(out of 5)
Sumptuous costumes and excellent action sequences highlight this French melodrama, though the excessive length might not work for all audiences. Isabelle Adjani is strong in the lead as a young Catholic princess who is manipulated into a marriage with a Protestant prince by her twisted mother (a terrifying Virna Lisi) which in turn draws many French Protestants into Paris for a giant celebration in honour of the wedding. The whole event is a ploy, actually, to enact one of the bloodiest murders in history that has since been referred to as the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, with thousands of Protestants killed point blank in the streets. The heart of this evil doesn’t escape the royal family, however, and a bloodbath ensues within the palace walls as well, and not even the innocent can escape. Beautiful to look at, and confidently avoids desperate grabs for attention, instead an intelligent experience.
Renn Productions, France 2 Cinéma, D.A. Films, N.E.F. Filmproduktion und Vertriebs, Degeto Film, Arbeitsgemeinschaft der öffentlich-rechtlichen Rundfunkanstalten der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, WMG Film, RCS Films & TV, Centre National de la Cinématographie, Canal+, Miramax, Eurimages
Directed by Patrice Chereau
Cinematography by Philippe Rousselot
Produced by Claude Berri
Music by Goran Bregovic
Costume Design by Moidele Bickel