Page 10, 4th November 1938

4th November 1938
Page 10
Page 10, 4th November 1938 — Marie Antoinette: Sixty Glorious Years
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Marie Antoinette: Sixty Glorious Years

0 be intimate with kings does not come naturally to the prole tariate. By an overdose of self

consciousness two magnificent historical films recently have failed to become historic. Neither Mr. W. S. van Dyke II (is it because both were in the picture business that W.S. uses " II " to distinguish himself from the Sir Anthony who spelt his name Van Dyck?) nor Mr. Herbert Wilcox can manage to suppress their ebullient desire of supra-naturalising the characters of history till Marie Antoinette in her youth is a replica of Deanna Durbin and Queen Victoria is just anybody's grandmother.

N don't think my quarrel is with the dethroning of Royalty and their humanisation. Nothing more removed. Let's have the whole box of history's tricks spilt upon the floor.

Let's take down the characters that built it up, and bisect and dissect them till all their works fall apart and reveal the cogs of motive. The more the better; but having done all this, is it not possible to recreate some portrait, crisp, individual and unmistakable, so that we do not mix Queen Victoria with our grandmother and Queen Marie Antoinette with Deanna?

And then, you may argue, maybe Victoria was as grandmotherly as your o w n grandmother, All of a Type and there is every probability that little Marie Antoinette hopped about like Deanna. And I agree, quite likely. Sul an artist's first job is to highlight his sitter's individuality, not to drown it in the sea of its type.

From all this in the complaining manner you are in danger of underestimating my opinion of Marie Antoinette and Sixty Glorious Years. It would be crabby and mean of me to grudge praise to either of these efforts, which are the nearest to historical sincerity we have yet met with.

Especially Sixty Glorious Years, which I firmly feel never descends into the fulsomeness of box-office conventional romanticism but stands up stiff and hard to the real facts of the not unromantic life it is describing.

Marie Antoinette, on the other hand, falls down a little too often before the god of false romanticism. A grand passion conventionally conceived a la Twopenny Library Book style, winds a tedious path




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