Marie Antoinette by Sofia Coppola





Marie Antoinette by Sofia Coppola

Drawn loosely from the real life of the famed Duchess of Austria, the film, Marie Antoinette, provides a synopsis of Marie’s life after marriage to the Dauphin of France, Louis-Auguste. At the mere age of 14, the betrothed Marie lives a life surrounded by criticism, a need for justification, as well as a matrimony that has not yet been consummated as per the laws at the time. The focus on Marie at her tender young age makes it easy for Coppola to draw on the thematic subject of outward pleasures. As the movie progresses, the protagonist becomes engaged heavily in more frolicsome desires and wants such as gambling, makeup, and fashion. Even though such aspects succeed in her own escapism, Marie Antoinette’s actions eventually become the causative factor for her infamous status coupled by her husband’s over-investments in international wars. Without digression, the film, Marie Antoinette, by Sofia Coppola is one of the prime illustrations of the interaction between fashion and film.

Objective Summary

Betrothed at the age of 14, the life of Marie Antoinette begins once she becomes aware of the different forms of pleasures that her new lifestyle offers. The film’s setting, which is based on the Victorian influences that characterized the 1770s, places Marie at a point whereby her interaction with wealth evolves into the cause for her infamy in the Kingdom of France. From the onset of the film, the protagonist is introduced as a young girl with null political influence. Hence, despite her aristocratic dispositions, Marie is subject to exasperations due to the disrespect she receives at court. As an outcome of this, she becomes involved in lighthearted pleasures that consistently influence her young mind. However, as she takes part in her newfound revelries, she discovers that she has to take the helm of the monarchy due to the untimely demise of the King of France, specifically in 1774.

As the new Queen of France, Marie Antoinette becomes subject to the immense wealth and splendor of her pristine heritage. Eventually, she begins taking part in an extravagant lifestyle that renders her weak against materialistic possessions such as clothing and fashion-based accessories. However, her lifestyle quickly evolves into a source of infamy for her. Accordingly, because of her expensive life and the finances exploited by her husband, Louis Auguste, both couples become a source of unpopularity in France at a time when the country is ridden with debt. Because of this, Joseph II, who is Marie’s Brother and the Holy Roman Emperor, visits and counsels her in order to ensure that she does not take part in such a profligate lifestyle. In addition, Joseph II questions her husband on bedroom issues. Following this, their marriage undergoes consummation leading to the conception of their first daughter. Despite this, Marie has an affair, bears a novel son with Louis, and comes to terms with her family life at the height of the French Revolution.

Critique of the Film

Because of its Victorian-era leanings, the film is a distinct portrayal of the role that materialism assumed in respect to Marie’s context. As the movie progresses, it becomes easy to pinpoint the dominant themes that are presented which comprise the dimension of fashion as well as the development of the feminine identity. Indeed, Marie Antoinette describes the protagonist as an icon of fashion. This is especially evidenced by the costumes that the characters wear while depicting the revolutionary era of France. From the opening segment of the motion picture, the movie portrays subjects of dressing and redressing. In addition to this, the crystallization of costumes acts as an imperative aspect. More specifically, the costumes perform their obligation as agents while operating on a representative level. Simply put, the costumes are a representation of the characters’ developments based on the interdependence that exists between them and the construction of the motion picture’s main character.

The significance of the costumes in the film further reinforces the role that fashion assumed in the construction of the main character’s feminine identity. Indeed, clothes constitute imperative dimensions within the development of filmic identities. In fact, they are significant tools that filmmakers apply in order to narrate a story more effectively. In this respect, the design of costumes is inclined towards supporting the narrative. As an outcome, every object that appears in the film is selected callously. In the end, costumes establish the frame of the film. In Marie Antoinette, the costume that the main character wears positions her as a queen. Additionally, her youthful nature is represented by the intensive amount of finances and time she expends in clothes as well as other fashion accessories. In a more objective manner, the depiction of Marie’s clothing and fashion as correlates to the concentration on her personal life.

Reaction and Conclusion

To this end, Marie Antoinette is another illustration of a film subjected to archaic influences. Narrated from another point of view, the events that surround the respective film may not be necessarily accurate or convincing enough especially for the historical viewer. However, it is impossible to ignore the reinforcing role that the costumes imposed on the respective narrative. Through the clothing, the viewer is drawn to the film’s historical context and made aware of some of the aspects that defined the Kingdom of France in the 1770s.

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