20 October 2011 2:14 AM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

This Dumas adaptation drags French history kicking and screaming into the town square

Director: Patrice Chéreau

Entertainment grade: B+

History grade: D

Marguerite of Valois, known within her family as Margot, was queen of Navarre from 1572 and of France from 1589. She was famed as a poet, a leader of fashion and a political operator. After her death in 1615, she achieved further fame when her juicy memoirs were published.


The film begins with the Catholic Margot (Isabelle Adjani) reluctantly marrying the Huguenot King Henri of Navarre (who should be 19, but is played by the 44-year-old Daniel Auteuil). In the film, as in real life, this causes trouble. The inter-faith match has been fixed by Margot's mother Catherine de'Medici (played brilliantly by Virna Lisi as the wicked queen from Snow White), who has thoughtfully murdered Henri's mother as a wedding gift. Historians generally regard the story that Catherine sent Jeanne of »

- Alex von Tunzelmann

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