Release dateMarch 3, 1979 (1979-03-03) (Japan) Based onThe Rose of Versailles
by Riyoko Ikeda WriterJacques Demy (screenplay), Patricia Louisianna Knop (screenplay), Jacques Demy (adaptation), Patricia Louisianna Knop (adaptation), Riyoko Ikeda (comic: Versailles no bara/La Rose de Versailles) ScreenplayJacques Demy, Patricia Louisiana Knop CastCatriona MacColl (Oscar François de Jarjayes), Barry Stokes (André Grandier), Jonas Bergström (Hans Axel von Fersen), Christine Böhm (Marie Antoinette), Terence Budd (Louis XVI), Patsy Kensit (young Oscar François de Jarjayes) Similar moviesLouis XV, le Soleil noir, Louis XVI, l'homme qui ne voulait pas être roi, Versailles, le rêve d'un roi, Madame du Barry, A Little Chaos, Marie-Antoinette, la véritable histoire
Lady Oscar is a 1979 English-language Japanese-French romantic 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. Lady Oscar was filmed on location in France.
Oscar Françoise de Jarjayes (Catriona MacColl) 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 (Christina Bohm). In her youth, Oscar is in love with Andre (Barry Stokes), 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.
Catriona MacColl as Oscar François de Jarjayes
Patsy Kensit as young Oscar François de Jarjayes
Barry Stokes as André Grandier
Jonas Bergström as Hans Axel von Fersen
Christine Böhm as Marie Antoinette
Terence Budd as Louis XVI
Mark Kingston as General Jarjayes
Georges Wilson as General Bouillé
Martin Potter as Count de Gerodere
Sue Lloyd as Duchess de Polignac
Anouska Hempel as Jeanne Valois de la Motte
Mike Marshall as Nicolas de la Motte
Christopher Ellison as Robespierre
Constance Chapman as Nanny
Gregory Floy as Cardinal de Rohan
Shelagh McLeod as Rosalie Lamorlière
Michael Osborne as Bernard Chatelet
Angela Thorne as Mademoiselle Bertin
Paul Spurrier as Prince Louis Joseph
Rose Mary Dunham as Marquise de Boulainvilliers
Lambert Wilson as The Cocky Soldier
Vincent Grass as An insolent soldier
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.