ATTENTION: continuing to read you may find spoiler are Maria Antonietta
Yesterday, March 8, 2023, the two final episodes of the first season of the series dedicated to the last queen of France of theold regime, Maria Antonietta. The eight episodes, one exclusive Skyare now available in streaming are Now.
It’s about a French-British co-production and was broadcast as a world premiere by BBC 2 e Canal Plus last October 31st. In Italy, on the other hand, two episodes were broadcast a week starting from last February 15th.
The series was announced in the aftermath of the finale of Versaillesanother major French production aired between 2015 and 2018. The managers of the transalpine network have chosen as showrunner the British screenwriter Deborah Daviscandidate forOscar and al Golden Globe and winner of a BAFTA for writing the screenplay de The favouritea 2018 film directed by Yorgos Lanthimos and starring Olivia Colman (winner of a Oscar come best performer), Emma Stone e Rachel Weisz.
As often happens with television series that deal with historical characters, the plot is already known. In fact, we all know the bad end that the very young Habsburg archduchess will have, who left the court of Vienna at the age of fourteen to join the French one to marry the future King of France, Louis XVI. What we may not know are the behind the scenesthe part ie more interesting and juicy. And that’s exactly what Marie Antoinettethe original title of the work, talks in eight episodes of almost an hour each: about what happens at the court of Versailles in the period between his arrival and the birth of his second son, Louis Joseph.
A very young Marie Antoinette, played by a wonderful Emilia Schuele (Berlin Station e Treadstone) after receiving her last instructions from the Empress of Austria her mother, played by Martha Keller (The marathon runner e Fedora), crosses Switzerland and Germany reaching the border with France. Despite all the good recommendations of the Empress Toinetteas she will be amicably called by her few court friends, is Austrian and the Austrians, as we know, have a reputation for being gods peasants compared to the French. Across the river, welcoming the future queen of France, is Madame de Noailles, nicknamed Mrs. Labelsplayed by Laura Benson (Dangerous Liaisons). The meeting between the two women is explanatory: in front of her Marie Antoinette will find a taste of what awaits her once in Versailles. She has to leave her dog and her clothes to wear French ones and completely forget where it comes from.
Finally arriving at the palace, she meets the rest of the royal family, including: her future husband Louis XVI, a lanky lanky played by a splendid Louis Cunningham; future brother-in-law Provence, played by Jack Archer (The Bay); the Papa Roi Louis XV, played by an intense James Purefoy (Rome e The Following); Princess Lamballe, played by a delightful Jasmine Blackborow; and Madame du Barry, played by Gaia Weiss (White like milk, red like blood e Vikings).
Marie Antoinette arouses a mass of feelings in the French court, immediately creating a clear rift: on one side her adorers and on the other those who hate her, with her husband in the middle, who prefers to ride a horse and take care of pigeons and is not able to able to utter a word in front of his dolphine daddy king who for reasons of state tries to make ends meet and reconcile souls. Yes, because the marriage between the nephew and the Archduchess of Austria is a state matter which serves, with the birth of the heir to the throne, to sign a pact of steel between the two European superpowers.
Obviously, more or less openly, the intrigues because the marriage and the consequent alliance fail are the order of the day. The faction that hates Marie Antoinette plots behind her back, either out of self-interest, or out of sheer boredom and dislike, while her supporteron the other hand, are much less cunning and suffer more or less silently.
And so, for eight episodes, the spectator is made aware of what is happening at court: it never gets boring! Of the whims of the nobles, of their thirst for power and their rancorous chauvinism. Of machinations and betrayals, of resentments and misunderstandings. Of strict unwritten rules that provide for the portrait of the deceased Queen in the bedroom and the impossibility of riding a horse and having some fun, every now and then.
Maria Antonietta essentially tells of the abuses and harassment suffered by a fourteen-year-old girl who is forced to marry against her will with a young man who has no life experience and no desire to be king. The two teenagers, initially unknown , they will learn, not without an enormous effort, to trust each other until they mature and take possession of France and the court of snakes that accompanies them.
Lo staff The screenplay is composed, in addition to Deborah Davis, by three other women: Louise Ironside, Chloe Moss e Avril E. Russell which they wanted to give a timeless reading to the life of Marie Antoinette. A carefully chosen female quartet, with the aim of telling the story of a queen capable of breaking with traditions and customs. In fact, the screenwriters, while adopting some poetic licenses that are not so scandalous but which in France have caused people to cry out with shame, have decided to put the spotlight on on the growth and evolution of a young woman Austrian removed from home and fed to sharks. Betrayed and abandoned by her mother, Marie Antoinette is forced to grow up quickly in order to survive. Completely unaware of how the world goes, the young Archduchess, bumping her nose this way and that, quickly learns to walk over the corpses of her adversaries to reach the summit from which she can finally breathe somewhat less mephitic air. The effort of this climb is perfectly rendered by Emilia Schüle’s acting intensity. Her eyes and her face perfectly reflect the difficulties of being in a place where she doesn’t want to. As, from the innocence of the beginning the actress slowly transforms her character into a combative woman determined to assert herself. The change is not without dramatic renunciations and painful compromises that Emilia Schüle brings to the screen with great naturalness, also thanks to a skilful direction capable of enhancing it.
But the skill of the protagonist alone would not Maria Antonietta the lavish spectacle that it is. In fact, next to her all the actors combine to embellish one like gems show really valuable. And it doesn’t matter that, as in all historical series, there are some historical errors, even gross ones. The characters present on stage, mostly real, are really interesting and all very well played by the actors who they highlight its few merits by displaying the many defects like medals of valor.
Seemingly slow this first season is, in reality, majestic as one sarabande baroque. The details highlighted by the two directors, Geoffrey Enthoven e Pete Travis, they might seem useless, even repetitive but it’s not like that. Every detail, such as for example remaining on the musical theme, the references to Mozart and the presence of the Chevalier de Saint-George, is highlighted. And what light: photography paints scenes that really are a feast for the eyes. Every detail is a significant refinement and not a simple exercise in style. And you can understand it very well, for example, from the long ones intense close-ups carried forward in a sustained creative silence.
Just like the ancient Spanish dance, Maria Antonietta it is pleasant, captivating, even seductive. At the same time, she hides something secret and murky. He takes you by the hand and leads you, through the corridors and secret passages of a sumptuous palace, into the dark misery of the human being who, once you take off the marvelous clothes and the enchanting wigs, remains naked. Like the king in Andersen’s famous novel.