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Art and Literature

In: English and Literature

Submitted By shakeshack
Words 1531
Pages 7
2/15/12 Sponenberg

Unit Paper #1 One of the many goals of producing a work of art is to generate a response from the ideal audience. Sometimes certain artworks are even based off of history or historical events to stimulate further response. Or they are simply created for the artist’s own desires. Thereby it is art’s responsibility to reality to portray history in an unbiased manner as best as possible. Displaying forms of art that are not truthful toward history or reality can distort one’s belief of a person or an event if the intended audience knows nothing more about the person or the event then what was shown in that particular art form. By not following this, certain events/people are going to be remembered for inaccurate reasons. Surprisingly, not everyone would agree with this idea. There are definitely those who believe that the real world and the “art” world are two separate realities.

Creating a piece of art that is not bound to the facts of reality and history can be beneficial for multiple reasons. When the director has personal opinions about a certain idea or event, then it is best to produce their opinion in their art. It can be argued that Sofia Coppola did this in her movie Marie Antoinette. This can be seen in the fact that in the movie, the Dauphine of France was portrayed as the heroine. The viewer sympathized with Antoinette’s situation from the get go. For example, the audience was put into the shoes of the Austrian archduchess as her family gave her up to France in order to amend foreign relations between the two countries. Then the audience suffered with her as she took down the emotional stress of her

husband, Louis XVI’s sexual ineptitudes. Her affair with Court Fersen, which actually did occur in history, was shown in the movie as if Antoinette deserved some type of bachelor (Patarin 104). Due to the king’s strange tendencies, he was not very emotional and Coppola made it appear if is Antoinette wanted someone to take care of her. These events and the way they were shown in the film humanize the Queen of France as a mortal just like anyone else, when in fact she was not at all.

It can be proven by historical documents that the attempts to humanize Marie Antoinette were done because of Copland’s opinions of her and not actual fact. Based upon “A full, true, and most authentic account of the execution of the Queen of France,” a pamphlet created by the people of France, it stated that Marie Antoinette was not the person Sofia Copland made her out to be. The pamphlet described the Queen as an instrumental in distributing counter revolutionary publications throughout France, that she obtained a majority in the National Assembly declining the declaration of war against Germany in a corrupt way, and that she sought to introduce a famine into France in 1789 (pages 1-­‐3). Antoinette was also labeled “Madame Deficit” due to her extravagant spending on clothes, jewelry, and her retreat at Petit Trianon during times of harsh financial crisis among the common French people (Kaiser 1). Pretty much while the people of France were struggling for ends meat, Antoinette was living the life with servants at her side for every desire she had.

Even though a director or artist of any piece of artwork has the right to create it in anyway they desire does not mean that they should do it. It is an artist’s duty to accurately portray historical events and people as they truly were.

According to the Oxford Encyclopedia of Women in World History, “Antoinette was hostile toward the Revolution from the onset” (Kaiser 1). Not once during the movie did the Queen show any ill will or resentment toward her people. It was almost the opposite of that as it is showed when she bows to the angry mob outside her palace at Versailles. To top off the historical inaccuracies, the movie ended with the royal family leaving Versailles in a carriage. This abrupt ending does not accurate represent history because the story of Marie Antoinette did not end there. Sofia Coppola ends the movie at this point because the last image she wants people to remember is Antoinette and her family fleeing from the evil, out of control French common folk. This creates a feeling of sorrow and pity for the royal Queen. What is not shown is the conditions of the French people for the numerous years that Antoinette enjoyed living the life of a god in Versailles. In order for this movie to fully adhere to its duty of constituting reality, Coppola should have showed how the Queen’s life ended, with the guillotine. Without letting the audience know how Marie Antoinette finally met her match is further creating a veil of distortion for the viewer because they have no idea what ended up happening to her. Seeing her being executed would have changed the perception of Antoinette, continuing to prove why Coppola did not want to show the scene.

Another movie that we watched in class, Roberto Benigni’s Life is Beautiful, was also criticized by people for certain aspects of the movie and dealing with reality. Critics were angry that Benigni made a movie about the Holocaust that had certain aspects of comedy. In the movie, Guido, the main character, and his family are taken to a death camp in Italy. He and his son manage to get into the same

barrack and throughout their time at the dreadful camp, Guido creates a fictional game for his son to comfort and protect the boy. This story line in the movie might not have been the closest thing to reality because people argued that not everyone in the Holocaust made up imaginary games for their children. Even though Life is Beautiful was a movie of historical fiction, I still believe that it filled its duty of providing a piece of artwork with correct perceptions of reality for many reasons. To start off, the movie accurately depicts life in Italy during the late 1930’s into the 1940’s building up to the terrible ordeal of the Holocaust. Examples of crimes against Jews leading up to the Holocaust were Guido’s uncle’s horse being painted green with black letters reading “Jewish Horse” on it. His house was then looted later on. Guido’s own bookstore was similarly graphitized on the outside of it, identifying it as a Jewish store. Due to this, people avoided his store since he was Jewish and he was forced to sell all his books for half price. Another aspect of the movie that properly depicts reality was the life in the concentration camps. Guido and his family were transported like millions of other prisoners by boxcars to the horrible camps. When they arrived at the camp the men and women who were able to work, worked, generally the ones who were unable to were killed. Guido was forced to carry iron anvils. Also, in the film people were killed when they were told that they were going to take a shower similarly to real life. At the end of the film, the American army liberates the camp and Guido’s son Joshua finally gets the tank he was promised to by his father for winning the “game.”

Ultimately though, this film is based a Jewish family trying to survive in a concentration camp. Guido creates this imaginary game in order to help his son and

do whatever he can to get him through the camps alive. I believe this form of art accurately portrays the time period because most parents would do anything to help their kids survive. Guido eventually does this in the fact that he is murdered by one of the guards. As represented during the time period, parents were willing to sacrifice themselves for their kin.

When it comes down to both of these movies, they both provide the viewer

with some sense of what actually happened, one perhaps better than the other. Yet there are still certain aspects of these movies that possibly reveal some misperceptions about how things actually went. The authenticity of these movies is pretty straightforward or clear. Marie Antoinette takes you into a snapshot of the life of the French Queen and what Sofia Coppola ultimate portrayed her as. While as Life is Beautiful is a fictional story about the harsh times during the Holocaust and the willingness of a man to do whatever it took for his son to feel comfortable in the horrid death camps. In the end, art based on historical events and people should be as authentic as possible, very similar to reality to ensure that the viewer gets a sense of true reality. Therefore the viewer can actually get a sense of what really happened and hopefully almost imagine being involved in the scene themselves. When it comes to dealing with two separately realities between the real world and “art,” the artist, when it is said and done, has the final say, but should strive to make a combination of the two to create the fullest authenticity.

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