A lavish historical spectacle, QUEEN MARGOT is the sort of film Hollywood never made, teeming with violence, sex, and colorful period accessories, all legitimized with a veneer of historical importance. It's sumptuous and entertaining, but keeping up with the huge cast and complicated plot
is no easy task.
In 1572, during the reign of Catholic King Charles IX (Jean-Hugues Anglade), France is torn by religious strife: Protestants and Catholics vie for political control, and power-behind-the-throne Catherine de Medici (Virna Lisi) decides to placate the Protestants by wedding her daughter Marguerite
de Valois (Isabelle Adjani), better known as Margot, to the Protestant Henri of Navarre (Daniel Auteuil). Their arranged marriage is the catalyst of a series of intrigues, massacres, and murders.
QUEEN MARGOT manages--though only barely--to survive the film's relentless focus on the basest aspects of life among the "silk-clad vultures" who were France's 16th-century elite. Most of the film veers between scenes of ghastly violence and scenes of steamy sex (in a curious nod to American
conventions, the violence is extremely graphic, while the bedroom scenes involve no frontal nudity). Margot's relationship with her older brothers is unmistakably incestuous and, generally speaking, her carnal desires take precedence over all other concerns; when Protestant zealots refer to her as
the Catholic whore, it's hard to take issue with their assessment.
Based on the historical novel by Alexandre Dumas, QUEEN MARGOT was directed with tremendous attention to visual detail by Patrice Chereau, whose background lies in theater and opera. In contrast to most Hollywood epics of this size and scope, the film wallows in the period's nasty details as
lovingly as its sumptuous ones: it's filled with rich silks and lavishly embroidered fabrics, and they're all grimy.
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- Released: 1994
- Rating: R
- Review: A lavish historical spectacle, QUEEN MARGOT is the sort of film Hollywood never made, teeming with violence, sex, and colorful period accessories, all legitimized with a veneer of historical importance. It's sumptuous and entertaining, but keeping up with… (more)