Let Them Eat Fake

Why Sofia Coppola’s epochal movie based on France’s last queen is flawed yet fabulous.

While watching “Marie Antoinette,’ I realized historically accurate films are hard to come by these days, but sometimes authenticity is the second priority. Many period dramas are adored for their eye catching wardrobes, whether they be 100 percent on target for the era or not. While some historical films even bend and twist the original story to grab the attention of their audiences and make it more interesting, historians will always be extremely harsh critics of period dramas. People tend to enjoy films more if it has more drama, action, and overall substantial suspense, so that’s why they add little subplots and spice to these well-known stories. Sofia Coppola’s ‘Marie Antoinette’, released in 2006, was a perfect example of this phenomenon. 

While the movie isn’t entirely accurate, the aesthetics of the film are undeniably unique and pleasing. The pastel colors, exotic fashion and gorgeous peek into the ornate lifestyle of Marie Anotinette and Louis XVI is executed beautifully (no pun intended). It was hard to watch the film without admiring the glamorous scenes and costumes. Even though it got some things wrong, it certainly got the luxuriant aesthetics right. 

In fact, there are a few movies that aren’t always correct, but have proven to be fan favorites, like Disney’s ‘Pocohontas,’ and ‘Pearl Harbor’ starring Ben Affleck. Although historically inaccurate, these films prove that they really don’t have to be that accurate to catch the attention of viewers. 

However, ‘Marie Antoinette’ is a good balance between a good drama and a period drama. The film did manage to nail the historical inaccuracy of the quote most associated with the famous French queen, “Let them eat cake.” In the film, they hammer the fact that Marie really never said this, which is 100 percent true. Lady Antonia Fraser, author of a biography of the French queen, believes the quote would have been uncharacteristic of Marie, an intelligent woman who donated generously to charitable causes and, despite her own undeniably lavish and lush lifestyle, displayed sensitivity towards the poor people of France. 

As a huge history buff myself, I completely understand why people get upset when films based on real historical events or people aren’t flat-out accurate. It can be exhausting anticipating a film or series about a favorite figure or event only for it to be inaccurate, but it’s also hard to make utterly accurate movies or series about things that happened so long ago, especially if you don’t know if you can trust all the sources. Besides, history is a story that has been passed down an ungodly amount of times, so it’s been altered.

But, one historical film that hit the big screens in 1997 is both accurate and a classic, proving that you can be iconic and correct. The movie, of course, is none other than ‘Titanic.’ This movie is a certified classic with one reason being its historical accuracy. Besides Jack and Rose, a lot of the characters presented in the film were real people that were on the Titanic. 

Both ‘Titanic’ and ‘Marie Antoinette’ have pretty unique wardrobes that really make each scene just right. While those on ‘Titanic’ are a bit more accurate, both are definitely noticeable. 

With that being said, Sofia Coppola’s ‘Marie Antoinette’ is a work of art. The acting is great, the scenes are entertaining, and overall, it displays the tragic and captivating story of Marie Antoinette’s rise and fall quite wonderfully, whether it was executed properly or not.