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The Independent Culture
Remember the period costume episode of Dynasty, when Alexis and Blake and Crystal would get gussied up as Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots or whoever, attend the annual charity ball and be vicious to one another over the canapes? Well, La Reine Margot is an extended Dynasty episode, only not as much fun, despite Isabelle Adjani wearing more slap in one minute than Joan Collins has managed in a lifetime.

Still, this is what the middlebrow art audience wants: soap-opera melodrama made tasteful by the lavish historical setting and political-religious intrigue. Recreating 16th-century France allows director Patrice Chreau literally to get away with murder - not to mention rape and incest. The massacre of the Huguenots goes on forever and makes Pulp Fiction seem restrained. It's not so much a bloodbath, more a blood jacuzzi: you half expect the end credits to carry a disclaimer - no Protestants were harmed during the making of this motion picture.

Yet by feigning superiority to the violence, La Reine Margot remains untouched by censors, critics and tabloids. But then Tarantino is a populist. He makes mainstream films for "them", not for "us". Us - literate, educated, smug - can be trusted. As for "them"... well, if they ever went to films with subtitles, heavens, there would be rioting on the streets by dawn, wouldn't there?

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