Marie Antoinette appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though generally satisfying, the transfer came with more than a few inconsistent elements.
Sharpness was one of those up and down areas. Most of the time the movie offered solid delineation and accuracy, but occasional variations occurred. Some light edge enhancement appeared, and the movie could seem rather soft at times.
No issues with jagged edges or shimmering materialized, but the print was a little dirtier than expected. The film could be somewhat grainy, and a few examples of specks and marks came into view. These were minor but since brand-new flicks usually come with no defects of this sort, they became more noticeable.
The fairly pastel palette of Marie looked good. The tones consistently seemed bright and attractive, with no issues to mar them. Blacks came across as dark and firm, while shadows showed good delineation and clarity. There was a lot to like about this transfer, but the issues with sharpness and source flaws knocked my grade down to a “B-“.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Marie Antoinette proved more consistent, though not terribly ambitious. Music dominated the mix and featured good stereo imaging. Effects were a less important element. A few scenes used the spectrum to good effect; for instance, fireworks and crowd sequences opened up the mix well. Otherwise this was a pretty restricted track that gave us decent ambience but not much more.
Audio quality seemed pleasing. Speech was always crisp and distinctive, and music showed good vivacity. The score and songs were lively and robust. Effects fared well and demonstrated nice range. Those elements remained clear and without problems. This was a perfectly acceptable soundtrack for the material at hand.
A few extras fill out the DVD. The Making of Marie Antoinette runs 25 minutes, 56 seconds and mixes behind the scenes shots and interviews. We hear from writer/director Sofia Coppola, executive producer Francis Ford Coppola, opera consultant Jean-Paul Scarpitta, Marie Antoinette: The Journey author Lady Antonia Fraser, costumes/hair/makeup Milena Canonero, production designer KK Barrett, producer Ross Katz, Versailles caterer Dominique Avart, director of photography Lance Acord and actors Judy Davis, Steve Coogan, Danny Huston, Jason Schwartzman, Kirsten Dunst, Aurore Clement and Marianne Faithfull. We get some thoughts on the real Marie Antoinette, visuals and color design, influences and the movie’s unconventional take on the usual period piece, cast and performances, Sofia Coppola’s approach to the material, locations and shooting in Versailles, and cinematography.
The comments from the participants add a few decent notes – especially related to filming in France and production design - but the most interesting parts of “Making” come from the shots on the set. We get to see multiple takes of the “let them eat cake” scene and also check out many other interesting aspects of the shoot. Those help allow the program to keep our interest.
Two Deleted Scenes appear. We get “Second Opera” (2:13) and “Return from Petit Trianon” (1:38). Both come with text introductions that set up the sequences and let us know why the segments didn’t make the final film. “Opera” shows Marie’s popularity but its tenuous nature as well, while “Petit” depicts Marie’s return to Versailles. Neither seems essentially or even terribly memorable, though a better case could be made for the inclusion of “Petit”.
Cribs with Louis XVI goes for three minutes, 58 seconds. This spoofs the MTV series as Louis (Schwartzman) takes us through Versailles on a bling-oriented tour. It’s funny and also a decent way to check out the palace.
In addition to both teaser and theatrical trailers for Marie, we find some Previews. This area includes ads for Spider-Man 3, Premonition, The Holiday, Stranger Than Fiction, Dreamland and the Marie Antoinette soundtrack.
Marie Antoinette provides an unconventional but usually satisfying take on the standard period biography. Though the flick sags in its third act, it works well enough to involve and entertain the viewer. The DVD offers decent picture and audio plus a few moderately interesting extras. Give this one a rental.