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Sofia Coppola
Kirsten Dunst, Marianne Faithfull, Steve Coogan, Judy Davis, Jason Schwartzman, Rose Byrne, Judy Davis, Jason Schwartzman, Rose Byrne, Al Weaver, Shirley Henderson, Molly Shannon, Rip Torn
Writing Credits:
Sofia Coppola

Let Them Eat Cake.

Academy Award winner Sofia Coppola (2003, Best Writing, Lost in Translation) directs an electrifying yet intimate re-telling of the turbulent life of history's favorite villainess, Marie Antoinette. Kirsten Dunst portrays the ill-fated child princess who married France's young and indifferent King Louis XVI (Jason Schwartzman). Feeling isolated in a royal court rife with scandal and intrigue, Marie Antoinette defied both royalty and commoner by living like a rock star, which served only to seal her fate.

Box Office:
$40 million.
Opening Weekend
$5.361 million on 859 screens.
Domestic Gross
$15.962 million.

Rated PG-13

Widescreen 1.85:1/16X9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 123 min.
Price: $28.95
Release Date: 2/13/2007

• Deleted Scenes
• “The Making Of Marie Antoinette” Featurette
• “Cribs with Louis XVI”
• Trailers
• Previews


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Marie Antoinette (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 30, 2006)

As a follow up to 2003’s Oscar-nominated Lost In Translation, director Sofia Coppola brings us an untraditional look at “France’s most infamous queen”, Marie Antoinette. Starting in Austria circa 1768, teenaged Marie (Kirsten Dunst) enters into French royalty when she enters an arranged marriage to Louis Auguste (Jason Schwartzman).

Thus Marie becomes the dauphine of France and enters life in the palace at Versailles. She must become accustomed to the bizarre traditions and petty bickering that go on there as well as the lack of affection she receives from Louis; it appears he’d rather be off with the boys, if you know what I mean. She suffers from enormous pressures to immediately produce an heir, especially since everyone blames her instead of Louis. The movie follows these threads as Marie deals with palace life and eventually becomes the queen of France.

Coppola declares her intentions clearly as soon as the film starts. Loud rock blasts and we find bright pink titles. The director lets us know right off the bat that her Marie won’t be a stodgy costume drama. Coppola takes Eighties teen flicks as her model; Marie almost feels like it comes from the John Hughes factory.

Does this mean it works, though? Being different isn’t the same as being good, and I feared that Marie would turn campy ala 2001’s A Knight’s Tale. That approach worked for the goofy action comedy of Tale but would seem out of place here.

Happily, the teen flick motif melds well with the story of Marie. The approach demythologizes the character in the way it shows her as an average teen girl. Versailles often comes across like one big high school, especially in the movie’s first half. That’s when we see the pressures placed on Marie and all the gossip that goes on behind her back. It’s just like the standard teen popularity contest, and as played here, Marie is no different than the standard girl her age – she just has a lot more pressure.

While the movie’s use of rock music could have become grating, instead it works to connect the viewer to the material. In this sort of flick, there’s always the danger that the audience won’t be able to see themselves in the events. Period movies feel distant enough as it is; add the royalty aspect of things and it’s that much harder for everyday people to relate.

The modern music neatly eliminates those concerns. It allows us to see ourselves in the events, whereas more traditional tunes would have kept us apart from the elements. In addition, these numbers also contribute to the teen flick feel, as they remind us of that genre in a way classical music clearly wouldn’t.

The film does lose a ton of steam when Marie finally produces a child. Yeah, we encounter other issues such as her affair with Swedish Count Fersen (Jamie Dornan) and the coming of the French Revolution, but these elements fail to produce much interest. They fit in with the movie’s teen theme in a way and don’t totally fizzle. However, the movie just seems slow and lethargic once the pregnancy-related tensions dissipate. Whatever spark and energy it boasted goes by the wayside and it limps toward its conclusion.

Despite these flaws, I think Marie achieves its goals. The movie attempts to paint a more human portrait of the queen and it succeeds in that regard. It works just well enough as biography to sustain it and allow it to become erratic but effective.

The DVD Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B/ Bonus C

Marie Antoinette appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though generally satisfying, the transfer came with more than a few inconsistent elements.

Sharpness was one of those up and down areas. Most of the time the movie offered solid delineation and accuracy, but occasional variations occurred. Some light edge enhancement appeared, and the movie could seem rather soft at times.

No issues with jagged edges or shimmering materialized, but the print was a little dirtier than expected. The film could be somewhat grainy, and a few examples of specks and marks came into view. These were minor but since brand-new flicks usually come with no defects of this sort, they became more noticeable.

The fairly pastel palette of Marie looked good. The tones consistently seemed bright and attractive, with no issues to mar them. Blacks came across as dark and firm, while shadows showed good delineation and clarity. There was a lot to like about this transfer, but the issues with sharpness and source flaws knocked my grade down to a “B-“.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Marie Antoinette proved more consistent, though not terribly ambitious. Music dominated the mix and featured good stereo imaging. Effects were a less important element. A few scenes used the spectrum to good effect; for instance, fireworks and crowd sequences opened up the mix well. Otherwise this was a pretty restricted track that gave us decent ambience but not much more.

Audio quality seemed pleasing. Speech was always crisp and distinctive, and music showed good vivacity. The score and songs were lively and robust. Effects fared well and demonstrated nice range. Those elements remained clear and without problems. This was a perfectly acceptable soundtrack for the material at hand.

A few extras fill out the DVD. The Making of Marie Antoinette runs 25 minutes, 56 seconds and mixes behind the scenes shots and interviews. We hear from writer/director Sofia Coppola, executive producer Francis Ford Coppola, opera consultant Jean-Paul Scarpitta, Marie Antoinette: The Journey author Lady Antonia Fraser, costumes/hair/makeup Milena Canonero, production designer KK Barrett, producer Ross Katz, Versailles caterer Dominique Avart, director of photography Lance Acord and actors Judy Davis, Steve Coogan, Danny Huston, Jason Schwartzman, Kirsten Dunst, Aurore Clement and Marianne Faithfull. We get some thoughts on the real Marie Antoinette, visuals and color design, influences and the movie’s unconventional take on the usual period piece, cast and performances, Sofia Coppola’s approach to the material, locations and shooting in Versailles, and cinematography.

The comments from the participants add a few decent notes – especially related to filming in France and production design - but the most interesting parts of “Making” come from the shots on the set. We get to see multiple takes of the “let them eat cake” scene and also check out many other interesting aspects of the shoot. Those help allow the program to keep our interest.

Two Deleted Scenes appear. We get “Second Opera” (2:13) and “Return from Petit Trianon” (1:38). Both come with text introductions that set up the sequences and let us know why the segments didn’t make the final film. “Opera” shows Marie’s popularity but its tenuous nature as well, while “Petit” depicts Marie’s return to Versailles. Neither seems essentially or even terribly memorable, though a better case could be made for the inclusion of “Petit”.

Cribs with Louis XVI goes for three minutes, 58 seconds. This spoofs the MTV series as Louis (Schwartzman) takes us through Versailles on a bling-oriented tour. It’s funny and also a decent way to check out the palace.

In addition to both teaser and theatrical trailers for Marie, we find some Previews. This area includes ads for Spider-Man 3, Premonition, The Holiday, Stranger Than Fiction, Dreamland and the Marie Antoinette soundtrack.

Marie Antoinette provides an unconventional but usually satisfying take on the standard period biography. Though the flick sags in its third act, it works well enough to involve and entertain the viewer. The DVD offers decent picture and audio plus a few moderately interesting extras. Give this one a rental.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.0714 Stars Number of Votes: 14
4 3:
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