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.
Hey Kendra, I’m going to guess that as an Outlander fan, you would actually love the Angelique books. Because of the cheesy movies and the ridiculous paperback covers, a lot of people think the books are romance novels but they actually aren’t. They have a romance in them, but they are really historical novels. They were written by Sergeanne Golon. They were two people. Serge and Anne. Serge was a scientist who fled russia in 1917 and Anne was a journalist. Anne is still alive and had to fight for the rights to her books and had been living in poverty for years. Her fans formed a group that helped to support her financially and also to hire lawyers to get royalties from her books. She is currently finishing the series. Don’t be put off by the bodice ripper covers and the sixties bouffant costuming. Try the books. I promise.
Thanks for the rec! I do like historical fiction, so it’s good to hear they’re not as cheese ball as the movie adaptations. I’ll check out the first one and see how it goes!
I love you, Kendra. Marry me. We will keep an army of nannies for our children whilst we frolic on the French Countryside being fabulous.
Wow…. I’m seeing a drunk Angelique-athon with costumer-friends in my future.
Invite me invite me!
Visit Connecticut! ;-}
Seriously, I’m a little pissed that Kendra watched this without me & a bottle of champagne!
THERE ARE FOUR SEQUELS. Come over!
Name the day!!!!
The movie is pants. The books are brilliant up until Angelique and the Ghosts where it just totally loses the plot – I found them in op shops in high school and just devoured them. The clothes are better in the books! :) Thank you for doing the review! my friend and I watched the first few movies and just shrieked with laughter.
Because if it’s one thing Louis XIV hated, it was low necklines that showed off more cleavage! He was notoriously a total prude and hated boobs and indeed women.
This is amazing and your captions are amazing!
I loved the books in my early teens, though I think I only read 10 or so… They are better than one can think, but I remember being annoyed that Angelique has tan skin which everyone, despite that pale skin was The Thing in the 17th century, thinks looks absolutely stunning on our heroine. Who clearly looks like Brigitte Bardot in the books. :)
I can’t reacall if Joffrey had a scar in the books, but he is both limping and slightly hunchbacked. He’ll get cured, eventually.
~slow clap~ You might need a lot more wine for this.
And is it just me, or is that the ugliest baby in the history of babies?
I think I read one of the books (or one and a half? Apparently the publisher over here decided to divide the story differently than in the original) when I was a teenager, and I was quite intrigued by it. It wasn’t quite “good literature” (and Angelique got raped/sexually harassed too many a time for my taste) but it was interesting for a few reasons. The main one was Angelique’s sheer energy and resourcefulness. She got into so many seemingly impossible situations yet always found a way to bring herself out of them, and it was always *her* that saved herself. She never let go, never gave up, never cowered away, never lost her will (even when it seemed like she had, she quickly regained it). She was always on the move and always thinking up something new. Whereas the movies (at least the one I’ve seen, I think it was the last one) seem to have made her into just another damsel in distress, always waiting to be rescued from her troubles by some guy.
I agree. I’ve no idea how accurate the Golons’ research was, but they’re good enough writers, if a little purple, and Angelique herself just gets cooler and more mature with every book. What astonished me, as a naive teenager, was that Angelique is actually THIRTY-SEVEN YEARS OLD, or something like that, by the end of the fifth book: ancient! And she’s still gorgeous and smart and sexy and can organize people and plot rebellions, etc. This was a radical idea in romance novels back then.
(The first five books are the most enjoyable: strong narrative drive, and all that, then A. goes off to the New World for a lot of not terribly exciting episodic adventures obviously meant to stretch the series on forever. I’m afraid I feel the same way about the Outlander novels.)
Haha This is the movie series from my childhood and I watched Angelique films more than I can count! My mum is a huge fan :) I still love watching them and think Michele Mercier (the actress) is gorgeous! I have also read books and recommend them to you. I think there are 13 books in the series and they are very interesting. I couldn’t put them down
Well, when it comes to the description of the clothes in the books by Anne Golon, they are very, very vague, so that many people may indeed think that the characters were dressed like up like in the movies of Bernard Borderie (by the way, I completely agree with your opinion about the costumes there). Unfortunately, the books are not that good either, in the sense that Anne Golon deliberately played fast and loose with history, e. g. including real persons in the plot that at a given time weren’t there at a given place, inventing events and passing them off as real etc. I think that a writer of historical novels shouldn’t do that, because her/his book becomes science fiction then.
The only good things about the books is their tight narrative and Angelique’s energy and resourcefulness, like other people commented before me.
I can however recommend the new adaptation of “Angelique” by Ariel Zeitoun from 2013. Much better costumes (they are modest, but more or less historical correct), realistic interiors, really good acting and beautiful photography.
Ah ah ah you’re so right, the movies have not aged well. But since they made me want to do costuming ( Yes I confess !) I cannot blame them entirely ! They are on TV about every year in France, so indeed, kind of our “gone with the wind”. The books are awesome (especially the first ones) and I beg to differ, they are quite accurate. Forget the films, go get the old books ;-)
Well, I did it! I read ANGELIQUE: THE MARQUISE OF ANGELS and wrote a review for Dear Author. There you go, Kendra! Now you don’t have to read the book…
Joanne, with your review you’ve hit the nail on head. The books of Anne Golon are very sexist (I wonder, if Anne Golon’s husband hasn’t written most their content, because I can’t imagine that a woman could have written this) and what bothered me most was passing off sexual violence as sexy. Even the film by Bernard Borderie from 1964 is better than, well, this pulp fiction. Like I’ve written before, I recommend however the film “Angelique” from 2013. This film has nothing in common with the novels except for the names of the main characters and speaking of them they are much more realistic, complex, intelligent and likeable then their originals in the novels.
Well, as much as I enjoy your articles, and I have to agree with some major mistakes made in this movie series (yes, I watched every single part!) and about the fact that it’s sometimes very cheesy or cliche, I also have to admitt, that I adore Angelique movies. I used to watch it as a child, which clearly is an important factor, but I still enjoy dialogues, which in my opinion are much more brilliant than in most contemporary novels of that type, with Mary Sue heroines and so on. I also love Michele Mercier who really fits the role and looks astonishingly beautiful to me. Not accurate and very lively maybe, but beautiful. And, I may be blaspheming saying this, but I also enjoyed costumes! Not every dress maybe, but some of them are just very pretty in my opinion! Mostly ones with laced collars and toned colours.
Things don’t have to be historically accurate to be enjoyable! :)
Now I know where that witch from Dark Shadows came from