The French film ‘The Three Musketeers: D’Artagnan’, a new adaptation of the famous story of Alexandre Dumas by director Martin Bourboulonwho shot two installments at the same time, this one and a second part under the title ‘The Three Musketeers: Milady’, which will be released in France in December and in Spain in 2024. An ambitious plan that has good reasons: it is a great film of adventures.
There are dozens of film versions of Dumas’s work, which was first published as a serialized novel in newspapers, one of the most remembered being the film adaptation with Gene Kelly, another the action-packed trilogy by Richard Lester, the Disney version with Kiefer Sutherland and Charlie Sheen, Leonardo DiCaprio’s or even Paul W. Anderson’s. It has also served as the basis for three BBC series and several Russian musical films. Although there were Gallic looks in classic cinema, for several decades almost seems to have forgotten that it is a pillar of culture originally French.
Finally, the classic has returned home and the French perspective on the material tackles some often ignored political issues bringing to life a time when the nation was divided by religious conflicts and divergent views on the nobility. But the plot does not lose focus on d’Artagnan (Francois Civil), a young Gascon who wants to join the King’s Musketeers. Arriving in Paris, he falls madly in love with Constance Bonacieux (lyna khoudri), the Queen’s confidante (vicky krieps).
After coming into contact with the musketeers, the aristocratic Athos (vincent cassell), the bon vivant Porthos (Pio Marmaï) and the devoted Aramis (Romain Duris), the plot thickens when the mysterious Milady de Winter (eva green) puts his sinister plans into action together with Cardinal Richelieu (Eric Ruf), with which now the quartet must fight for cohesion and order in the kingdom divided by religious wars. ‘D’Artagnan’ follows Dumas’s original story faithfully, but allows some detourscutting a passage here, merging another two there, to synthesize the scale of the novels.
Dreary, but not too
Screenwriters Alexandre de La Patellière and Matthieu Delaporte turn Athos into a mature and melancholic man whose past weighs heavily on his shoulders and who seems defeated in the last stage of his life, making him one of the most interesting characters (with the even more interesting face of Vincent Cassel). But the real surprise is the charming and arrogant d’Artagnan played by François Civil, who under his irresistible seductive smile knows how to endow the iconic protagonist with mischief and goofy vulnerability.
The central part, where Aramis, Porthos and D’Artagnan act as investigators to save Athos from being hanged, is the one that best defines the focus of this version, a darker and dirtier look but not too deep to turn it into a work. of more aspirations than their share. bourboulon finds the balance between palace intrigue with historical overtones, inevitably reminiscent of ‘Game of Thrones’ and an occasionally more festive spirit where humor, action and romance fit.
Constance Bonacieux is still d’Artagnan’s beloved, but she has a more active role, she is a more cunning character, and Lyna Khoudri gives her more dignity than the script attributes to her. The Machiavellian and lethal Milady has the poison that only Eva Green knows how to instill in her roles, a vamp in somewhat 19th-century garb who has more of a presence than the conniving Cardinal Richelieu. There is a staging that is also reminiscent of George RR Martin’s adaptation, despite the fact that there are no fantasy elements.
A franchise with a European flavor
The 17th century seems not to have come out of the Middle Ages, people walk through the mud between dark streets that the director and his cinematographer Nicolas Bolduc project with drastic shadows creating a gloomy tone marked by a modernist score by the composer Guillaume Roussel. Yes, digital cameras are noticeable, with that television sharpness that is never a good companion to period pieces, but the production design is so powerful that it somewhat compensates.
Although this version highlights the national-political nuances surrounding religious conflicts and a stronger context for the brewing civil war, the director does not leave behind the action scenes, which have a staging typical of an adventure cinema and swordsmen less serious than what their appearance suggests, putting the accent of a soap opera to the friendships forged in combat that transmits a contagious chivalrous optimism that rescues the comic and the epic of the adventures of four friends, the base that has always made it work this story.
‘The Three Musketeers: D’Artagnan’ ends with a cliffhanger that prepares for the second part on the way, showing the ambition of a European fiction that treats its classics as superheroes, and it is not by chance that they will have their continuity on Disney+, where they will appear in two series derived from the same writers, the first will be the origins of Milady and the second ‘The black musketeer’. But the plans do not end here, and a film about ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ by the same creators is being planned, and if it is as lucky as this one, the “Dumasverso” may be the best thing that has happened to European escape cinema in years.
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