Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cinema Royals: Fanny Ardant

First, a word of religious warning for readers of the Roman persuasion. The award winning 1998 film "Elizabeth" certainly does not try in the least to be fair toward the Catholic point of view and virtually every Catholic in the movie is portrayed as a horrible villain --but some still play it very well. My absolute favorite character in the movie was Queen Marie d'Guise played by Fanny Ardant, who as this film shows is certainly growing old gracefully. She plays the part to perfection even though it is a part totally out of touch with historical reality. In this movie, Marie d'Guise is essentially a cruel, ambitious and somewhat degenerate French temptress who is killed (off camera) during an illicit liaison with Sir Francis Walsingham. Marie d'Guise (the real one) was nothing like this, in fact, if anything it was she who was the victim of English treachery, and on a superficial note, by the time of the reign of Elizabeth I, Marie d'Guise looked nothing like Fanny Ardant but had by then become a rather large and sickly woman. So, why do I like her? She plays the part very well, and who could resist a French woman of her mature beauty riding on to the battlefield with an armor breastplate over her dress, glorying in her triumph over the English army? Warrior queens are usually sure-winners with me. She completely captured the style the filmmakers were going for as being strong, cunning, attractive and dangerous. The real Marie d'Guise was totally the opposite as far as her morals but she was a strong woman and a gifted ruler, always willing to face the enemy. I'm sure the real Queen would not have appreciated how she was portrayed, though she probably wished she looked as good as Ardant at that stage in her life.


  1. Well, I'm glad you enjoyed the way she played the part, but I do think it is basically character assassination to take such liberties in portraying a historical figure, even in a film. (I'm sorry, but this kind of thing really irritates me).

  2. One thing that made a difference was that almost all characters were assassinated evenly (aside from Elizabeth of course). Sir Francis Walsingham, z.b. was a very devout Protestant family man -nothing like he was portrayed in the movie. You're totally right about Marie d'Guise (who is one of my real-life favorites) but as for the "character" who they gave that name to, I think Ardant played the part well. Overall though the movie was historically atrocious though when it came to stereotypes and religious bigotry and fear-mongering it would have to take second place to its sequal which was even worse. Far worse I'd say.


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