sofia's mom, eleanor, interviews her about the film and her choices...
this was translated from french so excuse the nonsense! (thanks google)
INTERVIEW OF SOFIA COPPOLA BY ELEANOR COPPOLA
Eleanor: You may say, at the beginning, that the first images which came to mind when one spoke to you about Marie Antoinette, were rather the costumes and powdered wigs of the time. What finally attracted you and pushed you to be interested thoroughly in this character?
Sofia: It was during a dinner that Dean Tavoularis, a friend, spoke to me for the first time about the history of Marie Antoinette. He read the biography written by Stefan Zweig. He told me how, at 14 years, she had left Austria for France, and that she was only a teenager when she became queen. He started to describe to me his daily newspaper in details, his particular relation with her husband. He brushed me a portrait of it, in particular on a psychological level, which was quite different from the stereotypes that I had been done. For me, Marie Antoinette remained, above all, the symbol of a completely declining life style. I did not realize at which point these people, who had to control a country, were in fact only young teenagers. The daily newspaper with the Castle of Versailles, it is thus also, for these teenagers, a form of training in a tended and difficult environment. It is this position and the complexity of the character of Marie Antoinette who interested me. Then, I intended to speak about the book of Antonia Fraser. I then started to look further into my research while reading from the different points of view. I plunged myself more precisely on the life of family of Marie Antoinette, their ambiguous relations with France. It was found in ground particularly hostile, foreign, in competition with a "beautiful-family" which did not appreciate it and the marriage did not approve, in the medium of a very critical court which scanned least its gestures. It is finally a mixture of elements to which each one can be identified. This transition towards the adulthood is almost common for all the teenagers, only the framework is here particularly imposing and "exotic". By reading the book of Antonia Fraser, I had the impression of a Marie Antoinette confronted with the same problems as a high-school girl. She thus keeps at the beginning some nice, calm but a little preserving friends of childhood, then she meets finally new friends, funnier, more "fêtardes", which helps it to leave its cocoon. I tried to tell this part of the life of Marie Antoinette. I did not want to make large historical fresco. I was interested by the research from the proper point of view of the girl. The majority of the versions of its life are only those of external people, I said itself that the more I learned some, the more I will try an approach from a personal point of view.
Eleanor: You left in the second plan the political context and the role there that Marie Antoinette could play.
Sofia: The political context is present, even if it is subjacent. The Revolution is about to burst, but much remain unconscious. Antonia Fraser details the important political figures of the time, like the advisers of Louis XVI. But Marie Antoinette did not feel really concerned by the policy. She did not realize of the importance of the events. The screen of the History has him a long time escaped, by naivety. I decided to keep the same policy, to preserve this kind of cut bubble of the external world in which it lived. It is a very intimate approach and on a really personal scale
Eleanor: Do you consider to have made this film with your manner? To adapt isn't such an outstanding subject of the French history, to run the risk badly to interpret it?
Sofia: My greater fear, when turning began, it was really to carry out a cold and dry historical adaptation. A kind of distant film of time and without life, of simple your bleaux put end to end. I wanted absolutely to do it with my way, as I felt it. In Lost in Translation, I had already wanted to transport the spectator in Tokyo, during a few hours, which it impregnates with this so particular atmosphere. I renewed this attempt in Versailles, at the 18th century, while adding a little my own ideas to it. It is not a lesson of History. It is an interpretation documented, but carried by my desire for covering the subject differently. I, for example, tried to insert the neo-romantic spirit of certain pop groups of the Eighties like Bow Wow Wow and Adam Ant. Their vision of the 18th century is of course rather particular, nearer on the declining and coloured side, between dandyism and classicism. It is a purely ludic point of view which I found in adequacy with the adolescent characters. I as remember a film as I had seen with my brother, Roman, Lisztomania [ of Ken Russell, 1975 ]. It recalled the history of Franz Liszt, interpreted by Roger Daltrey of the group The Who. The film was in total shift with the time. It described Liszt like a kind of rock'n'roll-star spending his time to taste sorbets, to drink of the Coke or to be continued by the paparazzi. It was a film which respected neither the codes nor the rules. The unit had this declining and disrespectful side which was appropriate to me. I sought this form of freedom.
Eleanor: I have the impression that each one of your films is marked by the presence of a female character central completion isolated and misunderstood of the world which surrounds it. That it is in Virgin Suicides, Scarlett in Lost in Translation in Tokyo, or Marie Antoinette in France, the girls all are lost, in shift or confrontation with their environment.
Sofia: Yes. Marie Antoinette is foreign, at the court as in the country. Its statute is not so different from that of a pupil finding herself in a new school. It must learn the rules, to cut through a path in this unknown universe, to overcome its apprehension. I did not have the same reactions while launching me in the setting in scene. I believe that I immediately smelled myself familiar. The situation was a little more ambiguous. I was at the same time beginner but I felt also the presence of certain fasteners. I could identify me with a group, a model if I needed some. This female character that one finds in each one of my films, it is not a deliberated leitmotiv: I realize of the similarities only to the end, at the moment when I seek to include/understand the direction of what I made. With less than one unconscious attempt to recall a part of my life, this topic is not really premeditated. To return to film itself, I wanted to dissociate me truncated image of Marie Antoinette. I tried to present his human side. She is neither perfect, neither completely innocent, nor as bad as one let believe. She just fell to the bad place at the bad time and without good press attaché! There is in more its complicated relation with her husband. Louis XVI was not interested in it. It is this lack of intimacy which encouraged it to organize festivals or to make "shopping" with his/her friends. In that, it can make think of a woman of Beverly Hills forsaken by her husband. There are quite precise factors which explain its distant and frivolous attitude. It quite simply did not want any to spend its time with a husband who rejected it or was unaware of it.
Eleanor: All things considered, they are stories of couple universal and especially very contemporary...
Sofia: Exactly. I was consolidated in my vision when Kirsten Dunst read script. It immediately told me that it had been identified with certain aspects of the life of Marie Antoinette. She really recognized herself in the character. She inevitably must have rather close experiences because of to have started very young person with the cinema.
Eleanor: What led you to choose this music for film?
Sofia: It is a mixture of classical music of the time and more contemporary things. It is a true melting-pot. I worked with Brian Reitzell, as on Lost in Translation. One gathered musics then after one tried to emphasize an atmosphere, an environment. I wanted that certain elements come from this neo-romantic period which I listened to, small, as the titles of the group Bow Wow Wow. I already had through them a glance by procuration over the 18th century. Afterwards, it is not obvious of saying why I chose this song for such scene and not another. Sometimes, these is a choice which is done naturally. For example, there is a song of New Order, at the time of the birthday of Marie Antoinette, who is really in the mood of the moment, merry but tinted melancholy. The spectator knows that they do not have any more fun the festival for very a long time.
Eleanor: What can you say to me on the actors?
Sofia: Whereas I wrote script, I immediately thought of Kirsten for the role. Of all that I had read on Marie Antoinette, I thought it as a nice blonde, teenager full with life but not taken with the serious one. It was rather intelligent, and people sometimes badly interpreted his spirit of invention, as when it played the shepherdess. It was not true intellectual either. I found that Kirsten could incarnate the character perfectly. Its German origins give her a rather similar physical pace. It has also the capacity to play a charming girl, amusing and player all while adding the depth to it. I continued to write by keeping the image of Kirsten and it was rather interesting to then see it becoming the Marie Antoinette whom I sought.
Eleanor: What pushed you to choose Jason Schwartzman?
Sofia: I thought that Louis XVI had something of sympathetic nerve. It inherited the throne after the death of his brother. The fact that it was not predestined with the role made vulnerable. It did not feel in its place. It was in more short-sighted, rather awkward. I have thus mainly desired to show in Jason the lack of insurance of Louis. The sensitive side of the actor could help me to make this character touching. He to give heart. To try to explain its sometimes clumsy actions. Moreover, if the portraits of time are looked at, Jason resembles a Bourbon. Antonia thinks simply, and I agree on this point, which he is more beautiful man than Louis...
Eleanor: Which are the other people whom you had at the head?
Sofia: I thought of the principal actors mainly while I wrote. Then, the remainder of the distribution materialized gradually. I wanted Steve Coogan absolutely to play the part of the Mercy Ambassador. I find it funny and subtle. I am content that it managed to give to its character an authoritative and contracted character. I wanted at the beginning that Judy Davis incarnates Marie-Thérèse. But finally I proposed to him that of the Countess of Noailles that it accepted with my great happiness. The remainder of the distribution is rather eccentric. RIP Torn plays a King of France texan and Asia Argento is a very Italian Mrs Of Barry. The team is a melting pot with the image of the time. Very cosmopolitan. I hope to have succeeded in keeping this gasoline. One shows also extremes, like the transition from Marie Antoinette of Austria towards France, the comparison of two different ways of life, his entry in a declining world, opposed to his education.
Eleanor: In the process of realization, which was your preferred phase? You liked the writing, work on the plate...
Sofia: It is complicated to find a part more interesting than the others. I like much the period of the assembly. There are all the elements in hand, without really of temporal constraints. That resembles a large puzzle or an artistic creation. Turning is one exciting moment: accumulated stress, pressure, the presence of the actors... But I liked much to put the turned scenes end to end, with the desire for giving binder, a spinal column with film. Joining is carried out to two in the part, with time to prepare its ideas. If an element raises difficulties, there is opportunity, contrary to work in plate, of going to trott itself and returning to rested head.
Eleanor: What returned turning also testing?
Sofia: Turning was very different from the precedents. The statute of large production changed certain practices. In particular the scheme of work, which extended over one duration much larger, and equips it which it also exceeded in the face all that I could have had before. The unit was enough stressing. The major part of the expenditure was assigned with the costumes and with the places of turning, it was thus desirable not to make trail the catches. But waiting caused by the preparing and the make-up of the actors gave birth to sometimes certain frustrations. It was the counterpart of the reconstitution. One turned sometimes as quickly as possible. But I am also very glad to have privileged the meticulous reconstitution of the environment of the time. Carried out work made it possible to recreate a single atmosphere. To carry out a historical film was, for me, a challenge which it was necessary to take up by exceeding cleavages of the kind. I could have preserved the invaluable and formal side characters. I preferred to show that behind the behaviors of frontage, people, at the 18th century adopted also atemporelles attitudes. I hope that one will include/understand the rather realistic point of view of film.
Eleanor: While comparing with the contemporary elements, certain situations seem very familiar.
Sofia: Yes, it is odd. Several elements correspond indeed. The system of opposition and shift between a leading class and the poor layers of the population are a diagram which one can still meet. The first are not concerned with the problems encountered by the seconds. In film, there is a true feeling of unconsciousness even of ignorance of the people confiscating the capacity. It is what seems to feed the gap between the poorest privileged people and.
Eleanor: It seems to to me that one of your greater qualities is to preserve the vision of the things than you developed initially, without yielding to the influences of the external people.
Sofia: It is very important to respect the project of origin scrupulously, the vision fixed at the beginning. I know that it is necessary then to be flexible to overcome the difficulties which appear successively. That it is the unavailability of a place, an actor, or a change of scheme of work of last minute. One meets also divergences within the team. Ideas incompatible with that which you are done of film. I remember, certain people of male sex had asked me: "Good, and maintaining which is the point of view of Louis XVI?" and I did not stop answering them "This film does not join together the whole of the opinions of the characters mentioned, it is his point of view with it which interests me". I am with the listening of all proposals or councils, the discussions are always enriching. But I worked with so much of people on turning. I could not answer all the questions, to discuss each opinion. Marie Antoinette is a female character, with her dresses out of silk and her cakes. I wanted absolutely that the framework is female since its point of view was it. To be nearest possible to its vision of the world which surrounded it.
Eleanor: Were the political scenes difficult to turn?
Sofia: Indeed, to visualize the meetings of Louis XVI and its advisers without true reference marks was the hardest part of turning. I had even evil to imagine how to direct the actors. One thus called these scenes the "Star Wars scenes" because they resembled the speeches of Rebellious Alliance a little. I said to Jason Schwartzman; "Louis XVI decides not to leave whereas the Revolution approaches" and it answered me that it was really complicated to imagine the feelings of its character, which had pushed it to make this decision. I held so that the political context is present, in particular when the situation reaches his paroxysm. I wanted to show, in spite of the unconsciousness of Marie Antoinette, that the things were going to change in a brutal way. These historical explanations, even furtive, were the passages hardest to write and turn because they were of very an other style which the account who precedes them. It is perhaps the more male side of the businesses of State. One thus exposed this context in a concise and rather short way. The remainder of turning was very exciting. The possibility of reaching certain places like the Castle of Versailles, which had been the theatre of the events, was an important asset. The freedom of movement that one granted to us improved quality of the reconstitution. One for example could film the marriage of Marie Antoinette in the royal vault where the ceremony had truly taken place. One of the final scenes shows the young queen, on a balcony, overhanging crowd. The fact of using the exact framework, to have a precision so close to reality, gave to the scene a small worrying and solemn side. It is a rather outstanding experiment: to cross its room to be slept in Versailles, to go in the Gallery of the Ices, etc.
Eleanor: You know that people with whom you work are likely to repeat that you are a director a little marginal in the trade. For them, you give the impression not to direct with tyranny your team and your rather calm behavior surprises of them more one...
Sofia: I do not change really personality on a turning. I will not transform myself into dictator for the pleasure, nor to force my actors to be corvéables at mercy. I chose the people with whom I wanted to work. I think that it is then enough to expose its vision of the things, of explaining to them that their role is to help with the development of film. This softer and less totalitarian method is nevertheless rather effective. It is not in my practices all to plan in advance. I do not make any storyboard and I do not envisage anything before to have arrived on the plate. I always have an idea of the scene when I write it, but I await also the presence of the actors, the framework, the repetitions for me to make a clearer and definite vision of it. There is necessary to often remain flexible on the proud plate and with its intuition. If not, I only howl very seldom and as a last resort.
Eleanor: Can you speak to me about work around food, floral arrangements, the details of the reconstitution?
Sofia: One of the benefit to turn to France was to be able to find a chef specialized in the preparation of the kitchen of the 18th century. What would have been impossible in Los Angeles. I think that that makes the film more credible. Thanks to these people, all the required traditional aspects could be reconstituted. The meals of the time were very rich and elaborate. It was amusing to arrive on the plate and to have a whole team reserved for the cakes. For example, the Ladurée house, which provided each day of macaroons and pastry makings. One was all the time surrounded of small cakes. The atmosphere of film, the colours are also largely influenced by it. I love much the florists who created splendid arrangements. To go in the castles, the gardens, in the medium of people who made cakes and bouquets, it was like being found in the world of Marie Antoinette. I believe that it was the plate more "girl" whom I ever saw.
Eleanor: How do you think that the French will react?
Sofia: I do not have the least idea of it. I wait impatiently to know how they will receive the film. I remember that certain people had said to me: "But how can you treat the French history in English, with American actors?". I made best that I could, while remaining sincere and by respecting the importance of the subject. I hope that people will include/understand. I believe that they keep still certain images and marked opinions of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI. I am curious to know their reaction. A priori, fortunately, I will not be driven out of a city.
also, i found out that the american site is going to be: