Last night, I gave my wife the choice of watching Funeral in Berlin or Queen Margot. When I said “spy movie,” I think she expected something a little more Bourne. By the time Palmer reached Berlin, she was already lost. I think she was a little too sleepy to follow the movie well. So we watched Queen Margot.
I had watched both of these moves back in my university days, when I would rent movies just about every other day. I didn’t recall either with any precision, just that I enjoyed both.
The 1994 movie is an adaptation of Alexandre Dumas, pere’s La Reine Margot, and stars luminous Isabelle Adjani as the initially unsympathetic title character, who undergoes a much needed maturation after her marriage to Henri de Navarre, which leads almost directly to the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre by the majority French Roman Catholics against the minority French Protestants, known as Huguenots. The period of France’s Wars of Religion is a fascinating time, and this movie not only dramatizes the early days of Henri (soon to be Henri IV of France) and Margot, but includes a fictional rendition of the Catholic Joseph Boniface de La Môle as a Protestant swashbuckling hero (which follows Dumas’ story).
I’m not sure what I was expecting, but given that the Three Musketeers is a swashbuckling touchstone for me (both the novel/novels and the 1973 and 1974 movies), I think I was expecting more action. My recall of the movie was imperfect, but I didn’t really remember any derring-do. There is very little, and this is a much more realistic story than that of the Musketeers. It also has a relatively dark ending.
It’s a great historical drama, and does an absolutely incredible job of turning the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre into something horrifying, and the charnal house that Paris became post-massacre. The performances are incredibly strong. For those of you who don’t like subtitles, I can’t speak to the dubbed version – I’m definitely a subtitles guy. I just find that the voice actors are rarely as strong as the original actors.
In any case, don’t expect swashbuckling, but if you are looking for historical drama with a powerful punch, this is a great choice. It is beautiful while being saturated in the dirt and grime one would expect of almost everything outside the Louvre.
I give this one 4.5 poisonous cosmetics out of 5.
You can read more about the movie here.
You can read about the novel here.
You can read about the massacre here.