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Marie Antoinette [DVD]  
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Written and directed by Academy Award® winner Sofia Coppola (2003, Best Writing, Lost In Translation), Marie Antoinette is an electrifying yet intimate retelling of the turbulent life of history’s favorite villainess. Kirsten Dunst portrays the ill-fated child princess who married France’s young and indifferent King Louis XVI (Jason Schwartzman). Feeling isolated in a royal court rife with scandal and intrigue, Marie Antoinette defied both royalty and commoners by living like a rock star, which served only to seal her fate.
While much was made of the fact that Marie Antoinette elicited boos at Cannes, the many favorable reviews attracted less attention. Inspired by Antonia Fraser's biography, Sofia Coppola fashions a portrait that's just as dreamy as The Virgin Suicides, her first literary adaptation, and the Oscar-winning Lost in Translation. Set to a soundtrack of post-punk (a conceit that adds more interest than resonance), the teenaged Marie (Kirsten Dunst, quite good) may be shallow, but she's rarely unsympathetic. The story begins in the late-18th century as the Austrian Archduchess agrees to marry Louis-Auguste (Jason Schwartzman). After bidding adieu to her mother, Maria Theresa (Marianne Faithfull), she travels to France, where King Louis XV (Rip Torn) sets the rules--and the list is endless (Judy Davis' Comtesse de Noailles is the primary enforcer). As for the Dauphin, he's just a boy, really, with more interest in his key collection than their marriage bed. Should Marie produce an heir, it might be enough to sustain her--since life is nothing but an endless shopping spree--but clouds gather on the horizon as an impoverished populace rises up against their extravagant leaders. Coppola merely suggests what happens next, although history paints a darker picture. Filmed in and around the Chateau of Versailles, Marie Antoinette is a riot of rustling gowns, sparkling jewels, and Manolo Blahnik-designed shoes. To say that style trumps substance does its maker a disservice, but the look of the thing does leave the deepest impression. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
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One huge problem that I and I'm sure a lot of viewers were confused or even frustrated about is clearly the word "imagine". Viewers literally only receive Marie Antoinette's world instead of also including the Les Miserables-esque landscape and terror that gripped France so strikingly when approaching those frightening 18th century 90's. There is hardly any mention of the growing tension amongst the poorer classes over the mass loss of food, the grossly large prices on bread due to the poor harvesting, and not to mention the vast tax increases due to the incessant funding of the wars in America.
But, can you really be angry at the moviemakers for their choice of narrative and plot? The movie title literally says "Marie Antoinette" and not "The French Revolution".Individuals that are thinking of buying the movie purely to enjoy a window into the violence and terror of the bloodlusting revolutionaries in Paris should definitely keep their wallets inside of their pockets, because this movie is definitely not for them. In fact, there's literally only about a minute of a scene where the angry mob charges upon the palace in Versailles. The rest of the movie time is dedicated to showing Marie Antoinette's luxury. The plot is as simple as that.
We get to see everything important stage of Marie Antoinette's life in the palace of Versailles. We get to scrutinize her behaviour, her interests, her friendships, her passions and her affairs. Throughout the story, there is a definite sense that the producers wanted to envision a teenager having fun with her friends, everyday. There are large scenes of her and her male and female aristocratic friends of similar ages dancing in great banquet halls and parties, frollicking and running through the meadows and fields around Versailles, and watching the "beautiful" sunrise.
These activities hold certain similarities with the activity of the common teenager: fun, hanging out with friends, discussing random matters and gossiping. It's clear that the target audience is young people, and hence why they have boldly employed soundtracks of the modern world who seem rather out of place of the traditional grandeur of 18th century France, almost as if these songs had a Tardis of their own to travel to whatever portion of time they please. But it works well to create a rather excitable and upbeat to Marie Antoinette's adventure in becoming the Queen of France, before her tragic demise.
Overall, people watching the film can expect a vibrant and scrutinous observance of a teenage Queen living the life of royalty, facing her problems that are flung her way and having as much fun as she can at the same time. The aristocratic world gives viewers an idea of what life is like inside French royalty before the monarchy was destroyed, and how Marie Antoinette spent her time throughout.
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