Monday, May 26, 2008

Summer Reading

When the Marie Antoinette movie came out in 2006 I couldn't wait to see it. I was not well versed in French history, but any movie trailer that mixed Big 80's music with amazing costuming and fabulous cinematography peaked my interest. I waited and waited for the film to come to my town. I think when it finally did arrive, it stayed a whopping five days and I missed it. Any film that gives off even a hint of culture has a very short run in the local theater, if it even comes at all. Talledega Nights on the other hand is probably still playing on three of the eight screens at the "multiplex." So, I had to then wait for it to come out on video (do we still say video, or do we have to say DVD?) Well, you know what I mean.

When I finally did see it I LOVED it! Probably could have used more gratuitous 80's music, but come to think of it most things could. My only misgiving about the film was I knew that I was seeing the Hollywood version Marie Antoinette. While that might have been okay for a teenager who had not done their required reading and had a report due on the subject the next day, I on the other hand wanted to find out the back story and why in this instance all roads led to the scaffold for Marie.

I started my quest by reading Marie Antoinette Portrait of an Average Woman. I thought it sounded interesting since my perception of the young queen was completely opposite from what the title of the book suggested. The book definitely begins at the beginning, in Austria where we meet Marie Antoinette as a child and follows her life step by step as it moves toward the inevitable. One of my favorite elements is that the book contains correspondence between her and her mother. What could be more telling of a person than that? I almost could not bring myself to read the last two chapters because I was so moved by everything that had led up to that point. I knew the outcome. Not even Hollywood tried to change that. But I still thought that if I prolonged finishing it, that everything would somehow be alright... for me, for history, and for Marie.
My husband asked why I was so interested in Marie all of a sudden. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I think it has something to do with Marie having been only thirty-eight, almost the age that I am now, and how that in many respects she was just an average woman...

Alright, so I have some true background now, which I did not receive from Hollywood or Classics Illustrated. Next stop in my Marie Antoinette tour de force... A Scented Palace.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for visiting! I posted your blog too!

The Other Side of Me said...

Thank you for sharing the movie. I had forgotten about it until you mentioned it here. I must get it to rent ASAP. The books sound like great summer reading, too.

I am totally in awe of your charmed creations!

Elizabeth said...

Melissa, you should also read "Farewell my Queen" by Chantal Thomas. That is a good one, it is her story told by a lady who reads to her and her final days. I use to live 10 minutes away from Versailles when we lived in France from 2002/2004 I've been there at least five times inside,and many times strolling through the gardens. I loved the newer movie since the colors are so very "French" all the pastries in that movie were from my beloved Laduree!! When you watched the DVD did you see for a split second the blue converse high tops??? It is really quick, but it is in the part where she is trying on all the clothing. I own the DVD also :)