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4.3 out of 5 stars
La Reine Margot [DVD] [1995]
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
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.
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72 of 75 people found the following review helpful
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!
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
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.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
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.
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45 of 51 people found the following review helpful
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.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
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.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 16 December 2014
The perfect gift for all movie enthusiasts is THE ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKERCalix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker

It's 1572 in France, and Marguerite de Valois (Isabelle Adjani) has just been married off to King Henri of Navarre (Daniel Auteuil), ostensibly as a peace offering between the warring Catholics and Huguenots. In truth, the union is a ruse by the Queen Mother (Virna Lisi, frightening) to incite a wave of assassinations that will come to be known as the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre.

Regal pageantry gives way to copious carnage: Swords open necks, wounds spurt crimson rivers, and clothes are caked in muck (you can practically smell the stench). It's a horrifying and strangely carnal spectacle--imagine a Gallic-history encyclopedia written by Clive Barker--that's merely a prelude to the slaughter's fallout. Marguerite begins a passionate affair with Vincent Perez's Protestant nobleman, La Môle (a tragic outcome is clearly inevitable), and the French royals find themselves on the receiving end of bizarre murder plots, like one involving a poisoned book that makes the victim sweat their body weight in blood.

Director Patrice Chéreau makes us hyper-aware of the literal meat of human existence--the deep-rooted longing for companionship and the visceral lust for survival that can be cut short with the flick of an aristocrat's hand. (These people aren't the embalmed waxworks of your garden-variety historical epic.) Death seems to linger in every inch of the frame, yet the film lives and breathes like few others. Not to be missed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A film about the power of women in an age of denigration. All tales are told for a current audience and the platitudes of those who complain of historical inaccuracies need to travel back in time. Only then the account would reflect their personal prejudices and beliefs.

The powerhouse of the film is the mother of the french boys, the king and princes of France. This film is 'salacious'[ if brother/sister incestual sex, fits your mode of being. Christian they may have been in name, but the rationale for the protestant revolt, as revealed in this film, was to create a more chastised purer form of Christianity. It was a reaction against the ribald world of the Catholic excess, the tension between the Apollonian and the Dionysian worlds.

Incest and intrigue the plot by Dumas and Marlowe has more twists, turns and bends than a drunken Stag Hunt. It is a sumptuous film dealing with a dark side of European and French history, the ethnic cleansing of Protestants in a will to power. The Queen Mother fearful of the influence of a Protestant courtier has over her son entices Henry of Navarre to her court to marry her daughter. Bringing the creme of Protestant France to the wedding the Queen orders her son, the king to annihilate them all in one fell swoop. Taking considerable bureaucratic planning the massacre an echo of the Albigensian Crusade and the pogroms against Jews the death toll mounts. An echo of the butchery which unravelled in Rwanda.

This Huguenot flights marked the renaissance of areas such as England and Holland. It also signalled the devastation to come leading to the 30 Years War in Central Europe.

Friends and enemies swop sides and support in a multi-throned thronged plot as the will to survive surpasses the will to power. The acting is superb, the camera work sumptuous, Margot's desire for sexual release after years of "abuse" by her brothers, understandable. Henry's shifting allegiances and the Kings gravitation all believable as they are shown as friendless brand names, alienated and paranoid fearful and bereft of friends, families and lovers.

French cinema sees no need to tack on happy endings to bring closure, real life is far too complex for happy clapping and this is its strength in culture and vitality. Those who complain about this film should see this comparison when viewing Braveheart and A curse of the Golden Flower. France and China are emotional giants competing in a world where the mass of the west have the emotional literacy of children trapped in adults bodies.
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