Coppola’s film also invokes popular distortions of the Queen’s behavior, subtly, as in the film’s faithful representation of the innocent sunrise party, and directly, most notably in a scene showcasing Marie Antoinette’s apocryphal retort to revolutionary unrest. A close-up shot reveals the head and shoulders of the Queen, lying back in a bathtub wearing only a diamond necklace and earrings and reciting the line—”Let them eat cake”— flirtatiously to the camera.” The scene is pointedly at odds in style to the rest of the film: Dunst wears anachronistically dark lipstick and the shot, drained of other color, uses stark lighting and a spare set design. A cut returns us to the film world to show a long shot of a fully dressed Marie Antoinette surrounded by her ladies. She protests, “That’s such nonsense. I would never say that.” And indeed the Marie Antoinette we have come to know in the film would not. The line is presented as tabloid-like fodder, the imaginary creation of anti royalist rumormongers circulating compromising stories in the popular press.
“Marie Antoinette”: Fashion, Third-Wave Feminism, and Chick Culture.