24 December 2006 | jcrnfr
A technical breakthrough
This is NOT Sofia Coppola's movie, but a different made-for-TV docudrama. It covers Marie-Antoinette's entire lifespan in France, from age 15 to her death, describing also how people reacted to her (collectively as well as individually) and why. It feels cold and objective like a newsreport, and dramatic intensity is set aside for all but the last few minutes.
Technically, this movie was produced on a shoestring. It is one of the first full-length features, if not *the* first, to be shot entirely in limbo ("green screen" as for the weather forecasts on TV).
The actors were filmed in a Montreal studio with whatever props were needed, while the backdrops were photographed (or when necessary, filmed) in the real Versailles Palace, and electronically (and faultlessly) added in later.
This was necessary as the French authorities would not have allowed the Palace to be turned over (once more?) to film crews for over a month, and probably damaged in the process; but it also whittled the budget down to a minimum.
The Director was Yves Simoneau, a very experienced Quebec filmmaker who now works out of Hollywood, and yet he saw the need for a co-director due to the complexity of the job.
The end result is excellent. I haven't detected a single flaw such as jitters, problems with angles, perspective or lighting, or panning incoherences between the players and the backdrop. I would not in a million years have guessed that the movie had not been shot on location.
Students of the cinema should study this historic production very carefully as (in combination with advances in computer imagery) it probably foreshadows the end of hugely expensive studio sets.
As for the content - I found it similar to an illustrated lecture in history - mildly interesting but nothing to write home (or IMDb) about.