Nevada-based friendo to HE: “Have you seen Denis-Carl Robidoux’s YouTube channel? He 3D-printed a film scanner and is uploading old 35mm trailers in 4K, some of them flat or open matte. This Marie Antoinette trailer in particular looks incredible.”
I know it’s heresy in dweeb-film-monk circles but I would definitely pay a fair price to stream classic films of the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s that have been given the Robidoux treatment. Not to mention the potential thrill of re-experiencing 1.85 or 1.66 aspect ratio films in 1.37.
New Yorker critic Anthony Lane on Sofia Coppola’s historical dress-up:
“Is this film to be believed? Coppola films Versailles with a flat acceptance, quickening at times into eager montage, and declares, in her notes on the film, that she sought to capture her heroine’s ‘inner experience.’ Her what? This is like a manicurist claiming to capture the inner experience of your pinkie.
“The one, transfixing virtue of Marie Antoinette is its unembarrassed devotion to the superficial. There is no morality at play here, no agony other than boredom, and, until the last half hour, not a shred of political sense. The fun dies out of the film — in fact, the film itself expires — when Coppola suddenly starts dragging in discussions of the American Revolution and, at the close, a baying crowd with a hatred of chandeliers.
“I can see what the director was after here: the kind of irruptive shock that cuts short the jamboree in ‘Love’s Labor’s Lost.’ But horrified realism is not her style, and her lunges at historical gravity seem insulting and uncourageous; she should have kept her nerve and stuck to the fripperies — to the noisy, brightly decorated void in which her characters spin.
“The question has to be: what does Coppola know? Was Lost in Translation really, as it first appeared, a wistful commentary on the plight of Americans abroad, who shut themselves in their hotel rooms and fell lightly in love because it was sweeter, and less scary, than venturing outside? Or was it, as a later viewing suggested, in hock to that same trepidation, creating an insular chic out of xenophobia?
“A similar uncertainty pervades Marie Antoinette, borne along on a wave of anachronistic rock. Is the movie somehow contending that the Queen was, with her gang of cronies and her witless overspends, the Paris Hilton of the late eighteenth century? If so, then the catcallers of Cannes were even more misguided than they knew, since any decent French Marxist would be happy to deconstruct the film as a trashing of the idle rich.
“On the other hand, I spent long periods of Marie Antoinette under the growing illusion that it was actually made by Paris Hilton. There are hilarious attempts at landscape, but the fountains and parterres of Versailles are grabbed by the camera and pasted into the action, as if the whole thing were being shot on a cell phone and sent to friends.
“The young Queen builds a faux-pastoral paradise in the grounds, where she and her little daughter sport like shepherdesses, but, rather than raise an eyebrow at this make-believe, the director treats it as just another white-linen moment, like an outtake from The Virgin Suicides, and, for good measure, tosses in a few shots of nodding flowers and ickle bouncy lambs. That is so Coppola.
“It is hard to hate the film, whose silly fizz makes it simpler and less creepy than her earlier projects. If it does drop larger hints, they have less to do with the vanished culture of Versailles than with the fretful stasis of our own. The movie’s approach to the world beyond, to everything that one doesn’t know or wouldn’t care to buy, is like the look on Kirsten Dunst‘s face: a beautiful blankness, forever on the brink of drifting, with a smile, into sleep.”