Farewell, My Queen is based on a novel and was directed by Benoît Jacquot and released in 2012. It stars Léa Seydoux as Marie-Antoinette’s fictional reader, with Diane Kruger as Antoinette and Virginie Ledoyen as the Duchesse de Polignac. It’s a generally interesting film, showing the breakdown at Versailles in the days leading up the Revolution, but from a courtier’s perspective. A few of the costumes are quite nice (but that’s another post, because hey, it’s Snark Week).
But, it’s also annoying, and here’s seven reasons to be irritated by Farewell, My Queen:
1. The Extras’ Costumes Have Issues
I know most movies have limited budgets, and costume movies can be particularly expensive. So, I realize that most extras are put into Less Great costumes than the leads, and they’re put into whatever vaguely fits, and it’s not really fair to judge a movie’s costumes by what’s on the extras.
But, THE NECKLINES ON THESE DRESSES SCARE ME:
There’s this thing called a Bust Point. 18th-century women’s necklines stop there. Look it up.
2. Marie-Antoinette Did Not Look Like a Drag Queen
Okay, so yeah, one can differentiate characters theatrically by putting the higher class into the bigger hair and more elaborate dresses. Maybe I’m the only one in the audience who is going to twitch when you put Polignac in pseudo-1750s hair and Marie-Antoinette in 1770s hair, oh, all when it’s supposed to be 1789. But, making the queen look like she’s in drag compared to all the other courtiers? Do you really think your audience is That Stupid that they won’t figure out who the queen is? IT’S THE ONE WHO’S GETTING HER ASS KISSED. DUH.
3. Aniline* Dyes Did Not Exist in the 18th Century
1850s at the earliest, people. Sigh.
* Aniline dyes create super vibrant fabric colors. Here is a good idea of the kinds of more muted shades you might find in the 18th century.
4. Machine-Embroidered Fabrics Did Not Exist in the 18th Century
Of course, hand embroidering fabric takes a huge amount of time and therefore money. I’m not saying you need a sweatshop of little children hand embroidering your fabrics. But, if it looks like something that I’m going to see on a couch, I’m going to twitch.
5. This “Chemise à la Reine” Is Upsetting
I can’t totally put my finger on it. I think it’s how organized the pleats are, instead of being gathered. The bands organizing everything into place. The lack of enough fabric.
6. The Lead Actress’s Main Costume Has Issues
She wears this for FOUR DAYS STRAIGHT. It’s deeply unpleasant.
*Silk dupioni, a weave with lots of nubby nubs, is a very modern fabric. For dresses, it probably wouldn’t have been used until the 1950s. In the 18th century, it would have been considered very subpar.
*18th-century dressmakers, even those at the top, were all about efficient fabric usage. Cutting a striped fabric on interesting diagonal bias lines like this would waste fabric and therefore money. There might be some fun stripe placement, but not to this extent.
*18th-century gowns would have had a V back waistline. And, 18th-century dresses of this style closed in the front — hence the buttons down the front of the bodice!!
7. Marie-Antoinette and Polignac Were Unlikely to Have Been Lovers
Apparently this is something the director added and wasn’t in the original book. COME ON, GUY. I’m actually totally supportive of exploring same-sex relationships across the spectrum. But, do we have to put them in a life story when 1) it was used to slander both Marie Antoinette and the Duchesse de Polignac in the period, and 2) the historical consensus is that there’s no basis for it?