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 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!!!

Louis XVI, 1781 Louis XVI, 1781  © Louis was king of France when the monarchy was overthrown during the French Revolution. He was guillotined in 1793.

Louis was born at Versailles on 23 August 1754. In 1770, he married Marie Antoinette, daughter of the emperor and empress of Austria, a match intended to consolidate an alliance between France and Austria. In 1774, Louis succeeded his grandfather Louis XV as king of France.

Louis initially supported attempts by his ministers Jacques Turgot and later Jacques Necker to relieve France’s financial problems. French support for the colonists in the American War of Independence had brought the country to the verge of bankruptcy. Meanwhile, accusations of frivolity, extravagance and scandalous behaviour against the queen, Marie Antoinette, further discredited the monarchy.

In 1789, to avert the deepening crisis, Louis agreed to summon the ‘estates-general’ (a form of parliament, but without real power) in order to try and raise taxes. This was the first time the body had met since 1614. Angered by Louis’ refusal to allow the three estates – the first (clergy), second (nobles) and third (commons) – to meet simultaneously, the Third Estate proclaimed itself a national assembly, declaring that only it had the right to represent the nation.

Rumours that the king intended to suppress the assembly provoked the popular storming of the Bastille prison, a symbol of repressive royal power, on 14 July 1789. In October, Louis and his family were forced by the mob to return to Paris from their palace at Versailles. In June 1791, they attempted to escape, which was considered proof of Louis’ treasonable dealings with foreign powers. He was forced to accept a new constitution, thereby establishing a constitutional monarchy.

Nonetheless, against a background of military defeat by Austria and Prussia, the revolutionary leadership was becoming increasingly radicalised. In September 1792, the new National Convention abolished the monarchy and declared France a republic. Louis was found guilty of treason and executed at the guillotine on 21 January 1793. Marie Antoinette was executed nine months later.

KYW Newsradio 1060

(6/2/11)

As the old joke says, nostalgia just ain’t what it used to be. And here’s Woody Allen’s latest comedy to prove it.

3 skirt Movie Review: Midnight in ParisIt wouldn’t be fair or accurate to call Midnight in Paris a comeback for prolific and accomplished Allen, even though his last outing, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, was certainly subpar.

That’s because the two films of Allen’s that preceded that one — Vicki Christina Barcelona and Whatever Works — were strong and memorable.

So we shouldn’t be surprised that Midnight in Paris, the writer-director’s 44th film, is a delightful and witty wish-fulfillment fantasy, a tightrope act that impresses us all the way across.

Like Clint Eastwood, Allen keeps delivering, going strong in the twilight of his directorial career.  And no longer anchored in New York, he has now concocted cinematic chronicles in London, Barcelona, and Paris as well.

Midnight in Paris opens with a montage, a tribute that celebrates the City of Light in the same way that the opening of Allen’s Manhattancelebrates the City That Never Sleeps.

Owen Wilson stars as Gil, a successful Hollywood screenwriter who wishes he could be the novelist he has always aspired to be.  He is writing a novel about a guy who owns a nostalgia shop, but he is stuck.

He has come to Paris with his fiancée (a thankless role played by a miscast Rachel MacAdams) and her parents.  They want to see the expected tourist attractions, but Gil — who idealizes and yearns for the Paris of days gone by (the Golden Age of the 1920s, to be precise) when artists would flock to Paris and would turn out important, lasting work in each other’s company, prefers to wander the streets.

Which he does, late at night, and suddenly finds himself in the company of some vaguely familiar writers and artists who couldn’t possibly still be partaking of Paris nightlife.

Because a good deal of the fun of Midnight in Paris is discovering just who Gil runs into and how and by whom they are depicted, let’s drop the narrative description at this point except to say that the literary Paris of the 1920s — of, say, Hemingway and Fitzgerald — is just that, and that Allen’s terrific supporting cast includes such luminaries as Kathy Bates, Adrien Brody, Michael Sheen, and Marion Cotillard.

Amazed, charmed, seduced, excited, and powerless to resist, and on the verge of some sort of romantic involvement of one sort or another, Gil finds reasons to return late each night — to the consternation and disappointment of his fiancée and her parents — eager to re-experience the good old days while the denizens of the 1920s look back longingly at the turn of that century.

The theme of depending on, and retreating into, fantasy beyond the point of reason has been an abiding one throughout Allen’s writing and directing careers, and this film plays as a companion piece to his earlier and similarly wistful comic fantasy, The Purple Rose of Cairo,in which a fictional Jeff Daniels reached out to living and breathing Mia Farrow from the other side of the movie screen.

Allen has addressed the theme in a winning, playful way, finishing off the soufflé with just a dash of magical realism, a pinch of time travel, and a sprinkling of in jokes and one-liners.

The ensemble is in good form, but it should be mentioned that Wilson, who does not come immediately to mind as a Woody Allen alter ego, does a splendid job of capturing the angst and yearning of his character, and getting the intended laughs with his incredulity and surrender, and does so without abandoning his style or persona by imitating the delivery of his director in the way of quite a few actors before him.

So we’ll always have 3 stars out of 4 for Woody Allen’s fine flight of fancy, Midnight in Paris, a lighthearted and clearheaded comedy that also serves as a love letter to Paris.

Play it again, Woody!

Other posts on “Midnight in Paris”:”

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

In Woody Allen’s movie “Midnight in Paris” Gil and his friends take a tour of Versailles (pictured below). In a comical scene from that movie the detective that is following Gil finds himself at Versailles back at the time of the French Revolution and he intrudes in on the king and queen of France. Then […]

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)

The British gardener who’s taking care of Monet’s water lilies   By John Lichfield in Paris Thursday, 5 May 2011 PA/ REX FEATURES James Priest, the new head gardener at Giverny. Monet’s White Water Lilies, 1899, right British gardener is to take over one of the most venerated plots of ground in the world: the […]

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 […]

The characters referenced in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” (Part 16, Josephine Baker)

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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