Marie Antoinette (2006 film)

Marie Antoinette (2006 film)
Marie Antoinette
Directed by Sofia Coppola
Produced by Sofia Coppola
Ross Katz
Francis Ford Coppola
Written by Antonia Fraser (book)
Sofia Coppola
Starring Kirsten Dunst
Jason Schwartzman
Judy Davis
Rip Torn
Rose Byrne
Asia Argento
Marianne Faithfull
Molly Shannon
Steve Coogan
Cinematography Lance Acord
Editing by Sarah Flack
Studio American Zoetrope
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date(s) May 24, 2006 (2006-05-24) (France)
October 20, 2006 (2006-10-20) (United States)
Running time 123 minutes
Country United States
Language French
Budget $40 million
Box office $60,917,189

Marie Antoinette is a 2006 biographical film, written and directed by Sofia Coppola. It is very 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 Josepha Joanna (Kirsten Dunst) is the beautiful, charming, but 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 shortly thereafter. Toasts are drunk to their happy marriage and they 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, who is never without an unwanted entourage of servants and noblewomen, 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: she accompanies her husband and his friends on hunting excursions, claps at the opera, and often snubs other members of the aristocracy and royal family.

Over the years, Maria Theresa continues to write to her daughter, giving advice on how to impress and seduce the Dauphin, and also advises her to stop snubbing Madame du Barry (Asia Argento) (Louis XV's mistress, and a commoner of low birth, who is widely disliked at court), as this is akin to criticizing the King's behavior. Marie Antoinette finally speaks to Madame du Barry, remarking at a reception that, "There are a lot of people at Versailles today", although as she leaves with her husband, she remarks that those would be the last words she would ever say to du Barry.

Marie Antoinette gradually begins to adjust to her new life, surrounding herself with a few close confidantes. She finds solace in buying elaborate gowns and shoes, eating lavish pastries, and gambling with her ladies. One night, she, her husband, and some friends go incognito to a masked ball in Paris, where she meets Count Axel von Fersen (Jamie Dornan), a Swedish count.

When his predecessor dies, Louis XVI is crowned king of France, and both he and his wife express fear at being too young and inexperienced to reign.

Despite the growing poverty and unrest among the French working class, Marie Antoinette maintains her extravagant lifestyle, while Louis continues to invest in foreign conflicts such as the American Revolution, sending France further and further into debt.

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 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, including a decision to stop purchasing diamonds. 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 boy, who dies shortly thereafter.

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, where they will eventually be executed, in 1789; 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.[1] 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.[citation needed]

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.[2]


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).

Reception in USA

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."[3]

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." [4]

On the Rotten Tomatoes website, which compiles mostly North American reviews, the film has been given a "rotten" rating with 55 percent of contributing critics giving it positive reviews.[5]

The Metacritic site lists the film as having received "mainly positive" reviews with 65% of critics contributing such reviews.

Reception in France

Historian Jean Tulard called the film "Versailles in Hollywood sauce",[6] but "with lovely colours" (Le Journal du Dimanche), "funny" (Le Parisien) "the microcosm of political power metamorphosed in a sanctuary of sensuality...a delicate look on teenager years" [7]

According to historian and Marie-Antoinette specialist Evelyne Lever, "The movie is very far from history". She wrote that the film's characterization of Marie Antoinette lacked psychological development: "In the movie Marie-Antoinette is the same from 14 to 33 (…)In reality, she did not spend her time drinking champagne and eating pastry (…) The film makers of Barry Lyndon, The Madness of King George were able to show this period because they were closed to the culture they described".[8]

Le Monde disdained Marie Antoinette as "A movie dreamt by a Miss California", "kitsch and rococo" with "gossip playground dialogues" showing "a kind of Lady Di" a "Lost in Translation queen". The latter criticism references Coppola's previous film, Lost in Translation.[9]

Other criticisms include:

  • "The talent of Sofia Coppola is to make an american teenager girl think she can turn into a queen."[10]
  • "Versailles, by Vogue" (Score [7])

Box office

In the United States and Canada, the film opened with $5,361,050 in just 859 theaters, with $6,241 per theater.[11] 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.[11] 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.[12]

Nominations and awards

Academy Awards record
1. Best Costume Design, Milena Canonero

DVD release

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.


External links

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