Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Marie-Antoinette (1938)

Author Gareth Russell reviews the best film about Marie-Antoinette to date, which included a spellbinding performance by Norma Shearer, saying:
The scene in which she and her two children have their last meal with her husband, Louis, before he is taken for his execution on the following morning is incredibly moving, mainly because it is so understated. Norma Shearer's face as she watches her on-screen husband say grace before the meal, knowing that tomorrow he will be dead, is a wonderful example of saying more by doing less in one's acting. A warning though, the following scene, in which the queen's eight year-old son, Louis-Charles, is ripped from her arms to be placed in solitary confinement by their republican jailers is absolutely harrowing to watch. Norma Shearer pulls no punches with her performance and her screams as they try to separate her from her child take a long time to forget. It's made all the worse to watch when you know that it's almost word-for-word historically accurate.
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5 comments:

Matterhorn said...

I just watched this film yesterday! Norma Shearer is delightful as Marie-Antoinette.

Gareth Russell said...

Thank you for the link!

lara77 said...

I always find that scene so difficult to watch; the evil of the republican henchmen never ceases to amaze me. I thought Norma Shearer did a wonderful job; I think it was her best role. As a young adult I can remember wishing,"If only the Royal Family had made it through Varennes; history might have taken a different course." All the violence and death that would haunt France for decades to come; so tragically sad.

Morias Enkomion said...

It is a miracle, to me at least, that this movie was as true as it was to the historical personalities, given the tendency in that era to rewrite history.

jehanbosch said...

This movie is fairly true. However, Philippe of Orleans had little to do with her. Artois however, introduced her to the innocent but costly pleasures of Paris before she reached an understanding with Louis. But both her friends as well as Artois made sure there was not any "hanky panky". Artois was certainly a libertine at this age but he was her chaperon as well.