The Characters referenced in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” (Part 19,Marie Antoinette)

Marie Antoinette: The Last Queen of France (part1/12)

I am presently going through all the historical figures that are mentioned in the Woody Allen movie “Midnight in Paris.” Today I am discussing Marie Antoinette. In the movie you can see Gil and Inez on their visit to tour Versailles with their snobby friend Paul.

Paul goes on to discuss Marie Antoinette and her husband. Also later in the film the detective that is charged with following Gil actually finds himself in the presence of the king and queen. They are upset at this and they tell the guards to take his head off!!!

Marie Antoinette Biography

Born: November 2, 1755
Vienna (now in Austria)
Died: October 16, 1793
Paris, France

French queen

M arie Antoinette was the queen of France at the outbreak of the French Revolution (1787–99). Her extravagant lifestyle, which included lavish parties and expensive clothes and jewelry, made her unpopular with most French citizens. When the king was overthrown, Marie Antoinette was put in jail and eventually beheaded.

A royal marriage

Marie Antoinette was born on November 2, 1755, in Vienna (now in Austria), the capital of the Holy Roman Empire. She was the eleventh daughter of the Holy Roman emperor Francis I (1708–1765) and the empress Maria Theresa (1717–1780). In 1770 she married Louis XVI (1754–1793). Louis was the French dauphin, or the oldest son of the king of France. He became king fours years later in 1774, which made Marie Antoinette the queen.

The personalities of the two rulers were very different. Louis XVI was withdrawn and emotionless. Marie Antoinette was happy and careless in her actions and choice of friends. At first the new queen was well liked by the French citizens. She organized elegant dances and gave many gifts and favors to her friends. However, people began to resent her increasingly extravagant ways. She soon became unpopular in the court and the country, annoying many of the nobles, including the King’s brothers. She also bothered French aristocrats, or nobles, who were upset over a recent alliance with Austria. Austria was long viewed as France’s enemy. Among the general French population she became the symbol for the extravagance of the royal family.

The queen intervenes

Marie Antoinette did not disrupt foreign affairs as frequently as has been claimed. When she first entered France she interrupted an official German greeting with, “Speak French, Monsieur. From now on I hear no language other than French.” She sometimes tried, usually without great success, to obtain French support for her homeland.

The queen’s influence on domestic policy before 1789 has also been exaggerated. Her interference in politics was usually in order to obtain jobs and money for her friends. It is true, however, that she usually opposed the efforts of reforming ministers such as A. R. J. Turgot (1727–1781) and became involved in court scandals against them. Activities such as the “diamond necklace affair,” where the queen was accused of having an improper relationship with a wealthy church official in exchange for an expensive necklace, increased her unpopularity and led to a stream of pamphlets and articles against her. The fact that after the birth of her children Marie Antoinette’s way of life became more restrained did not alter the popular image of an immoral and extravagant woman.

The last days of the monarchy

In the summer of 1788 France was having an economic crisis. Louis XVI yielded to pressure and assembled the Estates General, which was a governmental body that represented France’s three Estates—the nobles, the church, and the French common people. Marie Antoinette agreed to the return of Jacques Necker (1732–1804) as chief minister and to granting the Third Estate, which represented the commoners, as many representatives as the other two Estates combined. However, after such events as the taking of the Bastille on July 14, 1789 (French citizens overran a Paris prison and took the weapons stored there), Marie Antoinette supported the conservative court faction that insisted on keeping the royal family in power.

On October 1, 1789, the queen attended a banquet at Versailles, France, during which the French Revolution was attacked and insulted. A

Marie Antoinette. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Marie Antoinette.
Courtesy of the

Library of Congress


few days later (October 4–5) a Parisian crowd forced the royal court to move to Paris, where they could control it more easily. Marie Antoinette’s role in the efforts of the monarchy to work with such moderates as the Comte de Mirabeau (1749–1791) and later with the constitutional monarchist A. P. Barnave (1761–1793) is unclear. But it appears that she lacked confidence in them. On June 21, 1791, the king and queen were captured at Varennes (a border town in France) after trying to escape. Convinced that only foreign assistance could save the monarchy, the queen sought the aid of her brother, the Holy Roman emperor Leopold II (1747–1792). At this time, many French military officers left the country. Thinking that France would be easily defeated, she favored a declaration of war against Austria in April 1792. On August 10, 1792, a Paris crowd stormed the Tuileries Palace and ended the monarchy.

The queen is dead

On August 13, 1792, Marie Antoinette began a captivity that was to end only with her death. She was jailed in various Parisian prisons. After a number of unsuccessful attempts to escape, Marie Antoinette appeared before the Revolutionary Tribunal. She was charged with aiding the enemy and inciting civil war within France. The tribunal found her guilty and condemned her to death. On October 16, 1793, she went to the guillotine. (The guillotine was a machine used during the French Revolution to execute people by beheading them.) Marie Antoinette aroused sympathy by her dignity and courage in prison and before the executioner.

Midnight in Paris

Directed by: Woody Allen
Cast: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Michael Sheen, Marion Cotillard, Adrien Brody, Kathy Bates
Running Time: 1 hr 28 mins
Rating: PG-13
Release Date: May 27, 2011

PLOT: At the stroke of midnight, a struggling novelist in 2010 is strangely carried off by a car to the 1920′s, where he hangs out with the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Salvador Dali (Brody) and the mistress of Pablo Picasso (Cotillard).

WHO’S IT FOR?: Any romantic, urban or suburban, can be swept up by the charm of Woody Allen’s presentation of Paris. This film could be especially delightful for those who enjoy their literature, or in general, their famous artists. The more that one is aware of the works of artists like Hemingway, Bunuel, or even Cole Porter, the more likely you are to take part in the movie’s magic and big laughs.

EXPECTATIONS: The reception for this film from Cannes Film Festival was strikingly positive. Did it win audiences over with humor, or heart? Perhaps a mix of both, with a few doses of death thrown in?



Owen Wilson as Gil: Whether we could have predicted it or not, Wilson is quite a natural in what feels like a loosely-based Woody surrogate role (but this progressively becomes not the case). Wilson’s excitement about what’s around him translates well to the audience, and his lack of upfront neuroses is relatively refreshing. With the history of Paris standing as the mistress he sneaks away to enjoy every night, Wilson is a charming fellow tourist into the city’s great legacy.
Score: 7

Rachel McAdams as Inez: On the other side of the tourism coin is someone like Inez, a person who bought into the chic images of a Paris, but not one who cares to enjoy “the City of Lights” for its humble beauty (or even its rain). Though her character is rather simple, McAdams does well with the moments she has, and makes for an amusing ugly caricature of the type of people Allen would probably prefer to keep out of Paris.
Score: 6

Rest of Cast: Midnight in Paris is full of big name actors playing bit parts, each of them leaving a certain mark on the movie’s allure. A clean cut Michael Sheen stands as a hilarious weapon of Woody’s crusade against faux-intellectuals whose pedantic nature precedes them. Adrien Brody’s impersonation of Salvador Dali is equally kooky and delightful, and Kathy Bates is a nice surprise. Midway through the film, Allen falls in love with Cotillard’s face, and just like his contagious love for Paris, so do we.
Score: 8

TALKING: With the neuroses of its characters toned down more notably compared to previous Allen projects, the script rarely has everyone stumbling over their words. Instead, the dialogue is crisp, with Allen basking in his opportunity to name-drop a whole slew of famous artists, for the sake of making the period more enchanting, and also the gamut of a good laugh.
Score: 7

SIGHTS: With its bright-eyed enamor with all corners of the city, Midnight in Paris always lights its interiors and exteriors (of all periods) with a certain golden glow. Moments of conversation are covered with subtle long takes that also make photographic use of locations like Versailles. Midnight in Paris even begins with an entrancing montage that captures the city at all times of the day, with the beauty of Paris presented by the camera’s own exquisite framing.
Score: 8

SOUNDS: Keeping both to the period and to the general musical library of Woody Allen, the Midnight in Paris soundtrack often hums along to notable tunes by the likes of Cole Porter and Django Reinhardt. In this case, tunes by Porter have an even more direct relationship with the material, as the song is actually played by someone acting as Porter.
Score: 7


BEST SCENE: There are many laughs in the film, but the biggest moment(s) might be whenever Wilson and Sheen are interacting through various “educational” moments.

ENDING: Paris is most romantic when it rains.

QUESTIONS: Where can I find the time portal in New York City, so that I can give 1970’s Woody the idea for Crimes and Misdemeanors?

REWATCHABILITY: It’s uncertain whether the magic would be as strong in a second viewing, but it’s certainly an enjoyable film with a lightness that could be visited with ease.


Midnight in Paris is a pleasing little gift from a filmmaker whose lighter work can be just as fulfilling as his heavier stories. Here, the neuroses of characters are relatively tranquil, and the general magic of nostalgia is at the forefront. A large chunk of Midnight’s thrill is its presentation in showing artists that we have forgotten – even if the movie likes to slow itself down a bit in order to make these references, and for Allen to toy with the existence of art’s most important characters. Packing his sweet short story with quaint poetic irony and purely beautiful imagery, Allen succeeds in showing his audience of temporary tourists that Paris is indeed a city where history’s finest artists can create some of their most inspired work.

Other posts on “Midnight in Paris”:”

The Characters referenced in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” (Part 21,Versailles and the French Revolution)

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The Characters referenced in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” (Part 20, King Louis XVI of France)

  I am presently going through all the historical figures that are mentioned in the Woody Allen movie “Midnight in Paris.” Today I am discussing Marie Antoinette’s husband King Louis XVI of France. Pictured above you can see Gil and Inez on their visit to tour Versailles with their snobby friend Paul. Paul goes on to […]

The Characters referenced in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” (Part 19,Marie Antoinette)

Marie Antoinette: The Last Queen of France (part1/12) I am presently going through all the historical figures that are mentioned in the Woody Allen movie “Midnight in Paris.” Today I am discussing Marie Antoinette. In the movie you can see Gil and Inez on their visit to tour Versailles with their snobby friend Paul. Paul goes on […]

The Characters referenced in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” (Part 18, Claude Monet)

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The Characters referenced in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” (Part 17, J. M. W. Turner)

J. M. W. Turner Biography   View Larger Image > ( 1775 – 1851 ) I have enjoyed going through the artists referenced in Woody Allen’s movie “Midnight in Paris.” Paul is the snobby expert on impressionist art that talks about Monet at the museum but he notes that Turner was actually really the author […]

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I have been going through the characters in Woody Allen’s movie “Midnight in Paris,” and now I am posting about Josephine Baker. By the way, I know that some of you are wondering how many posts I will have before I am finished. Right now I have plans to look at Van Gogh, Picasso, Man […]

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