International release poster
|Directed by||Jacques Demy|
|Produced by||Mataichiro Yamamoto|
|Screenplay by||Jacques Demy|
Patricia Louisianna Knop
|Based on||The Rose of Versailles|
by Riyoko Ikeda
|Music by||Michel Legrand|
|Edited by||Paul Davies|
|Distributed by||Toho (Japan)|
Ciné Tamaris (France)
|March 3, 1979 (Japan)|
April 26, 1980 (France)
Lady Oscar (Japanese? Hepburn: Berusaiyu no bara, "The Rose of Versailles") is a 1979 English-language romantic period drama film, based on the manga The Rose of Versailles by Riyoko Ikeda. The film was written and directed by Jacques Demy, with music composed by his regular collaborator Michel Legrand. The French-Japanese co-production was produced by Mataichiro Yamamoto for Kitty Films, Nippon TV, and Toho, and was filmed on location in France.
Catriona MacColl stars as the eponymous Oscar François de Jarjayes, with Barry Stokes as her lover André Grandier, alongside Jonas Bergström, Christine Böhm, Mark Kingston, Georges Wilson, Sue Lloyd, Martin Potter, and Anouska Hempel. A young Lambert Wilson appears in a minor role.
Oscar François de Jarjayes is a young woman whose father, a career military man, wanted a boy. After she was born her father took to dressing Oscar in boy's clothes and raising her as a man. Privately Oscar acknowledges her feminine side, she dresses as a man and gains an honored position as a guard of Marie Antoinette. In her youth, Oscar is in love with Andre, the son of the family's housekeeper. Years later, when the French Revolution begins, Oscar and Andre's paths cross for the first time in years. With the assault on the Bastille, Oscar and Andre find themselves fighting on opposite sides of the revolution.
The major sponsor of the film was Shiseido, a cosmetics company, and Catriona McColl promoted a red lipstick for the spring cosmetic line that year.Frederik L. Schodt and Jared Cook translated the entire manga series into English as a reference for the producers of this film, but gave the only copy of the translation to them and it was lost.
The film was not a commercial success, and MacColl's portrayal of Oscar, in particular, was criticized; it was felt by some critics that she was not androgynous enough to play Oscar. On Midnight Eye, Jasper Sharp says the film "is one of those works that is so compellingly awful that entire dissertations could be written about what exactly went wrong."
Anne Duggan chooses to view Lady Oscar within the context of Demy's other films. Duggan describes Ikeda's Oscar as having "much more self-knowledge" than the Oscar of the film, describing Demy's Oscar as being "in denial about sexual and class issues". Duggan feels that if agency is taken away from Oscar, it is given to lower-class characters in the film, in particular Andre.
Variety described the film as recalling early Hollywood epics, and praised Catriona McColl's depiction of Oscar as a "woman waiting to burst out of a man's clothing".Kevin Thomas, writing for the Los Angeles Times, described the film as a typical Jacques Demy film, noting its preoccupation with contrasting the lives of the aristocrats and the lives of the poor.