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FRANCE (1994) 159 MIN. aka Queen Margot
 

 

Synopsis: The film opens in 1572 with an arranged wedding taking place between Margot (Adjani) and Henri of Navarre (Auteuil), officially an attempt to reconcile the Catholics and Protestants and bring the people together as one.  Fanatically defending the Catholic way of doing things is Margot’s mother, Catherine di Medici (Lisi), who advises her son King Charles IX (Anglade) - a very ambivalent, child-like monarch - with calculating precision. Reconciliation between the opposing religions is, in fact, the last thing on her mind, and events quickly spiral out of control as thousands of Protestants are murdered in what would become known as the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre. Henri is spared only by converting to Catholicism, but his erstwhile bride is less than interested; she’s fallen in love with one of the enemy, La Mole (Vincent Perez). As Catherine’s machinations pick up pace around her, Margot learns first-hand just how brutal the society of which she’s a key part can be.

*****

Magill's Survey of Cinema:
"A gripping film... Queen Margot brings the players to life, presenting a fascinating first family for whom greed, deception, incest, debauchery, murder, and genocide were the order of the day.   Both women (Lisi and Adjani) are impressive in divergent roles. They are supported by powerful performances by the three leading men. Anglade's intensity, Auteuil's subtlety, and Perez's sensuality add spice to the proceedings."

Frenchfilm.com:
"The film succeeds primarily as a result of director Patrice Chéreau ’s incredible attention to detail.  He creates a 16th century France that is frightening in its realism, a land soaked in terror, hunger and filth. There are some creditable performances from Auteuil, Adjani and Perez."

Philadelphia Daily News:
"Chereau directed the film with a fine sense of period, illuminating the pomp of the French court as well as the squalor both inside and outside the Louvre palace. The saga is laden with treachery and butchery, yet it also offers a cruel beauty that is rare in films... The cast is filled with superior actors, most of whom are unfamiliar on these shores. Especially impressive is Vincent Perez as Margot's dauntless lover."

San Francisco Chronicle:
"Adjani has a number of gorgeous lovemaking scenes with La Mole, a Huguenot soldier played by Vincent Perez.  In one beautiful sequence she and her lover watch the sun rise over a clear, gray horizon. It's a moment of absolute romance."

DVD.net.au:
"Director Patrice Chereau, along with brilliant cinematographer Philippe Rousselot and a stunning design department, has created a totally convincing picture of 16th-century France complete with lavish costumes, massively detailed sets and a real sense of time and place. The cast is absolutely remarkable - particularly Adjani, who captures Margot’s inner world perfectly. Auteuil and Anglade are as compelling as always, and while Perez doesn’t have as well-drawn a character to play with, he conveys the necessary desire and determination perfectly."

Newsday:

" Filled to the brim with dramatic family confrontations, death-bed scenes, poisoned books, sex, redemption and expert scenery chewing. Every moment is riveting, every actor gives his all. Particularly good are Lisi, Daniel Auteuil as Margot's hapless husband, Henri of Navarre; Jean-Hugues Anglade as the quite demented Charles IX , and Vincent Perez as Margot's hot-blooded beloved, La Mole."

San Diego Union-Tribune:
" Chereau, also an actor, and a proven master of stage and opera, is intoxicated by bodies in motion. He lets us feel them moving inside lavish costumes, in clothes that often come ripping off... Adjani, who hardly appears to have aged since her star arrival in The Story of Adele H., pours into Margot her unrivaled fierceness and purity of line, and with Perez makes a splendid coupling couple."

National Review:
"Adjani, at 39, is as pretty and pouty as ever, treading the borderline between provocative and provoking with her customary nimbleness. And she does act, as does the entire cast, with enthusiasm and an aristocratic contempt for bourgeois restraint. Daniel Auteuil is a nervily earthy Henri IV; Jean-Hugues Anglade, a wonderfully weak and confused Charles IX; Vincent Perez, a handsome and virile leading man; and Virna Lisi, a vicious Catherine de' Medici luckily without a mustache, else she would be twirling it."

James Berardinelli:
"The ageless Isabelle Adjani, one of France's most beautiful faces, has an undeniable screen presence. And, with his lean, well-toned body and finely-sculpted features, Vincent Perez is equally pleasing to the eye... For those who appreciate bigger-than-life historical sagas, Chereau's entry is often impressive and almost always entertaining."

NY Times:
"The good news about Queen Margot is that Mr. Chereau creates an atmosphere in which his actors' flamboyance can be entertaining. Ms. Adjani is decked out gloriously to play the very young Margot, a raven-haired vision described by Dumas as a French national treasure... The man she finds, the Comte Joseph-Hyacinthe Boniface de Lerac de la Mole (Vincent Perez), is presented as so noble a figure that religious music sanctifies each Margot-La Mole love scene."

Hartford Courant:
"A fascinating tapestry...Queen Margot  finely evokes medieval Paris, with its narrow gray streets and cold, paneled royal chambers... La Mole, an impoverished Protestant, becomes the great love of Margot's life after a one-night stand (literally) in an alley. Vincent Perez, who looks like Jimmy Smits with a Jean-Paul Belmondo nose, endows him with requisite dash and smoldering sensuality."

Critic Pedro Sena:
"A great film... Isabelle Adjani is excellent, in an impossible role, as is Vincent Perez as her lover. The rest of the cast is well suited, and all the visible characters are well rehearsed and well designed. It's hard to find something out of place."

vletter.gif (1289 bytes)"It is a bit special for me as I am part of Patrice's family. I was his pupil at Amandiers and I have worked with him a lot; thus, Queen Margot is a continuation of this work."

"It's a good story because the characters are much like today's people. The romance between Margot and La Mole is exaggerated. No one knows for sure how complicated their love life was."

"I did three months of fencing before the shooting to prepare for a big fight scene, and then the fight was cut! Three months, two hours every day and the fight is cut! I do a little swordplay in the movie, but the one you see in the movie took only a week to prepare."

 

CAST

Isabelle Adjani..................................Margot
Daniel Auteuil.................. Henri of Navarre
Jean-Hugues Anglade.............. Charles IX
Vincent Perez................... ................La Mole
Virna Lisi......................Catherine of Medici
Dominique Blanc........ Henriette of Nevers
Claudio Amendola.......................Coconnas
Miguel Bose........................................ Guise
Jean-Claude Brialy...........................Coligny

CREDITS

Directed by...........................Patrice Chereau
Screenplay by.........Daniele Thompson and Patrice Chereau based on the book by Alexandre  Dumas
Cinematography by........Philippe Rousselot
Music by.................        .......Goran Bregovic


AWARDS & NOMINATIONS::

Winner of the 1994 Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize and Best Actress Award (Virna Lisa)

Nominated for Best Costume Design by the Academy Awards

Nominated for Best Foreign Film by the Golden Globes

Nominated for 11 Cesars. Won 5:
Actress - Isabelle Adjani
Male Supporting Role - Jean-Hugues Anglade
Female Supporting role - Virna Lisi
Cinematogaphy
Costume Design

Premiered in France on May 13, 1994



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note.gif (218 bytes) Production Notes:

Chereau and Thompson spent six months analyzing Dumas' novel and reading everything they could on the period. They eventually came up with an 80-page treatment, then spent the next year writing a first draft.

director.gif (905 bytes)"When I found the novel, we (Chereau & Thompson) immediately thought that it should star Isabelle Adjani. I chose the novel first and then asked Isabelle... When I was searching for locations, I had to decide how to film a period movie. The modern aspect emerged because I tried to film it exactly as I would a modern subject and tried not to lose time showing unnecessary details. Sometimes when directors have huge sets and elaborate costumes, they want to get it all on screen. I didn't want that, I was more interested in the action."

"Basically, our problem was one of identification - the challenge was how can we keep [the audience] in touch with the story, so we came up with a method while we were writing the screenplay. We would ask ourselves, 'Can we, as people living in the 20th century, identify with this situation [in the film]?' "

"When Daniele and I were writing, for nearly two years I had only bad images from stupid or bad TV, or period films. I tried to catch those images and toss them out. And then I tried slowly, with a lot of difficulty, to produce my own images - based on a mixture of paintings from that period, the movies I love -  The Godfather and Goodfellas, and the painters I love - Goya, Gerricault. I tried to completely invent my own images."

"I am the product of everything I have done before. For example, since I had to direct crowds in the theater and the opera, those elements found their way into Queen Margot."

"It was a mistake not to have shot Queen Margot in wide screen. At that time I wasn't used to that aspect ratio and I was afraid that it would look like a cliched Hollywood movie."