PATRICE CHEREAU (1994)
ALEXANDRE DUMAS PERE (Novel)
DANIELE THOMPSON AND PATRICE CHEREAU (Scenario And Adaptation)
ISABELLE ADJANI AND VINCENT PEREZ
Visually stunning with no special effects, C.G.I, major stunts or wire gags, La Rein Margot is a masterpiece of French cinema.
France August 24, 1574 a time in history that war raged between Catholics and Protestants alike, known in history as the Massacre of St. Bartholomew it tells the story of the princess Margot de Valois who, in order to secure peace is forced by her mother, and power behind the Catholic throne, La Reine Catherine de Mdicis, to marry her Protestant cousin Henri de Navarre. What was meant to be a union of peace became a bloody massacre of faith. Caught up in it all is the unfortunate La Mole who upon a chance meeting with Margot falls in love with her, a passionate love that of course, can only end in misery.
The movie opens with a very short scene featuring La Mole with the soul purpose of introducing the number and whereabouts of all the visiting Protestants, a somewhat surplus scene as there is a written introduction to the story before it begins. However, after this the story launches into its self beginning near the end of the wedding and straight away you are introduced to both Margot and Navarre giving an idea of the tense political climate that is the movies base. In true stereotypical French style the following scene, in the guise of the wedding party, is filled with political intrigue and the talk of sex and war – it is also where the plan of the story is laid out.
When, again we are acquainted with La Mole it is with Margot, once the scene and the characters are established she leaves the confines of the chateau and walks the streets of Paris further enhancing the strength of the character. The movie leads with vivacious contrasting color which bleeds depth and meaning a trait which is not lost through out movie, but which is never so glorious as when the lovers are together.
Then, with excellent timing and form, as in most French historical dramas, the violence ensues as Catholic and Protestant rage battle in both the chateau and surrounding streets unleashing restless slaughter and tireless brutality for political gain in the name of religion. For me the violent scenes are beautiful, not because of any religious or political view but purely because of the movement, scenery, color, imagery and soundtrack – a compelling and reaching violently romantic array of strings.
Post turmoil the royal family intact and victorious compel Navarre to conform and keeps Margot a prisoner in her own home, La Mole, un-able to forget Margot, travels to Amsterdam where the Protestant up-rising is gaining strength. Margot equally enthralled by La Mole is engulfed by longing and uncertainty, her only refuge is the treachery, murder, rivalry and under handed dealings of her mother, Catherine, all masked in laughter and debauchery. Meanwhile La Mole returns to Paris in search for Margot where, thanks to the help of her friend and lady in waiting they are reunited. Post passion the aforementioned three discuss what they know to be afoot amongst the players around them and plan to what they can, but ironically as too are the King and his mother.
Though the massacre be over violence and rage fail to cease and continues alongside what is thought every day activities, such as the French love to do chaser au sangulier or to hunt wild boar, an event that turns bloody and changes the rules of the game. Navarre and the sickly king become closer evoking jealousy in the kings youngest brother and un-settles the queen who proposes that her youngest son accompany Navarre when he returns to his home, a right that by marriage and request belongs to Margot. Out of gratitude the now dying king releases Navarre but denies him Margot so, once reunited with his home vows he will not forget about her and so sends La Mole to recover her a, valiant venture that concludes abruptly and violently.
Again the love that bleeds and splinters from this story knows no bounds will continue to reach onto you gripping and seizing your heart muscle with alarm and confusion. Even the un-emotional of us will not fail to experience the tension, for the love be not only romantic but fraternal and that of true friendship. The twists and turns of love, war and religion will catch you at every turn and each reason of whichever scene you are watching allowing you to take away what you will from the masterpiece that is and will forever be La Rein Margot.