Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Movie Review: Marie Antoinette

Let's get to the original queen of Versailles. Marie Antoinette.

To understand this movie you have to understand this movie represents a divide in how to convey truth. Part of the point of any historical fiction is to convey truth but that creates a dilemma. Traditionally when people say to be truthful, they mean in respect to objective truth. But especially in regards to cultural and political movements subjective truth can be just as important. It's not just what happened, but why it happened. In particular how could the French nobility be so oblivious to the plight of the proletariat. (Yeah it's going to be one of those types of posts. No no come back.)  The answer the movie posits is ya idjits she was a 17-year-old girl dropped into one of the most decadent courts of all of human history. Of course she lost her head.  (Rim Shot)

The movie is about getting beyond all the other stuff happening in France at the time, and get into the head of a girl leaving all she's ever known for the sake of a political marriage to a man destined to be the most powerful in the world. Let's face it, George The Mad had become well mad.  Let me put it this way, It is very hard to divorce Versailles from the French Revolution. This movie is attempting to do just that. We the audience know the end of the story.

Yet to a 21st century American audience Versailles itself seems ... wierd. How would somebody trying to communicate the truth of that time and place go about it. Sophia Coppola does so by using the cultural language of her audience.  Sure you still get French stuff, but the intangibles of the setting are communicated through things a 21st century audience would understand, such as shoe shopping and purse dogs.  I hate purse dogs. They aren't there to greet you at the door, play with the kids or guard the house. They're there to "look cute" and they fail so hard.  Huh, what was I talking about? Right. The cultural language of 21st century ostentatiousness.

See Marie is sent to France with one purpose fit into that world. Become one with it. Merge with the beast. And like her while the audience finds it a brave new world we can't help but be lured into the beauty of all this luxury. See we Americans pride ourselves on being "the people" and as such we often have a natural hatred of decadence. It's "sinful". Yeah John Adams was a bit of a sourpuss. But the French nobility didn't. To them.

Marie ironically is our Watson in this world. "This is ridiculous." she says early in the movie in regards to the ceremony of the the place.  But you slowly see her geting sucked into that world mirroring the audiences reaction. Versailles was gorgeous. I think the word I'm looking for is splendiferous. So splendiforus that it makes you forget about all stuff we know was happening in gay Paris at the time. And that's the point. The movie is not about the French Revolution and the angry peasantry eating their dogs, but Versailles and by extension the nature of  aristocracy itself and deluded douchnoozles. 

All of that said. It's kind of slow. If you're waiting for the terror to come yeah that's not going to happen. Well it will... 5 minutes before credits.  Don't get me wrong there are hints of the larger world but it's all in the backround.  Sure if you pay attention you can see the political crises coming but who can pay attention with all that gold, and silk, and food, and women, and opera, and the wine, and art. (Miles, your spartanness.)

The movie lures you out of your anger by being fun. Banally fun which ironically is probably the most intelligent way of getting it's point across. When you're brain reconstitutes itself you realize that as deservedly demonized as the french nobility are we'd probably be doing the same stupid shit or something like it. Yes in my free time I work on my fantasy bond villain lair. All of it seems harmless until  Robespierre comes along demanding your head on a pike.

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