The screenplay for "The Marquise" brings the richly varied world of eighteenth- century Paris to life. My research has involved working with many published and unpublished historical documents, and many secondary sources, most of them in French.
First, I compiled a major research bibliography of both sources and modern works. I did my research at a number of libraries in the New York area, including the New York Public Library, and the Fordham and Columbia University libraries. I also obtained books in several languages on inter-library loan from around the country. The sources ranged from the memoirs of the notorious libertine the duc de Richelieu and contemporary descriptions of the nobility's erotic "Temples of Love" to paintings and sketches of costume designs, from descriptions of balls to pictures of hospitals. These sources helped me to recreate the atmosphere and flavor of settings ranging from the glittering salons of the Parisian nobility to the royal court at Fontainebleau to the life of the poor in garrets and on the streets.
In order to re-create the fascinating theatrical world of the time, I used the rich resources of the New York Public Library, especially the Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, and through use of microfilms, the treasured historical manuscripts of the Comédie- Française itself. Among the sources I discovered are reproductions of the architect's original plans for the seventeenth-century theater building that housed the Comédie-Française, contemporary accounts of acting techniques, biographies of performers, and the notebooks of Henri-Louis Lekain, the lead actor in the 1760's, who described the costumes, staging and lighting of the masterpieces of Corneille and Racine at the theater during the period of the story.
Through my research, I came to feel that I actually was present at many of the events I described. This helped me recreate that long-ago world in my imagination as I put together the blueprint for an exciting film.
The Actors of the Comédie Française
by Jean-Antoine Watteau (ca. 1720)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art