For those who enjoyed the historical french side of A Tale of Two Cities, I would recommend checking out the wildly over the top, but oh so fun film Marie Antoinette (2006) directed by Sophia Coppola. It is a lovely film not so historically accurate, but bright and entertaining and will transport you to historical France.
For those who want a different way to consume the experience of revolutionary France, look no further than the video game Assassin’s Creed: Unity (2014). This game is one in the series of Assassin’s Creed games where you can explore 1789 France. They did such great modeling of Paris and specifically Notre Dame that when the fire happened in the cathedral in 2019, they used the game to help rebuild it! It’s a fun way to be transported back in time and experience the French Revolution from a new, fictional, lens.
A Movie Adaptation for Your Consideration: A Tale of Two Cities (1935) is by far the best adaptation out of several choices, and was even nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Film Editing! Ronald Colman’s turn as Sydney Carton is more fleshed out than even my own imagination could do for the role, and the ensemble cast in the MGM flick is stellar, for sure.
Another Recommendation for the Road: If you’re looking for a film loosely inspired by A Tale of Two Cities, look no further than A Dark Knight Rises (2012)! No, I am not kidding. Director Christopher Nolan says that the character of Bane is inspired by Dickens’ Madame DeFarge, and can even be seen knitting together paracord in one scene, which throws back to the Madame’s favorite hobby – besides killing. Gordon’s eulogy even gets right to the point and paraphrases Sydney’s iconic “It is a far, far better thing that I do…” line. So, now you know!
If you want more of the 18th century glamour and costuming, boy do I have a recommendation for you: The Duchess (2008). Starring Kiera Knightley and Ralph Fiennes, this film hits all the hot-buttons of French fashion, from towering wigs to gauzey décolletage. The story line is just as dramatic: The Duchess of Devonshire is trapped in a failed marriage and has to deal with living with her husband’s mistress, while being denied her own affair with the IRL politician Charles Grey. Viewer be warned, however: there’s an insinuated/audio-only rape scene, and I really wish I had known before watching it.