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Marie Antoinette

Let Them Eat Cake 

Year: 2006 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 12A Cert – Under 12s admitted only with an adult 
Subtitles: This film is expected to have certain elements which are subtitled, but it is not expected that the entire film will contain them. 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from Marie Antoinette

Director: Sofia Coppola

Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Jason Schwartzman, Steve Coogan

As Coppola (Lost In Translation) continues her exploration of young female protagonists trying to find themselves in cocooned worlds, this visually stunning, well crafted and acted film glosses over the internal power-plays and external unrest building in France during the Revolution period of 1779. Instead, we are presented with the spirited Marie Antoinette (Dunst).

The character is portrayed from the beautifully staged opening of the film as she arrives at the French border in a gilded coach and is stripped naked to remove herself of everything Austrian, even her beloved pug is plucked from her arms, ("You can have as many French dogs as you like," she is brusquely informed) and sent to Versailles as the bride in an arranged marriage to the teenage Dauphin, Louis XVI (Schwartzman), a union designed to consolidate amity between the two nations.

The 14-year-old princess no sooner sets foot on French soil than she is fallen upon by a team of maids, stripped of every Viennese stitch and re-costumed, like a living Barbie, in the clothing of a French royal. Marie Antoinette could rival The Devil Wears Prada as the year's most detailed tribute to high fashion: the court at Versailles turns out to be quite as obsessive in matters of hemlines and waistlines as portrayed by Manhattan 200 years later.

Coppola re-spins Marie’s life as an exuberant teen, defying the conventions of the average period-drama and sound tracking Marie’s life to the likes of New Order and The Cure. Full of cliques, bitchery and gossip, her experience is mounted visually, matching 18th-century aristo antics to the decadence of post-punk anthems, delivering a heady, joyous experience to the audience.

Marie Antoinette is thus a riot of spirited, capricious filmmaking; a sexy, witty, dynamic romp, fired by creative imagination and propelled by a memorable soundtrack. Although the film might not cut it as a particularly useful GCSE history study guide, or a deep psychological portrait, Marie Antoinette is a gorgeous, giddy example of filmmaking and definitely worth a watch if only for its stunning use of set design and costume.

Rhian Cox

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Screenings of this film:

2006/2007 Spring Term (35mm)
2006/2007 Spring Term (35mm)