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4.4 out of 5 stars56
4.4 out of 5 stars
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Based upon a romantic work of historical fiction by Alexandre Dumas, "Marguerite De Valois", this is yet another triumphant period piece by Miramax Films. Critically acclaimed, the film is the winner of five Cesar Awards, as well as the prestigious Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize.
The film is set in medieval Catholic France during the reign of Charles IX. There has been unrest between the Catholic majority and the Protestant (Huguenot) minority. It is August 24, 1572, a day that will live in infamy. The day begins auspiciously enough, as it is the wedding day for Margot, the sister of Charles IX. It is an arranged marriage between Catholic Margot and Protestant Henri de Bourbon, the King of Navarre, a province in France. It is a marriage that is supposed to quell the unrest between these two warring religions. As such, many Protestants travel to Paris to see the union between these two royal personages.
After the wedding, the evil and power hungry Dowager Queen, Catherine de Medici, mother to Charles IX and his two younger brothers, Anjou and Alencon, as well as Margot, sets in motion a series of intrigues and plots and reveals what her true motives were in arranging this marriage, motives that the King of Navarre already suspects. Far from being a merger to unite Catholics and Protestants, it is a call to arms against the Protestants, resulting in the infamous St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, in which over six thousand unsuspecting Protestant men, women, and children were brutally slain.
Margot, who initially dislikes her husband and is known for her wantonness, does make a pact with him to be his ally. When the carnage begins she is appalled but is soon drawn into her family's plots and intrigues. She realizes, however, that her survival, as well as that of her husband, depends upon her new lover, La Mole, son of Coligny, the King's slain advisor. Thereafter, Catherine de Medici continues to plot against the King of Navarre, seeking his death. Margot spends most of the film trying to keep her mother and brothers in check and her husband safe, while satisfying herself with La Mole.
Isabelle Adjani is stunning in the role of Margot. Luminous and looking ethereally beautiful, she is simply magnificent. Daniel Auteuil is terrific as the beleaguered King of Navarre. He infuses the role with a warmth and humanity that makes the viewer instinctively root for him. Jean-Hugues Anglade is excellent as Charles IX, a weak king dominated by his ruthless, grasping mother who would rather see her favorite son, Anjou, on the throne. Anglade makes the role three dimensional as he adds a certain sensitivity to the role. Pascal Greggory, who plays Anjou, adds a certain delicious creepiness to the role of the envious younger brother who longs for his brother's death so that he can wear the crown. Virna Lisi is a commanding presence as the evil Catherine de Medici, who would willingly sacrifice her children for power and see so many of her plans go awry. Last but not least, Vincent Perez is excellent as handsome and loyal La Mole.
Potential viewers of this French language film should be aware that it is an extremely violent film, due to the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre. It is also sexually explicit, with frontal nudity scenes. Moreover, while the DVD provides wide screen format, excellent audio and visuals, as well as scene selections and subtitles, it does not offer any extras. Notwithstanding this, the film is one that all those who enjoy period films or historical fiction will, undoubtedly, enjoy.
0Comment19 of 19 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 13 September 2004
"La Reine Margot" is one of the few movies to capture the gritty reality of the 16th-century. The opulence and the extravagance sits side-by-side with dirty streets and intense violence. The acting is superb as well, with none of the cast disappointing. The powerful beauty of Isabelle Adjani contrasts powerfully with the serpentine nature of Virna Lisi as Catherine de'Medici.
The action moves from the sumptuous religious drama of Notre-Dame where an unwilling Margot is forced into marriage with her Protestant cousin, Henri; to the filthy streets of Paris, where numerous Protestants crowd the steet and Margot picks an anonymous stranger as her lover. Sewers, secret rooms, grubby streets and abandoned chateau juxtapose next to palaces, cathedrals and throne rooms. Passionate lovemaking scenes between Margot and La Mole contrast with the horrendous brutality of the Massacre and numerous secret assassinations. Artistic metaphor is rich throughout the movie, as well. Margot is married in red, but ends the film in a bride-white dress that is stained in blood.
The story - grotesque, mesmerising and violent - is based on real events; and, although not entirely accurate, it is the finest film to date on the horrific events of St. Bartholomew's Eve, 1572 and on the ultimate fall of the Valois dynasty.
The direction, the acting, the music, the scenery, the costume - everything about "La Reine Margot" is 5 stars!
0Comment75 of 78 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 17 February 2011
The missing star is not for the film, but for the edition released on DVD. It's the slightly more edited Miramax release version (144 mins), not the full French original (161 mins). It's a bit less explicit and violent, and shorter. The missing bits jar, especially in the end scenes. It would be great to see the original released as even the French DVD seems to be the shorter version.
33 comments29 of 30 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 6 June 2006
Saw this originally at the cinema, and loved it. This movie was worth a re-run. This is sumptuous historical drama at its best with many of the details taken directly from fact, and a few fictionalised extras, taken from the novel of the same name by Dumas(I have read this novel, and in this case, the movie was most definately better than the book).Wonderful cinematography, costumes and locations.Isabelle Adjani is exceptional as the royal tart-with-a-heart, with a great supporting cast telling a tale of evil manipulation versus love & loyalty. Watch as well for Virna Lisi as the macabre Catherine de Medici who makes the Cruella de Vil look like SuperNanny.
0Comment19 of 21 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 15 March 2006
I adore this film. I've watched it four times in the last year and will probably watch it at least once more. I can't believe there are some that don't like it! One person has compared it to 'Mills & Boons'...well, it was actually written by Dumas, and it is a romance, so I'm not sure what you were expecting.
As for the gore in the film, it deals with a massacre that claimed the lives of 6000 people, so a level of gore is only to be expected.
This film is wonderful. It won the Jury Prize at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival and deservedly so. The acting is superb, winning the best actress award at cannes for Virna Lisi and an unprecedented fourth cesar award for Isabelle Adjani. The sets and costumes are impeccable. The direction is excellent and the dialogue almost poetic. I can't imagine why anyone would be dissapointed by this film. Dumas has never been done better.
0Comment26 of 29 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 19 October 2001
I was amazed by the high quality of evey part of this filming. The acting, special effects, storyline, scenery, costumes, camera... I'm afraid to say that it is streets ahead of recent hollywood offerings. The subtitles are irrelevant. After five minutes one does not notice that it is in French, so captivating is the film itself.
0Comment47 of 53 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 26 September 2005
This film is regularly described as one of the best french films ever made, and considering how good french films often are that's saying a lot! It more than lives up to the hype. A beautiful princess who goes from spoiled nymphomaniac to romantic heroine, a wicked queen, a handsome lover, a act of horrific evil that shocked all of Europe, all suberbly acted and directed- what more could you want?!
It's also surprisingly accurate (especially when compared to Hollywood films), although the serious historian will notice some changes to the facts (but when the film's this good who cares?!).
One thing I'm sick of are the frequent comparisons between La Reine Margot and the infinitely inferior British film 'Elizabeth', which was not only laughably innacurate but completely over-the-top (and at times blatantly copied La Reine Margot! Patrice Chereau should sue!). This is a far more interesting and accomplished film than Elizabeth, and quite possibly my overall favourite. Anyone that doesn't like it has something wrong with them.
0Comment22 of 25 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 26 August 2014
Based on the romantic novel "Marguerite De Valois" by Alexandre Dumas, [He of 3 musketeers fame] this work of fiction is loosely based on the real life events surrounding the marriage of Henry of Navarre and Margot leading to the St Batholomews Day Massacre of the protestants and attempts to spin a story around Henry’ four year incarceration within the French Royal Palace of the Louvre.
The first third is full of tension as the story leads up to the massacre, the remainder is a love-hate romance set against the political intrigues of the French court as allegiances and alliances shift and change as Henry tries to stay alive whilst his enemies try to assassinate him and seemingly anyone around him.
It’ a great costume romp but not the ‘fun’ spectacular that was the Musketeers, this is far darker and sombre highlighting the contrast between the wealth and extravagance of the aristocracy and the squalor and filth of the streets around them which are brimming with intense violence. It also gives a good sense of the loose morals of the day as everyone seems to be bed hopping without any recriminations or guilt and illustrates the low cost that life seems to have had in those ‘good old days’.
Why 4 stars? Because this is an edited down version being 138mins –not the full 162mins, thus having lost almost a full half an hour means it’s a bit less explicit and violent while the missing bits tend to jar, especially in the end scenes. The disc has no real special features of note and the English subtitles do tend to distract if you don’t speak French as you do have to read them in order to follow the intrigues.
If you like costume dramas of this period like Elizabeth or The Tudors, then provided you can cope with subtitles, give this a try, but beware, it is gory.
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on 22 February 2000
A compelling film about an extremely bloody period in French history, La Reine Margot is a truly beautiful film. Exuisitly shot, and featuring some of France's best-known actors (with the possible exeption of Depardieu), the film takes over where Nostradamus left off. Nostradamus' prediction of the St.Barthlolmew's Day massacre of thousands of protestants holds true in spectaculer style, with repercussions that went on to change French history. A special mention must go out to Jean-Hugues Anglade as Charles IX, the slightly deranged king, who dies a perticularly horrible death, sweating blood, and Isabelle Adjani, proving that being forty you ar not yet over the hill, as the beautiful Margot, the kings sister and pawn in her families struggle over power. This film is a visual treat.
0Comment15 of 17 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 6 December 2000
This movie has it all. Action, romance, intrigue, beautiful actresses, superb actors and an incredibly thrilling story. I am from the USA and since this is only available as a Region 2 DVD, I am out of luck until they produce it in Region 1 for the USA. Had I known that there would be such discrepancies in DVD distribution, I would have paid the arm and leg for the much more expensive Region Free DVD player. As it is, I didn't and I'm out of luck. But you are not. Buy this movie and pity me with my pathetic full screen copy of it on VHS. God, I want this movie in it's beautiful DVD quality widescreen glory.
0Comment8 of 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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