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During our very first Snark Week, Kendra previewed The Moon and the Sun, a schlocky-looking upcoming flick about King Louis XIV, his illegitimate daughter, and a mermaid, starring Pierce Brosnan as the king. Well, the thing was delayed umpteen times and supposedly got a theatrical release in 2022 as The King’s Daughter and swiftly found its way to video and streaming. How could I resist?
Supposedly adapted from the fantasy novel The Moon and the Sun by Vonda N. McIntyre, this movie seems to kick much of that book to the curb, along with historical accuracy, historical costumes, subtle acting, and credibility. I suspect the target audience is 10-year-old girls because this thing is high on the pretty pretty princess scale with a cheezoid romantic (but not at all sexual) plot that has all the depth of a puddle of water. But grab your favorite cocktail because it’s pretty hilarious to watch with a buzz and call out the obvious plot points and guffaw at the silly costume choices! Oh Lizzy Gardiner, this shouldn’t bear so much resemblance to your fine work on The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert!
Well let’s start at the very beginning, as they say … because there’s a fucking title card! And y’all should know my beef with those! Don’t say a movie is set in a certain year because I’m sure as hell gonna expect that the movie looks and acts like that specific year. Which this one totally does not.
This is all you really need to know about the plot, aside from the fictional daughter. I’ll get to her in a bit.
If you remember the preview post, you’re familiar with the romance-novel style that the supposed Sun King sports here:
But what really got me ROTFLMAO watching this movie was the extras, OMG the extras! The leads are dressed non-historically, sure, but the extras are over-the-top, fancy-pants wacky with a side of WTFrock. The guys wear a mishmash of 18th- and 19th-century rental stock with Hot Topic accessories, while the gals are in full David’s Bridal, Reign-wanna-be garb. But before I take a deep-dive into the hilarity, I give you this amuse bouche of a pair greeting the King in the Hall of Mirrors:
Y’know, I think a big problem with this movie is that they didn’t have any real budget for costuming. They shot their wad on this boat:
They spent too much on too many horses and carriages:
And they definitely wasted money on all the drone shots of Versailles:
There is one relatively historically accurate costume in the movie — the King’s nightshirt! He’s shown rising from bed several times (not exactly the formal grand lever ceremony, but then, it’s not filmed in a real room at Versailles either), and he wears this shirt:
When the King’s daughter, Marie-Josèphe D’Alembert (Kaya Scodelario), is brought to Versailles, neither she nor anyone but the King knows she’s his daughter. She just thinks she’s there to be a court musician, and then the King takes a shine to her. The rest of the court gawks at her like she’s a country bumpkin. Here’s Marie and the maid she’s been assigned, Magali (Crystal Clarke):
Now here’s the courtiers…
The main plot vaguely revolves around the King’s people capturing a mermaid so they can kill her and then the King will get her life force and become immortal eyeroll. Bingbing Fan is credited as the mermaid, but she has no dialog, just a musical/telepathic language that only Marie understands, and the few glimpses of the mermaid are so CGI-enhanced you can hardly tell who it is.
A side plot involves Jean-Michel Lintillac (Ben Lloyd-Hughes, the moon-faced guy from Sanditon seasons two and three) as a wealthy nobleman angling for the ear of the King, which he gets. The King grants him the title of duke and sets him up to marry Marie, whether she likes it or not. Smarmy Lintillac gets a wild wardrobe of his own:
Can’t forget about the ball that, I guess, is meant to be the centerpiece of the movie. But it doesn’t have quite as many bizarre extras to entertain me, just a few:
At the ball, the King dances with Marie, and they have a moment.
Finally, there’s Marie, the title character, who gets a comparatively tame costume collection by comparison.
The King has a big heart-to-heart with Marie, telling her about her true heritage.
And he gives her a miniature painting of her mother, Louise de La Vallière.
Do I even need to say that looks nothing like Louise de La Vallière? She was a real person, one of Louis XIV’s mistresses from 1661 to 1667, and she gave birth to five of his children, of which, a daughter and son survived infancy. After several more contentious years at court, Louise left in 1674 for a Carmelite convent where she spent the rest of her life as a nun.
Her eldest surviving child was Marie Anne de Bourbon (October 2, 1666 – May 3, 1739), who was legitimized by the King and raised at court. At age 13 in 1680, Marie was married to Louis-Armand I de Bourbon, Prince of Conti. She was widowed in 1685 and lived a successful and wealthy life until age 72.
Suffice it to say, this movie’s idea of “the King’s daughter” is nonsense! Much like the last few things we see Marie wear…
Did The King’s Daughter live up — or down — to expectations?
Between this and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Benjamin Walker has made some… interesting choices when it comes to appearing in historical mashup films (though on the flipside he has The Notorious Bettie Page and Flags of Our Fathers so I can’t judge him too harshly).
Oh my lord…..that was…..a sight. Bless you for sitting through that and I’ll send some eye bleach asap!
Not a single costume within decades of the seventeenth century – the closest we get is some weird and very random mid-18th century bits. My eyes are bleeding. Please make it go away.
(Kaylee’s dress is far prettier, BTW. And I have always seen it as a comic effect in the episode.)
Did you ever dream you’d be thinking fondly of Kaylee’s fluffy pink monstrosity? It’s an awful dress but Kaylee looks beautiful in it because she loves it so.
Holy cow. I can’t remember the last time I saw so much inaccurate costuming – from so many periods! – crammed into one movie. Were they trying to go for a free-wheeling ‘we’re so rad, we’re going mash up fashion history!’ Vibe maybe? (I think I’m giving them too much credit)
THE EXTRAS. I AM DEAD!!!!
The best part!
Whoo hoo!! All the Friesians!!
They didn’t spend too much on horses & carriages, they spent too much on the wrong horses & carriages.
The carriage appears to be mid-to-late 19th Century. The horses are all Fresians, a Dutch breed that at the time would have only been heavy carriage horses…in the Netherlands, not France.
Black was not a favored color of elite horses at the time – light grey/white were the most desirable and more light-boned nimble animals preferred over the light-draft Fresians of the time. They should have used Lippizans or Iberian breeds (Lusitanos & Andalusians) if they wanted authenticity.
Pssst, click that “horse” link in the caption — our horse friends like Deb have covered the topic already ;)
Thank you for taking the hit for us, I don’t think I could’ve survived.
We need a Snark Week post about the Great Gatsby! Stop remaking it!
Ok, but even the “old fashioned cello” isn’t right!!!!
Of course not, did you expect it to be?
Why did they trash a beautiful book? The costumes suck.
Love it! That was so enjoyable that I think I need to take up smoking again.
Also, I think that Corset-Clad Bimbos should so totally be the name of our Go-Gos/Courney Love/Bangles mash-up tribute band.
WHO’S WITH ME?!?
\m/ \m/ \m/
This mess can only have been directed by a protege of Ken Russell.
Some of the extra have a Burning Man vibe. . . they’re just a smidge too clean.
My favorite bad movie podcast, “The Flop House,” did an episode on this. They don’t usually spend much time talking about costumes, but these outfits were so egregious that they couldn’t ignore them.
I’m curious about the timeline of Fan Bingbing’s house arrest and the production of this film. It apparently had a huge amount of investment from Chinese film producers. Could she have had a bigger role that was cut down post-production because she was in trouble with the government?
The movie’s original planned release date was April 10, 2015, per our first Snark Week post about it. I think Fan Bingbing’s problems didn’t start until at least 2018.
Accd. to Wikipedia & IMDB, this movie’s problems started just weeks before that initial date w/special effects not being done. Then it sat on the shelf, getting passed from one distributor to another ever since.
I remember reading an article about her that must have been before the movie was supposed to come out the first time. It was in the NYTimes, I think, about how by number of people watching her films, she could be considered the world’s biggest star. This film was mentioned as being her potential English language breakthrough. The article was what inspired me to find a copy of the book, ‘The Moon and the Sun.’
I don’t remember if the year the book is set in is specified (though Mme de Maintenon is firmly entrenched), but it’s funny to see Brosnan the Fourteenth worried about mortality in 1684 when he’s going to reign 30 more years.
OMG this is hilarious. I almost want to watch it just to laugh. This was definitely influenced by Reign.
It finally dawned on me what things like this and the Sissi-related mess I commented on earlier today remind me of: the makeup and dresses and even the body language reads like “America’s Next Top Model” did a photoshoot at Versailles and the theme is modern couture French royalty.
I guess the 007 money ran out.
IKR? This is the kind of crap he did before 007. :)
Oh lordy. They aren’t even pretty fantasy gowns, just piles of stuff on bridesmaid gowns.
I first learned of this movie on this blog…and I watched it sometime last year. OMG!!! There are no words. It was JUST what I expected it to be and also NOT AT ALL what I expected. There’s just SO MUCH CRAZY in this movie–costumes, plot, acting, dancing, CGI, everything is TOTALLY BONKERS. I don’t know what I was going thru when I watched it, but I was delighted and couldn’t turn away. The whole time I thought, “Oh no they didn’t!” Like. Every. Second.
It was such a hilarious trainwreck. I’d been waiting so long, & the movie did not disappoint in how bad it was!
Hang on, might this be where Meghan Markle got the inspiration for her very own shitty curtsy in their Netflix series?
I had the very same thought! The same ridiculous, mocking pose!
I think that if they got pieces right, it was from sheer random chance. If they had gone to a Spirit of Halloween store and searched for 17th century costumes it would have turned out better than this.
This production is pure horror! I tried to survive half an hour. But it’s all so bad except the ship and the locations. Maybe all money was spend for these and Pierce Brosnan. If the whole thing would not boring on top of bad costumes and equipment…
We get Pierce Brosnan in a frock flick and all he got to wear was THIS?!? (Pierce, either you were done So Very Dirty or you took one look at the Most Christian’s proper outfits and chickened out).
ALSO, VERSAILLES is looking you all dead in the eye and crowing “You thought WE were bad, mon vieux? Well you have snarked us and now you must SUFFER!”
Actually that’s more of a Henry VIII line: Louis the Fourteenth would probably just smirk, if he could even hear you over “the sound of how Awesome I am”.
Also, I’m looking forward to see this blog’s reactions to MARIE ANTOINETTE when the various experts get a chance to run their beady eyes over the styles – my untutored impression has been that it’s quite pretty, though not enormously rigorous in terms of fashion (On the other hand Mr James Purefoy is inarguably “the handsomest man at his own court”, the future Louis XVI and Madam Antoine are suitably cursed with the sex drive of a pair of zoo pandas AND they have a pug*).
*Sadly there’s at least one serious shortfall in this House of Bourbon: while THE SERPENT QUEEN is giving us the Fat Louis action we deserve, this show’s Provence is barely large enough for Monte Carlo!
Please note that I refer to Louis de Bourbon of THE SERPENT QUEEN as “Fat Louis” with affection, since the character (with his interesting mixture of aristo greed and common sense) is one of my favourites, especially since he looks a lot more like a period aristo than quite a lot of the cast.
Oh yeah, we’ll be watching when that latest Marie Antoinette comes to the US in a few months :)
There is a really cool 1920s-style beaded headdress on that one extra. It has no real reason to be there, of course, but at least it’s nice…
Kaylee’s dress looks better than any of these.
Why do people act like a curtsey is a major gymnastic performance? Put one foot behind the other and bend your knees. If wearing a long full skirt you can spread it but spreading your arms is not necessary.
I think curtsying is like skirt hiking — symptoms of ppl wholly unaccustomed to wearing long skirts, so they overreact wildly. Hopefully next Snark Week, Kendra will treat us to a gallery of shitty curtsies!
Those extras must have taken a wrong turn on their way to the set of a vampire movie.
This movie looks so bad. I think I gave it 10 minutes and went “nope, waste of brain cells.”
I remember hearing about this when it came out, but mainly in context of it having been in development/release hell for years (long enough for two of the stars to get married and have kids between wrapping filming and the release date). I hadn’t realized how bad the costuming was, or seen enough images to notice.
As noted here, it seems like they spent a lot of money on location filming etc. with not enough left over for costumes. I’m reminded of the Dungeons & Dragons movie, where they showed huge CGI exteriors and filmed some scenes in impressive real historical buildings in Prague, but then other scenes were just in small, cheaply dressed locations and a lot of the costumes looked like something out of a bad LARP or Halloween costume shop.
I hope Pierce Brosnan got lots of money for this turkey.
I am so so glad others noticed. I hoped Bernadette Banner would talk Abt it but she didn’t. And did you see that lady with the full goth makeup??