Not so long ago I went to visit the Palace of Versailles for the Murakami exhibit and it gave me an idea : a royal special ! A double feature on France’s most beloved (now) and hated (then) king and queen : Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette. (Just for the record, they weren’t reigning together. Louis XIV (1638 – 1715) was married to Maria Theresa of Spain, and Marie-Antoinette (1755 – 1793) married his grandson, Louis XVI. But more on that further down).

The Man In The Iron Mask (1997)











Taglines :

For the honor of a king. And the destiny of a country. All for one.

Who is in it :

Written, directed and produced by Randall Wallace

Based on the book “The Vicomte of Bragelonne: Ten Years Later” by Alexandre Dumas, père. (Third and last book of the d’Artagnan Romances series

Louis XIV / Philippe : Leonardo DiCaprio (You might have seen that guy sinking with a big boat or exploring dreams lately)

D’Artagnan : Gabriel Byrne (Usual Suspects’s Dean Keaton

Athos : John Malkovitch (Lately he’s been a dangerously funny retired wacko in RED (2010))

Portos : Gérard Depardieu (Well he’s done so many great things ! From Cyrano to Obélix I just can’t choose !)

Aramis : Jeremy Irons (Die Hard 3 (1995)’s Simon Gruber)

Christine : Judith Godrèche (She was in many French movies, nothing really stands out to me)

Queen Anne of Austria : Anne Parillaud (The original Nikita (1990) long before Maggie Q)

King’s advisor : Hugh Laurie (He’s done so many great things for the British comedy, though he seems to be only known for being Dr House now)












What it is: Historical action/adventure/drama

What it is about :

“When rioting citizens of France destroyed the Bastille, they discovered in its records this mysterious entry : Prisoner number 64389000 – the Man in the Iron Mask”.

1662, in the court of the palace of Versailles, the former Musketeers, see with despair the extravaganza of the young, arrogant and cold-hearted king Louis XIV. In order to save France from riots and starvation, they reform and embark on a quest to deliver an imprisoned man wearing an iron mask. As they discover the mask is meant to hide the face of the king’s secret twin brother, the Musketeer start to imagine a plan to change the fate of the French kingdom.

What I thought about it :

I could start by commenting the story but .. I can’t really criticize the work of one of the most famous French writer can I ?! I didn’t read the book and I know it only inspired the story but it is a good story. It has a good rhythm and is nicely balanced between a somehow complicated story, heavy with history, and some lighter, more comical scenes. It is presented in a way that makes it look historically accurate. Of course it is not, but still.

The cast is almost flawless. Leo is probably the only one who could have handled that role (these roles ?). He is as credible as the cold-hearted Louis as he is being naïve and sweet Philippe. John Malkovitch is, of course, magnificent, as always …

Judith Godrèche on the other side … Well let’s just say she doesn’t strike me as the kind of women who could bewilder a king, let alone Leonardo DiCaprio !

The comedy is mostly brought by Porthos or the king’s counselors. Gérard Depardieu was a great choice for Porthos. He brought just the right amount of comedy and, let’s face it, he is the best to interpret a French bon vivant who loves both food and women !

Just a little bonus, here is a capture of Hugh Laurie in the film. Seeing him in a wig is, of course, hilarious, but this is probably my favorite moment of the movie : at the beginning he advises the king to distribute food to the starving people. Louis gives orders to distribute rotting food, and the counselors do not have the guts to stand against him. Later as d’Artagnan confronts the king on the matter, Louis turns to Hugh Laurie, tears off his ensign, gives it to the other advisor and says “You are the new chief advisor. Execute him for distributing rotten food.” Priceless !

Oh, and just for the record : the French do salute each other by “se faire la bise” (no translation really but you could say kissing each other on the cheeks) but it’s not big loud smacking kisses on both cheeks ! We usually just brush our cheeks and make a small kissing noise on the side… Plus the men don’t do it very often, or only when very close, like in the family.

Trivia :

Mostly historical facts, Louis XIV did have a brother named Philippe, but he wasn’t his twin, he was several years younger.

The story is set in 1662 in the Palace of Versailles. The construction of the Palace started in 1664.

Quotes :

Aramis: Sometimes there are more important things in life than a good pair of tits.
Porthos: Really? If you can name me one thing that is more sublime than the feel of a plump, pink nipple between my lips, I’ll build you a new cathedral.
Aramis: Forgiveness…
Porthos: Forgiveness…?
(Porthos farts)
Porthos: There… i am i forgiven? Come on… am i forgiven?

Aramis to D’Artagnan (after he decides to protect the king against the other Musketeers) : “God be with you, because non of us will.”

D’artagnan to Louis XIV (after Louis orders him to kill his brother and the other Musketeers) : “When I became a Musketeer, I was told that I should not consider what I was killing but what I allowed to live.”

Marie Antoinette (2006)











Taglines :

Let Them Eat Cake

The Party That Started A Revolution

Rumor. Scandal. Fame. Revolution.

At 15 she became a bride. At 19 she became a queen. By 20 she was a legend.

The story of a Queen who lived like a Rock Star.

Who is in it :

Written, directed and produced by Sofia Coppola (executive producer : Daddy !)

Based on the biographies of Queen Marie-Antoinette by Antonia Fraser and Evelyne Lever

Marie Antoinette : Kristen Dunst (Miss Coppola’s muse ? previously seen in very little and underground productions such as Interview with the vampire (1994), the Virgin Suicides (1999) or Spiderman (2002))

Louis XVI : Jason Schwartzman (recently seen in the excellent-but-misunderstood Scott Pilgrim VS the world (2010) or as Jonathan Ames in Bored to Death (2009)

Comtesse de Noailles : Judy Davis

Louis XV : Rip Torn (MIB’s Zed, Aiplane II : The sequel (1982) )

Duchesse de Polignac : Rose Byrne (Ellen Parson in Damages)

Aunt Victoire : Molly Shannon (Yes SNL’s Molly Shannon ! Didn’t recognize her !)

Aunt Sophie : Shirley Henderson (Bridget Jones’ squeaky friend and HP’s Moaning Myrtle)

Cameo : Matthieu Almalric as « Man at the Masked Ball »

Costumes : Véronique Melery

Wigs : Rachel Aboulkheir (KD’s hair done by Raphaël Cornillon)

Cakes : Ladurée

What it is: Marie Antoinette … Not much historical facts, no other characters really … Just Marie Antoinette …

What it is about :

Marie Antoinette … Not much historical facts, no other characters really … Just Marie Antoinette … and her dresses and hair !












What I thought about it : I have to warn you, I am usually quite opposed to any “revolutionary”, “amazing” and any other kind of “movie of the century”. They usually turn out to be disappointing (still haven’t seen Inception but I have high hopes for it… doubt Avatar will convert me though…) and this one was no exception.

I have to admit that my being French has not played for Sofia. This movie is probably more interesting to anybody who hasn’t been fed the queen’s story since their early childhood ! But what disappointed me most is that not only you don’t really learn anything about the queen but it also gives false information : she had 4 children in total not 3 !

Basically, nothing happens. It is an ode to Kristen Dunst. She is all you see, her, her hair and most of all her pretty dresses ! oh and cakes and macaroons too

It reminds me of a children’s book : sure the images are pretty and the song are good … but the story sucks !

Soundtrack :

The Cure, New Order, The strokes, Bow wow wow, Phoenix…

Trivia :

The real queen had a hyphen in her name but the movie’s character doesn’t.

Quotes :

Marie-Antoinette: This is ridiculous.
Comtesse de Noailles: This, Madame, is Versailles.

Marie-Antoinette: (to her first baby) Oh, you were not what was desired, but that makes you no less dear to me. A boy would have been the Son of France, but you Marie Terese shall be mine.

A modern Queen & King !A modern court