Paris: Marie Antoinette Mania

Posted on June 1, 2006


Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette has been released to much heated discussion in Paris. Though the film was booed at Cannes and gleefully reviled by not a few French critics, Marie Antoinette is quickly taking the French by storm. Naturally, the historically minded etablissement is complaining that Coppola’s film “lops” of the final, more interesting years (it doesn’t show the Queen in prison or dying by guillotine). There is lots of frowning and hand wringing about wasting two hours of film on what is essentially the portrait of an over-indulged teenager. Meanwhile marketers are rushing to profit from the frivolous but glamorous Austrian royal who is obviously destined to stir controversy forever. An article in the International Herald Tribune provides a laundry list of the current Marie Antoinette mania that is gripping the French:

In other Marie-Antoinette-related marketing mania, the best-selling biography by the British author, Antonia Fraser (which served as the basis for Coppola’s script), has been published in French for the first time.Huge advertising billboards featuring the lead actress in “Marie-Antoinette,” Kirsten Dunst, hang in several Paris Métro stations. The blurb calls Marie- Antoinette “a Lady Di before her time.” The Louvre Museum is promoting the sale of dozens of Marie-Antoinette- related items at its museum store, including a $160 children’s costume modeled on a portrait of Marie-Antoinette at the age of seven. The Paris confectioner Ladurée, whose towers of colorful macaroons grace the film, is paying “homage” to the queen with a Marie-Antoinette “collection,” including a white- and milk- chocolate cake imprinted with her carriage.The perfumer Francis Kurkdjian consulted 18th-century accounts of Marie-Antoinette’s taste in concentrated scents in creating a perfume in her honor. Baccarat has produced it as a limited edition of 10 ($10,000 each) as well as a $450 version in a less expensive crystal.The fashion designer John Galliano made Marie-Antoinette his muse in his haute couture show in Paris early this year. Lalique has made crystal earrings and a pendant inspired by one of her portraits.
The Raynaud porcelain house is selling copies of her royal dishes, the knife maker Couteaux de Sauveterre a $280 limited edition jackknife engraved with the initials “MA.”

Hm. As they say, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

For an American review of the movie, visit Hollywood Elsewhere