Angelique, Marquise des Anges — a French romantic/historical film set in the 17th century — is, I think, probably an institution in France. So French readers, you may want to cover your eyes for this post, because I’m gonna mock what could be your personal equivalent of Gone With the Wind! The 1964 film was based on a 1957 French novel, which spawned a series of novels and a series of films. There are five films in the 1960s, and there have been recent remakes, and my husband (a connoisseur of film and kitsch — a lethal combination) is threatening to inflict them all on me (and you!). So gird your loins, literally AND figuratively, for a lot of side boob.
This movie stars Michèle Mercier as the title character, Angelique. Recall that we’re talking about a 1957 novel adapted in 1964, and you’re going to be SHOCKED when I tell you that Angelique is 1) the daughter of a nobleman, 2) stunningly beautiful (at least according to everyone else in the movie), and 3) a wild, carefree, child of nature. When we first meet her, she’s scampering around the countryside with hunky peasant Nicolas:
After some pert pond-splashing and Nicolas staring at her wet-peasant-top…
…there’s an inexplicable battle with some baddies. Angelique and Nicolas see the baddies in time to warn everyone, then retreat to the castle and help save the day. And we’re only in the first 15 minutes of the movie here, people.
Next, there’s a random interlude where Angelique is teased by other noblemen and women for being young. She wears this:
You will also be SHOCKED, I tell you, SHOCKED to know that Angelique’s papa ADORES her and thinks she can do no wrong.
Some nobles come to visit, and Angelique overhears a plot by the Prince de Condé to kill the king with poison. She steals the poison and hides it, along with a pact signed by the intriguers, but is foolish enough to make a knowing comment to the Prince, who helpfully offers to send Angelique off to convent school. Go with me here.
We fast-forward five years, when papa pulls Angelique out of school because he wants to marry her off to the unseen Joffrey, Comte de Peyrac. Angelique isn’t happy about it, especially when Joffrey’s friend Mullet Boy turns up to marry her by proxy in a civil ceremony. Mullet Boy tells her that she won’t meet Joffrey until the religious ceremony, and that Joffrey is HIDEOUS.
Angelique is Sad, so she grabs peasant boy Nicolas and hauls him into the barn, telling him to shag her because she wants her first time to be with someone who will be handsome and young — but then she backs out once they get down into the hay.
Someone (not clear who) surprises them, and Nicolas kills the intruder with an axe. Again, romance novel. Angelique promises to run off with Nicolas, who goes to hide in the woods and wait for her… but she flakes and goes off to marry Joffrey the Hideous.
So, Joffrey is older than her (10-20 years?) and has a massive scar on his face AND a limp, both of which were received through some kind of heroic action. I know it’s 1964, but the scar makeup is BAD BAD BAD. It’s like a lump of silly putty that’s badly blended, with random red slashes in it. Uh, scars are usually visible, but they turn into a SCAR, not a perma-cut!
Angelique is horrified and goes through the wedding like a tragic victim.
However, I’d like to point out that she’s just married a guy who lives HERE:
We learn that Joffrey has a mistress (Carmencita — ole!), who is none too pleased to be bumped for Angelique, and vows to have Joffrey back in no time:
Joffrey’s castle is inexplicably staffed only by Africans wearing “traditional” dress:
They, along with some random lady, prep her for the wedding night:
Joffrey “comes to her” (romance novel speak) and attempts some boob nuzzling, but Angelique is stoic and tragic. He, in prime romance novel hero mode, tells her he will wait for her to welcome him and takes off…
And now commences… THE SEDUCTION.
Joffrey shows her his mining operations, where he is extracting gold from lead ore:
He has parties at which everyone thinks he is The Bomb except Angelique:
The African servants hold a “natives are restless” topless dance right outside her window, in the castle’s central courtyard, which seems to give her Teh Feels. At some point there’s a duel, and Joffrey wins against some guy who’s a legendary swordsman. He gives her a rockin’ necklace:
And, Most Seductively of All, Joffrey shows her some Roman ruins that are being uncovered on the estate. He goes to this statue and begins brushing dirt off of the boobs, all while he and Angelique stare at each other through half-lidded eyes. The silent rubbing/staring lasts at least a full minute. IT IS HILARIOUS.
Could anyone resist such manly yet tender statue/dirt strokings? NO THEY COULD NOT.
Cut to some period of time later, and we are in LOVE avec TODDLER. What’s toddler’s name? Oh, FLORIMOND. I’m not kidding.
Yeah. Florimond gets about 30 seconds of screen time.
At some point in here, Joffrey offends the archbishop, who wears a robe made of 1960s nylon tablecloth fabric:
Suddenly, it’s announced: THE KING is coming to visit. Cue panic!
Luckily all seems to go well, until it’s time to present Angelique to the king and queen:
The king gets all miffed and Angelique is confused, until the Grande Demoiselle (the king’s cousin) tells her that her dress is too scandalous and the king wants all the court ladies to cover up to the neck.
The king is SO MIFFED HE LEAVES IMMEDIATELY. Like, suddenly servants are all “Allez! Allez!” and Joffrey and Angelique are confused and peeved. Before leaving, some random noble tries to seduce her. Angelique resists and Mullet Boy saves her, but the Random Noble states his determination to Have Her someday.
Joffrey rides out after the king, but only messengers return — Joffrey has been arrested and will be taken to the Bastille!
Angelique decides to save Joffrey, despite being newly pregnant, so it’s off to Paris for her. She finds the Grande Demoiselle who tries to help… although I would like to note that when Angelique turns up at the French court, ain’t none of the ladies wearing high-neck covered gowns anymore. They’re all in low necks just like Angelique. WTF?
Angelique gets tricked into going to the Random Noble Who Tried to Rape Her to get help for Joffrey. He whacks her with a blunt object and, it is implied, rapes her while she’s passed out.
She then gets the Grande Demoiselle to let her see the king in an effort to plead Joffrey’s case. By now, she’s found out that he’s been accused of witchcraft for his gold mining operations. You can guess how the meeting with the king goes:
The king doesn’t like her refusing his advances, so chucks her out, where the plotters who wanted to poison the king waaaaay back in the beginning of the movie decide to do away with her. There’s a chase through secret rooms of the palace, but luckily Mullet Boy shows up to save her. Angelique gets away, but Mullet Boy gets killed.
Joffrey goes to trial. It turns out it’s the Archbishop and some monk who are against him.
Angelique has her second baby. It is HILARIOUS. All we see is Angelique, with her hair plastered to her head, looking like someone poured water on her.
Joffrey has his mining (smelting? I don’t know my mining terms) equipment brought in to show the court how he extracts gold. They don’t buy it. Joffrey is condemned to death. Angelique faints and has to be carried from the courtroom.
Angelique dumps her kids on her sister’s doorstep and pays off the executioner to strangle Joffrey before he gets burned at the stake, when a ruffian approaches her and offers to help. He takes her to the bandits’ lair, and the Bandit King comes out. Who could it be? Why it’s Nicolas avec eye patch — or “Calembredaine” (that’s quite a mouthful, I laughed out loud when he announced it) as he tells her his name is now!
Nicolas tells her he will save her husband if she leaves him and runs off to America with him. She agrees, they ambush the cart taking Joffrey to his death, only to find that… it’s a dummy! They rush to the square to find Joffrey already burning on the pyre. Angelique wails, heads slowly towards the pyre as if to throw herself onto it, the bandits rescue her from the king’s soldiers, and then Nicolas convinces her to stay with them and be their
Bandit Queen Marquise of the Angels.
Angelique steels herself nobly yet tragically.