Marie Antoinette was directed by Sofia Coppola in 2006. Coppola is famous as the daughter of another great director, Francis Ford Coppola, who directed the Godfather series about an American mafia family and the Vietnam War period piece, Apocalypse Now. Sofia Coppola is one of the most famous and accomplished filmmakers working today – her other successful pieces include The Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation. Jason Schwartzman, who plays King Louis the 16th in this film, is Sofia Coppola’s cousin.
rococo/baroque – an elaborate, over-the-top, style of décor, dress, and architecture
Consider these questions over the course of the whole movie:
In what ways are Marie Antoinette’s challenges the same as those of teenage girls today?
What signs do you see that monarchy is not an effective form of government?
Sophia Coppola made the anachronistic (not fitting for the time) choice to include lots of pop music from the 1980’s in her soundtrack for this film. Why?
Answer these questions as you watch the film. (These questions refer to specific moments within the movie; they are in order.)
The opening credits of the film are set to the song “Natural’s Not In It” by Gang of Four (1979). Here are some of the lyrics:
The problem of leisure, what to do for pleasure? / Ideal love, a new purchase, a market of the senses / Dream of the perfect life / Economic circumstances, the body is good business
What themes are suggested by these lyrics?
Explain the ceremony that takes place when Marie Antoinette crosses the border from Austria to France. How is it symbolic?
Come up with a theory on why Marie Antoinette’s skirt on her wedding dress is so wide.1
What does Marie Antoinette’s handwriting say about her?
How does Marie Antoinette’s wedding night go? Explain.
What is curious about how Marie Antoinette gets dressed in the morning?
How is Madame du Barry characterized?
How do Marie Antoinette and her friends treat Madame du Barry?
Pause the movie at exactly 55:53. What do you see? Why is it there?
What does Marie Antoinette’s shopping, eating, drinking, and gambling say about her?
Why is King Louis initially hesitant to give money to the American Revolution? Why does he decide to go ahead and do it?
How is Marie Antoinette’s performance as a peasant girl ironic?
This is not a question, just something to note: at around this point in the film, the characters make reference to Marie Antoinette’s infamous quotation, “Let them eat cake.” Immediately prior to the French Revolution, rumors began circulating that when Marie Antoinette was informed by her advisors that the peasants of France did not have any bread, she had joked, “Let them eat cake.” Historians agree that she probably never said this, but at the time, it inflamed opinions against her.
Sophia Coppola makes an unusual choice in her ending of the film. In your opinion, was it the right choice? Explain.
1 This was a real fashion! They were called “pannier hips.”