Sunday, 4 May 2008


The above shot is from the opening of Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette (2006), where Empress Maria Theresa (Marianne Faithfull) admonishes the future queen of France (Kirsten Dunst). Marie Antoinette was born on November 2 1755, i.e. almost a year after the empress got concerned with magia posthuma and sent a couple of court physicians to investigate a Moravian case that had astounded Vienna.

Certainly, the court in France was ahead of the Austrian court with respect to witchcraft and related matters that Maria Theresa had to concern herself with - aided by a certain Gerhard van Swieten. The movie, of course, has nothing to do with those matters, and takes off in 1770 when Marie is handed over to the French.

Those who enjoy that sort of thing should check out the November 5 1755 edition of the Wienerisches Diarium to read how the birth of the future Marie Antoinette was reported: "... Gegen halb 8. Uhr sodann wurden wir mit der höchst-erfreulichen Nachricht beglücket, daß Höchst-gedacht Ihre Majestät eine gesunde und Wolgestaltete Erz-herzogin, GOtt sey Dank! glücklich zur Welt geboren. ...'

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