There is something to be said for a historical figure's love of fashion to be remembered centuries later. Marie Antoinette is such a person.
Kirsten Dunst playing Marie Antoinette in the movie directed by Sophia Coppola based on the book written by Antonia Fraser. While this article is more about the movie than the book, I've read all 458 glorious pages of this book. And I still haven't had my fill of this captivating historical figure. I highly recommend the book, you won't be able to put it down, and when you do it will be because you are in flight on your way to France to visit Versailles!
The more I've read about Marie Antoinette, the more I feel that she is France's most misunderstood monarch. However tragic her life was and how it ended, she was the Queen who rocked-out Versailles in her fashion forward wardrobe. Maybe it is the worst case of "retail therapy" ever recorded, but to us fashion lovers, we can appreciate her passion for fashion. While we enjoy this modern rendition of the life story of the doomed Queen of France by the talented Sophia Coppola, let us enjoy the variety of senses that Sophia uses to lure us to this movie, namely, sight and sound.
Filmed on location in Versailles, the costumes match the historical surroundings and also mix into the modern music Sophia chose to use. The soundtrack is nothing short of genius. I listened to the CD daily for 10 months straight. I encourage you to sample listen to it and then purchase it on itunes. One of my favorite songs on the CD is "The Melody Of A Fallen Tree" by Windsor For The Derby. Which I am listening to as I write this article.
The movie received harsh criticism from some critics, but how often do we listen to them anyway? Sophia Coppola used her wildest imagination to form a masterpiece of a historically accurate film that would appeal to a younger generation. Using modern music to tell her story of the clueless Queen worked magically. At the perfect moment, Sophia switches to classical or period music, it's hardly noticeable and adds much to the feel of the movie. I can't imagine this movie without each song that is seemingly hand picked by Sophia.
The costumes leave nothing to be desired. Beautiful use of color, fabric and texture makes this movie a feast for your eyes. Each costume is walking you through the changes the Queen is going through. As the years pass in Versailles, you see the Queen's style change and you understand her fashion choices. At times flamboyant and at other times meek an natural.
Marie Antoinette was criticized among her friends and family and most frequently by her mother, hundred of miles away in Austria. She longed to please her husband and her mother. It seemed near impossible as the political movement was heading straight for a then unseen revolution.
She was home sick and in a foreign country much different from the royal court where she was raised. She gave of herself to charities and to her children, always wanting to be a supportive wife. Marie Antoinette regarded the last 5 years of her life spent in prison, as her happiest. In prison is where she found what she was always searching for, time alone with her husband and children.
Read the book, watch the movie and listen to the soundtrack. Each will leave you wanting more of the opulent French court during the reign of Marie Antoinette. In the end of it all, you too will feel empathy for the young Queen who fell into the French Revolution. You will be astounded by the courage and brave actions of the infamous Marie Antoinette.