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Marie Antoinette - was i the only one?


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#1 of 35 EricSJorg

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Posted October 20 2006 - 06:58 PM

I just went and saw Marie Antoinette at the World Exchange Plaza in Ottawa Ontario Canada and was met with an amazing film with some rather troubling circumstances.

To start things off the projection booth had the film displaying improperly with a 5th of the movie appearing at the top of the screen. This was corrected shortly after (with 2 minutes of themovie starting).

The largest concern was the nearly 15+ shots in the movie where the Boom Mic rophone was more than clearly visible in the shots. The first most noticeable being in the scene with the Elephant and Marie's brother. The microphone drifted down nearly a 5th of the screen height into the shot. All throughout the rest of the film were scenes where the microphones drifted in and out of the frame very very noticeably, horribly detracting from what was happening.

My hopes are that this was a rare occurence and that Sophia Coppola did not intend for something this bizzare to be intentional.

Im hoping to see it again at another location to ease my mind and eyes after seeing this happen.

I hope few or no one else ran into this situation in viewing a new and wonderful film by the talented Sophia Coppola.

#2 of 35 Adam_S

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Posted October 20 2006 - 08:10 PM

the film was threaded incorrectly in the projector (that's why you saw the bottom fifth of the movie at the top of the frame). Controls are availble to adjust for that so they don't have to stop and rethread the projector. unfortunately they maxed out the control to adjust it and didn't have room to adjust the framing. That's why you saw the boom mics, they were on parts of the image that would normally be masked out at the projector. they won't be seen if the projection staff were competent.

35mm film is recorded on prints in a 4:3 ratio. If it's a 2.35:1 film the wide image is optically squeezed into the 4:3 shape when it is printed and then unsqueezed into the 2:35 shape by mounting a special lens on a projector. If it's a 1.85 film, a full 4:3 image is recorded by the original cameras (the dp and director look only at monitors masked for 1.85 though) and is printed to each print. a 1.85 mask is fitted to the projector so only the proper framing will be shown. But if the film is mistheaded to begin with (as was your experience) you will not see the proper framing, instead you'll see the areas of the frame noone is supposed to see.

It's not the fault of the filmmakers, it's the fault of the projectionist.

You should have asked for your money back.
 

#3 of 35 Haggai

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Posted October 21 2006 - 03:27 AM

Yikes, that's some incompetent projection. I saw it last night, and I sure didn't notice any boom mikes floating around!

On to the movie itself--I liked it a lot, and in fact most of it was great. There isn't much dialogue, with the emphasis more on the visuals and music. The ridiculousness and vapidity of royal life is demonstrated by the bizarre lengths that the various nobles and hangers-on will go to in attending to the young couple, who can't even get into bed without a dozen other people in the room. Separated as a tender teenager from her friends and family, as well as from her beloved dog, Marie comes under immense pressure from all sides to produce an heir, but her weak-willed husband refuses to take his mind off hunting or his obsession with keys. Major decisions of state importance are made with a wave of a hand after barely a minute's worth of discussion, amidst the ups and downs of life within the Versailles cocoon.

Kirsten Dunst is excellent in the title role, charming and funny with the masses of spoiled nobels who are always around, but also overwhelmed by the expectations of her position. Jason Schwartzmann is appropriately goofy and stiff as Louis XVI, establishing the awkwardness of the relationship between two teenage kids thrust together by their elders. The visual splendor of the real Versailles enhances the weird spectacle of life for people whose most important daily decisions consist of who they're going to speak to in the hallways, or which shoes they're going to wear.

The main criticism I have is that the ending feels rushed--it all starts to come apart for them as the revolution arrives at their doorstep, which packs a pretty startling emotional punch, but then suddenly the credits are rolling. I felt like I was "getting" where the movie was going up until that point, with the focus being on how this young girl had to become a woman under these insane circumstances, and you can feel how Dunst and Sofia Coppola were really on the same page with that, but the ending was less than satisfying to me. Still, it's well-made and very interesting to watch.

#4 of 35 EricSJorg

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Posted October 21 2006 - 05:16 AM

well im glad to hear no one had the same experience with projection that i did. Im tempted to go back again today and get my money back now. I actually did speak with the manager that night and he said it was beyond their control and they must have obviously gotten a poor print from their distributor (which i thought was a little hard to believe).

Now that i know how the print is supposed to be displayed, and what would have caused that i have something to fight with on them.

thank you for the info regarding this, i hope so see it properly again.

#5 of 35 EricSJorg

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Posted October 21 2006 - 10:05 AM

Success, more or less. I was allowed to see the movie again for free. That coupled with a proper projection made for an enjoyable afternoon, which allows me now not to worry that it was a horribly made film.

The movie itself did an excellent job in showing the grandeur and absurdity of life as a royal at that time. Dunst and Swartzmann both portrayed what i felt was the main point of the film being their age as King and Queen of France.

The ending did feel rushed, but given you know essentially their story and what is to happen to them after that point i feel it was an adequate ending. The abruptness of the ending works well with the concept of them being such young rulers. Essentially the film gives us a premature end to a premature rule. Though i do admit it would have been fun to see the movie end at the Guillotine.

#6 of 35 Patrick Sun

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Posted October 21 2006 - 01:54 PM

I'm all for showing the vapidness of what the royal life was in the times of King Louis XVI and his queen, Marie Antoinette, but for its 2 hour running time, I think it squandered a lot of it, and made me ambivalent to the title character, and then just ran through to the finish in a hurried fashion that left me with a "Eh?" response to the film.

I give it 2 stars or a grade of C.
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#7 of 35 Ray H

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Posted October 21 2006 - 04:43 PM

I saw it today as well. I actually think i like the trailer much more than the final film. Posted Image

It's not bad, but I don't know. It just seems like it doesn't know where it's headed. There's no real overiding story. You get the sense that she needs to produce an heir, and then...that's it. Just scenes without much in the way of story advancement. The ending could've used a bit more. I didn't know much about Marie Antoinette when I went into it. Actually, I had wanted to do some reading up on her before seeing the film, but I figured I'd go into it fresh and let the movie take me along for the ride. In the end, I still needed to do some reading. Posted Image
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#8 of 35 Inspector Hammer!

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Posted October 21 2006 - 10:49 PM

One question I have is why isn't this film mentioning at all that this woman was decapitated? They make it seem like a fun and light film when the woman died in a most horrific manner. Posted Image

Even the title font screams Legally Blonde with it's pink letters.

Do they cover that in the film or do they skip it? My guess from the trailers i've seen is that they skip it.
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#9 of 35 Haggai

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Posted October 22 2006 - 02:49 AM

John, I'll spoilerize the answer to your question, just in case anyone doesn't want to know exactly how it ends:


The last part of the film shows them getting news about the revolution, and before they know it, the mobs are at the doorsteps of the palace. There are some pretty intense moments as they fear for their lives, and then the very last scene is of them leaving Versailles to try to escape. The credits roll without any hint of the fact that they were beheaded. So while it doesn't finish the historical story, as it were, you definitely don't leave the theater thinking that it was all pink ribbons and roses.


#10 of 35 Henry Gale

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Posted October 22 2006 - 06:01 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Inspector Hammer!
One question I have is why isn't this film mentioning at all that this woman was decapitated? They make it seem like a fun and light film when the woman died in a most horrific manner.

The whole guillotine thing is certainly a bummer to watch, but, as far as bad ways to die, almost all the other ways are way worse.
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#11 of 35 Holadem

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Posted October 22 2006 - 07:05 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Inspector Hammer!
One question I have is why isn't this film mentioning at all that this woman was decapitated? They make it seem like a fun and light film when the woman died in a most horrific manner. Posted Image.

I've yet to see the movie, but it seems to me the reported frivolity of this whole things is intented to stand as a stark contrast to what everyone knows (well, everyone with a modicum of culture anyway, or else you shouldn't even be watching the thing in the first place) will follow. Sorta like a filming a typical morning in the WTC at 8 am on 09/11/2001.

--
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#12 of 35 Michael:M

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Posted October 22 2006 - 12:48 PM

At the risk of threadjacking, I've never understood how we can see a boom mike on a finished print of the film. Isn't the image cut/printed in the aspect ratio we see, without imagery below or above the rectangle? I don't mean to sound stupid, but I'm pretty sure we won't see the boom mike (at least with this kind of frequency) in the DVD version of the film, so how can we see it in the theatrical print?
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#13 of 35 Adam Lenhardt

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Posted October 22 2006 - 01:10 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by EricSJorg
To start things off the projection booth had the film displaying improperly with a 5th of the movie appearing at the top of the screen. This was corrected shortly after (with 2 minutes of themovie starting).

The largest concern was the nearly 15+ shots in the movie where the Boom Mic rophone was more than clearly visible in the shots. The first most noticeable being in the scene with the Elephant and Marie's brother. The microphone drifted down nearly a 5th of the screen height into the shot.
This should be your clue that it was a projection error. The boom mikes only entered the area that was visible before the problem was "corrected"

#14 of 35 Don Solosan

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Posted October 22 2006 - 01:37 PM

Michael:M,

To answer your question: No, not always.

Some films are indeed shot hard-matted; the frame is blocked off in the camera so all they capture on film is the image in the aspect ratio that it will be ultimately projected in.

Some films are shot full frame, then soft-matted in the theater. On these films, there's more information on the negative than the filmmakers intend you to see. A famous example is in Pee Wee's Big Adventure. When Pee Wee goes to the shopping center and locks up his bike, he pulls an endless chain from his saddlebag. On the full frame VHS, you can see that the chain is a loop that's running through the open bottom of the saddlebag.

So with a full frame exposure, a poor projectionist or transfer technician can ruin a movie experience, make the filmmakers look incompetent (or make a movie seem post-modern -- in the case of Pee Wee).

Hope this helps.

#15 of 35 Michael:M

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Posted October 22 2006 - 02:07 PM

Don:

That helps immensely. Thanks for adding to my limited knowledge of filmmaking.
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#16 of 35 RobertR

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Posted October 22 2006 - 02:31 PM

Any interest I had in this film was killed by my discovery that it has an anachronistic sound track (rock score). I don't find that a good mix.

#17 of 35 Nathan V

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Posted October 22 2006 - 03:54 PM

Don't let expectations dictate how you feel about the film. An artist should be given the benefit of doubt when doing something creative and unique, and should, in my opinion, be encouraged to explore a topic in new and exciting ways. This allows the medium to move forward. Here's my review, also at movie-source.com:

Marie Antoinette

***1/2

If you've followed Sofia Coppola's work, you've probably noticed that she seems loathe to discuss the meanings of her films in interviews. By way of explanation, I'd like to offer the following Francois Happe quote: "Talking implies a kind of instantaneousness which forces the [artist] to simplify the complex and, to a certain extent, negate the elaborateness of his fictional construction." Sofia Coppola's films transcend the verbal, and seek to reach the viewer in ways possible only in the film format- using visuals and music to communicate feelings, atmospheres, and moods that are beyond words. If you've seen Lost in Translation, or any Terrence Malick movies, then you know what I'm talking about. Lost in Translation was about the inability to deeply communicate, that feeling of displacement, of not having direction in life- essentially, things that we all experience, but have difficulty talking about clearly. Marie Antoinette is another exploration into this more ethereal breed of filmmaking. It is not as hypnotic as the films mentioned above, but that is no fault of the filmmakers; rather, it's because the chosen subject matter doesn't lend itself to entertainment easily. You can't make a film about confinement and utter boredom very exciting to watch.

For those not in the know, Marie Antoinette is the latest effort from writer-director Sofia Coppola, and it concerns a crucial period in the young life of Marie Antoinette (Kirsten Dunst) of Austria, who married King Louis XVI of France (Jason Schwartzman), according to the wishes of her parents, who wished to form an alliance between their respective countries. Of course, coming from the director The Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation, it's no surprise that the movie itself isn't at all concerned with offering dry historical reenactments and stodgy period-piece fodder. This isn't a film for those interested in history, but for those interested in human nature.

The film begins with loud, pulsing rock music against a black screen with pink intertitles. This is not your typical period picture. Marie's first line of dialogue, which takes place after a long journey to her husband-to-be, is: "Are we there yet?" The cast includes Asia Argento (XXX) and Rip Torn as Louis XV. Despite all this, the film isn't so much a statement against period films as it is an exploration into the world those films often only depict on a superficial level. With this film, Coppola posits that people of earlier eras acted like real human beings- sentient and aware, with the same general desires and emotions we experience today. We're quite used to films where historical figures bark out epigrammatic phrases as if they know they'll end up in Bartlett's. To see Marie Antoinette is to realize that a great many films set in the 18th-19th centuries deviate significantly from the way people really interact, in any era. In Marie Antoinette, we see characters who think quickly, complain, get bored, have a sense of humor, and are just as perceptive of the oddness of their societal customs as we are of ours today. Many scenes are apparently lit with natural light, a technique used to great effect in Malick's The New World, and this adds to the casual immediacy of the proceedings.

Fans of Coppola's work know that her previous films are not plot-based, but rooted in character and mood. The same is true here. The film begins with the moments just before the marriage of Antoinette and Louis XVI, and ends several years later, much before Antoinette's famed execution by guillotine. The vast majority of the runtime is spent observing Antoinette's induction into the absurdly rigid lifestyle of the French royal court, and charting her attempts to find happiness in a world where there is nothing fulfilling to do, and where all those around her despise her. Her marriage with Louis, portrayed here as a young, intensely shy introvert, was arranged for the sole purpose of creating an international "alliance"- that is, an heir. Antoinette is under enormous pressure to have a son, and every morning she faces the world as a nonpregnant woman, she is seen as an abject failure. Her world is a very restricted one; she is trapped in more ways than one, and she has no close companions she can confide in.

Dunst's performance is sublime, and easily the best of her career. She conveys the effervescent qualities of a young girl trying not to deal with the loss and pain around her with beautiful restraint and understatement. I suspect that she will be ignored come Oscar time; subtle performances like this are too often overlooked. Her character seeks refuge from her life by submersing herself in superficial, but not damaging, diversions- namely, shoes, candy, clothing, and puppies. Like all teenagers, she finds a release in shoving her problems aside and hoping they'll go away by morning. However, this Marie Antoinette is not empty-headed. She yearns for some form of deep fulfillment. Coppola and Dunst are able to communicate that there is much more going on beneath the surface, without ever explicitly stating anything. The devastating last line of the film reveals just how perceptive she really is of her situation. Coppola's simultaneously muted and unmistakable direction is always a unique pleasure to watch. Her sensibilities are so far away from the masculine tendencies of most directors today. It's refreshing to see a film- that is, a world- through a woman's eyes. Particularly deserving of mention is her use of music. The presence of contemporary rock songs in no way distracts from the events onscreen; surprisingly, they fit in perfectly well. The various genres of music seem to grow out of the image, and go a long way in communicating various moods.

Some have dismissed the film for not dealing with the historically important passages in Marie Antoinette's life, complaining that Coppola ignores historical context, but to do so is to miss the point- the film is not about specifics, but about much larger universal truths. To have the movie be about Antoinette's execution and her various trials with the public would reduce the film to a peripherally interesting piece about an abstract historical figure. Coppola is going for much more immediate and personally relevant themes- the loneliness of youth, the struggle to feel respected, and the desire for spiritual fulfillment, among other things. By having the film take place in another era, these themes are amplified, as they become the aspects of the film the viewer finds most familiar.

Marie Antoinette will only work for some people. Half of the audience at my screening clapped emphatically when it was over, and half didn't. The film offers no resolution, no traditional structure, no villain, no clarification, and only a hint of narrative. As usual, the joys of this Sofia Coppola picture are not literal, but sublime. It's what the characters don't say that she wants us to think about. Don't watch this movie; just let it roll over you. It's not a story, but an experience. Ignore my B+ rating; that's just a compromise between how I felt about the movie when I saw it and how I feel about it now. This is a film that lingers in the mind. What it all comes down to is, that some of us have had the life experiences that allow us to identify with what Coppola is depicting, and some of us haven't. It has nothing to do with intellect. I suggest checking the film out. Maybe it'll work for you, and you'll love it, or maybe you won't. At the very least, you'll laugh at the funny parts.

Regards,
Nathan
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#18 of 35 Patrick Sun

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Posted October 22 2006 - 04:18 PM

I mainly laughed at the bed scenes. In reference to last week's South Park
I'm just glad Louis XVI didn't try to pee on Marie in bed
.
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#19 of 35 Haggai

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Posted October 23 2006 - 02:10 AM

Great review, Nathan. You make a lot of interesting points in there.

#20 of 35 Nathan V

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Posted October 23 2006 - 09:26 AM

Thanks, Haggai Posted Image It's definitely a film that gets in your head.

Regards,
Nathan
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