Marie Antoinette (2006 film)

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Marie Antoinette
Theatrical release poster
Directed bySofia Coppola
Screenplay bySofia Coppola
Based onMarie Antoinette: The Journey
by Antonia Fraser
Produced by
CinematographyLance Acord
Edited bySarah Flack
Music byDustin O'Halloran
Distributed by
Release dates
  • May 24, 2006 (2006-05-24) (France)
  • October 20, 2006 (2006-10-20) (United States)
  • January 20, 2007 (2007-01-20) (Japan)
Running time
123 minutes
  • France
  • United States
  • Japan
Budget$40 million[3]
Box office$60.9 million[4]

Marie Antoinette is a 2006 historical drama film written and directed by Sofia Coppola. It is based on the life of Queen Marie Antoinette, played by Kirsten Dunst, in the years leading 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 Sony Pictures Releasing.


Fourteen-year-old Maria Antonia, the youngest daughter of Empress Maria-Theresa of Austria, is a beautiful, charming and naïve archduchess. In 1770, she is sent by her mother to marry Louis-Auguste, the Dauphin of France, to seal an alliance between the two rival countries.

Maria, her name now changed to Marie Antoinette, travels to France, relinquishing all connections with her home country, and meets King Louis XV of France and her future husband, the Dauphin. The betrothed young couple arrive at the Palace of Versailles and are married at once. They 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. She instead spends much of her time with the few friends she has in Versailles, including the conservative Princesse de Lamballe and the flamboyant Duchess of Polignac.

Marie-Antoinette also refuses to meet or speak with Madame 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 her marriage with her husband fail and they remain childless. Marie spends most of her time buying extravagant clothes and gambling.

After a masquerade ball, Marie and Louis return to find the king dying of smallpox; he orders du Barry to leave Versailles. After the king's death, Marie-Antoinette's husband succeeds him as Louis XVI at the age of 19, and Marie-Antoinette becomes queen consort at age 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, Louis and Marie Antoinette have sex for the first time, and in 1778, Marie Antoinette gives birth to a daughter, Marie Thérèse.

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 deteriorates and her luxurious lifestyle and seeming indifference to the struggles of the French people earned her the name "Madame Deficit".

As the queen matures, Marie Antoinette focuses less on her social life and more on her family and makes what she considers to be significant financial adjustments. Her mother dies in 1780, and the following year she gives birth to a son, Louis-Joseph, Dauphin of France. She gives birth to another son, Louis-Charles, in 1785, and another daughter, Sophie, in 1786, who dies 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 them to leave Versailles for Paris. The film ends with the royal family's transfer to the Tuileries. The last image is Marie-Antoinette's bedroom at Versailles, destroyed by angry rioters.



The film was planned to be an adaptation of Évelyne Lever's Marie Antoinette: The Last Queen of France, a biography she wrote for American readers in 2000. Sofia Coppola bought the rights twice, but in the end she chose Antonia Fraser's biography Marie Antoinette: The Journey instead of Lever's book as the basis for her adaptation.[5] The production was given unprecedented access to the Palace of Versailles.[6] The film takes the same sympathetic view of Marie Antoinette's life as was presented in Antonia Fraser's biography. Coppola said 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.[citation needed]

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 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 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 singer Adam Ant. Ladurée made the pastries for the film; its macarons are featured in a scene between Marie-Antoinette and Ambassador Mercy.[7]


The Marie Antoinette 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 François Couperin, Antonio Vivaldi, Jean-Philippe Rameau and Domenico Scarlatti. The soundtrack also includes songs by electronic musicians Squarepusher and Aphex Twin.

Roger Neill served as a historic music consultant on the film.[8]


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."[9]

Marie Antoinette 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.[10] 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".[11]

Reception in the United States[edit]

Marie Antoinette polarized the critics, with reviews ranging from resounding praise to discerning criticism (mainly aimed at historical inaccuracies and a contemporary soundtrack). The film holds an approval rating of 58% on Rotten Tomatoes, which compiles mostly North American reviews, based on 217 reviews with an average rating of 6.10/10. The website's critics 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."[12] Metacritic gives the film a weighted average score of 65 out of 100, based on 37 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[13] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C" on an A+ to F scale.[14]

People magazine's movie critic, Leah Rozen, wrote in her wrap-up of Cannes 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."[15] 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."[16] The 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."[11]

Reception in France[edit]

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.[17] In the French trade journal, Le Film Francais, a third of the critics gave it their highest rating—"worthy of the Palme d'Or."[11] Film critic Michel Ciment similarly rated it as worthy of the Palme d'Or.[11]

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".[17] François Vey of Le Parisien found it to be "funny, upbeat, impertinent" and "in a word, iconoclastic".[17] 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".[17] Frodon, editor of Les Cahiers du cinéma, praised Coppola for her "'genius' at portraying adolescent alienation."[18]

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".[19] 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".[17]

French critics were annoyed with the loose portrayal of real historical events and figures in Marie Antoinette. 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."[20] 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".[18]

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".[21] 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" such as Barry Lyndon and The Madness of King George succeeded because their directors were "steeped in the culture of the time they evoked".[5]

Coppola responded to the critics by explaining that she was interested in showing "the real human being behind the myths..."[18]

My goal was to capture in the design the way in which I imagined the essence of Marie Antoinette's 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."[18]

Box office[edit]

In the United States and Canada, Marie Antoinette opened with $5,361,050 from 859 theatres, with an average of $6,241 per theatre.[22] Nevertheless, the film quickly faded, grossing $15,962,471 in North America and $60,917,189 worldwide, against a production budget of $40 million.[4] Marie Antoinette made $7,870,774 in France, where the film is set, but fared less well in the United Kingdom, where it took $1,727,858 at the box office, while the film's biggest international market was Japan, where it earned a total of $15,735,433.[4]


Award Category Recipient(s) Result
Academy Awards Best Costume Design Milena Canonero Won
British Academy Film Awards Best Production Design K. K. Barrett and Véronique Melery Nominated
Best Costume Design[23] Milena Canonero Nominated
Best Makeup and Hair Desiree Corridoni and Jean-Luc Russier Nominated
Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or Sofia Coppola Nominated
Cinema Prize of the French National Education System[24][25] Won
Palm Dog Award Mops Won
Gotham Independent Film Awards Best Feature Marie Antoinette Nominated
Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards Best Art Direction Pierre du Boisberranger and Anne Seibel Won
Best Costume Design Milena Canonero Won
Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards Best Costume Design Won
Best Production Design K. K. Barrett Won
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Awards Best Art Direction Anne Seibel Won

Home media release[edit]

The Region 1 and Region 2 DVD versions of Marie Antoinette were released in February 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. No commentary was available for the DVD. In France, the double-disc edition included additional special features: Sofia Coppola's first short film, Lick the Star, and a BBC documentary 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 Marie Antoinette on January 4, 2012, alongside Coppola's first 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.[26] 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".[27]

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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  2. ^ a b Hunter, Allan (May 24, 2006). "Marie Antoinette". Screen Daily. Retrieved November 1, 2021.
  3. ^ Stevens, Dana (October 19, 2006). "Queen Bees". Slate. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c "Marie Antoinette (2006)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved November 1, 2021.
  5. ^ a b Pouyat, Alice (May 2006). "Spécialiste de Marie-Antoinette, Evelyne Lever a conseillé Sofia Coppola au début du tournage de son long métrage sur la reine. Avant la sortie du film sur les écrans, l'historienne a répondu à vos questions". (in French). Retrieved 28 January 2022.
  6. ^ "Marie Antoinette: About the Production (continued)". Cinema Review. Archived from the original on January 8, 2018. Retrieved January 1, 2016.
  7. ^ "A Tribute to Marie-Antoinette". Ladurée Newsletter. Vol. 20. 2005. Archived from the original on November 24, 2010. Retrieved January 1, 2016.
  8. ^ "Marie Antoinette (2006) – Full Cast & Crew – IMDb". IMDb. May 19, 2020. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
  9. ^ Oduwa, Uwa (February 28, 2013). "The Mythology of Marie Antoinette". CCTP748: Media Theory and Digital Culture. Georgetown University. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  10. ^ Dargis, Manohla; Scott, A.O. (May 25, 2006). "'Marie Antoinette': Best or Worst of Times?". The New York Times. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  11. ^ a b c d Ebert, Roger (2007). Roger Ebert's Movie Yearbook 2007. Kansas City: Andrews McMeel Publishing. p. 885. ISBN 9780740761577.
  12. ^ "Marie Antoinette (2006)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 14, 2020.
  13. ^ "Marie Antoinette Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  14. ^ "Find CinemaScore" (Type "Marie Antoinette" in the search box). CinemaScore. Retrieved March 7, 2021.
  15. ^ Rozen, Leah (May 30, 2006). "Kirsten's Marie Antoinette Fizzles at Cannes". People. Retrieved October 21, 2006.
  16. ^ Ebert, Roger (October 19, 2006). "Marie Antoinette". Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  17. ^ a b c d e "Marie Antoinette: Critiques presse". AlloCiné (in French). Retrieved January 1, 2016.
  18. ^ a b c d Munich, Adrienne (2011). Fashion in Film. New Directions in National Cinemas. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. pp. 207, 218. ISBN 9780253222992.
  19. ^ Douin, Jean-Luc (May 23, 2006). "'Marie-Antoinette' : une reine rock et rococo". Le Monde (in French). Retrieved January 1, 2016.
  20. ^ Spielvogel, Jackson J. (2012). Western Civilization: Alternate Volume: Since 1300 (10th ed.). Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning. p. 546. ISBN 9781305952843.
  21. ^ Tulard, Jean (August 14, 2010). "Marie-Antoinette, la reine de l'écran". Le Figaro (in French). Retrieved January 1, 2016.
  22. ^ "Marie Antoinette (2006) – Domestic Weekend". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved November 1, 2021.
  23. ^ "Film Costume Design in 2007". British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Retrieved 20 March 2022.
  24. ^ "Marie Antoinette". Cannes Film Festival. Retrieved December 13, 2009.
  25. ^ "BoxOffice – Week". SneakPoint. Archived from the original on June 26, 2006. Retrieved October 21, 2006.
  26. ^ Liebman, Martin (August 19, 2016). "Sony Announces First Waves of MOD (Manufacture on Demand) Blu-ray Releases". Retrieved September 1, 2016.
  27. ^ Marie Antoinette. High Def Digest. October 26, 2016.

External links[edit]