33 thoughts on “TBT: Lady Oscar (1979)

  1. as a huge fan of Rose of Versailles, I love this! I actually never watched this film, mostly for the reasons you mention, but now my curiosity was sparkled and I think it’s worth a good laugh!
    by the way, the costumes in the manga and anime aren’t historically accurate either, but the story and characters are still worth the reading/viewing.

    1. I, too, am a fan of Rose of Versailles, and I honestly think that a film adaptation could do more historically accurate costuming without damaging the story in the least. It might actually do a lot to reinforce Oscar’s androgyny. I’d love to see what a modern director could do with the story.

      Also, seconding the read/watchability of the series. It’s an enjoyable ride, and the extended run time of the show gives you time for a proper emotional arc instead of… whatever it was the movie did.

    2. I just want to know where you got such a good copy?? It’s almost impossible to find!

  2. I’m sure that was something!
    And don’t bother with the anime or manga, it’s exactly the same thing from what I could read (sorry, I didn’t make it to the end, blood pressure off the charts)

    Oh, and it’s very easy to film in Versailles gardens, BTW… Getting inside? Now that’s another kettle of fish.
    A bit more easy in the last couple of years since the place is needing money (been a cash pit since Louis started building, hasn’t stopped since), but still.

    And I think you deserve another pink drink to have endured that… The hair! the back lacing! the make up!

  3. White was the royal color of mourning in France until somewhere in the 17th century. After that it was black. But Marie Antoinette knew it was the old color of mourning and wore a white gown as her “widow’s weeds” to her execution. So it might be a deliberate foreshadowing for the next time MA would wearing mourning in public.

    I find this movie really puzzling. Its director is Jacques Demy who did actually some pretty great movies in his fairly short filmography. And since Demy is known for some very lush-looking films, I do wonder how this one would look in not-potato quality.

    The costumes are equally puzzling. Most of it looks like it’s straight out of Amadeus with princess seams and the like and yet there are two dresses (both worn by Jeanne de la Motte) that have the right conical shaped bodice. I get always getting it wrong. But I don’t understand why you get right twice or thrice and then dress up everyone else in ill-fitting potato sacks. Did the Shiseido money ran out?

    1. You’re right about white and MA, but that was during the revolution, and my vague memory is it’s how she reconciled the fact they MADE her wear white.

      I never get the mixed bag thing either. Maybe some of the costumes are rentals?

      1. Okay, I had to go look up the white/mourning thing! “Queen of Fashion” (Caroline Weber) says:

        – first of all, lots of reference to black worn by MA as mourning, including portraits
        – MA wore white to her execution — her outfit, including the color, was “imposed by her enemies’ restrictions and her own meager resources in the Conciergerie.”
        – and in a related footnote: “Although black, violet, and blue were the dominant colors of eighteenth-century royal mourning, Fraser points out that ‘no one remembered that in the past, white had been the mourning of the Queens of France.’ … I have been unable to determine when, exactly, darker shades replaced white in princely mourning gear… white was temporarily revived as a principal mourning color at the end of the seventeenth century, during a brief vogue for black in stylish (non-mourning) clothes, but I have found no published sources to back up this claim… 1789, Le Magasin des modes nouvelles categorically maintained that under the ancien regime, ‘mourning and even half-mourning were only ever worn in black’…”

      2. Wow, from my research MA was made to wear white in mockery of her famous/infamous adoption of the Chemise ala Rheine. While I have no data on French Royal mourning practices, in Spain the national color of mourning is saffron yellow.

        1. IIRC, they wouldn’t let her wear her black dress because it would remind people she was in mourning/a widow, and might cause some people to feel sorry for her (can’t have that when she’s supposed to be the demon bitch from Austria, you know), and the only other dress she had at that point was a white wrapper, so that was what she wore. Of course, the traditional association of white with innocence and purity (this after she was accused in open court of sexually abusing her son–she immediately appealed to all the mothers in the room, and the response from the women was such that her conviction was almost in doubt for a moment) blew the whole “demon bitch” business right out of the water, and made her look that much more vulnerable to boot.

  4. Queens of France wore white… Or black dresses with a white “guimpe” covered with long white veil up to the Renaissance.
    Marie Stuart was one of the last one to do so, when she lost her first hubby.
    I guess Catherine de Medicis, who was a no nonsense woman, got fed up with the veil and chucked it away…
    And all that only for the King’s death anyway… Certainly not the Dauphin (And… The dauphin didn’t die then! What’s going on there?)

    And I hadn’t realized it was a Demy film… Not one of his best, for sure. But Demy is a fantasy film maker, not an historical one.
    Peau d’Ane, which is one of his best, is supposedly set during a somewhat Rennaissancy period, which gives us actors in tights (yeah!), but the famed dresses are not exactly period either. And since most of the story goes around those dresses, that can’t be a mistake either.

    Oh well, to each his own, I guess…

  5. Annoyed at some of the blatant liberties that the movie takes Rose of Versailles. I mean, was killing off Oscar’s mom really needed? Death in childbirth is so overdone Jane Austen made fun of it. Other details bother me as well, but I want to keep this short.

    Still, thanks for suffering through this movies so others like myself know even more to avoid it. Maybe one of these years I’ll get to see the Takarazuka show.

  6. How long was this thing? I mean, it must’ve gone on for weeks in order to include all the tropes” Cross-dressing, necklace, let-them-eat-cake, HAIR…

  7. They couldn’t even bind her ‘tracts of land’, but then it’s half-ass drag (i’m hesitant to call it even that). I’ll just leave it at that, so much hurts.

  8. There’s so much wrong here that it feels wrong to pick on just one dress, but . . .

    WHAT is going on with the 2 flowery things ‘adorning’ the bodice of the dress hanging up next to Jean/Jeanne in her pink pretty pretty princess frock?

  9. I’ll pass. But isn’t there a portrait of MA where she’s in black? And I believe it was painted after the Dauphin died. And I also think it was done by Vignee Lebrun?
    Forget the pink drink, you deserve Mouton Rothschild, Lafite Rothschild and Macallan.

    1. Yes, definitely. I’m almost 99% sure that the whole “ancient queens wore white for mourning” was something mentioned in Queen of Fashion, and was either MA’s, or the author’s, way of interpreting the fact that the revolutionaries made MA wear white.

  10. I know there’s so many things wrong with this film, and so many weirdnesses (the worst? Oscar takes off her shirt and she’s wearing nothing underneath… practicality to the wind!). Still, I love it. I usually hate bad costuming, but this is just so beyond anything, and the crazy-sauce story, the drama, the romance…
    I totally loved any kind of stories of cross-dressing gals as a teen, and so I loved this movie when I saw it on TV one rainy Sunday afternoon. It rarely ever gets shown at all. I bought the DVD 20 years later after I realied that my anime-loving friend loved Lady Oscar too – from seeing the anime seeries as a kid. And I did realise just how wrong it was, but it still has a special place in my heart. I have since read the manga – and that’s quite a few books! Love that one too.
    There’s things that I watched a 1000 times as a teen and then it completely cheesed me off when I rewatched it as a grown up (as in Robin Hood King of Thieves) but this one is so wonderfully weird that I can’t help still loving it!

  11. I always scoff at the fact that Oscar has nothing under her pirate shirt considering the fact that it’s been confirmed that she wears a modified stay under her clothing. This movie just bleeds 70’s movie tropes.

  12. My biggest problem with foreign-made films (especially if they’re made outside of England, Canada, Australia, or the US) are all the plot holes they leave in their scripts. It’s one thing if the movie is funny or weird to start with, or they had to edit out certain scenes not allowed in America. It’s another when the story just plain has plot holes big enough to drive a car into. Character development is also lacking in a lot of movies made overseas. It’s bad enough trying to follow the subtitles, but the plot is often so crazy and poorly written, you can just barely grasp what you’re looking at, or say to yourself, “What the heck is going on here?” It’s like, what exactly was the scriptwriter trying to say here? This makes no sense whatsoever!

    The worst offenders were all those Chinese films that came out during the Millennium, where they were all special-effects, beautiful costumes, and a plot-line that made about as much sense as a drug trip.

    It was pretty obvious that whatever French filming company that made this was in it for the money. They didn’t care about production value one bit.

    1. In this case, the country of origin is less of a problem than the feat they were attempting, I think. They tried to cram 40 episodes of run time into 124 minutes, and that kind of condensed plot inevitably cuts out every bit of character growth and exposition in favor of getting the plot points in. It’s basically The Last Airbender, but French.

      1. And considering shoujo manga is mostly character driven… makes it a bad adaptation.
        I know Riyoko Ikeda, the author, studied European History, although Rose of Versailles isn’t supposed to be historically correct, there are many correct facts, dates and people throughout the manga. In a way, a Japanese person respected French history better than the French people who made the film.

  13. I like the unintentional (?) irony of the french subtitles on your screencaps, especially this one which is a strange echo of your article :
    “un homme affreux m’a obligée à regarder cette horreur”

  14. Oh boy! This was a treat to read! I’m actually the leader of a Rose of Versailles community, have hosted multiple themed tea parties, and have sewn most of Oscar’s outfits and I… have a bit of a problem and have for years, I guess! Not gonna mention the giant painting I made of her! And too many other things! This movie…. was the biggest atrocity I had ever seen. Especially in the feminism department, as I put RoV up on a bit of a pedastal with how feminist friendly it is. My mom has watched the anime, my boyfriend, my best friends, my grandma, everyone I know loves the original RoV. After I watched this movie over a year ago, I remember shedding a few tears in the shower that night. Not full on crying, but shedding a few tears. Yeah, the original RoV isn’t accurate in the costume department because of budget issues with the anime and also for the sake of saving time, but the movie… was not accurate to the comic, anime, OR ACTUAL HISTORY.
    Just a fact for you guys: the manga was translated and given to the director for reference. The only copy. And the director was so careless that he LOST THE ONLY TRANSLATED COPY OF ROSE OF VERSAILLES. To this day, there is no official English translation.
    If you ever have the time to read or watch it, I highly reccommend just because this movie… this movie ruined everything. It killed my crops and gave my firstborn tuberculosis and set my local textile mill on fire and ruined a beautiful series that managed to make a stuffy, bitter person like me cry like a little baby by episode 36. Good lord, the movie is a travesty.

    1. yes, this!
      it was translated into French, though, but the French dub is heavily censored ;_;
      I’m also a big fan, but i read it in Japanese.

  15. I love this manga!!!!!!! It is a lovely, lovely crap! Specially curious because it’s the Japanese vision of what is to be French(ie). Good response to the highly innacurate-cliche-usually-disrespectful depiction of Japanese people in Western culture. They go as far as making Louis XVI go to attend a service at the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur, build about a century later! Love it!!!! :-D

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