Sofia Coppola’s third film, Marie Antoinette (2006) is a window into the decadent world of pre-revolutionary France through the experiences of the infamous Marie Antoinette. Coppola has a distinct talent for delving into the dark crevices of young womanhood and this film is no exception. From the moment Marie is stripped and inspected at the Austrian/French border to the impending annulment of her marriage looming ever over the first few years of her time at court, audiences are given a new and emotional point of view from which to judge the actions of the young Queen.
Based on Antonia Fraser’s biography, Marie Antoinette: The Journey, the film addresses into the life heading up to this young woman who will eventually be tried and sentenced to death by French revolutionaries. This is by no means a historical account of the French Revolution or even the monarchy. Instead, this is a portrayal of a young woman essentially given away from one royal family to the next, at the age of 14 and how she coped with pressures put on her by her family, her husband and the French court. While I don’t condone or even understand the royal customs of the 18th century, I can relate to an individual’s displacement in a strange city, with strange customs and even stranger people.
Kirsten Dunst plays the role of Marie beautifully. She is childlike yet beautiful, sweet yet bored all at the same time. While we all know how the story ends–Marie Antoinette is beheaded October 16, 1793 after a trial that lasts only a single day–Coppola doesn’t dwell on this incident, in fact, it is never shown on screen. We are left with a vision of Marie Antoinette in her nightgown, bowing reverently to a pitchforked mob outside her Versailles bedroom and the fleeing the scene with her children and family at dawn. There is nothing more we need to see, because this is not a story about the death of a Queen but the life of a young woman who really had no choice in the direction her life took.
Even if you are not a fan of historical dramas,this movie is an excitingly modern take on a familiar story we have all heard before. Coppola masterfully pairs music, color, setting and texture to create amazing imagery, humanizing these characters for modern film goers and bringing a long dead tale to life. The film is currently on Sony Pictures Blue-Ray and DVD and costs only $6 on Amazon.
P.S. Listen to the soundtrack. It’s punk-pop perfect.
- Sofia Coppola States The Obvious: Celebrity Culture Is Out of Control (eyeoncelebs.com)
- The beauty secrets of Marie Antoinette (madameguillotine.org.uk)
- Marie Antoinette: a Coppola Story (sartorialstorytelling.wordpress.com)
- Somewhere (myoldaddiction2.wordpress.com)
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