There’s a moment in Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette when the titular historic figure is seen wearing nothing but an opulent diamond necklace and dark lip paint, her hair donned in the highest updo, as she relaxes in the bath. The image is preceded by the sound of the poor French subjects screaming about the impoverishment they’ve endured at the hands of the monarchy. “Do you know what she said?” one voice is heard yelling above the rest. “Let them eat cake.” So goes the infamous, unceremonious reply of young queen Marie Antoinette, married to the future King of France when she was only 14 years old. But those words were never uttered by Marie Antoinette — as Coppola goes on to show, that was just one more piece of untrue gossip wielded against the immature monarch.
15 years ago today, Coppola’s Marie Antoinette debuted in U.S. theaters, an adaptation of Antonia Fraser’s biography Marie Antoinette: The Journey, and a notably more sympathetic perspective on the young Austrian dauphine than most. Coppola and Fraser both described Marie Antoinette as a teenage outsider, a constant topic of court gossip and distrusted by those in her new home country. Coppola’s 2006 film doesn’t just shine a light on the way Marie was maligned: it suggests that, long before Princess Diana and