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Marie Antoinette (2006) - Plot Summary Poster

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Summaries

  • 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.

  • "All eyes will be on you," says the Austrian Empress, Maria Theresa to her youngest daughter Marie Antoinette. The film, marketed for a teen audience, is an impressionistic retelling of Marie Antoinette's life as a young queen in the opulent and eccentric court at Versailles. The film focuses on Marie Antoinette, as she matures from a teenage bride to a young woman and eventual queen of France.

  • "Let them eat cake!" This is a motion picture detailing the life of Marie Antoinette after her betrothal to Louis XVI. From shoes to scandals, this movie outlines Marie Antoinette's nature, and her dedication to a life of fabulousness and outrageousness. We hear her utter those immortal words that caused such an outrage amongst the peasants of France, but we soon learn that it was a lie, as was much of her life.

  • An Austrian teenager marries the Dauphin of France and becomes that country's queen following the death of King Louis XV in 1774. Years later, after a life of luxury and privilege, Marie Antoinette loses her head during the French Revolution.

  • Based on Antonia Fraser's book about the ill-fated Archduchess of Austria and later Queen of France, 'Marie Antoinette' tells the story of the most misunderstood and abused woman in history, from her birth in Imperial Austria to her later life in France.


Spoilers

The synopsis below may give away important plot points.

Synopsis

  • Based on the award-winning biography Marie Antoinette: The Journey by British author, Lady Antonia Fraser, Marie Antoinette is a sympathetic account of the private life of the last queen of France before the Revolution.

    Opening in the year 1770, Maria Antonia Josepha Joanna (Kirsten Dunst), affectionately known as Antoine, is the beautiful, charming, but naïve youngest daughter of Austria's empress Maria Theresa (Marianne Faithfull). She is selected by her mother to marry her second cousin, the Dauphin of France, Louis XVI, and seal an alliance between the two rival countries. The 14-year-old girl is bundled into a carriage and travels the long journey to a small island in the middle of the Rhine River, a symbolic location representing the transition from Austrian to French territory. Antoine meets the Comtesse de Noailles (Judy Davis), the mistress of the household at Versailles, Antoine's future home. A traditional "crossing-over" ceremony takes place, with the Comtesse explaining that Antoine must relinquish everything from her Austrian life; her clothes, jewelry, friends, ladies-in-waiting, and her beloved pet Pug dog, Mops. Ushered into a tent, she is dressed in the elaborate French fashion before emerging onto the French bank as the Dauphine of France, with her name translated to the French tongue: Marie Antoinette.

    Later that day, Marie Antoinette is introduced to King Louis XV (Rip Torn), the lewd grandfather of her betrothed, Louis XVI (Jason Schwartzman). The young Dauphin himself is awkward and shy, and nervously meets his fiancée. His aunts, Victoire (Molly Shannon) and Sophie (Shirley Henderson) quietly discuss the new Dauphine, remarking that "she looks like a child," and mocking her Austrian roots.

    Marie Antoinette is shuttled to the magnificent Versailles, her new home. She beholds the decadent splendor of the palace. She is given very little time to adapt to her new surroundings before she and Louis are married in a lavish ceremony. The king toasts the couple, wishing them many healthy children to produce an heir to their throne.On the wedding night, the marriage bed is consecrated. The newlyweds, still young and uncomfortable in their new situation, fail to fulfill the expectation of intercourse. It is reported to the king the next morning that "apparently, nothing happened."

    The marriage continues to be fruitless, and the Dauphine feels increasingly stifled by the palace customs, which require her to constantly be attended by an unwanted entourage of servants and noblewomen who neither know her nor care for her.The courtiers quietly disdain Marie Antoinette as a foreigner (an Austrian, no less), and consistently blame her for her failure to produce an heir. Additionally, her relationship with her husband remains as distant as ever. Their sex life is nonexistent, and Louis immerses himself in his hobby of studying locks and keys.

    The court is rife with gossip, which is relayed to Marie Antoinette by the few courtiers who are warming up to her. The King's mistress, Madame du Barry (Asia Argento), is notorious for her crude manners and temper. She is hated by the court in general, who know that the King had found her at a brothel and had given her a title of Comtesse in order to keep her at Versailles. The Dauphine is encouraged to shun her, but her adviser, Ambassador Mercy (Steve Coogan) warns that snubbing du Barry may put her at odds with the King, and that Marie Antoinette is already on thin ice due to her unproductive marriage. The Dauphine reluctantly engages in a one-sentence conversation with du Barry, which quells the scandal.

    Marie Antoinette continues to ruffle feathers by breaching the high formality of Versailles, though she is simply trying to be warm and caring. She accompanies her husband on a hunting trip and passes out food to the attendants and even to the dogs. She applauds at the finale of an opera, in contrast to social norms, but encourages the rest of the audience to applaud as well.She slowly begins to settle in, and befriends Victoire and Sophie, as well as other ladies of the court. She receives a letter from her mother, who warns her that an unconsummated marriage could easily be annulled, and that she should make more of a sexual effort with her husband. The Dauphine unsuccessfully tries to seduce Louis that night. It is rumored in court that the Dauphin is either impotent or a closeted homosexual.

    Marie Antoinette continues to adapt to her new life over the next few years, though she and Louis have still not produced a child. She finds solace in buying lavish gowns and shoes, eating elaborate cakes and pastries, and gambling with her lady friends at cards. One night, she, her husband, her friend the Duchesse de Polignac (Rose Byrne) and several others go incognito to a masked ball in Paris, where they continue in their frivolity. There she meets Swedish Count Axel von Fersen (Jamie Dornan), and there is an instant attraction.

    In 1774, Louis XV passes away after a short illness. As he could not be given his last rites due to his having a mistress, du Barry is sent away from court. Louis XVI is crowned King of France and the new Queen Marie Antoinette accompanies him to Reims for the coronation ceremony.

    Despite the growing poverty and unrest among the French working class, Marie Antoinette continues her spending sprees and remains indifferent to the struggles of the people. The new King is young and inexperienced and begins spending more money on foreign wars, sending France even further into debt.

    Marie Antoinette is delighted by a visit from her brother, the Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II (Danny Huston). After a warm reunion, Joseph reveals that their mother had sent him to council King Louis about the mechanics of a sexual relationship (using the King's hobby of locks and keys as an example). Soon afterward, the King and Queen consummate their marriage at long last. Marie Antoinette becomes pregnant and delivers a baby girl, Marie Therese, in December of 1778. Though she would like to have a closer relationship with her daughter, it is not considered proper for the Queen to nurse the child herself. Louis presents her with the Petit Trianon, a private cottage and garden on the grounds of Versailles. Marie Antoinette spends much time there with her friends and daughter, enjoying the peace and beauty of nature. After a party with friends, she enters into an affair with Count Fersen, who was in attendance. Despite this secret relationship, the Queen maintains an amiable relationship with her husband.

    Over the next few years, France continues to subsidize the American Revolution by giving funds and troops to the new nation to help fight the British, despite the enormous expense. Food shortages grow more frequent, as do food riots in Paris. Marie Antoinette's image with her subjects has completely deteriorated at this point. Her luxurious lifestyle and apparent callous indifference to the common people result in unflattering and obscene political cartoons in the local newspapers and earn her the title "Madame Déficit." Beginning to mature, she focuses less on her obligations as a socialite and more on her family, and tones down her opulent lifestyle, including a decision to stop purchasing diamonds. A few months after her mother's death in November 1780, Marie Antoinette gives birth to a boy, Louis-Joseph, the new Dauphin. Another year later, she gives birth to a second boy who dies in infancy.

    In July 1789, the French Revolution comes into full fruition and an angry mob begins a march from Paris to Versailles. As most of the nobility flees the country, the royal family resolves to stay. The rioting sans-culottes reach the palace and the King and Queen are captured by the revolutionaries and are forced to leave the following morning. The film ends with the royal family's transference from Versailles to the Tuileries for their semi-imprisonment. The last image is a shot of the Queen's bedroom, destroyed by the mob.

    It is noted in the final disclaimer that Louis XVI was executed by the revolutionaries in early 1793 and Marie Antoinette was also beheaded several months later that same year. With the French monarchy abolished, France then became a Republic.

See also

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