Sunday, 12 December 2010

La Reine Margot

Patrice Chereau is a man of many talents including directing French theatre and opera, producer, filmmaker (Gabrielle 2005, Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train 1998) and actor, appearing in Michael Haneke’s post-apocalyptic drama Time of the Wolf (2003).

Margot and Husband
The Chereau directed French period drama La Reine Margot (1994) is based on the 1845 historical novel written by Alexandra Dumas, which in turn was based on real life events and characters including the notorious St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of 1572 in which French Catholics massacred between 5000 and 30000 Huguenot Protestants including a good many of their leaders who were in Paris for the wedding of the Catholic Kings sister Margaret to the Protestant Henry 3 of Navarre. France at that time was torn apart by bitter religious wars and Margot is forced to marry in an effort to reconcile her native France. It was only six days after the wedding that the massacre took place instigated by her mother the ruthless and scheming Catherine de’ Medici. But further problems arise when Margot realises she has no feelings for her new husband and falls for a well to do Protestant soldier La Mole.

Margot and Lover
This exceptional film stars the sensual Isabelle Adjani (Possession 1981) as Margaret of Valois, Daniel Auteuil (Hidden 2005, MR73 2008, 36 Quides des Orfevres 2004) as Henry 3 of Navarre and Virna Lisi won Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival for her role as Catherine de Medic. Look carefully and you will spot the 19 year-old Asia Argento (The Last Mistress 2007, Transylvania 2006, Marie Antoinette 2006 and the brilliant The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things 2004) as Charlotte de Sauve mistress of Henry and court spy for Margot’s mother.

This has got to be one of the best period dramas I’ve had the pleasure to see, its gritty, bloodthirsty and full of strong well-acted characters, completely believable, you can almost smell the grime. I believe it was shown on the telly a short while ago, if it comes around again don’t miss it.

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