Saturday, August 15, 2009

Marie Antionette


Earlier this year Mac and I saw the film  "Marie Antionette" directed by Sofia Coppola.  I pick the films we watch and try not to subject Mac to too many "chic flicks".  But we'd both enjoyed "Lost in Translation" an earlier Coppola film and I was intriqued by the updating of the Marie Antionette story by using "modern" music and dialogue.  
I knew little about this Queen other than the often repeated line, "Let them eat cake!".  So I was very surprised to find myself feeling a lot of sympathy for her.  I think Kirsten Dunst did a fantastic job of portraying her, showing the young girl (15) who literally had to give up everything, right down to the small dog she'd brought with her, to become Queen of France.
Having seen the movie I needed to know more about her so I got the book "Marie Antionette" by Antonia Fraser.  The movie was based on this book and I began to work my way through its 544 pages.  I usually read fiction and find nonfiction, particularly biographies, slow going.  And such was the case with this book.  I can finish off a fiction book of this length in a couple of days.  But I've been at Marie for more than a month, footnotes and all.  I'm almost
 finished with the "Widow Capet" as she became known and find that the sympathy I developed for her after the movie was well placed.  Married to probably the most inoffensive King  France had ever hadm she was demonized, as was he, for problems for beyond their control.  She might have been frivolous, but truth be told she wasn't overly bright, but had a "good" heart and genuinely cared about those around her, and the citizens of France.  Ordered by her Mother Maria Teresa of Austria and then her brother Joseph the Emperor to meddle in state affairs she did her utmost not to.  What she cared about were here children (2 died young) and her friends.  But she became they symbol for all that was wrong with France, and there was much that was wrong.
I've really enjoyed the book, but the movie was easier going.

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