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MARIE ANTOINETTE

About The Production
MARIE ANTOINETTE marks writer/director Sofia Coppola's third feature film, and by far her most ambitious. She transforms the misunderstood Marie Antoinette through her refreshingly modern and upbeat approach that's devoid of conventions of period pieces. In its place, she has created a moving story of adolescent angst and spirit that transcends its time. Coppola's strikingly personal vision and imaginative visual style re-imagines Marie Antoinette and the entire court of Versailles through the lens of today's popular culture.

"Everything we did is based on research about the period, but it's all seen in a contemporary way,” says Coppola. "My biggest fear was making a ‘Masterpiece Theatre' kind of movie. I didn't want to make a dry, historical period movie with the distant, cold tableau of shots. It was very important to me to tell the story in my own way. In the same way as I wanted LOST IN TRANSLATION to feel like you had just spent a couple of hours in Tokyo, I wanted this film to let the audience feel what it might be like to be in Versailles during that time and to really get lost in that world.”

Marie Antoinette today conjures up images of a glamorous Queen who lived in luxury and uttered the immortal words — "Let them eat cake” while the French peasant class starved. Ultimately the peasants revolted, and she was sentenced to death for her perceived contempt and indifference. However, recent historical research demonstrates that much of what we thought we knew about Marie Antoinette was just a myth – and in fact she never uttered those immortal words she is so famously credited with saying.

The real Marie Antoinette was a naïve and lost teenager who was unprepared to take her place as a major player in the turbulent history of late 18th century France. The Austrian-born princess was shipped off to Versailles at 14, where she was shocked by the rigid etiquette, brutal family infighting and merciless gossip of the French royal court. Trapped in a passionless marriage and forced to live in the unforgiving glare of the public spotlight, Marie Antoinette found her escape in the only refuge allowed her — the sensual pleasures of youth. But her frivolity unwittingly made her the object of scandal, a target for political propaganda and a convenient scapegoat for a poverty-stricken society on the verge of revolution. In the end, she faced her enemies and accepted her fate with dignity and courage.

The true story of Marie Antoinette's misunderstood life came to widespread attention in 2002 with the publication of Antonia Fraser's highly readable biography Marie Antoinette: The Journey. The book immediately garnered acclaim for its meticulous research, which offered a completely new and compelling view of the much-maligned monarch. Fraser painted a picture not of an imperious Queen oblivious to suffering but rather of a fanciful, lively teenager who was warm and empathic by nature, yet unprepared for the demands of her highly visible life in the French royal court of Versailles and the intrigues of political power.

The irony was that, despite being surrounded by thousands of onlookers and attendants, Marie Antoinette felt utterly secluded and alone – a young girl trapped in a fantasy world that left her precious little freedom.

It was this unusual and surprising take on Marie Antoinette that caught the attention of writer/director Sofia Coppola. Like most of us, Coppola was familiar only with the standard myths about the world's most infamous Queen. Through Fraser's biography, a more sympathetic and believably human young woman emerged. Here was a Marie Antoinette who was vibrantly youthful and strikingly contemporary in her struggles — with loneliness, gossip, desire, love and coming of age — except that the consequences of her journey unfolded on an enormous historical stage.

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