A history of the French Revolution from the decision of the king to convene the Etats-Generaux in 1789 in order to deal with France's debt problem. The first part of the movie tells the ... See full summary »
Richard T. Heffron
Klaus Maria Brandauer,
The retelling of France's iconic but ill-fated queen, Marie Antoinette. From her betrothal and marriage to Louis XVI at 15 to her reign as queen at 19 and to the end of her reign as queen and ultimately the fall of Versailles.
When I watched the movie again the other day,it was followed by a debate where two historians and a writer Simone Bertière said that ,in spite of some inaccuracies,they did like the movie.Mrs Bertière wrote an absorbing biography of the unfortunate queen :although it's very long (800+ pages in paperback),I recommend it to all people interested in my country's last (and most famous) real queen (the two queens of the 1815-1848 Restoration do not count)I wish it could be translated into English .
Jean Delannoy,the bete noire of the Nouvelle Vague ,did an OK job.The historians noticed how the scenes of the trial resembled old engravings.Michele Morgan is well cast as the aging queen ,but in the first scenes she's inevitably too old -in her thirties when the queen was 15!-The same goes for Jacques Morel's Louis XVI:not only he was too short for a king who was 1.90 meters high -,but he is too caricatured.
Best scenes : the first ones,including the saucy sequence where Louis the Fifteenth tells his grandson what he 'll have to do...in bed in thinly veiled terms;His death and the noise of a hundred feet walking to the room where the new sovereigns are waiting;the trial and the guillotine scene ; the presence of a non-juring priest(a Michel Piccoli cameo) under the scaffold and the altar with blood stains are good ideas even if it's dubious from a historical point of view.
But objections to Delannoy's film remain.It should have been called "Marie-Antoinette and Fersen" cause the handsome Swede (played by earnest thespian Richard Todd ) plays a too prominent part.He's present when the populace screams in Versailles "The queen on the balcony!" "Not the children" ;he helps them settle in the Louvre.All this is pure invention,probably coming from the romantic mind of the scenarists And during the long day of Varennes ,when he leaves the king and the queen en route to Brussels (historically inaccurate),he and Marie -Antoinette act as if the King is no longer here.On the other hand ,it's true that Fersen was the brains behind the mad escape.
Too many important events are omitted :the storming of the Tuileries is absent,which is a problem since it was the fall of the monarchy and the birth of the first republic.
A good thing:the dialog is full of historical sentences ,not only during the trial,but during the whole movie.That said,the movie about this queen is yet to make:Maybe Sofia Coppola..Maybe...there's always hope,they say...
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