Puja Miri Yajnik
‘Marie Antoinette’ is a historical drama film released in 2006 by Columbia Pictures. It is based on ‘Marie Antoinette: The Journey’ by Antonia Frazier. The film is written and directed by Sofia Coppola and stars Kirsten Dunst, Jason Schwartzman, Judy Davis and others.
Marie Antoinette was an Austrian princess who was married off to the Dauphin of France, Louis the 16th. The film starts with the young, quite naive girl travelling across borders to meet her betrothed and thus seal her alliance between Austria and France. The locations and filming are impressive and the cinematography is exceptional. Additionally, the performances by Dunst and Schwartzman are stellar. The lush forests, narrow country roads, luxurious carriages, and the elegantly dressed reception committee will immediately get you in the mood for the film right away.
An unusual touch was the use of a modern soundtrack throughout the film. It is not what one would expect from such a subject but it does add a fun, somewhat contemporary flavour. Also, I personally like the fact that the story remains in a certain tone; it deals with the bemused Marie Antoinette and her growth from when she first steps into Versailles. The direction is to be applauded, as very subtly you can see how complicated life must have been. The princess is constantly surrounded by people and she has to cope without knowing who to trust. She learns about fashion and gets swept up in the glamour and frivolity of the palace life; a life of excesses and hedonism. Of course she did become a fashion icon for all time, perhaps the first “It Girl”, as they say. The music, as I mentioned before, really helps the viewer to draw parallels between this great icon and a modern day fashionista, thus making the grandiose 18th century setting more accessible.
The film most deservedly won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design. The costumes: including clothes, wigs, shoes and jewellery of both men and women are exceptional. The detailed look of each character is impressive. Apparently a lot of the film was shot in Versailles itself, which definitely adds to the authenticity. I thought the evenings of decedent revelry were fascinating to watch.
Towards the end of the film, the mood changes, as the aristocracy is confronted with what is happening outside the palace doors. I particularly liked the scenes towards the end; when the ill-fated royal family are left with a handful of loyalists, suddenly the crowds surrounding them have thinned out. The soft lighting and atmosphere of inevitable doom are beautifully and sensitively created. The audience cannot help but feel a pang of sadness for the fate of the royal family. An excellent watch for the glamour, opulence, and look into an age gone by, that we have all read about. The film brings the essence of French court to life.
Disclaimer: The above review solely illustrates the views of the writer.