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Friday, February 5, 2016

Movie Review: Marie Antoinette (1938)

Marie Antoinette
157 mins.
August 26, 1938
★★★★ ½☆
I first encountered this film in the form of the below trailer when I was working on researching films for Caught on Tape: Marie Antoinette. I love old classic films and of the options I found this was the film I was most excited about.

Let me start with the good things here. I LOVED Norma Scherer as Marie Antoinette. I found her performance a believable representation. She was bubbly and happy without coming off as frivolous. She was able to pull of exquisite sadness without over the top drama. There were two very powerful scenes that gave me chills: when she is presented with the gift of an empty cradle by Madame du Barry for her anniversary and following the execution of her husband. True, she was a little old to play the first scenes where Marie finds out she will be married to Louis of France, but I could ultimately get past that. I also really liked how they told the story. It covered all of the big moments – finding out she will marry France, awkwardness of her early relationship with Louis, the Diamond Necklace Affair, and the Revolution. And…above all, I certainly appreciated that they did not use the “let them eat cake” line!

There were a couple elements that I didn’t like however. The most glaring was Tyrone Power as Count Axel Fersen. I never felt any emotion from him. I could understand Marie being interested as he provided what she was looking for: companionship and someone who loved her for her. Honestly, his performance was lackluster. Their love story wasn’t the center of this film, which you would think it was based on the film posters. The other element that felt out of place was the ball scene – it felt more like a scene from one of Jay Gatsby’s parties from The Great Gatsby – felt nothing like what I would envision from a French ball.

Overall, this was one of those films that I thoroughly enjoyed! Even with an intermission.

Check out this trailer:


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