Check out Vogue’s deep dive into the oral history of Sofia Coppola’s iconic film Marie Antoinette on it’s 15th anniversary, including a great section on the music, which was produced and supervised by Brian Reitzell with historic music consulting provided by Roger Neill.
“Music is as foundational to the texture of Marie Antoinette as dialogue or costumes. Coppola’s vision for the film evolved alongside the soundtrack, which was largely assembled from mixtapes supplied by her longtime friend and collaborator, Brian Reitzell. Instead of Christoph Willibald Gluck—the queen’s favorite composer—Marie Antoinette would feature the music of Coppola’s youth: New Order, The Cure, Bow Wow Wow.”
Brian stated that “Sofia asked me to be the music supervisor on The Virgin Suicides because I’m a geek about music and have a huge record collection. The soundtrack for Lost in Translation came from two mix CDs that she listened to while writing the script. It was the exact same process with Marie Antoinette, and it took three months of me scratching my head trying to figure out what her version of a period piece would sound like. Sofia would Xerox photographs of artists that she liked or fashion photography that caught her imagination. One of the photos was Bow Wow Wow recreating an Édouard] Manet painting, Le Déjeuner Sur L’Herbe. That whole New Romantic sensibility was the spirit of the film from the get-go.”
Roger noted that he worked on Marie Antoinette about eight years after he got his PhD in music from Harvard, “so I was still very much in scholar mode. I was brought in to work on some orchestra arrangements with Vivaldi and Siouxsie and the Banshees. A big part of Sofia’s vision was to contemporize everything so audiences could get a sense of what it felt like to hear Vivladi in the 1780s. She found ways to close that gap and give the classical pieces a punk-rock sensibility, and vice versa. I wanted it to be a marked contrast to the song itself. I took the harmonic elements of “Hong Kong Garden” and arranged it in an orchestral mode that’s very dainty and lightweight. We wanted the song to be a sort of cheat as Marie and her friends are scurrying to the ball, because at first it sounds like the music you’d expect from an 18-century costume drama—until it doesn’t.”
Brian Reitzell and Roger Neill “indulged in the film’s stylistic contrasts by putting their spin on classical and contemporary pieces for several key scenes.”
Click here to read ‘It Was Like Hosting the Ultimate Party’: An Oral History of Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette.