|Directed by||Sofia Coppola|
|Produced by||Sofia Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola
|Written by||Sofia Coppola|
|Based on||Marie Antoinette: The Journey
by Antonia Fraser
|Editing by||Sarah Flack|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Running time||127 minutes|
Marie Antoinette is a 2006 historical comedy-drama film, written and directed by Sofia Coppola. It is loosely based on the life of the Queen consort in the years leading up to the French Revolution. It won an 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 Josephina Johanna (Kirsten Dunst) is the beautiful, charming, and naïve youngest daughter of Austrian empress Maria Theresa (Marianne Faithfull). In 1768, she is selected by her mother to marry the Dauphin of France, Louis XVI (Jason Schwartzman), thereby sealing an alliance between the two rival countries.
Marie Antoinette travels to France, relinquishing all connections with her home country, and meets Louis XV (Rip Torn) and her future husband, the Dauphin. The two are married and are encouraged to produce an heir 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 – an Austrian, no less – and consistently 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.
Over the years, Maria Theresa continues to write to her daughter, giving advice on how to impress and seduce the Dauphin. Marie Antoinette's brother, the Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II (Danny Huston) comes to visit, counseling her against her constant parties and associations; advice that she ignores. Joseph then meets the King 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, the young queen gives birth to a girl, Marie Thérèse. 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 alleged affair with von Fersen.
As France's fiscal 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 in November 1780, Marie Antoinette gives birth to a boy, Louis-Joseph, the new Dauphin. She also gives birth to a second daughter, Sophie, who dies shortly thereafter (1787).
As the French Revolution begins to erupt, the royal family resolves to stay in France, unlike much of the nobility. Rioting Parisians force the family to leave Versailles for Paris. The film ends with the royal family's transference to the Tuileries. The last image is a shot of the Queen's bedroom, destroyed by looters.
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 Milos 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).
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 "rotten" rating with 55% of 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 complete 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.
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, Evelyne 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.
|Academy Awards record|
|1. Best Costume Design, Milena Canonero|
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.
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