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Items | Irreverence, rebellion and drama: reminder of the classic “Marie-Antoinette”

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Basically, ‘Marie Antoinette’ is a film that sticks too closely to its aesthetics to offer an almost satisfying entertainment to the public. Directed by Sofia Coppola, the drama focuses on one of the most contradictory historical figures of the Franco-Austrian royal family – which gives its name to the title – and his troubled reign as Archduchess of Austria, while offering a whole new perspective on Europe. nobility, focusing on a more relaxed and romantic side to the detriment of a solid narrative.

Starring Kirsten Dunst, Coppola’s third film has a somewhat dodgy and dodgy tone. Beginning with a brief prologue about the Duchess’s journey from her Austrian roots to a completely new world, the poignant atmosphere constantly follows the character through an ever longer and more difficult journey. From the beginning of the story, we have been able to identify some traits of his personality that will be definitive either for his ruin, or for his ancestry and the adoration of the people: influenced by the steps of his mother, Maria Teresa, Antonieta emerges as a pawn in a dangerous and deadly political game, designed as a way to recover the alliance between two enemy nations – Austria and France – by marrying the French dolphin Louis XVI (Jason Schwartzman) and being able to end the war conflicts.

Of course, given the era in which the plot takes place, the protagonist would not be welcomed by a people accustomed to a pure-blood line suddenly confronted with a change in their political structures that could dictate an unprecedented revolution. . What’s interesting here isn’t exactly how the scenes unfold, since each frame can be predicted (the game formulates shots against shots), but how the colors speak to both characters and viewers. Antoinette remains for much of the first act drenched in cold tones of blue, gray and purple, concomitant with her sense of traversing the northern forests that separate the two realms. When he arrives at Versailles, the neutrality of the palette continues, but the morbid atmosphere takes hold of the great gardens of the castle, in particular with regard to the prejudice carried by the members of the court to the new highness.

She is not viewed favorably; throughout her reign she was accused of wantonness and promiscuity, influencing her husband in favor of Austrian interests and turning him against his own people. However, as we learned throughout the 120 minute story, Antonieta is in fact constantly bombarded with letters from her family’s matriarch, in addition to carrying the weight of royalty on her conscience, feeling compelled to generate an heir to maintain the lineage and ensure blood supremacy. From a credible and outside perspective, she can be seen as a young victim of circumstance, whose tragic end made her an icon of innocence and resistance.

Coppola, also responsible for the screenplay, decides to put his own ways, saving some semiotic elements from previous films – mainly ‘The Virgin Suicides’ – the filmmaker manages, in a comical and irreverent way, to unite present, past and future in the medium of the 17th century. To fully understand what is going on and why the choices are a little strange at first glance, you have to know that Antonieta got married when she was only fourteen, that is, at the height of her life. of his adolescence. Drawing a parallel with the same age group of the 21st century, Coppola opts for cinematic hybridization and draws inspiration from several romantic comedies of the late 1990s and the beginning of the 2000s to compose animated sequences that dialogue in a livelier and stronger with a differentiated audience, opening the range of interpretation possibilities.

At a certain moment, more precisely in the middle of the second act, our protagonist lets himself be carried away by the feeling of guilt for not being able to fulfill his obligations, in addition to being constantly attacked by pejorative labels about his state and his marriage, emerging as the main responsible for the decline of the Austro-Franco empire. In this way, she “abdicates” her social status to allow herself some worldly pleasures, drawing directly on icons of contemporary cinema such as Regina George (Rachel McAddams) in ‘Mean Girls’ or Cher (Alicia Silverstone) in ‘ Little Girls’ of Beverly Hills’. It seems superficial to draw parallels between the three feature films, but it is precisely this time distortion that makes “Marie Antoinette” one of the director’s landmarks.

During “dress fittings” – a metaphor for the prerogative of “going shopping” – Antonieta and her ladies-in-waiting are seen wearing countless pompous and scrutinized dresses in vibrant colors and flowing fabrics, a reflection of her own frivolity. eighteenth-century society. . Not content with costumes, a quicker edit adds a sensory frenzy that includes playing cards, tasting various sweets, and choosing adornments such as fans, rings, necklaces, and more.

Amidst so much concern for the aesthetics of this work – it didn’t win the Oscar for best costume for nothing – which saves exactly what one is looking for in a historical drama, especially with a decisive moment for maintaining the European monarchy, Coppola seems to have forgotten one of the most important elements of the story: the characters. The story is there, the setting is there, and the events involving Antoinette, Louis XVI and all the figures of this period are known, deep or superficial. However, the heroine of the story is very attached to teenage stereotypes and does not have her well-developed arc. For two hours, the incarnation provided by Dunst fascinates a time, but remains in an unbearably immutable constructive linearity. She starts out innocent and ends up even more innocent, though she’s the target of perjury, rebellion, and even a tragic end – which isn’t shown.

Unlike the 1938 iteration, starring Norma Shearer and Tyrone Power, the 2006 perspective much prefers to show the viewer how a dissertation on the past can be wildly irreverent while still staying true to its roots. The contradictory and “out of context” elements are plentiful, from the rock and pop oriented soundtrack to the presence of a pair of All-Star shoes in the middle of a rococo collection.

In short, ‘Marie Antoinette’ is a raw gem, whose beauty is expressed very clearly on stage, but which slips several times in the construction of arches and in the meeting of resolutions. Despite this, Coppola and Dunst once again manage to deliver somewhat fun and satisfying work, especially for those who didn’t have high expectations. It all depends on the perspective – and depending on which one you choose, the film can be very good or a complete disaster.

The post Article | Irreverence, insubordination and drama: memories of the classic “Marie-Antoinette” which appeared for the first time on CinePOP Cinema.

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