Friday, November 9, 2012

Friday Arts & History Feature - French Historical Movies

Those of you who have been following me for awhile know that I'm a big fan of French literature and culture, being influenced by the stories of Alexandre Dumas Sr., Victor Hugo and many others.

I also often enjoy watching French movies (which is also a good practice to expand what little French I know). Today, I'd like to talk about two historical movies in particular that I would like to recommend.


La Reine Margot (Queen Margot
 The first one is called La Reine Margot (1994) and is based on the historical novel of the same title by Alexandre Dumas. The story takes place during the late 16th century, the time of war and disquiet between the Catholics and Huguenots (Protestants), where the key event becomes the infamous St. Bartholomew's Day massacre, following the marriage of Margot and Henri of Navarre, when thousands of Huguenots were killed.

While taking many creative licenses and straying from the book in certain ways, it is nevertheless a beautifully done film that brings the French Royal life and the intrigue and dangers of the court to life and paints it in bright and bold colors. Of course, it is also a story of love, passion and sensuality. The performances by beautiful Isabelle Adjani as Margot and the charismatic Daniel Auteuil as Henri of Navarre are especially strong and evocative, I believe.

Isabelle Adjani as Margot and Daniel Auteuil as Henri of Navarre

The Princess Montpensier
 The second movie I finished watching recently - The Princess Montpensier (2010). The story takes place around the same time as La Reine Margot. In fact, some of the same historical figures are the same in both movies, such as Henri de Guise (Margot's lover in La Reine Margot and also one of the love interests of the heroine in The Princess Montpensier), Duke D'Anjou (one of the king's brothers) and Queen Mother, the powerful Marie de Medici.

Melanie Thierry as Marie, Princess Montpensier
 The movie tells the story of Marie de Mézières, who marries Prince Montpensier for political reason, while still having feelings for her cousin, Henri de Guise. Her growth as a woman, and her life trials and tribulations in and our of court are brought to life beautifully by Melanie Thierry.

French version of the poster for the movie
If you love historical literature and movies, especially set around this time period, you will thoroughly enjoy both movies.
(While The Princess Montpensier is available on Nexflix, La Reine Margot, unfortunately is not.)

What are some of your favorite historical movies? I'd love some recommendations.


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  2. Oh! I haven't seen the princess one before, but I've looked at Queen Margot several times. Just might have to check that one out... Thanks, Yelena!

  3. I must admit, I've never read French literature or seen a French movie. Perhaps it's time I did. Since you love them so much there must be something great about them!

    1. If you like historical fiction in general, I think you'll like these. :)


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