L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Norma moment

Just dreaming of Norma Shearer's Marie Antoinette (1938) and thought I'd post this image from a Hollywood, shimmering at its very starriest heights. The moment the dauphine and count Fersen first meet, on the staircase of a gambling house, Norma turning her full-wattage glamour on (a sadly dull) Tyrone Power.


  1. Mon dieu! She looks like Glinda, the good witch of the north! How lovely. Last night my 12 year-old daughter and I watched "Marie Antoinette" by Sophia Coppola, which I enjoyed much more than the first time I saw it. The clothes are IMPECCABLE and the music is pretty. And Jason Schwartzman is tres adorable.

  2. Diane, dear Diane, I can't remember if I thought Mr. Schwartzman was très adorable - I can't even remember if he played Louis XVI or Fersen - but I feel compelled to strongly disagree with you about les costumes: the were NOT impeccable, and the hair, etc., even worse. Oh, don't get me started! ;)

    But since I am.... The 1938 version is wildly inaccurate with its sets and costumes. But they made no effort to make them accurate; that wasn't the goal. They made up visuals of a Marie Antoinette and a Versailles that could only exist in ones's imagination, an impossibly glamorized Hollywood dream; they invented a totally different "language" for the visual side of an otherwise reasonably accurate telling of the story. It can't be compared with what we know of the real thing, so I can - wholeheartedly - enjoy it on its own terms. The problem with Coppola's version is that, aside from the modern visual touches and music she adds - which, surprisingly, I have no problem with at all - the designers attempted to speak the visual language of the real Marie Antoinette and the real Versailles. And with that as the goal, they failed...miserably.

    Some very dear friends - come toi, chérie! - really enjoyed this film, so I know I should just calm down and pipe down - G would definitely counsel that - but I take my dear MA and my dear Versailles very, VERY seriously! :)

    (On the plus side, I will give that they did a pretty good job on reproducing one or two of the actual interiors of MA's rooms at Versailles; the scale was wrong, but otherwise....)