French revolution film in Berlin conjures Arab Spring

Thu Feb 9, 2012 1:57pm EST
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By Mike Collett-White

BERLIN (Reuters) - "Farewell My Queen," a sumptuous costume drama about the beginnings of the French Revolution, opened the Berlin film festival on Thursday and had audiences drawing parallels with the "Arab Spring" uprisings.

The story, based on a novel by Chantal Thomas, is told through the eyes of royal servant Sidonie, played by Lea Seydoux, who becomes a close confidante to Diane Kruger's Marie Antoinette.

Though favored by the capricious queen, she cannot compete with Antoinette's passionate infatuation with courtier Gabrielle de Polignac, who is as aloof as she is beautiful.

The all-female love triangle plays out in the confines of Versailles, where Antoinette lives in splendid isolation, initially preoccupied with dresses, jewels and palace intrigue.

A world away from the gilded halls and polished marble fireplaces, the drab servants' quarters are a hotbed of gossip about what is happening outside, and it quickly becomes clear that the royal court's days are numbered.

Antoinette sees her name at the top of a list of aristocrats the people want beheaded, and, resigned to her fate, puts all her efforts into saving de Polignac, even if it means sacrificing the faithful Sidonie.

"Any revolution, particularly this one is (against) an abuse of power and an abuse of money and that is still going on these days," Kruger said after the movie was screened to the press.

Its official world premiere comes later at a red carpet gala ceremony which opens the 10-day Berlin festival.   Continued...

<p>Director Benoit Jacquot (2nd L) pose with cast members Diane Kruger (L-R), Lea Seydoux and Virginie Ledoyen pose during a photocall to promote the movie "Farewell my Queen" at the 62nd Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin February 9, 2012. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz</p>