October 16, 2008

16 October 1793: A Mere 215 Years...


"Thus then has MARIE ANTOINETTE, the unfortunate Queen of France, been brought to the block, and thereby terminated a miserable existence. The descendants of the Caesars, condemned by sanguinary judges, has perished under the hands of a hangman."
THE TIMES (London), 23 October 1793
Not the most pleasant gossip topic, but history after-all. Elena and Catherine have put together very informative posts on 16 October 1793, the day of Antoinette's trial and execution. Be sure to check them out. Feathers, un-starched ruffs, and mid-night flings to follow!





I am posting this clip from The Affair of the Necklace. It is of the execution scene, and I find it incredibly gripping. Something about her shoes and hands that gets me every time, really a burning image.

6 comments

  1. Thank you for the link, Lauren!

    And posting the clip was a great idea. Joely Richardson was excellent as Marie-Antoinette, whatever the many shortcomings of the film. I believe what gives this except its power is the recitation in the background of the words of the Ave Maria: "Pray for us, now and at the moment of our death."

    From the standpoint of historical accuracy: Marie-Antoinette was seated on a bench, not standing, on the cart. Seated on another bench was the sworn priest whose assistance she had declined, and standing on the cart, their hats in hand in sign of respect, the executioner and his helper.

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  2. I don't think any film with Marie Antoinette's death, that I have seen, comes even close to historical accuracy. The whole event was extremely gory, and film-makers tend to leave this out even though it would make a striking image as to what a queen of France went through. Therefore, I would not get too nit-picky about scenes because then it will be impossible to acknowledge their artistic merit.

    I agree with Lauren, this is one of my favourite portrayals of the Queen's death, even though I didn't care too much for the rest of the film. I love the quote too, very fitting!

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  3. I agree with everyone. It was a frightful film, but Joely was well-cast as the Queen. Thank you for the link, Lauren.

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  4. Elena and Catherine, you are very welcome!

    It would be so gruesome to see a full display of the last 4 minutes of Antoientte's life. *shivers* There is just something about the way she clenches her hands that connects the viewers to her, in a slight way. I never took a film crit class so I am just lending personal opinion!

    How about written imagery? Any authors strike you as 'right on' as far as gripping retelling of the ordeal in its entirety?

    Oh dear, this is quite the unpleasant topic! :o)

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  5. I think Simone Bertiere told it very well, very movingly, in her bio of Marie-Antoinette. Her style tends to be sober, and I like that. I haven't read Antonia Fraser, but I know Elena did, and has some issues with that work.
    I haven't read Caroline Wever's "Queen of Fashion" either, though I hear it is very good. I was surprised to read in a review of Weber's book that "even at the guillotine [Marie-Antoinette] controlled her image with a radiantly white ensemble." Marie-Antoinette didn't control anything, including her image, at that point. She was ordered not to wear her black gown, and the white dress she wore to the guillotine was the only other garment she owned at La Conciergerie. Here I go nitpicking again...

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  6. I agree, Catherine. While Weber's book makes some good points about the Queen's use of fashion, I can't say that I agree with everything she says. In many ways she projects feminist values onto Marie-Antoinette's actions, and as we know, the queen did not think along those lines. How could she?

    As far as Marie-Antoinette death scenes go, I am totally biased in favor of my own novel. Although I do not have Rosalie actually witness the death itself, but just watching the Queen riding through the crowd in the cart. That was as far as I could go.

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