Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday Non-Bolly Film and Book Rec

This week's movie is Queen Margot a French film from 1994 starring Vincent Perez and Isabelle Adjani.

I love this movie! The cinematography is gorgeous as are the sets and costumes. It definitely captures the hedonistic viper's nest that was life in the royal court. The movie takes place in 16th centiry France and is the story of Marguerite de Valois, sister to the king of France and daughter of the scheming Catherine de Medici. It is a love story set against the backdrop of the Catholics and Protestants struggling for control of France. Margot is married off as a political pawn but falls in love with a simple soldier, she Catholic and he a Protestant. There is political intrigue, doomed love, suggestions of incest, poisonings, beheadings, sex in alleyways and the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre. Good stuff!!

Vincent Perez is great in his role as the soldier who falls in love with the much maligned Margot. He is sexy and intense. Isabelle Adjani is exquisitely beautiful like a porcelain doll but her Margot is anything but fragile. She is called a whore and much hated but you see that who she really is is a lonely woman besieged from all sides who needs a purpose other than political pawn and someone she can trust and love.

So if you like political drama, period movies, and epic love stories then you should definitely watch this one.

This week's book selection is my favorite novel of all time, The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough.

This is, of course, one of the most famous books of all time so many of you have probably read it already (and seen the AMAZING miniseries). For those of you who haven't, it is the story of the Cleary family and their life working on a sheep station in the Australian Outback from 1915- 1969. But, it's about so much more than that too. The book really focuses on the only daughter in the family, Meggie and her lifelong love of Father Ralph de Bricassart, the parish priest.

This story is EPIC! You have ambition v. love, scheming matriarchs, Vatican politics, broken vows both marital and priestly, the questions of are we doomed to make the same mistakes over and over again in our own lives and from generation to generation, the hardships of life in the Outback in the early 20th century, a son's love of his mother and hatred of the man he thinks is his father, and finally, whether or not it's true that if you love something or someone too much the gods will become jealous and take it from you.

This book really deserves a lot more than I can write in a simple, off-the-cuff recommendation...maybe someday. I have to say though that Meggie is one of my favorite fictional characters of all time. No matter what life throws at her, she just keeps going. You have to admire that. I ADORE the myth of the thorn bird that Father Ralph tells to Meggie in the book which represents the struggle of the book's characters. I have searched for years to find the myth in Celtic folklore and have been unsuccessful but I had a chance to ask Colleen McCullough at a book signing years ago if it really was a myth or something she made up and she said it was an actual Welsh myth so there you have it. I will leave you with it because I happen to believe it's true, so much so that I have a thorn tree with a bird impaled tattooed somewhere on my body ;-)

There is a legend about a bird which sings just once in its life, more sweetly than any other creature on the face of the Earth. From the moment it leaves the nest it searches for a thorn tree, and does not rest until it has found one. Then, singing among the savage branches, it impales itself upon the longest, sharpest spine. And, dying, it rises above its own agony to outcarol the lark and the nightingale. One superlative song, existence the price. But the whole world stills to listen, and God in His heaven smiles. For the best is only bought at the cost of great pain...Or so says the legend.


Pitu said...

Hmm.. saw Queen Margot last week but did not like. Thought it was plodding, to be honest. And performances seemed OTT a lot of the time. But wow Isabelle is a beaut!!

The Thorn Birds aieeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!! I don't need to tell you how much I lurveeeeeee this story (& the miniseries) XD Love love love!

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