Wednesday, April 10, 2013

[Classics Movie] The Three Musketeers

The first book-to-movie I picked for Maria’s Books into Movies Monthly Meme is the 2011 adaptation of The Three Musketeers. I have just re-read the book last month , so the story and character are still vividly lingering in my mind. This movie was directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, and intended from the beginning to be an adventure film. Let me break down my thoughts into these categories….

Characters and Castings

This is my first complain for this film (there would be few more… :D). I always believe that classics literature (as in literary fiction) was built from its characters. Consequently, if you want to make a movie adaptation from a certain classics, you must at least keep the original characters as they were created by the author. You can change the setting, you can alter or simplify the plot, you can erase some minor characters, but DO NOT change the personalities of the main characters, because they are who drive the story. Once you do that, you are ruining the author’s great work, and that is an insult!

Actually, I did not even finish this film. I stopped abruptly after the scene of d’Artagnan giving in the Queen’s diamonds to be exchanged with Constance’s freedom. It’s too much for me that I was too angry to continue watching. First, it’s Athos; played by MacFadyen who actually fits the character. D’Artagnan is confused when Rochefort is holding Constance as a hostage, and will release her if the Three Musketeers give in the diamonds. Athos advises d’Artagnan to ‘fight for your love, and let France fight for itself’. Hellooo…did I hear correctly? Athos—the most loyal nobleman in France, who sometimes can become unreasonable; who is willingly to sacrifice his life for his blind loyalty to the King or Queen? How could he advise d’Artagnan to prioritize personal matters before Queen’s life and honor?

Then, it’s d’Artagnan himself. I can forgive the boyish face of the star, but what annoyed me is that the brave, smart, and masterful fencing player d’Artagnan looks so stupid and helpless in this film. The real d’Artagnan—as Dumas created him—would never just walk in enemy’s trap like the fake one in this film walks in to Rochefort’s cabin to give in the diamonds, only to be captured inside. That’s so stupid and absurd! Still more, when finally d’Artagnan can escape and is fighting with Rochefort, he is fencing so unskillfully, that Rochefort wounds him several times very easily. That’s it, I stopped my DVD player right at that scene!

Speaking of the other castings, Cardinal Richeliu’s is the only one from the main characters that satisfied me. The King Louis XIII is too boyish and ridiculous, Anne of Austria doesn’t have the elegance and beauty which said to be the most beautiful lady in France (her maid Constance is much more beautiful than her), Duke of Buckingham looks more like a rocker to me than a romantic lover and a skillful fighter he should be. Porthos here loose his high gentleman fashion, and become like a villain with harsh manner and bald head. Aramis turns to be a macho man, who is originally more polite and ‘beautiful’.

Story and Plot

From the scenes I watched, several of the plot follows the book with slight alteration: d’Artagnan comes to Paris and got troubled with Three Musketeers, the fight with Cardinal’s guards, the mission of getting Queen’s diamond necklace. But the rest is so absurd. The Three Musketeers together with Milady (yes!) and Duke of Buckingham is competing to get Leonardo da Vinci’s blueprint of an airship; Milady double-crosses Athos (they seem to be lovers here) and gives the blueprint to Buckingham.

But like I said, the plot alteration was not annoying me too much. From the beginning I’d already knew that this would be a typically Hollywood’s action movie with guns and airships battles besides swords fencing. I did not care about the story, but cared more in the characters, which failed me in the end.

Setting and Costumes

I’m just wondering how people can even come to this idea, combining ‘Da Vinci’ thing with guns battle and airship technology? And with lasers too! (the scene of Milady’s stealing the diamond necklace). If they want to make a modern adaptation, why don’t they put modern clothes and modern settings all together? Weird…. :(

I rate this four to ten, and I believe I have been fair enough for that. Why on earth did Matthew MacFadyen and Milla Jovovich ever play in this film anyway??


I watched this for Books Into Movies Monthly Meme #1


  1. Okay, let me tell you what I love and hate from this movie.

    Firstly, Athos is amazing. I love the face, I love the voice, and the relationship with milady (although it's far from Dumas' story, but well). But that's true. When he encourages D'Artagnan to choose C instead of France, it doesn't sound like Athos at all. I think the director want to portray Athos as someone who has lost his faith in patriotism that he once held so dear in his life.

    Next, Aramis. He's amazing. And I love how he looks very much like Buckingham, you know, just as in Dumas' novel. (I seriously think the two actors resemble each other very well.) I love Aramis' scene on the gondola. That's very much like him.

    Overall, the movie is nothing like Dumas' story, but I can't hate it. I just can't. I love Buckingham's pride, Milady's deceit, and the King's relationship with the Queen is also cute. Perhaps the things I hate most from it is D'Artagnan. He's just too young.

    But surely, if you want a rendition true to Dumas, try the old thing with Jeremy Brett. It's nice.

    1. For sure, but I'm still annoyed at how they change the character so extremely. I don't think the script writer had really understood the values Dumas had set for the story.

  2. LOL, I just borrowed the DVD from my brother, rather curios on how 'terrible' the adaptation gonna be :D I will compare it with previous adaptation (play by Chris O' Donnell).
    You know, movies adaptation made by American (Hollywood) always got different style form European adaptation, specially French, who got 'unique' ways to tell the stories, not olnly the language but through body language and 'their-mimic' :D

    1. I think you're right, that's why Hollywood often fails in adapting European classics into movies. BBC is now the best one.


What do you think?