Double feature: I submit that:
a) “Marie Antoinette” and “Amadeus” differ in the stories they tell, but not in the objectives driving the way they are told.
b) The two films meet these shared objectives with varying degrees of success.
Both movies wink cannily across the centuries at their notable subjects, aiming to cut through their thickly embroidered worlds with the acid freshness of the present.
“Marie Antoinette” does this by scattering neon sprinkles on its pastel background, energizing itself with jolts of anachronism in its soundtrack and crisply punk opening credits.
“Amadeus” does it more subtly but more steadily, with an ultimately overwhelming accretive power.
In their dialogue, postures, and style, both movies also try to situate modern emotions and characterizations within a faithfully upholstered vision of the past. As you evaluate the degree to which each film truly pulls this off, contrast the pairing of their respective paces with the scope of their narrative conclusions.
Gripping us within its harmonies, “Amadeus” relentlessly propels us toward an individual’s death.
With a glance over its shoulder to see if we’re coming along, “Marie Antoinette” languidly sashays itself to the threshold of national revolution.
For a marathon: After “Marie Antoinette,” check out “The Householder” for a non-royal take on the potential alienations and comforts of arranged marriage within the strictures of rigid societal expectations.
(Creative Commons licensed original images courtesy of “amo_designare” and “Ryunosuke” at Flickr)