Jenny La Fleur
thoughts on Marie Antoinette - Jenny La Fleur
adventures in costuming
thoughts on Marie Antoinette
My thoughts on Marie Antoinette…
Don’t hate me but I really enjoyed the film – much, much more than I thought I would. I expected to hate it actually but instead I’m looking forward to seeing it again in the theater and owning it on DVD.

What I loved…

The look – eye candy is absolutely the correct expression. Not only are the costumes lovely but the views of Versailles are beautifully filmed. It’s worth seeing on the big screen just for the vistas of the chateau.

The pace – most people hate how slow it is and I have to admit it was a bit hard to take at a 7:30pm showing but I love the fact that the pace allowed you to stop and reflect on what you were seeing. Space to breathe and revel in the world the director has created is a rare thing in modern film. I expected much more of a music video pace (which I hate with very few exceptions) so it was a pleasant surprise.

The costumes – the hair, the shoes, the colors, the fabric, the jewelry… I could go on and on. I want one of everything! Not all 100% accurate (per usual look at supporting characters like Polignac and Lamballe for more accuracy) but pretty and the basic shapes are correct. Some of the fabrics and trims are funky but not too distracting from my point of veiw.

How ridiculous and out of step the world of Versailles was – there was so much more to it but I think you got the point. I would have liked to have seen more of it later in the film, as the court of France carried on in the same antiquated way while new ideas became new governments and MA retreated into her little idealized world. MA’s public life and duties didn’t end when she got the Petit Trianon by the way… *ahem* Also I thought that the point of how trapped in an impossible situation MA found herself in those early years was well made.

What really annoyed me…

Du Barry. She was totally wrong, totally. Coppla apparently felt the need to have a caricature of a mistress (ie completely opposite of MA) which is corny in my opinion. Du Barry, although of low birth was well mannered, generous to the poor, loyal to her friends and a comforting companion to an aging king. She was in fact a blond, in every sense of the word. She was clever in her own way and had a weakness for diamonds but hardly the spiteful, vengeful and crude brunette of Coppla’s film. She was in fact not received within the royal family (the dinner scene would have never happened) but was given her own establishment in the court and was very much in evidence there.

The incident of MA not acknowledging Du Barry and her finial words of “There are a lot of people at Versailles today” was quite true though. MA was repulsed by her simply because she was of low birth (MA was a bit of a snob) and the king’s mistress (Austria was a rather prudish court and MA was known for her modesty – hence wearing a chemise when she bathed – and morality). Due to their positions on either side of the king and both needing to have influence with him for their survival, they were destined to be rivals. The whole court was lined up behind one or the other and they were both guilty of manipulating the court and being manipulated by factions. Typical. *off soapbox*

The music – actually I didn’t find the 80s music as horrible as I feared. For every modern track there was a pretty period or opera piece which helped. It wasn’t as jarring as I thought it would be (he masquerade and ride home from that would be exceptions), although personally I would have been quite happy with less of the stuff.

The need for editing – while I enjoyed the slower pace there were scenes that were too long, if not most of them. The guitar scene, the endless Hamlet and Petit Trianon scenes and the finial scene in the dining room are the ones that come to mind. *okay we get the idea* I think it would have been more interesting to start out slow and then pick up the pace toward the end (as the state began to fall apart). But hey what do I know!

Cheesiness and 20th century cliques – they are throughout. *grinds teeth* The pipe smoking at the party was the stupidest one IMO. *right!* The partial nudity, while tasteful and easy to anticipate for those of us that prefer to close our eyes but were still annoying. Don’t get me started on the affair with Count Ferson (really if you had to make the assumption it was consummated at least make it interesting!).

The lack of history and plot – yeah. While I thoroughly enjoyed the film, I shudder to think what the clueless, knowing nothing of MA will take away from it. So much was missed and glossed over. Not in the least MA herself – the film showed only a few sides of her personality and very little of her growth as a woman, a mother, a leader, a friend and a wife. MA was such an interesting woman and lived through such interesting times, it’s a shame we mostly saw her prancing about in fields. As much as I like MA and Louis in the film, the characters don’t develop much; they stayed pretty much the same through the film. Certainly not true to life. With a lot of the plot points you have to know the history and the story to pick up on them. I hope this film peaks interest in the real MA and her world because there is so much to learn from her and this film falls short in the telling.

To conclude…

If you wanting a look at history or a compelling piece of cinema this is not the movie for you. For some fun eye candy and a look at what the 18th century would have moved like, go for it! The best description I’ve heard is that it’s a long photo shoot – it really is. The story is loose and the dialogue sparse. The pace is slow and the mood is reflective. The cinematography is breath-taking and the look of the film is simply scrumptious.

If you love the 18th century just watch it, you’ll love it. Just be sure to have some chocolates, pastries or strawberries and champagne close by – you will be hungry at the end! :>

music du jour: Chanson D'Enfance - Brightman

9 comments | comment?
From: sweetladykt Date: October 30th, 2006 01:40 am (UTC) (link)
Wow, what a great review!

I was not as fond it though I'd say I'm middle of the road, but my 2 cents would add the technical aspects, but being a film major totally ruined my relaxing film watching forever.
From: lindseyerin37 Date: October 30th, 2006 01:41 am (UTC) (link)
I felt pretty much exactly the same way about the movie, but you put into word much more nicely than I could have managed. :)
From: laurenmonkey Date: October 30th, 2006 01:55 am (UTC) (link)
I agree on every point! And I LOVED your review :)
mlsdesigns From: mlsdesigns Date: October 30th, 2006 12:24 pm (UTC) (link)
wow, what a great review, thank you, now i know what to expect! we'll definately try to see it in the afternoon not the evening, and have lots of nibbles on hand!! as long as it's pretty-pretty i can put up with a lot!
elegant_musings From: elegant_musings Date: October 30th, 2006 03:00 pm (UTC) (link)
I think your thoughts are pretty much on target with what I articulated in my post. It was hard not to tell you what I thought the other evening on the phone!! :D hehe. I really can't wait for it to come out on dvd--I can see this becoming a favorite, "light" costume drama to pop in whenever I want something with some visual candy, but not too deep. ;) lol.

Of course, now I'm just craving expensive French pastries... yummy. :D
tailordrews From: tailordrews Date: October 30th, 2006 07:31 pm (UTC) (link)
Many thanks for the review, i am very excited to see it soon. I hope it is going to open in our Imperial Cinema, wich has the largest schreen in town.
It opens 17th of november here in Copenhagen.
What about the book? Have any of you seen it?
Is it worth buying?

tayloropolis From: tayloropolis Date: October 30th, 2006 07:55 pm (UTC) (link)
I haven't read this particular book, but I can vouch for the glory that is Antonia Fraser. She is a marvelous historian and still manages to make her characters REAL. You don't feel like you are reading history, yet she is still meticulous in her research and presentation.
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: October 31st, 2006 03:30 pm (UTC) (link)
Do you mean the Fraiser book the movie is based on or the companion guide by Coppla? I haven't seen the companion yet, or heard much about it but the Fraiser book was good. As far as MA biographies go, personally I like Carolly Erickson's To the Scaffold the best though.
ambientfiligree From: ambientfiligree Date: October 31st, 2006 02:33 am (UTC) (link)
This sounds like what I suspected, Coppola is revealing her love for Japan by recreating the girls' comic/animation, Rose of Versailles. (Particularly the Du Barry section.)
9 comments | comment?