In the 320-odd years of its existence, it might seem surprising that a scant five feature films have been shot at the sumptuous ChÃ¢teau de Versailles in France. Constructed as the residence of King Louis XIV, the chateau became the epicenter of French politics as well as the most extreme example of the decadence that characterized aristocratic life during the Kingâ€™s reign.From its famed Hall of Mirrors to the expansive gardens, Versailles is perhaps the most luxurious backdrop imaginable, and has been replicated in countless films. But Sofia Coppolaâ€™s Marie Antoinette, opening October 13th, is one of the few productions that has had the privilege of filming on the actual grounds. The film, which follows the life of the infamous French queen (played by Kirsten Dunst), makes the most of the chateauâ€™s lush surroundings, in particular the â€œPetit hameauâ€ where the real-life Marie Antoinette played at being a shepardess in the decade before her death. Coppolaâ€™s film has a decidedly modern edge, with a young, hip cast and a rock â€˜nâ€™ roll soundtrack; nevertheless, the use of the queenâ€™s actual home adds an authenticity to a film which otherwise shies away from the historical events surrounding her life.
Aside from Marie Antoinette, French films AngÃ©lique et le roy (dir. Bernard Borderie), La Fayette (dir. Jean DrÃ©ville) and LibertÃ©, Ã©galitÃ©, choucroute (dir. Jean Yanne) have filmed at Versailles, as well as a 1938 version of Marie Antoinette (dir. W.S. Van Dyke II), starring Norma Shearer in the title role and John Barrymore as her husband, Louis XVI.