Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Three Musketeers

There is a new movie of the Three Musketeers, and this one has a little of everything, including a bit of steam-punk, by way of Leonardo da Vinci.
October, 2011
The book was good, but I didn't think it was excellent. For one thing, it portrayed French society the way it probably was: Musketeers were often kept solvent by wealthy women who slept with them, and Constance, though familiar with the queen, was a wealthy man's wife who took a shine to D'Artagnan.
However, it has been the topic of a lot of action movies. The first one I can find (IMDB) was made in Italy in 1909. In 1914 we see one made in the USA. There are over forty listings in IMDB, made in a half dozen countries, including Japan.

My favorite of all the versions that I've seen is probably the one from 1939, with Don Ameche as D'Artagnan. It's colorized now, of course, but it was the classic version when I was growing up. I didn't realize that it was considered a parody of the book.

I didn't read the book until a few years ago, when I went into a fit of downloading classics from Gutenberg. In some ways I guess I was disappointed in the written version, since the movie was my de-facto standard. The book gives a harsher reality to the story and makes it a gritty tale of deceit and double-cross.

The 1973 version with Michael York was entertaining and I liked it. I'm sure it didn't hurt that Raquel Welch was Constance. I've watched that one a number of times.

In 1993 the movie method changed. It wasn't so much the story that people now went to the theater to see; now people went to see the action scenes. We could debate whether that was always the case, but the story seemed to take second place with Chris O'Donnell as D'Artagnan. In this one, the choreography was fantastic and more than just simple action sequences. The classic example is the final battle using the ladders in the tower. Ladders? Tower? What? Just accept it; they were specifically for the movie battle with no practical use whatsoever. Constance went blonde in this version. Oliver Platt became less heroic as Porthos and more slapstick. (No offense. He was still excellent.)

Just released Friday is an entirely new version, but the concept remains. Porthos returns to the original giant strong man, Aramis remains the brooding man of God, and Athos is still the betrayed, full-of-angst unspoken leader of the Three Musketeers. D'Artagnan remains cocky and self-assured (with some justification). Constance remains blonde. That probably won't change in future versions, either.

The producers ramped up the special effects and injected high levels of energy into the action sequences. Explosions, gunfights, sword fights, leaps into space, displays of grace - all careen across the screen giving you only moments to catch your breath.

Is it worth going to see? Maybe. I liked Real Steel better as a story, but I still liked this new Three Musketeers. I really liked the ending, but I like steam-punk too (which is the added bonus to this version).

I liked it even though it didn't have Raquel Welch.


  1. Hm. WELL, would I like it? This, father dear, is the real question, even though the chances that I will go and see it are zero. I am drowning in homework, procrastinating everything that I can, but I did actually yelp out, "The Musketeers movie!" in the middle of the living room of Chip. Thank you for posting - I'm glad you got to go and see the Musketeers. It was a Dumas weekend for us both, you see - I showed my friends the Count of Monte Cristo, and it was lovely.

  2. The Count of Monte Cristo is another example of where the movie is better than the original Dumas tale, I think. I much preferred the 2002 version with Jim Caviezel as Edmond Dantes over any previous one.