Marie Antoinette (2006 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Sofia Coppola|
|Written by||Sofia Coppola|
|Based on||Marie Antoinette: The Journey|
by Antonia Fraser
|Music by||Dustin O'Halloran|
|Edited by||Sarah Flack|
|Box office||$60.9 million|
Marie Antoinette is a 2006 historical drama film written and directed by Sofia Coppola and starring Kirsten Dunst. It is based on the life of Queen Marie Antoinette 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.
Fourteen-year-old Maria Antonia is the beautiful, charming, and naïve Archduchess of Austria, youngest of Empress Maria-Theresa's daughters. In 1770, the only one left unmarried among her sisters, she is sent by her mother to marry the Dauphin of France, the future Louis XVI, to seal 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 King Louis XV of France and her future husband, Louis-Auguste. The betrothed young couple arrive at the Palace of Versailles, which was built by the Sun King, Louis XIV. They are married at once and are encouraged to produce an heir to the throne as soon as possible, but the next day it is reported to the king that "nothing happened" on the wedding night.
As time passes, Marie-Antoinette finds life at the court of Versailles stifling. Her husband's courtiers disdain her as a foreigner and blame her for not producing an heir, although the fault really lies with her husband, for the marriage remains unconsummated for an inordinate amount of time. The French court is rife with gossip, and Marie-Antoinette consistently ruffles feathers by defying its ritualistic formality. Marie-Antoinette also refuses to meet or speak with Jeanne Bécu, Comtesse du Barry, 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. Marie's attempts to consummate with her husband fail and the marriage remains childless. Marie spends most of her time buying extravagant clothes and gambling. After a masquerade ball, Marie and Louis return to find that the King was dying of smallpox; he orders du Barry to leave Versailles. After his death on May 10, 1774, Louis XVI is crowned King of France at the age of 19, with Marie-Antoinette as Queen at the age of 18.
Marie-Antoinette's brother, Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor, comes to visit, counseling her against her constant parties; advice that she finds easy to ignore. Joseph 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. Thereafter, the King and Marie Antoinette have sex for the first time, and on December 19, 1778, Marie Antoinette gives birth to a daughter, Princess Marie Thérèse Charlotte of France. As the child matures, Marie-Antoinette spends much of her time at the Petit Trianon, a small chateau in the park of Versailles. It is also at this time that she begins an affair with Axel Fersen. As France's financial crisis worsens, food shortages and riots increase, her public image has completely deteriorated by this point: her luxurious lifestyle and seeming indifference to the struggles of the French people earned her the title "Madame Deficit".
As the queen matures, she focuses less on her social life and more on her family and makes what she considers to be significant financial adjustments. A year 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-Charles on March 27, 1785, and another daughter, Princess Sophie on July 9, 1786, who dies on June 19, 1787, a month before her first birthday. As the French Revolution erupts with the storming of the Bastille, the royal family resolves to stay in France, unlike most of the court. Rioting Parisians force the family to leave Versailles for Paris. The film ends with the royal family's transfer to the Tuileries. The last image is a shot of Marie-Antoinette's bedroom at Versailles, destroyed by angry rioters.
- Kirsten Dunst as Marie Antoinette
- Jason Schwartzman as Louis XVI of France
- Judy Davis as Anne de Noailles, "Countess of Noailles"
- Steve Coogan as Florimond Claude, Count of Mercy-Argenteau
- Rip Torn as Louis XV of France
- Rose Byrne as Yolande de Polastron, Duchess of Polignac
- Asia Argento as Madame du Barry
- Molly Shannon as Madame Victoire
- Shirley Henderson as Madame Sophie
- Danny Huston as Joseph II of Austria
- Marianne Faithfull as Empress Maria Theresa
- Mary Nighy as Princesse de Lamballe
- Jamie Dornan as Axel von Fersen
- Al Weaver as Charles, Count of Artois
- Sarah Adler as Maria Theresa, Countess of Artois
- Sebastian Armesto as Louis Stanislas, Count of Provence
- Clémentine Poidatz as Marie Joséphine, Countess of Provence
- Céline Sallette as Lady in Waiting
- Aurore Clément as the Louise Marie, Duchess of Chartres
- Guillaume Gallienne as Charles Gravier, Count of Vergennes
- Jean-Christophe Bouvet as Étienne François, Duke of Choiseul
- Tom Hardy as Raumont
- James Lance as Léonard Autié
- Mathieu Amalric as Man at Masked Ball
- Joseph Malerba as Queen's Guard
- André Oumansky as Cardinal de La Roche Aymon
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 greatly influenced by the films of Stanley Kubrick, Terrence Malick, and Miloš Forman, as well as by Ken Russell's Lisztomania.
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 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 utilise 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 stylised interpretation was intentionally very modern in order to humanise 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."
The film received both applause and some boos during early Cannes Film Festival press screenings, which one reviewer supposes was because some of the French journalists may have been offended that the film was not sufficiently critical of the regime's decadence.
However, film critic Roger Ebert clarified that, in actuality, only a couple of journalists had been booing during the press screening, and that the media had sensationalised the event. He stated that booing is more common in Europe, and sometimes done when someone feels that a film is "politically incorrect."
Reception in the United States
The film polarised the critics, with reviews ranging from resounding praise to discerning criticism (mainly aimed at historical inaccuracies and a contemporary soundtrack). As of June 2020[update], the film holds an approval rating of 57% on the Rotten Tomatoes website, which compiles mostly North American reviews, based on 215 reviews with an average rating of 6.10/10. The website's critical 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." Metacritic gives the film a weighted average score of 65 out of 100, based on 37 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
People magazine's movie critic, Leah Rozen, wrote in her wrap-up of the 2006 Cannes Film Festival that, "The absence of political context ... 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 stated 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." American film critic for MSN, Dave McCoy, described it as being a great satire:
I laughed, as I had been doing for the past twenty minutes. I was laughing at the satire, at Coppola's brash approach and from the pure joy that a great film can trigger.
Reception in France
The film's critical reception in France was generally positive. It has an aggregate score of 4/5 on the French cinema site AlloCiné, based on 21 reviews from professional critics. In the French trade journal, Le Film Francais, a third of the critics gave it their highest rating—"worthy of the Palme d'Or." Film critic Michel Ciment similarly rated it as worthy of the Palme d'Or.
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". Frodon, editor of Les Cahiers du cinéma, praised Coppola for her "'genius' at portraying adolescent alienation."
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 critics were annoyed with the film's loose portrayal of real historical events and figures. Although it was filmed at Versailles, to capture the splendor of eighteenth-century royal life, some critics took issue with or did not understand why Coppola intermixed period music with contemporary music, for instance, using soundtracks by artists such as The Cure and The Strokes. Or why she intermixed modern products, such as Converse sneakers with formal period shoes. Although one historian explains that while they may be distracting, "they also convey the rebelliousness of a young woman, frustrated, bored, isolated, and yet always on display." An example of this combining of the actual period with modern times is a scene when Marie Antoinette and her friends enjoy a shopping spree and feast on luxurious sweets, champagne, clothing, shoes, and jewellery, to Bow Wow Wow's, "I Want Candy."
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 characterisation 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".
Coppola responded to the critics by explaining that she was interested in showing "the real human being behind the myths..."
My goal was to capture in the design the way in which I imagined the essence of Marie Antoinette's spirit...so the film's candy colors, its atmosphere and teenaged music all reflect and are meant to evoke how I saw that world from Marie Antoinette's perspective."
In the United States and Canada, the film opened with $5,361,050 in just 859 theatres, with $6,241 per theatre. Nevertheless, the film quickly faded, grossing $15 million in Northern America, and has grossed around $61 million worldwide. The film made over $8 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. The film took in a little more than $60 million, with a budget of $40 million.
|79th Academy Awards||Best Costume Design||Won|
|60th British Academy Film Awards|
|Best Production Design||Nominated|
|Best Costume Design
|Best Make-up & Hair||Nominated|
|2006 Cannes Film Festival||Palme d'Or
|Cinema Prize of the French National Education System||Won|
|Palm Dog Award for Mops||Won|
|17th Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards||Best Feature||Nominated|
|2006 Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards||Best Art Direction
Best Costume Design
|2006 Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards||Best Costume Design
Best Production Design
|5th Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Awards||Best Art Direction||Won|
Home media release
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.
Pathe Films released a Blu-ray version of the film on January 4, 2012, alongside Coppola's other film The Virgin Suicides exclusively in France. It ports over the previously released bonus features along with the previously released short film and documentary from the French DVD. While it is a region-free disc, the English-language track contains forced subtitles and the BBC documentary is not English-friendly.
A manufacture on demand Blu-ray was released through Sony's Choice Collection on October 6, 2016. This release, along with other Choice Collection releases, was strongly criticised for being a BD-R disc, which means it is a burnt disc instead of pressed, these discs are essentially a bootleg and a BD-R is more susceptible to damage and has a much shorter lifespan of about 10 years opposed to a pressed disc lasting for 100 years if properly cared for. Reviews were mixed of the Blu-ray video quality, with High Def Digest stating "Everything carries the unfocused blur of non-HD video".
Another Blu-ray of the film, unlike the first release that was sold online, was physically released by Mill Creek Entertainment on October 29, 2019 as part of a double feature set containing that and Kirsten Dunst's fellow film Little Women.
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