A Summary of the Movie "Marie Antoinette"

by Nathaniel Williams

"Marie Antoinette" was Sofia Coppola's eagerly awaited follow-up to her critically and commercially successful "Lost in Translation." Though it was not a major hit, the 2006 film won some passionate admirers, including reviewer Roger Ebert, who gave it four stars. The movie is an unusual look at one of history's most fascinating figures.

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Princess of Austria

The film opens with teenage Marie living a carefree life in Austria. She is selected to marry the crown prince of France, a young man she has never met, in a potential alliance to the Austrian Empire. Marie travels to the French palace at Versailles and meets the king, Louis XV. There she also meets the future Louis XVI. He seems a bit dim, and there is little chemistry between them. Nevertheless, they are quickly married.

Princess in France

The two naive newlyweds do not consummate their marriage, and Marie becomes the target of intense gossip throughout the French court. She tries to become accustomed the extremely lavish lifestyle of Versailles. The clothes, parties, and rich food are overwhelming. So is the growing hostility from the court, as Marie fails to provide any offspring. She tries repeatedly to excite her husband's sexual interest but is rebuffed. Marie tries to ease her unhappiness through parties, gambling, and flirtations with powerful men.

Queen

When Louis XV suddenly dies, Marie's husband ascends the throne, and the concerns about producing an heir become much more urgent. Marie's father, the Emperor Joseph, arrives at Versailles and instructs the young King Louis in the ways of procreation. Soon after, Marie and Louis's marriage is finally consummated and she bears her first child. Relieved of this pressure, Marie begins an affair with a handsome Swedish count.

Downfall

The kingdom's finances are severely strained by Louis' commitments to fighting Britain in the American Revolution. Marie becomes aware of her deep unpopularity among her many poor subjects, and she resolves to amend her lifestyle. She devotes herself to a simpler, more bucolic life as she continues to produce children for her husband and king. Nevertheless, the film ends with the beginning of the French Revolution and the imprisonment of the royal family. A title card reminds the audience that both Louis and Marie would be beheaded in the Revolution.

References

  • "Marie Antoinette"; Columbia Pictures; 2006

About the Author

Nathaniel Williams has been writing for the web since 2001. He has written for the History News Network, Being There Magazine, Seattle.net and Vote iQ. Williams has a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of Washington and is a working filmmaker.

Photo Credits

  • Evan Agostini/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images