger) and their courtiers keep on living their usual carefree lives. The comparison to Upstairs Downstairs is evident - carried to the extreme. The matter of note is the window into the personality of Marie Antoinette who has been having a lesbian affair with the Duchess Gabrielle de Polignac (Virginie Ledoyen). To pass her time away when the Duchess is not available for assignations, Marie fills her hours looking at materials, fashion books, and she has a lady in waiting reader - Sidonie Laborde (Léa Seydoux) - read stories to her. The two become confidants and Sidonie is utterly devoted to Marie, knowing that Marie and Gabrielle are in a relationship. But when the news of the storming of the Bastille reaches them, panic sets in and most of the aristocrats and their servants desert the sinking ship, leaving the Royal Family practically alone. Sidonie remains at Marie's side and as preparations for the evacuation of the palace are made, Marie asks Sidonie to disguise herself as Gabrielle and to escape to Switzerland with Gabrielle and her husband dressed in disguise: should the French stop their carriage it would be Sidonie that would be beheaded, saving Gabrielle to return to Marie when the `nasty business outside Versailles is over'. Sidonie does as she is asked out of her devotion to Marie and the film ends with only with words of the results of the historical events (the beheading of Marie in 1793 etc) - a quite subtle and fitting ending to a moment of recreated history.

The film is based on Chantal Thomas' novel and written for the screen by Gilles Taurand and director Benoît Jacquot. The costumes and settings are magnificent and the other members of the large cast (especially Noémie Lvovsky as Madame Campan and Michel Robin as Moreau) are uniformly excellent. It is an interesting look at the characters of French history and though the film in many ways lacks substance it still merits seeing for the period piece that it is. Grady Harp, June 13
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