Tonight I decided to watch a movie I hadn’t seen in a while, The Musketeer. This is the movie my wife and I were watching when we chose D’Artagnan as the name of our first child. Having such a fondness for my french heritage, I loved the name. Unfortunately, I had only seen D’Artagnan as portrayed in The Musketeer, The Man in The Iron Mask and Disney’s version starring Charlie Sheen, Keifer Sutherland, Oliver Platt, Chris O’Donnel and a host of other big names. Since then I have also seen a cartoon made in Australia based on the novel and a year ago I finally started reading the books.
Reading the books, quickly made the movies a disappointment. They each take so much liberty with the story that it isn’t the same story at all. In fact, the one that keeps closest to the original is the Australian cartoon version that is barely 30 minutes long.
Who can blame the movie companies though? The Three Musketeers is a long book with enough sub plots to make 3 or more full length movies easily. The second book in the D’Artagnan romances doesn’t even start until 20 years after the first ends so there probably aren’t plans for a sequel. Finally, if they kept precisely to the book(s), people of today would not understand the culture of gentlemanly honor – something that makes D’Artagnan and company ( especially Athos ) much more interesting. In fact, I would say it defines their characters and the time period.
So, when I first started watching The Musketeer I quickly became annoyed. It just wasn’t as good now that I had read the book. Especially since “The Musketeer” is the least similar to the actual story in the book. So I started to think about why a movie could still be about The 3 Musketeers. As I thought through the different version, I noticed something. The major concepts, if not plot points, are there but just modernized and presented in a differing fashion.
For instance, The Disney version portrays the bonding brotherhood between D’Artagnan and the 3 Musketeers quite well. The Man in the Iron Mask shows how so much has changed since the Musketeers were young and yet as they come together much of their youthful vigor is returned. The Musketeer… well at least that movie has Planchet in it ( sort of ) and Cardinal Richelieu isn’t pure evil. And of course, it was marketed as The 3 Musketeers like you’ve never seen them before.
So in much the same way as most people call facial tissue the brand name of Kleenex, any movie with D’Artagnan ( and possibly Porthos, Aramis and Athos ) is somehow The Three Musketeers. The names, locales and even the story may change but it all goes into the same cultural mythos of musketeers. I guess that’s not really a bad thing, considering the stories are works of fiction anyway. Perhaps all the rest are just Musketeer fan fiction – with a budget.
That reminds me, I really should try to find episodes of Young Blades.