Queens and Mistresses


Last week, many Parisians remained glued to their television sets for two nights in a row to watch Madame de Pompadour. As if that weren’t enough voyeurism into the royal households, Stephen Frears’ Queen has hit the Paris theaters with Helen Mirren providing a captivating interpretation of HRH at a very sad moment of recent English history – the tragic death of the former Princess Diana in a Paris car crash. (By the way, is the correct title ‘former’ or may we still say Princess?). It’s been a popular season for Queens and those associated with royal courts this year, starting with Marie Antoinette.

Sometimes I wonder why in France there is such an intense fascination with its royal history – and at the same time, a seemingly intense dislike for contemporary ‘aristocracy’ or anything that smells of ‘privilege’. If you see the movie Queen, much of the dialogue between Tony Blair and his wife Cherie is quite interesting from (an American point of view) about the differences in opinion regarding the whole issue of monarchy and privilege.

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Aside from that the film is a real gem – thanks to brilliant photography, editing and a first-rate musical score. Academy award? Yes, yes. Yes.

RE: Madame de Pompadour – (enacted by an aristocrat (with a ‘petit de’). She received kudos for her acting. But there was some disappointment about the focus on the love interests and not so much about all she accomplished at the court. If you read Nancy Mitford’s book Madame de Pompadour, you’re much more likely to get an in depth portrait of this fascinating woman and how she helped shape the culture and the arts of her time.