vendredi 16 août 2013

Marie-Antoinette in Hollywood

Seven years ago the American director Sofia Coppola directed a movie dedicated to the life of Marie-Antoinette, and it wasn't the first one coming from Hollywood, far from it. Remember Norma Shearer among others?

And I was wondering, why does this unfortunate French queen raise such interest in America?

One may expect an English queen to be the subject of an equally attentive curiosity. But which one, save Anne Boleyn? And past English Royalties probably don't sound too sympathetic to Americans.

- A very dramatic story, good script for Hollywood, yes but what else?
- Nostalgia for a time when the Ancient Régime looked like a Disney fairy tale?
- She was the wife of the French king who was on the throne when Lafayette went to the help of the American revolutionaries?

I can't see any other reason for this apparent American fondness for Marie Antoinette, something you won't find in the UK.

A former Austrian princess who became queen and who was the very image of luxury and abandon with eventually an infamous death, and all this somehow related to the very first days of the American Republic, that must be it...

13 commentaires:

Anijo a dit…

Hi Flocon,

I have some ideas vis-à-vis responding to this post, but my mind is still focused on the conversation that you and Semper Fidelis are having re free will. I'm enjoying this intellectual exchange and I'm waiting for the next reply from SemperFi.

Anijo a dit…

Again off topic. I had bookmarked this page long ago, no doubt because I was surfing around some of your contributions to Wiki re Japan and somehow stumbled upon this since forgotten bookmark.. This evening I unintentionally clicked on it, checked it out, and realized that the first time I read it, I had not appreciated how interesting this train of thought is. I must have known that it would be necessary to revisit it at some later date.

Flocon a dit…

I'm waiting for the next reply from SemperFi.

Like you I long to read the reasons why SemperFidelis believes in free will.

Now believing is one thing, thinking is another one. I do not believe in free will but I know it is an illusion.

Besides, SemperFi's last sentence says it all: "You have, in a moment of weakness, succumbed to the illusion of free will." This indeed is all about an illusion, a necessary one for practical reasons but an illusion nonetheless.

Re the post which caused this exchange the kind of you seem to be interested in, the title was OBL's triumph and then the topic wasn't Madding or Snowden whose actions must be understood within the post 911 context.

But the two cases are quite different and deserve some separate observations. I'll return to it asap.

Flocon a dit…

Now Anijo you're old enough to know so I'll tell you things you've been kept apart ever since you were born.

The theme of free will was born with the three monotheist religions and was unknown to the ancient Greeks or Asian schools of thought, that is before J.C, Muhammad, Moses et all.

Priests of all sorts were confronted to a contradiction in their preaching that their God (each one of them being the true one of course) was good and almighty and pure charity as well as men were the creatures of its creation but said creatures were capable of the most horrendous and revolting acts of barbarity and cruelty unknown in the realm of animals.

How's that possible would ask the believers and sceptical?

Uh oh... were wondering the priests but since their grip on the people was at stake they had to find another lie and one of the priests eventually came with this notion that men were free to chose between good and evil. (Note that good and evil aren't the same according to each religion).

So the trick was done and another topic was added to theology and philosophy for 2000 years. Only when thinking minds started to free themselves of the religious mental prisons in the XVIIIth century (again think Sapere aude) did they find out the reason and the origin of the concept of so called "free will".

Both Judaism, Islam and Christianism posit "free will" since the three are confronted to the same contradiction with their fairy tale of an almighty, terrible (if it wanted) but infinitively good God who cannot be held responsible for the misdeeds of its creatures.

Now there exists another contradiction: How is it possible that God permits landslides, volcanic eruptions, tsunami, earthquake and deceases that cause the death of thousands and millions people at once? Bear in mind that the black plague killed about a third of Europe in the XIVth century. This would be about 75 million in modern America; Ouch, that would hurt wouldn't it?

But now the priests were uncomfortable because Nature couldn't be granted the possibility of "free will" and yet Nature is the creation of God (think of the crescent as symbol of Islam).

So the only answer they could imagine was that God's ways are unknowable (the ways of the Lord are impenetrable).

After last December shooting spree in an elementary school there was a piece in the NYT by a priest who tried to reconcile evil with the existence of God and he eventually was resorting to the same unique answer the Church has delivered since the question first arised: "There are things that cannot be explained and the Lord knows but we cannot know".

But a reader went berserk and retorted that if a man of religion has nothing else to offer what's the point of his purported God?

Now Anijo, since you enjoy learning things (and possibly new words) what about Theodicy?

Flocon a dit…

Oh, and the castle we very briefly see at 00:3 is not Versailles or some part of it; it is the château de Vaux-le-Vicomte which has nothing to do with Marie-Antoinette (I don't even know if she ever visited this castle).

I suppose Sofia Coppola liked the look of the château and wanted to incorporate it in her film.

Anijo a dit…

Thank you Flocon. I appreciate your well-thought-out responses.

As for the interest in this unfortunate queen, I think you're right when you posited the notion of "nostalgia for a time when the Ancient Régime looked like a Disney fairy tale?".

As an example, when most people think of Native Americans, they like to think of them in full regalia like this, or as in times past like this. It's not as interesting for most people to imagine that these days one is more likely to see this.

Anijo a dit…

Checked in hoping for to read the sequel of two different threads.... patience my darling. patience...

Anijo a dit…

oops... the sequel to..

faute de frappe sûrement mdr

Anijo a dit…

Two beautiful divas singing in sublime harmony.

Anijo a dit…


Tu dois être fatigué de toutes ces réponses stupides et tu te renonces.

Flocon a dit…

No Anijo, not renouncing but as you may remember I am totally "deaf" (besides me being really seriously ear impaired) to the sound of human voice and particularly the way it is dealt with in Western music.

It doesn't touch me at all, it bores me to death and it even is painful to my head, c'est comme ça.

I'm much more receptive to Indian music and songs.

I am a minimalist, the kind of less is always better, so operas with 120 musicians are the very opposites to what I crave.

Now, my latest find in classical music are the string quartets by the German-born American composer Paul Hindemith, like the first movement of his 5th.

I perfectly can figure out that this sort of sounds is as unbearable to some people as the sound of voices is to me. And yet it was written nearly a century ago now.

I'll have to return to the link you've provided with two Native Indian boys playing with a bicycle but after three weeks closure because of the summer vacation my gym has reopened just yesterday and today I return to the pilates lessons.

I fear the aches after three weeks nouchalantly sipping some glasses of Cognac if you see what I mean...

Flocon a dit…

Another French historical figure who's more popular in the US than in England is Joan of Arc of course.

Anijo a dit…

Black magic man