I've heard some good reviews about this film. Unfortunately I was unable to see it at the local art cinema in the city. Finally it has turned up in iTunes this week. Joy!
One of the lucky productions allowed to film at Versailles, this film makes great use of the surroundings. Viewers are allowed to get a glimpse of the servants quarters and, surprisingly, a glimpse at the Noblemen's quarters. They weren't that much different. One character even comments on the folly of a Marquis living in a one to two room apartment just to be able to see royalty.
The film follows a young servant, Sidonie, who has just nabbed a highly regarded position as the Queen's reader. To prove the importance, the Queen authorized Sidonie to use a beautiful clock in order to always be on time to their sessions. This clock causes no small amount of envy among Sidonie's friends. Interestingly the film isn't really about Sidonie's position as a reader nor about the much discussed affair between Antoinette and the Duchesse de Polignac (the film makes an argument that Marie was lesbian).
This film excels as a mood piece. It is about the fall of an empire that doesn't even know that it is dead yet. We see servants and nobles alike scurrying around in darkened hallways looking for information. The revolutionaries hit list appears and adds an even more nightmarish quality to the air. One terrified Noble asks when the mob will appear at Versailles. And yet people carry on with the old ways. Sidonie and her friends complain about the food they are given to eat (oblivious to the fact that people in the streets are starving). Meanwhile Antoinette ignores the uproar and only becomes upset when it is clear that her favorite Polignac is in danger. At this point, she asks the adoring Sidonie to make a dangerous sacrifice on her behalf.
It is a good film and for period fans absolutely fantastic.
Labels: commentary, movies, reviews