Feminist Criticism / Women Film-makers

#DirectedbyWomen Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette- Women that shape history

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Artwork by Sophie Squire

As a History student, there is something that I’ve noticed a lot of in my course of study; it always tends to focus on the men that ‘shaped’ the world, rather than the women that have had a significant impact on global change. There are countless films that centre on the male Caesars of Rome, on the Presidents of the United States and on the English monarchs. Yet, there are few that concern themselves with the reigns of women. ‘Marie Antoinette’, then, can be seen as a rare example of a movie that both accurately considers and portrays the complexities of female rulers. However, we must start with honesty, which includes leading with the historical evidence; the titular Queen of France was not particularly kind. She was the epitome of the bourgeoisie. She embodied, to put it simply, everything that I loathe in humanity. Despite this, her ‘biography’ serves as one of my favourite films. Why? Because she is painted with vulnerability, with delicacy and with everything that makes a person real. She is not depicted merely as a shallow aristocrat with no concern for others, instead, she is shown as a young, frightened girl; one that is forced into an arranged marriage in order to further the connections of her family. It is difficult not to sympathise with someone that has had their childhood ripped away from them in the name of the social ladder. From this point onwards in the film, however, the Dauphine’s strength only grows, as she gradually realises the extremity of the power that she holds, and we are presented with a three dimensional character. We are given a human, rather than a mythologised picture of an infamous woman. That, along with vibrant shots of delicious foods and intricate interior design, is what makes ‘Marie Antoinette’ such a fascinating piece of cinema, as we watch a terrified woman transition into a compelling ruler; without losing the youthful innocence that makes her so real. It is not only one of the finest female-directed films that I have ever seen but also one of the few movies to convey women as more than just a companion to a tedious male protagonist.

By Hannah Ryan


 

HANNAHHannah, is 18 and from England. She likes little indie movies, Christoph Waltz, David Fincher, Spike Jonze and cool female actresses. She loves to chill with her amazing girlfriend and debate over dumb romantic movies with her and she also likes music,  pretty much all music types from cheesy adolescent pop to indie feminist rockers. Taylor Swift and Clarke Griffin are the only other things that matter to her.

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