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Marie Antoinette: A Film by David Grubin
Marie Antoinette A Film by David Grubin
Actors: Philippe Altier, Antoine de Baecque, Caroline Bernard, Blair Brown, Fanny Cosandey
Director: David Grubin
Genres: Television, Documentary
NR     2006     2hr 0min

This is the story of a callous monarch, swept to her death in the torrent of the French Revolution. It is also the tale of a fragile young woman struggling to find herself during one of the most turbulent moments in human ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Philippe Altier, Antoine de Baecque, Caroline Bernard, Blair Brown, Fanny Cosandey
Director: David Grubin
Creators: James Callanan, Terry Hopkins, David Grubin, Seth Bomse, Fabienne Servan-Schreiber, Laurence Miller, Rachel Buchanan
Genres: Television, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Television, Biography
Studio: Pbs Paramount
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 11/28/2006
Original Release Date: 01/01/2006
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2006
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 2hr 0min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 7
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English, French

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Movie Reviews

"Tribulation first makes you realize who you are"
M. J Leonard | Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA United States | 09/26/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Marie Antoinette was born November 2, 1755 in Vienna, Austria. She was the youngest and most beautiful daughter of Francis Stephen I and Maria Theresa Emperor and Empress of the Holy Roman Empire. Marie Antoinette was brought up believing her destiny was to become queen of France, the hope of forging an alliance with the two countries. She married the crown prince of France in 1770. Four years later she became queen when her husband was crowned King Louis XVI

One of the most interesting facets of this two-hour special on Marie Antoinette was that she never said the famous line "let them eat cake." In fact, the poor Marie was remarkably naive about the needs of the French peasantry and even about her adopted country. Living in a secluded life in the palace of Versailles, she had never seen the sea and spent most of her short life confined within the walls of the palace and gardens.

This fascinating documentary, which aired on PBS last night - in preparation for Sofia Coppola's big-screen dramatization, starring Kirsten Dunst - expels many of the myths associated with this deeply misunderstood Queen. She was indeed only a child - just fifteen - when her mother Maria Theresa married her off to the teenage Prince Louis.

Naive about the role of a Queen, Marie a woman of great charm and beauty, spent much of her time gambling and partying, spending money from the public coffers, oblivious to who paid for it all. The fact that Louis was Unable to produce a heir was a source of great consternation in the court, and as the years went by with still no child, Marie found an outlet by building a private world on the Versailles grounds, Le Petit Trianon, a private retreat where she could get back to nature.

Children did eventually come, but it didn't help the status of the monarchy, especially in the eyes of the public, who viewed Marie and her moneyed dalliances as responsible for much of the crises in the country. Louis was an incompetent and bumbling King, who found it hard to make decisions. With the political and social ideology of France quickly changing, Louis and Marie were urged to limit their power, and help contribute to forming a constitutional monarchy but they remained stubbornly tied to the strictures of the past.

Marie offended many of the nobles, adding their denunciation to the scandalous stories spread by royal hopefuls. It was the nobility that balked at the financial reforms the government ministers tried to make, not the King and Queen, who were in favor of change. In truth, Antoinette and Louis' fate were sealed by the irrevocable march of history, innocent porn's caught up in the winds of change.

Both Louis and Marie ended up guillotined, but in the meantime Marie grew as a woman, a mother and a monarch, the irony being that she was much more of a Queen when she was stripped of her royal status and awaiting trial in Paris.

Actress Blair Brown narrates this gripping film, while historians Antonia Fraser, Simon Schama, Evelyne Lever, Antoine de Baecque and Fanny Cosandey and novelist Chantal Thomas provide much of the interesting narrative about the tragic life of this beautiful and much misconstrued woman. Mike Leonard September 06.
Anuphab Phraewphanarai - Bangkok, Thailand
Anuphab Phraewphanarai | Bangkok, Thailand | 11/09/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This documentary on Marie Antoinette was superb. When I turned it on, I was glued to the screen. I accept the fact that this documentary does not show many actors completely acting out a scene, but along with the narrators and original paintings of the past, you can picture the whole story in your mind. In other words, the paintings and the pictures of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI told everything of what had happened. It is just like reading a comic book without text. You can just weave the picture together yourself. I did not regret ordering this two hour film on Marie Antoinette, and I suggest that whoever is interested about France's history, should not miss the life story of Marie Antoinette"
A well detailed documentary on Marie Antoinette
E. Anderson | 11/18/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I never really given much thought to Marie Antoinette. All I knew about the former queen of France was that she was beheaded after found guilty of various crimes ranging from corruption to treason. After I saw the lifeless Sophia Coppola film "Marie Antoinette", my curiousity about the former queen was piqued. This PBS documentary was aired not too long ago but I missed seeing most of it. I was fortunate to find a copy to rent through the web based rental service I use.

I found "Marie Antoinette" the documentary far more engaging. The life of Marie Antoinette is indeed fascinating. She almost reminds me of Paris Hilton of her day with her lack of intellectual curiousity and love of frivolous spending and other means of pleasure. It is hard not to see the comparison between the deceased queen of France and the current queen of overexposure.

In the PBS documentary, the filmmaker goes further in depth of Marie Antoinette's life after she and Louis tries to leave Paris, France and eventually their gruesome fate at the hands of the guillotine. I would have liked to have heard more about Marie's life prior to her marriage to Louis (like it was covered in thorough detail in Antoina Fraser's book). Blair Brown does a superb job as narrator. I found this documentary extremely well produced and thought out. There are other documentaries on Marie Antoinette but I only imagine that they would be not as good as PBS's two hour documentary on Marie Antoinette. I had fun learning about Marie Antoinette which led me to check out more books and documentaries about the former queen of France."
The condensed version of Antonia Fraser's biography
Kelly Garbato | Kearney, MO USA | 06/16/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"After listening to Antonia Fraser's excellent and exhaustive biography of Marie Antoinette on audiobook (MARIE ANTOINETTE: THE JOURNEY), I immediately hopped onto Netflix in search of a related documentary or two. The only one to catch my eye was David Grubin's MARIE ANTOINETTE: A FILM. Try as I might, I can't help but critique Grubin's film in relation to Fraser's biography.

Grubin's MARIE ANTOINETTE clocks in at about two hours, compared to the 20+ hour narration of Fraser's MARIE ANTOINETTE. While it might seem unfair to compare the two for this reason alone, they do share a similar story arc and cover much the same ground. In fact, Grubin includes snippets of interviews with several French historians in MARIE ANTOINETTE, one of whom is Antonia Fraser herself!

Given the time limitation, Grubin does a decent enough job of detailing the life and death of Marie Antoinette, starting with her childhood in Vienna, Austria, and ending with her death at the hands of "revolutionaries" in Paris, France. Even so, Grubin barely scratches the surface; for example, though he attempts to examine Marie Antoinette's psychological, social and intellectual development, the audience is only beginning to get a feel for Marie Antoinette the person by film's end. Additionally, Grubin raises a few controversial points - such as Marie Antoinette's relationship with Count Ferson - which is unfortunate, because he's unable to examine points of contention on anything but a superficial level. For example, Fraser dealt with historical controversies by returning to contemporary accounts of the events (diaries, letters, etc.), detailing various modern views on the issue, and then concluding with her own reasoned interpretation of the evidence. Grubin simply doesn't have enough time to do the same.

On the plus side, Grubin's film boasts one momentous advantage over Fraser's (audio)book - visual aids! Grubin interlaces interviews and narration with video and stills for stunning visual effects. MARIE ANTOINETTE: A FILM highlights a number of contemporary images, including portraits of Marie Antoinette and her friends and family, as well as scores of pages from then-scandalous pamphlets and propaganda - much of which contains nudity and sketches of a sexual nature (thankfully, none is censored). Grubin juxtaposes modern video of historical places - Versailles, Le Petit Trianon, Vienna - with these historical images, thus allowing the audience access to the places significant to Madame Antoine's child- and adulthood.

Additionally, I thought that Grubin's recounting of the French Revolution was more linear and easier to follow than was Fraser's. Fraser interspersed her accounts of the revolutionary political climate in France with its effects on Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI, while Grubin offered a lean - but informative - summary towards the end of his film.

All in all, I enjoyed MARIE ANTOINETTE: A FILM, but coming off of MARIE ANTOINETTE: THE JOURNEY, felt as though I'd already heard much of Grubin's story. Newbies will probably find MARIE ANTOINETTE: A FILM a nice introduction to the topic, while history buffs might like the film's visuals. All in all, a keeper."