BY: Renabelle U. Darjan – 201068206
France probably has one of the most interesting and colorful history from among other countries that I know of. Growing up in a democratic-ruled country, I wonder how it would feel like to be in a country lead by the monarchs or even be one of them. Queens and kings amuses me and how they live their lives knowing that they’d one everything they’d want without working too hard for it. Unfortunately, not all of them had their happy endings. Talking about France, who would not know who Marie-Antoinette is? She’s one of the queens that ruled France who changed the history of France and had her tragic end. From all the queens I know, I find her most interesting.
Marie-Antoinette had been viewed as a villain by many. However, after thorough research about her life for almost two years now, I have proved that she’s not at all the villain and selfish queen that many people thinks of. She is actually a little girl who seeks relief in her little world of parties and luxuries whenever she can’t cope with all the responsibilities being thrown on her at the age of fifteen, the alien country she’s put into, her apathetic husband and the court members who dislike her. Just last year, I found a person with the notion about Marie-Antoinette in the identity of Sofia Coppola, the director of the movie Marie-Antoinette which was released on the year 2006 under Columbia Pictures. It was based on the book Marie Antoinette: The Journey by Antonia Fraser. The said movie won Best Costume Design in the Academy Awards which is truly evident in the movie.
Coppola considers this movie her most ambitious one primarily because she aims to show the grandeur of Palace of Versailles where Marie-Antoinette spent most of her life with and the place of residence of the most powerful monarchy in the whole of Europe during the 17th century.
Fortunately, her wish was granted when the French government allowed her to shoot the film in the said palace and were even allowed access even to the most off-limit rooms including the Hall of Mirrors where the young Marie-Antoinette witnessed Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart perform.
It was a thrilling experience, says Coppola, being able to go around the palace freely but still taking extra care considering the fact that this is one of the most famous historical monuments symbolizing power, wealth and luxury. In addition to that, Production Designer KK Barret also noted that they really are very lucky for the palace is so huge it’d be hard for it to replicate and make it completely alive. It provides an inimitable location for filming.
This estate is located on the then country village of Versailles, 20 kilometers from Paris, which later turned into one of the major suburbs of France, serving as the center of political power from the time of King Louis XIV, the brainchild of the it’s life, until King Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette’s husband. The design was conceived by one of the greatest architect of that time, Jules-Harduoin Monsart. It’s construction was started on year 1685 with 36000 people and 6000 horses building the 500 meter palace that took 50 years to completion. The Palace is considered one of the largest palaces in the world and definitely one of the most extravagant. It has 700 rooms, 2000 windows, 1250 fireplaces, 67 staircases, 1800 acres of park and about 37000 acres of land were cleared to put up the carefully aligned trees and plants. When the palace was completed it was able to accommodate 5000 people including servants. It is filled with artworks and paintings commissioned by the Kings that had lived in it and their queens or mistresses.
One of the highlights of the interiors of the palace was the Hall of Mirrors. The hall stretches for 240 feet ornamented with various luxuries chandelier and almost 3000 candles. It separates two salons found at both ends. One was called de la guerra, or war, and the other was called de la paix for peace.
It was also in the Hall of Mirrors where the Treaty of Versailles was signed in 1919.
Because of so much historical artifacts frozen in the palace, Coppola and the rest of her team were given precautionary measures to still preserve and unharm the things inside the palace most especially the furniture. Because of that, they brought their own set of furniture that actually challenge the present splendor displayed in the walls of the palace’s rooms. One of the rooms used in the movie was the Queen’s Chamber where Marie-Antoinette (Dunst) and Louis XVI (Jason Schwartzman) sleep together.
They also filmed in some of other parts of the palace such as the Marquise de Pompadour’s chambers, the King’s chamber and the dining area.
The photo below was the location where the Marie-Antoinette went out on the balcony as the mob below her were shouting and wanting to kill her.
Until now, the Palace of Versailles is one of France and of the world’s celebrated architecture. It holds a big part of France’s most memorable history, most especially of my personal favorite. Seeing it even in the movie makes me understand better the kind of environment that Marie-Antoinette grew up with. Seeing it personally would make my understanding a thousand times better. It’s a national treasure worth taking care of.