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The night of August 24, 1572, is known as the Massacre of St. Bartholomew. In France a religious war is raging. In order to impose peace a forced wedding is arranged between Margot de Valois, sister of the immature Catholic King Charles IX, and the Hugenot King Henri of Navarre. Catherine of Medici maintains her behind-the-scenes power by ordering assaults, poisonings, and instigations to incest.Written by
Oliver 'Asana' Duex <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I don't pretend to know the minutiae of the historical record, but it was Definitely Not Dumas, or I lost it all in the English translations! Like many others I've always been fascinated by this episode in French history, a turbulent and savagely intolerant period and not only in France, but 1572 is yet another year that went down in infamy. This film portrays the complicated machinations performed by Catherine de Medici and her cohorts in furthering her Catholic ambitions for her country and debauched family against the perceived threat of dour Protestantism, and centred around the St. Bartholomew Day Massacre.
It's the rather beautiful Isabelle Adjani's stunning performance as Queen Margot that can leave you as breathless as she often is in the film, without her it would have been a much poorer film. She seemed to live the part, with every emotion imaginable on display. Would French breathlessness, or those huge rustling dresses sound as good dubbed into English?! On the other hand the rest of the cast are superb in their roles too, but especially Daniel Auteuil as Henri de Navarre and Jean Hugues Anglade as Charles IX, making them both extremely believable sympathetic characters when they weren't. The bloodbath and the anarchy of the Massacre and aftermath is vividly presented we are not spared a single thing in the entire film, all manner of violence and depravity is non-gratuitously displayed. It's impossible to convey a part of what happens in this film the same as it must have been impossible for the film to convey a fraction of what happened in that era too: it really is a must-see. I've seen it a number of times now since 1994 and I find something new I hadn't spotted before every time. It's a film that can make you realise (if you didn't before) that millions of ordinary folk all around the world could and still can believe in such arrant religious nonsense to the point of committing multiple ghastly murders in the name of empty air.
Apart from all that, it's a beautifully crafted film, the best of its kind there's ever been.
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