Cinema Sounds: Marie Antoinette

For the third time, director Sophia Coppola and composer Brian Reitzell teamed up – and naturally, it’s a charm. Following the astute soundtracks of The Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation, the soundtrack to 2006’s Marie Antoinette is something to be remembered, as well. The two-disk package was nominated for “Best Soundtrack” at the Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards, and features period pieces. However, the main focus is new wave, post-punk and Gothic music, which is juxtaposed nicely with Coppola’s highly stylized interpretation of 18th century France.

The film depicts Kirsten Dunst as 14-year-old Marie Antoinette. Marianne Faithfull plays the role of Antoinette’s mother, who selects Antoinette to marry her second cousin, Louis XVI, played by Jason Schwartzman. The marriage is intended to forge a bond between Austria and France, and so Antoinette travels to France to meet her betrothed. “The Melody of a Fallen Tree” by Windsor for the Derby is one of the first songs used in the film, serving as ambiance to a transition.

As Antoinette and Louis are introduced to one another by Louis’s father, played by Rip Torn, “I Don’t Like It Like This” carries the couple to Versailles, which Coppola was allowed unprecedented access to. This is one of three songs by The Radio Dept. used in the film. Although The Radio Dept. is a ’90s indie pop band from Sweden, the band’s style fits well with the soundtrack’s other new wave artists.

As Antoinette ages, she is portrayed as a socialite throughout the film. This creates the perfect opportunity for a ballroom scene. One evening, Louis, Antoinette and her friends sneak out to a masked ball. As couples glide across the floor, Siouxsie & the Banshees’ “Hong Kong Garden” plays, complete with a revamped and exquisite orchestral string introduction. A front-runner in the post-punk scene, the Banshees, oddly enough, fit well with the formal setting of the ball. The first meeting between Antoinette and Count Axel von Fersen, played by Jamie Dornan, takes place at this event. It’s historically alleged that the two had a torrid love affair. Fittingly, when the two meet “Aphrodisiac” by Bow Wow Wow is heard in the background. On the ride home from the ball, Antoinette reminisces about her meeting as “Fools Rush In”, the second of three Bow Wow Wow songs, plays.

Other pivotal moments in the film are accompanied by some of the greatest songs the ’80s had to offer. For example, Bow Wow Wow’s 1982 “I Want Candy”, remixed by My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields is used, in addition to “Fools Rush In”. “I Want Candy” is paired with a montage of Antoinette partaking in the finer things life has to offer, such as sweets, alcohol and Converse sneakers (another juxtaposition of the times). In addition, ’80s staple The Cure makes a contribution from its Gothic phase with 1981’s “All Cats Are Grey”, which closes out the film and plays during the end credits. As Robert Smith sings, “In the death cell/A single note/Rings on and on and on,” the audience is allowed to relate the song to Antoinette who was last seen alive in the film, but will soon be beheaded. The second song from The Cure is “Plainsong”, which can be heard earlier, when Louis is crowned king. While being crowned, one can hear the opening chimes of the song. Louis questions if he is old enough to accept the position.

“Dear God guide us and protect us, we are too young to reign.”

Another ’80s classic assists in celebrating Antoinette’s birthday. “Ceremony” sets the mood for the 18-year-old’s lavish party full of friends enjoying alcohol and gambling. Originally written by Ian Curtis for Joy Division, the song was officially released by New Order after the death of Curtis and the subsequent disbandment of Joy Division, which was followed by the birth of New Order.

Even more music from the ’80s is heard, as Coppola decides to depict the aforementioned affair between Antoinette and Fersen as more than a rumor. While the two satisfy one another’s carnal cravings, they are serenaded with “Kings of The Wild Frontier” by Adam and the Ants. Released on the album of the same name, the song perfectly conveys the animalistic nature of the affair. Adam and the Ants’ influence doesn’t stop with one song. Lead singer of the band, Adam Ant inspired the look of Fersen.

One of the most in-sync musical moments of the film occurs when The Strokes’ “What Ever Happened” is played as Antoinette fantasizes about Fresen to escape the entrapment of a stuffy party, where the females in attendance insist on gossiping about her. As Antoinette asks Louis, “may I be excused,” the song fades in. The lyrics, “I wanna be forgotten/And I don’t want to be reminded/You say, ‘please don’t make this harder'” help portray Antoinette’s desire to no longer be the center of scrutiny, while at the same time commenting on her wish to forget about the end of an affair.

Without a doubt, this visually stunning film is further enhanced by a sonically stunning soundtrack. So may it reign longer than Marie Antoinette, the most notorious Queen of France.

Marie Antoinette Tracklist:
Disc One
01. “Hong Kong Garden” – Siouxsie & The Banshees
02. “Aphrodisiac” – Bow Wow Wow
03. “What Ever Happened” – The Strokes
04. “Pulling Our Weight” – The Radio Dept.
05. “Ceremony” – New Order
06. “Natural’s Not in It” – Gang of Four
07. “I Want Candy” – Bow Wow Wow
08. “Kings of the Wild Frontier” – Adam and the Ants
09. “Concerto in G” – Antonio Vivaldi
10. “The Melody of a Fallen Tree” – Windsor for the Derby
11. “I Don’t Like It Like This” – The Radio Dept.
12. “Plainsong” – The Cure
Disc Two

01. “IntroVersailles” – Beggs
02. “Jynweythek Ylow” – Aphex Twin
03. “Opus 17” – Dustin O’Halloran
04. “Il Secondo Giorno” – Air
05. “Keen On Boys” – The Radio Dept.
06. “Opus 23” – Dustin O’Halloran
07. “Les barricades mystérieuses” – François Couperin
08. “Fools Rush In” – Bow Wow Wow
09. “Avril 14th” – Aphex Twin
10. “K. 213” – Domenico Scarlatti
11. “Tommib Help Buss” – Squarepusher
12. “Tristes Apprêts, Pâles Flambeaux” – Jean Philippe
13. “Opus 36” – Dustin O’Halloran
14. “All Cats Are Grey” – The Cure


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