There’s a passage from Adam Gopnik‘s New Yorker piece about David Andress‘s “The Terror: The Merciless War for Freedom in Revolutionary France” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) that got my blood going more than all of Sofia Coppola‘s Marie-Antoinette did. Cannes ’06 is history and I’d normally leave this appallingly self-centered film alone, considering the October release date in the States and all, but Marie-Antoinette is playing in Paris right now, and all those metro posters have a way of seeping into your bloodstream. “It was the secret flight of the King’s family from their palace in Paris to Varennes on the night of June 22, 1791, that precipitated the Terror,” Gopnik writes. “The weak and well-meaning King Louis XVI” — Jason Schwartzman in Coppola’s film — “got talked into fleeing toward the border of the Austrian Netherlands, where loyalist troops waited. Andress places some of the blame for this folly on the queen, Marie-Antoinette, who, true to her popular reputation, could not accept that things had changed or see that a monarchy non-absolute in power would be better off in the long run. The King’s flight was a galvanizing event for the revolutionary radicals in Paris; it at once vindicated their fears and justified their excesses.” It occurred to me as I read Gopnik’s piece that Coppola’s film might have have had at least some sense of dramatic urgency or historical fibre if she’d structured it as a flashback thing that begins and ends with Marie-Antoinette in prison, awaiting her execution and having little to do but think back to the balmy Versailles days, when life was odd and constricted and regulated, and yet tranquil.