Marie Antoinette (2006 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Sofia Coppola|
|Produced by||Sofia Coppola
|Written by||Sofia Coppola|
|Based on||Marie Antoinette: The Journey
by Antonia Fraser
|Edited by||Sarah Flack|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Running time||127 minutes|
Marie Antoinette is a 2006 historical drama film, written and directed by Sofia Coppola. It is loosely based on the life of the Queen in the years leading up to the French Revolution. It won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design. It was released in the United States on October 20, 2006, by Columbia Pictures. The film has since gained a cult following.
Fourteen-year-old Maria Antonia Josephina Johanna Habsburg (Kirsten Dunst) is the beautiful, charming, and naive princess of Austria, and the youngest daughter of Empress Maria Theresa's (Marianne Faithfull) sixteen children. In 1768, she is selected by her mother to marry the Dauphin of France, the future Louis XVI of France (Jason Schwartzman), therefore sealing an alliance between the two rival countries. Marie Antoinette travels to France, relinquishing all connections with her home country, including her pet Pug "Mops", and meets the King Louis XV of France (Rip Torn) and her future husband, Louis Auguste. The two arrive at the palace of Versailles, which was built by the King's grandfather, and are married and are encouraged to produce an heir to the throne as soon as possible, but the next day it is reported that "nothing happened" on their wedding night.
As time passes, Marie Antoinette begins to find life at the court of Versailles stifling. Her husband's courtiers disdain her as a foreigner, and constantly blame her for not having produced an heir. The French court is rife with gossip, and Marie Antoinette consistently ruffles feathers by defying its ritualistic formality. Marie Antoinette also refuses to meet with Jeanne Bécu, Madame du Barry (Asia Argento), who is the mistress of Louis XV. Over the years, Maria Theresa continues to write to her daughter, giving advice on how to impress and seduce the Dauphin. Unfortunately, Marie's attempts to have sex with her husband fail and the marriage remains fruitless. Marie then spends most of her time buying shoes, dresses, jewelry, luxurious pastries, and gambling. Then, the King catches smallpox; he orders du Barry to leave Versailles, and he later dies. Now his grandson and granddaughter-in-law are rulers of France, but they pray to God for help. Louis and Marie are crowned king and queen of France.
Marie Antoinette's brother, Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor (Danny Huston) comes to visit, counseling her against her constant parties and associations; advice that she ignores. Joseph then meets Louis XVI at the Royal Zoo and explains to him the "mechanics" of sexual intercourse in terms of "key-making", as one of the King's favorite hobbies is locksmithing. That night, the King and Marie Antoinette have sex for the first time, and on December 18, 1778, Marie Antoinette gives birth to a daughter, Princess Marie Thérèse of France. As the baby princess grows up, Marie Antoinette spends much of her time at the Petit Trianon, a small chateau on the grounds of Versailles. It is also at this time that she begins an affair with Axel von Fersen (Jamie Dornan). As France's financial crisis worsens, food shortages and riots become commonplace. Marie Antoinette's image with her subjects has completely deteriorated by this point: her luxurious lifestyle and seeming indifference to the struggles of the masses earn her the title Madame Déficit.
Beginning to mature, she focuses less on her social life and more on her family, and makes what she considers to be some significant financial adjustments. A few months after her mother's death on November 29, 1780, Marie Antoinette gives birth to a son, Louis Joseph, Dauphin of France on October 22, 1781. She also gives birth to another son, Louis XVII of France on March 27, 1785, and another daughter, Princess Sophie of France on July 9, 1786, who unfortunately dies on June 19, 1787, a month shy of her 1st birthday. As the French Revolution begins to erupt rapidly, the royal family resolves to stay in France, unlike much of the nobility. Angry rioting Parisians force the family to leave Versailles for Paris. The film ends with the royal family's transfer to Tuileries Palace. The last image is a shot of Marie Antoinette's bedroom, destroyed by angry rioters.
- Kirsten Dunst as Marie Antoinette
- Jason Schwartzman as Louis XVI of France
- Judy Davis as Comtesse Anne de Noailles
- Steve Coogan as Florimond Claude
- Rip Torn as Louis XV of France
- Rose Byrne as Yolande de Polastron
- Asia Argento as Jeanne Bécu
- Molly Shannon as Princess Victoire of France
- Shirley Henderson as Princess Sophie of France
- Danny Huston as Joseph II of Austria
- Marianne Faithfull as Empress Maria Theresa
- Jamie Dornan as Axel von Fersen
- Tom Hardy as Raumont
- Al Weaver as Charles X of France
- Mary Nighy as Princess Marie Louise of Savoy
- Sebastian Armesto as Louis XVIII of France
- Céline Sallette as Lady in Waiting
The production was given unprecedented access to the Palace of Versailles. The movie takes the same sympathetic view of Marie Antoinette's life as was presented in Fraser's biography. Coppola has stated that the style for shooting was heavily influenced by the films of Stanley Kubrick, Terrence Malick, and Miloš Forman, Coppola was also influenced by Lisztomania by Ken Russell.
While the action happens in Versailles (including the Queen's Petit Trianon and the Hameau de la Reine) and the Paris Opera (which was built after the death of the real Marie Antoinette), some scenes were also shot in Vaux-le-Vicomte, Château de Chantilly, Hôtel de Soubise and at the Belvedere in Vienna.
Milena Canonero and six assistant designers created the gowns, hats, suits and prop costume pieces. Ten rental houses were also employed, and the wardrobe unit had seven transport drivers. Shoes were made by Manolo Blahnik and Pompei, and hundreds of wigs and hair pieces were made by Rocchetti & Rocchetti. As revealed in the "Making of" documentary on the DVD, the look of Count von Fersen was influenced by 1980s rock star Adam Ant. Ladurée made the pastries for the film; its famous macarons are featured in a scene between Marie-Antoinette and Ambassador Mercy.
The film's soundtrack contains New Wave and post-punk bands New Order, Gang of Four, The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bow Wow Wow, Adam and the Ants, The Strokes, Dustin O'Halloran and The Radio Dept. Some scenes utilize period music by Jean-Philippe Rameau, Antonio Vivaldi and François Couperin. The soundtrack also includes songs by electronic musicians Squarepusher and Aphex Twin.
In several 2006 interviews, Coppola suggests that her highly stylized interpretation was intentionally very modern in order to humanize the historical figures involved. She admitted taking great artistic liberties with the source material, and said that the film does not focus simply on historical facts – "It is not a lesson of history. It is an interpretation documented, but carried by my desire for covering the subject differently." Perhaps because of this unusual approach, the film was booed at early screenings at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival (see below).
Reception in USA
People magazine's movie critic, Leah Rozen, wrote in her wrap-up of the 2006 Cannes Film Festival that, "The absence of political context, however, upset most critics of Marie Antoinette, director Sofia Coppola's featherweight follow-up to Lost in Translation. Her historical biopic plays like a pop video, with Kirsten Dunst as the doomed 18th century French queen acting like a teenage flibbertigibbet intent on being the leader of the cool kids' club."
American film critic Roger Ebert gave the film four stars out of four. He states that, "every criticism I have read of this film would alter its fragile magic and reduce its romantic and tragic poignancy to the level of an instructional film. This is Sofia Coppola's third film centering on the loneliness of being female and surrounded by a world that knows how to use you but not how to value and understand you." 
On the Rotten Tomatoes website, which compiles mostly North American reviews, the film has been given a rating average of 55% based on contributing critics giving it positive reviews; the site's consensus states "Lavish imagery and a daring soundtrack set this film apart from most period dramas; in fact, style completely takes precedence over plot and character development in Coppola's vision of the doomed queen."
The Metacritic site lists the film as having received "mainly positive" reviews with 65% of critics contributing such reviews.
Reception in France
Critics who gave the film positive reviews included Danielle Attali of Le Journal du Dimanche, who praised it as "a true wonder, with stunning colors, sensations, emotions, intelligence". François Vey of Le Parisien found it to be "funny, upbeat, impertinent" and "in a word, iconoclastic". Philippe Paumier of the French edition of Rolling Stone said that, "Transformed into a sanctuary for the senses, the microcosm of power becomes this moving drama of first emotions and Marie Antoinette, the most delicate of looks on adolescence".
Among negative critical reviews, Jean-Luc Douin of Le Monde described Marie Antoinette as "kitsch and roc(k)oco" which "deliberately displays its anachronisms", and additionally as a "sensory film" that was "dreamt by a Miss California" and "orchestrated around the Du Barry or Madame de Polignac playground gossip". Alex Masson of Score thought the film had a script "which is often forgotten to the corruption of becoming a special issue of Vogue devoted to scenes of Versailles".
French historians took issue with the film's loose portrayal of real historical events and figures. In the newspaper Le Figaro, historian Jean Tulard called the film "Versailles in Hollywood sauce", saying that it "dazzles" with a "deployment of wigs, fans and pastries, a symphony of colors" which "all [mask] some gross errors and voluntary anachronisms". In the magazine L'Internaute, Évelyne Lever, a historian and authority on Marie Antoinette, described the film as "far from historical reality". She wrote that the film's characterization of Marie Antoinette lacked historical authenticity and psychological development: "In reality she did not spend her time eating pastries and drinking champagne! [...] In the movie Marie Antoinette is the same from 15 to 33 years". She also expressed the view that "better historical films" including Barry Lyndon and The Madness of King George succeeded because their directors were "steeped in the culture of the time they evoked".
In the United States and Canada, the film opened with $5,361,050 in just 859 theaters, with $6,241 per theater. Nevertheless, the film quickly faded, grossing $15 million in Northern America, and has grossed around $61 million worldwide, making it one of the few underperformers for distributor Columbia that year. The film made over $7 million in France, where the film is set, but fared less well in the United Kingdom, where it took only $1,727,858 at the box office, while the film's biggest international market was Japan, where it made a total of $15,735,433,making it a box office bomb.
Nominations and awards
|Academy Awards record|
|1. Best Costume Design, Milena Canonero|
- Won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design (Milena Canonero).
- Nominated for three BAFTA awards, for Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design and Best Makeup & Hair.
- At the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, Marie Antoinette was entry for Official Selection of Golden Palm and won the Cinema Prize of the French National Education System.
- The film was nominated for Best Feature at the Gotham Awards.
- Won Best Art Direction at the Washington, D.C. Area Film Critics Association Awards.
- Won Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design at both the Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards and the Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards.
The Region 1 DVD version of the movie was released on February 13, 2007. Special features on the disc included a "making of" featurette, two deleted scenes and a brief parody segment of MTV Cribs, featuring Jason Schwartzman as Louis XVI of France. The Region 2 DVD version, including the same special features, was released on February 26, 2007. No commentary was available for the DVD. In France, the double-disc edition included additional special features: Sofia Coppola's first short movie, Lick the Star, and a BBC documentary film on Marie Antoinette. A collector's edition boxset, entitled "Coffret Royal", was also released in France, and included the double-disc edition of the movie, Antonia Fraser's biography, photographs and a fan. The Japanese edition was released on July 19. This two-disc edition included the same extra features as the North American release, though it also included the American, European and Japanese theatrical trailers and Japanese TV spots. A limited-edition special Japanese boxed set contained the two disc DVD set, a jewellery box, a Swarovski high-heeled shoe brooch, a hand mirror, and a lace handkerchief.
- MARIE ANTOINETTE - Production Notes...CinemaReview.com Movie Reviews, Movie Contents, Moviegoer Opinions and Much More!
- A Tribute to Marie Antoinette
- "Kirsten's Marie Antoinette Fizzles at Cannes". People. Retrieved October 21, 2006.
- "Marie Antoinette". Chicago Sun-Times.
- Marie Antoinette - Movie Reviews, Trailers, Picture - Rotten Tomatoes
- Box Office Mojo
- Box Office Mojo
- "Festival de Cannes: Marie Antoinette". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-12-13.
- "BoxOffice Week Editie". Sneakpoint.com. Retrieved October 21, 2006.
- Gotham Awards
- Marie Antoinette at the Internet Movie Database
- Marie Antoinette at Rotten Tomatoes
- Translated interview with Sofia Coppola
- 'Marie Antoinette': Best or Worst of Times? - The New York Times Cannes Journal