Madonna jokingly defended her title as ‘Queen of Pop’, quipping she would never give up her throne for love like King Edward VIII — the subject of her latest film screened in Venice.
The blonde diva’s second directorial work, W.E., starring British actors James D’Arcy and Andrea Riseborough, tells the tale of the king’s famous romance with American divorcee Wallis Simpson — and his subsequent abdication.
“Would I ever give up my throne for a man or a woman?” a flirtatious Madonna asked after the advance press screening at the 68th Venice Film Festival. “I think I can have both or all three!” she told journalists.
The star said she had wanted to capture the “world of luxury, beauty and decadence” of the 1930s, as well as the “rarefied air in the modern world”, which is also one of wealth and sensuality, but “does not guarantee happiness”.
The controversial passion between the king and extravagant socialite Wallis is told through the eyes of a lonely modern-day New Yorker, desperately seeking the fairytale happy ending that she believes the famous couple had.
Costume designer Arianne Phillips worked extensively with labels such as Cartier, Dior and Dunhill to recreate Wallis extraordinary appetite for fashion and exquisite, enormous collection of jewels and shoes.
Style icon Madonna said there were “elements of myself” in the film, and said she could sympathise with Wallis as an outsider, an American living in London.
“I empathise with Wallis. Public figures or icons are often just reduced to a sound bite, just a handful of attributes. I think people tried to diminish her I tried to make her human,” she said.
W.E. and Roman Polanski’s grotesque comedy of manners Carnage are in the running for the Golden Lion award at Venice this year against a host of other films, including Wei Te-Sheng’s Seediq Bale, a fierce Taiwanese epic featuring warring tribes.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 3rd, 2011.