Daily Archives: January 16, 2010

Scandals, Sex, and Soirees

18th Century Period Films

I’m a big fan of immersion when I’m working on a novel: reading the literature of the time, listening to period music, and the most fun, watching costume dramas.  My latest work takes place in Georgian England, late 18th century, with touches of the French Revolution thrown in.  I’m loving it, mostly because I’m a raging Francophile, but also because there really is a great abudance of beautiful films that take place during this period.  Take a look.

Affair of the Necklace

A countess stripped of her title.  A priceless diamond necklace, orginally intended for Comtesse du Barry, and ultimately refused by Marie Antoinette.  A daring con scheme that is ultimately, one of the final factors, in condemning the Queen of France as a spendthrift, reckless royal.

Brotherhood of the Wolf

Okay, so this film take place in 1764 to 1767, a little early, but its based after The Legend of Gevaudan, a french myth about a beast attacking the region of Gevaudan during the reign of Louis XV.  A little bit spooky and a little bit kooky (martial art scenes in 18th century France?  Huh?), not to mention sexed up – mostly it’s just fun.

The Duchess

The “It Girl” of late 18th century England, Georgiana was the fashion equal to Marie Antoinette.   She inspired the headache inducing, three foot towering coiffure, resplendent with ornaments; loved and lost Charles Grey (as in Earl Grey, famous now for his affinity for black tea with bergamot); and  had something of a gambling addiction.  The story broke my heart.  Georgiana shows such restraint and passion, but ultimately abides by the former.  The costumes are excellent, Ralph Fiennes is chillingly cold as the Duke of Devonshire, and the soundtrack haunts long after the film finishes.

If you still can’t get enough of Georgiana, there’s a wonderful site dedicated to her.  It’s one of my favorite blogs.

Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette

This film makes me want to eat cake.  It’s a confection of bright, pretty colors.  The soundtrack is oddly modern, but it works brilliantly, painting the Queen of France as a modern rock star.  She’s envied, hated, and glorious.  Although the film doesn’t extend into the gory details of the Revolution, it’s great for getting into Marie Antoinette’s (imagined) thoughts.  The cinematography is so lush, the costumes and feel of Versailles, exqusite.  I loved it!  The Antonia Fraser Biography of Antoinette is worth checking out also.

There are so many others worth checking out too, many of which I haven’t seen.

  • The Scarlet Pimpernel – many versions to choose from.  The original book by Baroness Orczy is fantastic.
  • Amazing Grace – a fine picture of the House of Lords impassioned fight over the abolition of slavery in England
  • Clarissa – Masterpiece Theatre movie concerning a rake obsessed with a virtuous rich young woman.
  • The Madness of King George – what’s better than a mad king?
  • Aristocrats – Based on a true story of four unconventional sisters stirring up society in the late 1700’s
  • Dangerous Liasons – The original Cruel Intentions with fabulous costumes
  • Danton – Subtitled in French; very accurate French Revolution period film