Australian Council on Children and the Media

Marie Antoinette

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Short takes

Not recommended under 13 and PG to 15 (Themes. Sex)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Marie Antoinette
  • a review of Marie Antoinette completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 12 December 2006.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not recommended due to themes and sexual references
Children over the age of 13 Parental guidance recommended for children between the age of thirteen and fifteen years

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Marie Antoinette
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild sexual references
Length 123 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

14-year-old Austrian-born Marie Antoinette (Kirsten Dunst) is betrothed to 15 year old Louis, heir to the French throne (Jason Schwartzmann). Marie’s mother (Marianne Faithfull) provides Marie with some insight into the differences between the Austrian and French courts but she is otherwise unprepared for what she is to find. Marie is taken by coach to the Austrian-French boarder and handed over to her chaperone, the Comtesse de Noailles (Judy Davis) to be transformed for her wedding. On the wedding night, the marriage is unconsummated as Louis appears oblivious to his role.

This continues for seven years as Marie is pressured to produce an heir. She becomes lonely, confused and distraught, beginning to indulge in a decadent life style involving gambling, drinking, infamous parties and frivolous spending. Before Marie is able to produce an heir, King Louis XV (Rip Torn) dies, elevating the dauphin and Marie to King and Queen of France. Marie’s brother arrives and explains the facts of life to Louis, after which Marie becomes pregnant and gives birth to a daughter.

Following the birth, Marie retreats to the countryside to raise her daughter in peace and tranquillity but soon returns to her more decadent life style and seeks a secret love affair with Count Fersen (Jamie Dorman). Sometime later, Marie gives birth to a second child, a boy and France gets a long awaited heir.

Marie becomes more and more unpopular with both the court and the masses. The Bastille is stormed by an angry mob; marking the beginning of the French revolution. Eventually the mob turns up at the palace and Marie, Louis and their children are taken to their awaited fates.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Sexual relationships. French Revolution

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is infrequent low level violence in this movie including:

  • Marie has her dog forcefully taken from her and cries as a result.
  • Louis and two of his friends are seen practising duelling with swords.
  • as entertainment, there is a simulated battle with model ships firing cannons.
  • hundreds of angry people with flaming torches bang on the gates of the king’s palace.
  • Marie comes out onto a palace balcony and kneels before the angry mob. It is said that the mob is “here to kill the Queen.”
  • Marie and Louis are depicted standing at the back of a room looking scared with the sounds of an angry mob coming through, Louis is standing protectively in front of Marie and their children. 
  • a number of women are verbally spiteful, sarcastic and hurtful towards other women.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violence, the scene in which Marie and her sister in law are depicted giving birth could disturb children under five, although no graphic details are shown.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group my also be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Apart from scenes already listed, children aged eight to thirteen are unlikely to be disturbed by scenes in this film.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

It is unlikely that anything in this movie will scare or disturb children over the age of thirteen.

Product placement

None

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • when the King of France is about to meet Marie he asks, “How is her bosom?”, and then later “it’s the first thing I look at.”
  • after Marie and Louis go to bed on their wedding night they are blessed by a priest and are told, “Good luck and good work.”
  • after the wedding night the King is told, in reference to Marie and Louis having sexual relations, “nothing happened your majesty.”
  • a women makes the comment, “Her husband has been giving her some problems, he’s been spending far too much time with his stable boys.”
  • a husband says to his wife, “Madam, should we retire to make love all night?…..Four times wasn’t enough last night.”
  • in relation to the King’s mistress someone comments, “That lady is here to give the King pleasure.”
  • in relation to the King’s mistress Marie states, “She’s from a brothel and everybody knows.”
  • on being interviewed by a doctor in relation to his failure to produce an heir, Louis is asked, “Do you find your body responsive.”
  • in relation to a women having sexual relations a women states, “Have you ever been with a Russian, he’s bossy.”
  • in relation to the consummation of a marriage the question is put in relation to the women being “deflowered.”
  • Marie’s brother asks Louis about his sexual relations with Marie in terms of keys and locks.
  • The comment is made, “Its better than being a whore.”

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • when Marie travels from Austria to France she is stripped naked and then dressed in French clothing, Marie is seen naked from the back; bare buttocks and stockings.
  • after her wedding night Marie is dressed by a number of court ladies. Marie is depicted naked from the front and back with Marie covering her breasts with her arms and hands.
  • Marie is shown in a bath wearing a white sheer cloth nightgown with the cloth clinging to her when she gets out of the bath.
  • the King and his mistress are on the King’s bed, the mistress is in her underwear and acting and sounding like a cat, the King climbs on top of her and they kiss.
  • while in bed, Louis rolls on top of Marie; Marie gasps and exclaims “Oh.”
  • at a masked ball, Marie flirts with a soldier.
  • Marie is depicted lying on a bed holding a fan that is covering her breasts and mid section. A man lies on top of her, there is some kissing, and rubbing of hands over bodies with parts of Marie’s breasts briefly depicted.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • numerous scenes involving champagne drinking.
  • during one party scene several women are clearly intoxicated, slurring their words, unstable, walking on tables etc. 
  • a pipe is passed around with Marie smoking; the suggestion was that pipe contained a drug of some type.
  • women use what appears to be snuff.

Coarse language

None of concern

In a nutshell

Marie Antoinette is a period drama inspired by Antonia Fraser’s biography of the same name that seems tailored to an adult audience. It is a rather melancholy film which leaves much left unsaid.

The main messages from this movie are; that greed, and isolation associated with aristocracy resulted in arrogance, ignorance and a lack of empathy and that being wealthy does not necessarily lead to happiness or fulfilment.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include that the important things in life are not necessarily money and possessions, but a family that loves and cares for you, a spouse who is a true partner and friends that support you through hard times. 

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