Yet another History Channel effort for the masses, 'The French Revolution' debuted at a time of strained relations (or public relations) between the states and France concerning US military action against Iraq. Advertisements for the documentary featured a larger than life image of the guillotine, along with a blurb that hints: surely the French can't be all that bad, having given the world such a highly efficient machine of death. The result is a pathetic turn of 'meat and potatoes' history as only can be served up by THC.
I must agree with most other reviewers that this documentary retells the events of one of the world's most complex and important revolutions in the broadest of terms. Accuracy is sacrificed to sensationalism, and the guillotine is the star of the show. Clearly the producers are pandering to what they believe to be a anti-French, bloodthirsty American public.
I must also counter one reviewer who claims that Marie Antoinette never wore elaborate hairstyles or extravagant gowns. Indeed she did, during the first 4-years or so of her reign. Countless paintings, prints and memoirs cannot be ignored. It was not until the 1780s that Marie Antoinette took on the simple cottons and printed muslin dresses so necessary to the rustic yet refined style of living she adopted at her private estate of Trianon.
Moreover, the queen nearly lost her ability to speak German , and this fact is well documented by several contemporaries, most notably the Baronne d'Oberkirch. Of all foreign princesses who married into the Bourbon dynasty, Marie Antoinette eventually spoke French with the greatest skill, and it was not long before she lost all traces of her Austrian German accent.
It seems that the French Revolution, and Marie Antoinette, continue to spawn myths and half-truths, and the History Channel, with its documentary, has done nothing to substantiate historical accuracy.
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