Thought of the Day

I don't believe in morality, but I believe in ethical conduct as set out by His Holiness the Dalai Lama: "Ethical conduct = a way of behaving that respects others’ right to be happy".

Sunday, 18 March 2007

marie antoinette

At 15 she became a bride. At 19 she became a queen. By 20 she was a legend.

year: 2006


Kirsten Dunst ... Marie Antoinette

Marianne Faithfull ... Maria Teresa

Steve Coogan ... Ambassador Mercy

Clara Brajman ... Austrian Girlfriend

Mélodie Berenfeld ... Austrian Girlfriend

Judy Davis ... Comtesse de Noailles

Jason Schwartzman ... Louis XVI

preface: i grew up with the myth of marie antoinette thanks to the japanese anime *lady oscar*, so i was already familiar to her persona when i rented out this DVD.

the extravagant (but unlucky) queen has played a central role in the imaginery of artists, designers and stars (see madonna's impersonification of M.A. below). her figure could not be overlooked by the stylish sophia coppola, who centred (and limited) her film to M.A.'s court life, its boring etiquette, obligations, but also frivolous and fashionable moments. far too many scenes in fact seem to have no other use than offering a nosy insight into the daily life of the austrian girl turned princess and eventually queen too young.

coppola's film is a beautiful film to look at: the photography is stunning and it is great to see versailles brought back to life. kirsten dunst (and her sweet dimples) are back in all their splendour (she has previously starred in sofia coppola's the virgins suicides), and her performance is as (deliberately) frivolous as this film.

while louis xvi comes across as an effeminate and unresoluted idiot, M.A. is depicted as the passionate woman she was with a superficiality which prevents the reader from connecting with her and her drama. so, if you look for emotions, turn somewhere else and rent out, perhaps, sissi.

there is something i enjoyed though apart from the grand outfits and decor: the funky soundtrack and M.A.'s liberal life style. sofia coppola's M.A. is a modern queen indeed, in that this is how i'd expect a queen to be if the real monarchy existed nowadays. she is rather free within the boundaries of her gold cage, is allowed to spend time on her own in her country refuge, party with her girlfriends and communicate or even *interact* with other men in her husband's absence. she is hippy, in the sense that is happy to be immerse in the nature and turns her look more "natural" as soon as she moves to the countrysude. she is girly (enjoyes dressing up and choosing her shoes with her bunnies) and is also charitable - when she doesn't spend too much for herself. all the requirements of a modern queen are thus thicked off.

i can describe this film as a box of chocolate pleasing your senses without any arousement. although loads of tragic events occurr, they seem hardly to touch M.A. who keeps smiling as if she is not completely aware of what is going on around her (and more likely she is not).

the real M.A. was goliardic, dissipator, passionate and adulteress, but proved also to be an observant woman, by doing her best to accomplish her duties of queen, and brave in resolving to stay next to her oblivious husband till their end. [to witness her decapitation in Lady O. at the age of 10 was a real shock, i can tell you!] by changing the finale from tragic to vile, coppola inevitably diminished also M.A.'s stature. i knew that the film had a *happy ending* and was intrigued to see in what grand and legendary way she concluded her story. instead it was flat and mediocre.

last harsh critique: the political and social unrest which will bring to the most astonising revolution in history could have been completely bypassed. what is the point of introducing it in the last 10 minutes of the film just to make the couple appear like vile fugitive royals?


asia argento was perfect in the nasty role of the father king's speechless mistress:

~ kirsten dunst's dress at the oscars was my favourite frock:

~ and finally below the original queen:

"let them eat cakes"

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