The Three Musketeers FLA

FLA stands for Frequently Lacked Answers. These are all the questions I get from my web site, most of which I can’t answer. So if you know the answer, please don’t hesitate to write!

Why were they called Musketeers? They don’t use muskets!

The Musketeers (of the book, anyway, I don’t know about real life) were a military company. But they were charged with protecting the king, so wouldn’t normally have to go out in the field. They did use muskets, just not very often. Go back and read the chapter about the siege of La Rochelle and you’ll see them discharging their duty as Musketeers with muskets.

How well does the book follow the movie?

I saw the trailer before I saw the movie; it was obvious from the trailer that they were really changing the story a lot. It sounds like a great swashbuckler movie, but certainly not the Musketeers!

Here is the book timeline. Don’t read this if you plan on reading the book. I’m warning you! You don’t want to know the ending!

  1. Aramis discovers the twin, and hatches a plot to become the shadow ruler of France. (The Musketeers never gave one whit about the poor, and Aramis, by this time, had become a scheming bastard.)
  2. Aramis sounds out d’Artagnan, but d’Artagnan is obviously too loyal to the King, so Aramis never brings him into the plot. In fact, only Porthos is brought into the plot, and this by lying to him and saying that they act in the king’s name.
  3. Fouquet, the finance minister, is about to be disgraced, and possibly condemned to death; certainly to the Bastille. As part of the King’s plot against Fouquet, the King induces Fouquet to hold a great ball.
  4. Aramis successfully switches King Louis with the twin Philippe at the multi-day party while the King and d’Artagnan are sleeping; however, he makes the mistake of bragging of what he’s done to Fouquet; Fouquet is an honorable man. Even though it means his downfall, he rides to the Bastille and puts it under siege to free Louis.
  5. D’Artagnan remains loyal to the King: when the plot is revealed and the twins stand with each other, it is d’Artagnan who can tell which is the true king, and arrests Philippe, returning Louis to the throne; Philippe is placed in the iron mask and sent to a faraway prison.
  6. Aramis and Porthos flee to an island in the north of France. D’Artagnan chases them down; he tries to allow them to flee while still remaining loyal to the king, but fails. Aramis escapes, but Porthos dies heroically as his legendary strength gives out.
  7. Aramis enters the service of the King of Spain; d’Artagnan remains faithful to King Louis until his death in battle many years later. Philippe is never heard from again.
  8. Athos and Raoul are involved only in a side plot; Raoul was in love with Louise de la Valliere, a young woman who was King Louis’ mistress; unable to give up his love for her, Raoul enters the armed forces voluntarily and engages in more and more dangerous actions until he dies. Athos dies on hearing of his son’s death.

Now, here, from María José Díaz Sámano, is a summary of the movie:

Warning: The following FAQ contains heavy spoilers, and I mean heavy, for the 1998 movie “The Man in the Iron Mask”. So, if you have not seen it, you might not want to read it yet. You’ve been warned.

Of course, the movie doesn’t follow the book at all; in the best Dumas style, it takes the main characters (d’Artagnan, Athos, Porthos, Aramis, Raoul, Louis XIV, Phillipe and Anne of Austria) and only respects the basic plot, that is, the twin switch. You already read the book timeline. Here is the movie timeline.

  1. The people in Paris are restless. There is war and hunger. D’Artagnan is especially worried, since he’s Captain of King Louis XIV’s Musketeers. Porthos is depressed, for he feels old; Aramis prays for forgiveness and Athos expects the engagement of his son Raoul to his beloved Christine.
  2. During a reception at the palace, Louis sees Christine, while Artagnan saves him from an assassination attempt. When Louis learns Christine is in love with Raoul, he sends him to the battle front. Athos sees through Louis’ purposes, and warns Artagnan that, should something happen to Raoul, the king and his warriors will become his enemies.
  3. Raoul dies. Athos goes into the palace, willing to kill Louis, and when Artagnan stops him, claims they are no longer friends. Christine moves to the palace and becomes Louis’ mistress.
  4. Aramis summons his friends at a hidden crypt. He confesses that he is the General of the Jesuits and that he has a plan, regarding the king, that will bring peace to the people of Paris. Porthos and Athos join him, but Artagnan refuses. Aramis says, “then may God be with you, for none of us will.”
  5. The three musketeers free the prisoner of the Iron Mask. He is Phillipe, twin brother of Louis, and Aramis confesses he was the one who, six years before, imprisoned him in the Mask.
  6. Athos, Porthos and Aramis train Phillipe to be king, once he accepts taking part in their plan. Meanwhile, Louis is told Phillipe died. When Artagnan tries to comfort Anne, both realize the love they once shared is still alive.
  7. During a Mask Ball, Louis and Phillipe trade places. Anyway, Phillipe gives himself away by being kind and obedient. D’Artagnan ambushes his former friends as they try to escape and rescues Louis. Christine finds out that Louis sent Raoul to his death and kills herself.
  8. Louis orders Phillipe to return to the Bastille and to the Mask in spite of Anne’s pleading. Artagnan learns that both are twins and leaves a note in the crypt, telling his friends they will have ten minutes at midnight to rescue Phillipe.
  9. Wearing their old uniforms, the four musketeers free Phillipe, but are ambushed by Louis. He offers Artagnan his life if he surrenders, but Artagnan claims he can’t abandon his own son. (Yes: Phillipe and Louis are d’Artagnan’s sons).
  10. The four musketeers charge against Louis’ guards, who are amazed by their courage. When the guards refuse to kill them, Louis tries to stab Phillipe. Artagnan saves his son, receiving the blade in his place, and dies confessing that was the kind of death he always dreamt of.
  11. The musketeers rebel. Louis and Phillipe trade places again; Louis is sent to jail and, after some time, is sent to the countryside. Phillipe, using his brother’s name, becomes France’s greater ruler, advised by Athos, Porthos and Aramis. Artagnan is buried in front of the palace.

As you can see, writing a list of the differences between the book and the movie is useless. Anyway, let’s mention the most notorious ones:

  1. D’Artagnan’s role in the story. As in the book, he is the only one who remains faithful to Louis. But of course he never was Louis and Phillipe’s father, and Anne never felt for him more than “royal gratitude” (that is, he was forgotten).
  2. Of course, the ending. In the original, Raoul, Porthos, Athos and Artagnan died at different moments, and Phillipe was condemned to wear the Iron Mask forever.
  3. In the original, Aramis and Porthos are the only ones involved in the twin plot. Athos broke his sword in front of Louis, but never rebelled against him.
  4. No Fouquet, no Colbert, no Beaufort, and Christine replaces Louise.
  5. The Musketeers never cared about the people of Paris. Dumas left that mission to Victor Hugo.

If you like accurate adaptations, you won’t like the movie. I myself doubted I would like it when I learned Artagnan was killed at the end, even if the big surprise of his paternity was still missing. But if you love the characters above the plot, there’s a good chance you might like it. The portrayals are quite accurate: Artagnan behaves a lot like in the book (willing to place his duty before his friends), Athos’ nobility and sense of honor are there (he’s the one who instructs Phillipe in court manners), Porthos’ depression echoes his sadness of Twenty Years Later, and Aramis is as scheming and intelligent as ever, “playing God” with the others’ lives.

Another high points of the movie are, of course, the strong performances (in spite of their different acting styles, Gabriel Byrne, John Malkovich, Gerard Depardieu and Jeremy Irons, IMO, are perfectly cast, and Leonardo DiCaprio shines with his own light even to those of us who are not his fans), the music (by far the best so far of a Musketeer movie) and the wardrobe, especially the black uniforms. The scene in which the Four Musketeers charge against Louis’ guards justifies the cost of the ticket. Besides, listening to Depardieu saying the musketeers’ names in French is delicious.

My advice? Don’t expect the movie to be a translation. I took it as another interpretation of the Musketeer saga, and found myself loving it.

Thanks, María!

Is The Three Musketeers a true story?

No, No, and Sort of. The movie doesn’t even follow the book, let alone real history. The book is fiction; it may, however, have pulled some names from history. There was certainly a rumor, in fact a number of them, about a mysterious prisoner in an iron or velvet mask. The king, the cardinal, the queen, Buckingham, in fact most of the major political figures, were all real. For the four Musketeers Dumas used borrowed names, but the four heroes were otherwise not real.

Philippe did not replace Louis in real life. Mostly because he didn’t exist…

From David Hurst, a possible source for info about what was real and what was fiction in the Iron Mask: “One of the minor advantages of the Livre de Poche edition of Le Vicomte de Bragelonne is a small essay by Henri Clouard called Dumas et l’histoire that gives some of his sources and indicates where he changed them. In doing so, he indicates who the originals were.”

For more detailed information about what did and didn’t happen in real life, see The History of the Three Musketeers.

What Order Should I Read the Books In?

See the main Dumas page for where to get the books, but the order is:

  1. The Three Musketeers
    1. The Three Musketeers
    2. The Four Musketeers
  2. Twenty Years After
  3. Le Vicomte de Bragelonne
    1. Ten Years Later
    2. Le Vicomte de Bragelonne
    3. Louise de la Valliere
    4. The Man in the Iron Mask
  4. Son of Porthos

Note that apparently, there are some editions that title the first book in the “Vicomte” series “Le Vicomte de Bragellone” and the second book as “Ten Years Later”. The “Vicomte” was originally published in five volumes with no separate titles, just volume numbers, according to Mordaunt at Gutenberg.

Who played who in the original movie?

Depends on which Original Movie you’re talking about.

1939The Three MusketeersAllan Dwan
Don Ameche is D’Artagnan, the Ritz Brothers are the Three Musketeers, and Binnie Barnes is Lady deWinter in this comedy musical. Martin and Porter give it three stars out of five. 73 minutes, black and white.
1939The Man in the Iron MaskJames Whale
Louis Hayward as Louis and Phillipe. Warren William is d’Artagnan, Alan Hale is Porthos, Miles Mander is Aramis, and Bert Roach is Athos. Martin and Porter give it three stars out of five. 110 minutes, black and white.
1948The Three MusketeersGeorge Sidney
Gene Kelly is d’Artagnan, June Allyson is Constance, and Lana Turner is Lady deWinter. Also Van Heflin as Athos, Vincent Price as Richelieu, Gig Young as Porthos, Angela Lansbury as Queen Anne, Robert Coote as Aramis. Martin and Porter give it two stars out of five. 128 minutes, black and white.
1966La Prise de pouvoir par Louis XIVRoberto Rossellini
Jean-Marie Patte as Louis XIV, Raymond Jourdan as Colbert, Silvagni as Mazarin, Katharina Renn as Ann of Austria, Maurise Barrier as d’Artagnan, and someone named André Dumas as “La Père Joly”. I don’t see anyone playing Athos, Porthos, or Aramis. In English this is listed as “The Rise of Louis XIV”.
1973The Three Musketeers and The Four MusketeersRichard Lester
Michael York as d’Artagnan, Oliver Reed as Athos, Racquel Welch as Constance, Richard Chamberlain as Aramis, Frank Finlay as Porthos, Faye Dunaway as Milady, Charlton Heston as Cardinal Richelieu. Martin and Porter give it five stars out of five. 105 minutes for the first movie and 108 minutes for the second. Both are PG.
1977The Man in the Iron MaskMike Newell
Richard Chamberlain as Louis and Phillippe, Patrick McGoohan as Fouquet, Louis Jourdan as d’Artagnan. No Athos, Porthos, or Aramis that I can see. Martin and Porter give it three stars out of five. 100 minutes.
1979The 5th MusketeerKen Annakin
Beau Bridges as Louis and Phillippe, Ursula Andress as Louise de la Vallière, Cornel Wilde as d’Artagnan, José Ferrer as Athos, Rex Harrison as Colbert, Lloyd Bridges as Aramis, Alan Hale Jr. as Porthos. Martin and Porter give it two stars out of five. 103 minutes, PG.
1993The Three MusketeersStephen Herek
Chris O’Donnell as d’Artagnan, Keifer Sutherland as Athos, Oliver Platt as Porthos, Charlie Sheen as Aramis, Tim Curry as Richelieu, Rebecca deMornay as Milady, and Julie Delpy as Constance. 105 minutes, PG.
1994La Fille de d’ArtagnanBertrand Tavernier
Philippe Noiret as d’Artagnan, Sami Frey as Aramis, Kean-Luc Bideau as Athos, and Raoul Billerey as Porthos. 125 minutes, R.
1997The Man in the Iron MaskWilliam Richert
Dennis Hayden as d’Artganan, Edward Albert as Athos, William Richert as Aramis (and as Alexandre Dumas?), Rex Ryon as Porthos. German, Region 2, 85 minutes.
1998The Man in the Iron MaskRandall Wallace
Leonardo diCaprio as Louis IV, Jeremy Irons as Aramis, John Malkovich as Athos, Gabriel Byrne as d’Artagnan, Gérard Depardieu as Porthos. 132 minutes, PG-13.
2001The MusketeerPeter Hyams
Justin Chambers as d’Artagnan, Stephen Rea as Cardinal Richelieu, Catherine Deneuve as the Queen, Mena Suvari as Madame Bonacieux, Nick Moran as Aramis, Steve Speirs as Porthos, and Jan Gregor Kremp as Athos. 104 minutes, PG-13.
2004Le Femme MusketeerSteve Boyum
Michael York as d’Artagnan, Gérard Depardieu as Cardinal Mazarin, John Rhys-Davies as Porthos, Christopher Cazenove as Athos, and Allan Corduner as Aramis. 163 minutes.