Title: The Three Musketeers
Summary: Based on the classic novel, Dumas’ story of the young Gascon d’Artagnan who goes to Paris to become a Musketeer and serve the king, and how he befriends Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, and they have to save the king of France from being assassinated. Only this version is extremely Disney-fied!
Tagline: All for one and one for all!
Though, honestly, the other two that were used for a poster and video packaging, respectively, crack me up:
A place of betrayal. The fate of a king. A time for heroes. (Considering this movie wasn’t even filmed in Paris, let alone in France…)
They’re Scoundrels, Playboys, Outlaws . . . The Greatest Heroes Who Ever Lived. (This literally sounds like a MCU tagline. All those things describe Tony Stark.)
Book!Aramis was a complete playboy scoundrel and the Musketeers technically turn outlaw… I’m lost on the “place of betrayal” part, though.
Note: I have seen this movie many more times than an average viewer. Something like 75 times, at least 3 times in an actual movie theater, during its original release. Yes, I have a problem.
A problem named Sutherland.
Oh, and I will likely make the distinction of book!CHARACTER to keep them separate from the film version, through out the recap. Because book vs movie is rather important to understand how much different the version you’re watching is compared to the actual novel.
The 1990s were a weird time for movies churned out by Disney. Instead of a bunch of animated films (this was just when Pixar really kicked into gear, but who really remembers A Bug’s Life?) they were releasing a bunch of family-friendly live-action films. Stuff like White Fang, Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken, The Rocketeer, Newsies, [Wing: Newsies is one of my favourite movies!] The Mighty Ducks (and its subsequent sequels [Dove: Bagsie I get to recap them!]), and Hocus Pocus, to name a few. [bat: Okay, Wing recap Newsies, Dove recap Mighty Ducks, and I’ll recap Hocus Pocus! THEN WE CAN CROSS-COMMENT ON EVERYTHING!]
The first three years of the 1990s saw only four animated films released compared to 14 live action films. Granted, animated movies take longer, so that’s probably why. Even today that’s still true, although computer animation is much more widely used compared to the tiny bit we were all dazzled by during the ballroom sequence in Beauty and the Beast in 1992.
Also of note would be the part where Disney was pulling from classic literature and interesting life stories. Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken is based on a true story; White Fang is a Jack London novel. There were real news boys in NYC and they held a strike in 1899 but I don’t think they sang and danced while doing it. [Dove: I have only just got a copy of this, because it’s called “The News Boys” over here. I have no idea why the name was changed, but Dean Portman from Mighty Ducks will sing!] [Wing: His role is fairly small but completely delightful. Oh, god, I could talk about Newsies for hours. Carryin’ the banner, y’all.]
Alexandre Dumas’ The d’Artagnan Romances, which is the encompassing name given to all the stories Dumas penned about the 17th century musketeers and their adventures, is really, really long. Most people are familiar with The Three Musketeers, the first of the stories that runs sometimes over 700 pages in length, which introduces us to d’Artagnan and tells the story of how he becomes a member of the King’s Musketeers.
Like Disney was going to actually stick to the actual story. Based on real events and persons, it is not… shall we say… “family friendly”. There’s a ton of intrigue and romantic/sexual affairs, and murder plots, all set within the court of King Louis XIII of France.
There’s also about a billion and a half (slight exaggeration) characters with enormous French names and titles. Keeping track of it all is only slightly less harder then knowing who’s who on Game of Thrones. It’s taken me a long time to really understand it, and that’s just based on half-hearted effort to read wiki articles and such, and admittedly it interests me to a fault. Your average reader? Probably not so much.
So, Disney being Disney, stripped the story line down to its basic and most “family friendly” elements. Gone are the Musketeer’s menservants, gone is Kitty and Constance’s husband, no one needs you Monsieur de Tréville! (Who is actually awesome in the BBC’s adaptation, The Musketeers.) Everyone else was either toned down or given amped up traits: Athos is the serious broken-hearted alcoholic, Porthos is the larger-than-life comic relief (although he is in the book, as well), and Aramis’ philandering ways are severely reined in.
Which, in light of what happened with Charlie Sheen, is rather funny in a dark way. Sutherland’s legal troubles with DUIs would happen after this film, so again, life and art have many blurred lines.
There’s a lot more I could get into about all this but I’d rather incorporate it into the recap, so there’s some reference that can be of aid to you, readers. It’ll help, trust me.
One last thing: most of the main cast had either previously worked for Disney at some point or subsequently went on to do something else with them after this film. Basically, once you get in bed with the House of Mouse, you never really get out again. (Well, Sheen might be the exception…)
Onward! To the recap!
[Dove: I love this movie. Oliver Platt is awesome, and I swear to god, he played this role as if he knew that gifs would be a thing one day. Also, Michael Wincott is probably my longest-running crush. He’s wonderful.] [bat: Dove, you REALLY must see Forsaken. Wincott saves that movie from being a total bore.]
[Wing: This movie is so much cheesy fun, and also full of attractive people, or at least people who are attractive in this movie even if not elsewhere.]
We start out with a black screen with blue type which immediately tells you DISNEY IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS. Then the Caravan Pictures graphic intro. Then a SECOND REMINDER that this is a WALT DISNEY PRODUCTION.
Gee. It all seems so subtle.
Credits roll as the scene opens on a cloud bank rolling over dark water. Flickering light comes from the corners, torches that illuminate this mysterious place. (It always bothers me that Sheen is given top billing, when Sutherland is dead center on the poster and places the first of the titular three Musketeers. I believe I used to know why, but can’t remember. It probably has to do with Sheen having a lot more drawing power at the box office in 1993, although Sutherland was still infamous at the time for his non-wedding to Julia Roberts just two years prior. Ironic, since both men come from acting dynasties.)
The orchestral score sets the tone, heavy and powerful, growing to a crescendo that becomes the trumpets that sound the Musketeer theme just as the title card comes on screen. A choir joins the orchestra as the camera pans up to show we’re in some sort of catacombs-like dungeon, floating along an underground river lit by fires held in check but seemingly coming out of the water. (That is an awkward description at best. Sorry.)
A boat approaches from the distance, before the focus changes and more credits roll. Now we hear the creak of the boat, see the figure head is a carved dragon. (At least I think it’s a dragon?) Camera pulls into a long shot as we watch the boat and its passengers glide across the still waters, the oil lamps casting more shadows then illumination.
Eventually the boat docks and we see several men in red surcoats (think of it as a uniform, basically, or a members-only jacket; they’re constantly referred to as “tunics” in the film, but they’re GODDAMN SURCOATS AND THAT’S WHAT I’M CALLING THEM) standing on the small dock. They help a tall man in an forged iron breast plate, worn over voluminous red satin robes, out of the boat. He ascends the staircase, followed by the men.
ENTER: Cardinal Richelieu
(One of the best casting coups ever, they got freaking Tim Curry to chew the scenery and camp up the joint in the way only freaking Tim Curry can. He’s like the ultimate Cardinal Richelieu. I adore this.) [Dove: Seconded. He’s having the time of his life being this over the top. And it works.]
(Historical note: Richelieu existed and became the first minister of the state during Louis XIII’s rule. Really, he liked power, worked to consolidate it and keep the king’s favor, and was responsible for quite a lot of happenings. You can read all about it here.)
Red surcoat dudes from here on will be known as the Cardinal’s Guards. Beyond it being stupidly obvious who they work for, the giant golden crosses that decorate their surcoats are also clues. [Wing: Subtlety, thy name is Richelieu.] Anyway, they follow Cardinal Richelieu through what is basically a dungeon slash prison. Rats climb the iron bars while prisoners scream out for mercy, reaching out between the bars to beg for release.
In a very Disney fashion, we see a man in chains being flogged but only as a shadow on the wall. No direct footage. Meanwhile, Cardinal Richelieu and his guards continue to walk through this maze of a prison. Eventually a cell door is opened and the prisoner inside immediately begins to beg Cardinal Richelieu for help, since he happens to be chained to a wall, looking quite uncomfortable.
Then we meet Captain Rochefort, head of the Cardinal’s Guards, who sports an eye patch and some nasty scars. He’s always clad in black head-to-toe, so you know he’s an uber baddie. (Michael Wincott, I love you, you’re the best!) [Dove: *contented sigh*]
Rochefort has been “interrogating” the prisoner, and reveals to Richelieu that the prisoner defaced the Cardinal’s carriage and stole valuables from inside. The prisoner counters that it’s just a coach, what’s the big deal, he and his family are starving and surely the Cardinal, who’s a Man of God, understands!
Richelieu approaches the prisoner and says, “Very well, in the name of God.” (and right then you’re like HA HA HA NOPE) and the prisoner blesses Richelieu, and Richelieu is all, peace out and nods at Rochefort. We then we see, again through shadows on the wall, Rochefort stab the prisoner to death.
‘cuz that’s how Richelieu rolls, baby!
Richelieu struts down the dirt path, past some of his Guards holding torches, only to stop and crack, “One less mouth to feed!” with perfect Tim Curry-ness. God I love the absolute cheese of this film!
Cut to black, with a title card naming the director, Stephen Herek. WHO ALSO DIRECTED BILL & TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE. (I am a fucking nerd.) [Dove: And directed The Mighty Ducks.]
After that cold open that sets the stage of Cardinal Richelieu being a berry berry bad man and not remotely a Man of God, we move to an idyllic setting: a lush green valley cut through by a stream with serpentine curves, where two men are dueling. The man in the white linen shirt locks swords with the richly dressed long-haired redheaded man before knocking him on his ass.
(Beyond being a wide-eyed young adventurer, this is where book!d’Artagnan and film!d’Artagnan diverge. A few things are used in the film that are inspired by what happens in the book but really, Disney needed a young good-hearted protagonist who had a strong moral compass and a simple desire to follow in his father’s footsteps. Book!d’Artagnan is much more, shall we say, human. Film!d’Artagnan is a fucking Mary Sue plot device.)
(Oh, right, I should mention the historical aspect. Dumas based his character on Charles Ogier de Batz de Castelmore, Comte d’Artagnan. D’Artagnan became a Musketeer through the help of (likely both) Henri de Montesquiou, Comte d’Artagnan (his uncle) and Monsieur de Tréville. Chuckie boy also used his mother’s maiden name, d’Artagnan, because she came from a very illustrious family and his father, Arnaud de Batz, was basically “new money” that only dated back to his father. Go with what’s going to get you in the door, right? Anyway, the real d’Artagnan had a very long career, first serving in the regiment led by Captain des Essarts, participated in espionage, arrested Nicolas Fouquet, and eventually became the field commander of the Musketeers in 1667. He died during the Siege of Maastricht in 1673. His life’s story was used as basis for Gatien de Courtilz de Sandras’ novel Les mémoires de M. d’Artagnan, which in turn was used as basis for Dumas’ The Three Musketeers.)
Most of the scenes that involve Chris O’Donnell’s d’Artagnan bore me to death. Like, his ridiculous over-enthusiastic arrogance and constant… I don’t know, inability to recognize that he knows nothing (hey, Jon Snow) annoy the crap out of me. [Dove: Agreed, he’s insufferable.] [Wing: He’s like a weird fluffy pet who is also a know-it-all, and it’s obnoxious.]
So. To lessen my burden of sitting through these parts, I shall keep it simple. D’Artagnan is dueling Gérard, because Gérard believes d’Artagnan has besmirched his sister’s honour. (Uh huh.) (Also, as far as I remember, Gérard was invented for the film as some dumb ass comic relief and plot device to get d’Artagnan off on his journey to Paris.) D’Artagnan insists that Gérard’s sister was only giving him a kiss to “remember her by” and “nothing else happened.”
Of course Gérard doesn’t buy it and the dueling starts up again. (At this point I would like to extend a huge thank you to cinematographer Dean Semler, who makes everything in this film fucking beautiful, especially the wide long shots. One of my most favorite scenes ever comes from this film.) So d’Artagnan is basically not working up a sweat fighting Gérard, who’s smashing his sword around in rage. Blah blah blah.
D’Artagnan uses this time to sum up his purpose of being: to go to Paris and join the King’s Musketeers. Gérard laughs at him, calling d’Artagnan’s dream a fantasy. Well, that insult goes down poorly, because d’Artagnan’s father was a Musketeer. (This is the movie version. Not remotely the book version.)
But, because this is a DISNEY MOVIE, we learn that d’Artagnan’s father DIED and King Henri IV was assassinated. Because it wouldn’t be a Disney movie without a DEAD PARENT. (Or two.)
(In the book, d’Artganan is sent with his father’s blessing off to Paris, with a horse, money, and a letter of introduction. Book!d’Artagnan’s father was never a Musketeer, nor was the father of the real life person that inspired the character. The king’s death is actually accurate. Though the details are changed for the film’s plot, King Henri IV was indeed assassinated in May 1610, by a fanatical Catholic who didn’t take to Henri being a Protestant. Because, religion. Henri actually established the Musketeers as a light cavalry unit during his reign but they became Musketeers when Louis XIII furnished them with actual muskets in 1622. Now you know.)
Gérard immediately points this out, to pour salt in the wound and insult d’Artagnan, who is basically Marty McFly and doubles his efforts to beat the crap out of Gérard. Boy has some skills, because he manages to disarm Gérard and knock his opponent’s sword clean out of his hand.
Gérard, because he’s all talk and a spineless coward, immediately prepares to die, and informs d’Artagnan that his brothers will avenge him. As he sinks to his knees, we can see four horsemen approaching at a fast clip. The camera zooms in on d’Artagnan who says, “already!?” and bolts. He vaults onto the saddle from the back of his horse (is this even possible? I have questions. [Dove: It’s not easy, but it’s doable, though it all depends on the size of the horse, the size of the human, the athleticism, etc. I’ve seen the hardcore Pony Club people do it at shows in the gymkhana games part, but they have thighs of steel and feet made of rubber.]) and gallops away, while Gérard screams at his passing brothers that he’s going to be the one to punish d’Artagnan. Of course, for more comic relief, Gérard’s horse runs away without him in the saddle, leaving him to chase behind.
Cue: chase scene, where d’Artagnan pulls all kinds of tricks and shortcuts to escape his pursuers. He rides through a work area of a mill, and knocks a woman from a ladder, who conveniently falls onto the first rider, knocking him from his horse. But Gérard has managed to catch and mount his horse, so we’re still at four. Next d’Artagnan rides through a “construction” site, slicing the rope of the winch that’s lifting a bundle of boards, which fall onto the next rider and knock him off his horse. A third is knocked off his horse by a man falling from the roof of a thatching project.
Then d’Artganan knocks… I don’t know what that is, but it’s a basket on a pole for some reason, he knocks that into the next rider, again knocking him off his horse. It’s basically all that for four riders. I’m bored.
[Wing: Much like many of the fighting scenes in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean series, what might be a few moments of charming fun is dragged out into ridiculous boredom.]
Only Gérard is left, in hot pursuit. D’Artagnan breaks into a straight away down a sun dappled dirt road, picking up speed. Gérard follows. Out far ahead of Gérard, d’Artagnan sees a fallen tree that, unless a rider was aware of it, would knock said rider off a horse. So, because this is a DISNEY MOVIE, d’Artganan stands up on the back of his horse, precariously holding the reins, as the horse gallops along. [Wing: This trick riding is possible, but is it believable here? Nope.]
This is why Young Guns was considered pretty realistic and this film… isn’t.
So, upon seeing d’Artagnan do that, Gérard does the same. Sigh. Somehow neither fall off. (Because it’s a movie, bat.) At the last second, d’Artagnan jumps onto the fall tree and stumbles over it, falling perfectly back into the saddle as his horse passes underneath.
Right. [Dove: I’m calling flattened testicles at the least, if he didn’t already squash them with the bum vault he performed earlier.]
Gérard manages to leap up and land on the tree but his horse is not in on the move and stops short, leaving Gérard to fall to the hard ground below. (Smart horse.) The horse even turns around and trots away, leaving Gérard to scream that he and his brothers will get d’Artagnan!
D’Artagnan counters for Gérard to give the sister his regards, before galloping away towards Paris. Ha ha ha.
Oh thank god that scene is finally over!
And of course we smash cut to a large tapestry of a coat of arms, which giving a real once over doesn’t remotely look very accurate or like it even conforms to actual imagery used for a coat of arms, but it’s a film, so let it go, bat. Anyway, the center image under the iron helm is a blue field with four golden fleur-de-lis with two crossed swords.
(Now this is where I go on about the use of the fleur-de-lis. Clicking that link will take you to a place that goes much more in depth but I’m going to condense it to context of this film. The stylized lily is a symbol used to represent the King, the Crown, the Musketeers (since they are the king’s personal guard), French-ness in general (most people see this symbol and think “FRENCH!”) but it is also used as a punishment. Particularly as a mark of punishment used by the Crown. So it’s kind of weird that, although used pretty much in the same ways as the book, that Disney went and plastered it on the CD used for the soundtrack as art although the fleur-de-lis are royal blue and not gold. We will be revisiting this down the road, because I’m already sort of into 147 year-old spoiler territory.) [Dove: It’s also the symbol of choice for the thugs in the Saints Row franchise.]
Oh look, four fleur-de-lis, I wonder who could possibly be the fourth? Snort.
So back to the tapestry! It’s being cut down! By a sword! A long shot reveals a pair of black boots walking into frame, as one of the Cardinal’s Guard asks what to do with the Musketeer flag. (I wouldn’t call it a flag but maybe I’m wrong.) Rochefort, aka black boots, tells him to burn it.
So they roll it up and toss it on a convenient fire which is burning away in the fireplace. Rochefort gives the camera a creepy smile. Then he turns and goes outside on a balcony but a porch? sort of? a landing at the top of the stairs that lead into the building. I guess it’s kind of a balcony, now that I see it in the long shot. In the courtyard below all sorts of Musketeers are milling about. Cardinal’s Guards are stationed everywhere along the steps, blocking the Musketeers, as Rochefort calls them to attention.
He announces that, on behalf of the King and the Cardinal, that the Musketeers are officially disbanded. BECAUSE BUDGET CUTS. France is going to war with England! We need to free up some cash flow! And also this frees up a bunch of men to be conscripted to fight in the war! Win win! Oh, and don’t worry about “protecting” the king; the Cardnial’s Guards are handy and will do so now! (Not subtle what-so-ever.)
Of course everyone’s pissed off and yelling, but Rochefort tells them they have to hand in their commissions, swords, and surcoats ASAP. And if one of them disobeys this order, the whole lot will be arrested.
Because this is Rochefort, he smartly ends on, “All for one and one for all.” (GOD I LOVE YOU WINCOTT.)
The Musketeers are slow to act but eventually one steps forward and removes his surcoat and tosses it on the convenient bonfire, dumping his sword next to it. Swords and surcoats come flying in, burning in the fire, as the swords fall into a pile. A servant woman watching the spectacle crosses herself, because God help us now, the Musketeers are disbanded!
Richelieu comes strutting in (my god, the strutting!) and demands Rochefort kiss his ring and show observance before checking in with how his dastardly plan is proceeding. Even Richelieu loves that last stinger Rochefort got in. He notes that it seems like Richeleu wanted the men to riot so they’d be arrested. I WONDER WHY.
Somehow (it’s a movie, bat) Rochefort knows that three of said Musketeers are missing. Hm. Wonder who they could be… Richelieu demands they be found, even though patrols have already been sent out to collect them. He also reminds Rochefort that there be “no loose ends this time.” After the Cardinal has exited, Rochefort unsheathes his sword and swings it, slashing three candles. Knocking them over one at a time, he names the three missing: Athos, Porthos, and Aramis!
(OKAY, NAMES! These are not their first/given names, let alone surnames, and aren’t even titles. Confused? Surely. I’ll try to explain. Just like you or I might take a “screen name” or a “username” here on the good old interwebs, these are considered pseudonyms or noms de guerre (war names) to hide true identities. The historical man that d’Artagnan is based on was in fact called Comte d’Artagnan. So, really, he was the Count d’Artagnan, because a comte is basically a count, it’s just the French spelling. Athos, Porthos, and Aramis’ noms de guerre are a little different and I’ll get into that when we finally meet them.) [Dove: That I did not know. I like this idea.] [bat: I really do need a nom de guerre, though some days I believe bat really is that for me, particularly when it comes to fandom issues.]
But it’s not time for them to appear just yet, as we rejoin Mary Sue d’Artagnan as he rides his horse through a setup used to transport milled flour, which also has a windmill. (Okay, that was dumb, it’s a damn mill, there, fixed.) Paris (or, well, something akin to it) stretches out in the valley below, just awaiting his arrival!
The whinny of horses and thundering hoof beats draw his attention! Oh noes! Off in the distance behind him, two women on horseback are being followed by two men on horseback! THINK FAST, D’ARTAGNAN!
Seeing an opportunity to do good (because he’s a hero, don’t you know) d’Artagnan dismounts and climbs up onto the wooden scaffolding that stretches across the road. The women ride underneath, passing through safely, just as d’Artagnan knocks a heavy bag loaded with flour from the pile. It hits one of the male riders, knocking him off his horse. Laughing at his ingeniousness, d’Artganan looks down to see the other rider double back to investigate.
Jumping from the scaffolding, d’Artagnan knocks the dude from his horse. They roll around in the dirt for a few seconds, this is barely fisticuffs, before d’Artagan knocks him out with one punch. Sure. D’Artagnan is a fucking hero!
Just then the women ride back and the one in the green cape pulls a pistol on him, asking him what the hell, man!?
D’Artagnan insists he’s just saved them from bandits. The woman in the hat starts laughing before she turns her horse away and trots off, leaving the blonde in the green cape to inform d’Artagnan that he just knocked the daylights out of the queen’s personal bodyguards.
“I’m sorry! I had no idea!”
Instead of yelling and/or shooting him, the blonde inquires his name, then immediately pegs him as being from Gascony. (This is historically accurate. And not because Julie Delpy is French-American and would probably know that.) So of course d’Artagnan informs her he’s off to join the Musketeers. (Yawn.) She mentions she’ll probably hear his name again and he immediately goes into I’M HOT SHIT FLIRT MODE ACTIVATED, asking “would that please you?”
Blonde counters that ladies-in-waiting can’t fraternize with Musketeers, so d’Artagnan is all “I’M NOT A MUSKETEER YET!” *WINK WINK* (Oh God please stop, the character writing, so bad.) She tells him with his “courage” (more like arrogance bordering on asshole-ness) he will be, thanks him for the “entertainment”, and wishes him luck. She turns and rides away, calling back after he asks that her name is Constance. BOY, DOES D’ARTGANAN LIKE THAT NAME!
[Dove: So… sod the bodyguards then? Just leave them on the ground and hope they don’t die?]
(Meanwhile, I’m all “can we get to the actors I like already?”)
Well, here we are, finally in PARIS. (Not remotely; this was filmed mostly in Austria.) We see daily life in the streets, people selling goods and Cardinal’s Guards patrolling the streets, as d’Artagnan rides through them. We even see a priest and two nuns (which is probably not just a “daily life in Paris” thing but a nod to Aramis, more on that coming up.) GUYS, D’ARTAGNAN HAS SPOTTED THE REGIMENTAL QUARTERS OF THE MUSKETEERS! HE’S JUST MINUTES AWAY FROM HIS HEART’S DESIRE, THE FULFILLMENT OF HIS DREAMS! HE’S RIDING UNDER THE STONE ARCHWAY AND INTO THE COURTYARD! THE ORCHESTRAL MUSIC IS SWELLING, SOUNDING THE MUSKETEER THEME!
Huh. Seems a little quiet and empty for being Musketeer headquarters. Why is there the remains of a smoldering bonfire? No horses? No men?
Is d’Artagnan remotely suspicious? Even curious? NOPE. He just dismounts, leaving his horse tethered, racing up the steps to the entry. There’s a tiny bit of a look around in wonderment mixed with confusion but he’s already entering through the great oversized doors.
A lone figure crouches before the dying embers in the fireplace where the Musketeer flag was burned. His back to the door, he does not see d’Artagnan enter.
“Is this Musketeer headquarters?” d’Artagnan calls out. The stranger immediately draws his sword most of the way, standing up and turning around to look upon the arrival. D’Artagnan gets his hand on the hilt of his own sword, but the stranger sheathes his sword and answers, in a melancholy tone: “No, this was Musketeer headquarters.”
D’Artagnan, because he is the ETERNAL OPTIMISTIC HERO, asks if the headquarters was moved. Ugh. Stranger, who’s had enough of this bright-eyed bullshit, tells him no, the Musketeers are disbanded, are no more, and feel free to pick through the remains for souvenirs.
Because he has zero idea who he’s dealing with, d’Artagnan rudely bars the stranger from leaving, saying he “just got here” and how can this be? My dreams are IMPORTANT and how dare you dash them! He even goes so far as to grab stranger by the arm and call him unhelpful. (me: “PUNCH HIM, PUNCH HIM NOW.” [Dove: I’m with you. TEACH THAT GOBBY LITTLE SNOT SOME MANNERS!])
Stranger informs him, calmly, that d’Artagnan needs a lesson in manners. So a duel is set, outside the city by the ruins, for noon. Stranger leaves and d’Artagnan can only reply, “I’ll be there!”
(Even though he remains unnamed to d’Artagnan by the end of this scene, I’m just gonna go with a basic semi-introduction to Athos: based on the real life person Armand, Seigneur de Sillègue, d’Athos, et d’Autevielle, the truth of the matter is real, book, and movie Athos are not remotely alike. In reality, Armand d’Athos was only around 10 years old when the events of The Three Musketeers is set. He was, however, an actual Musketeer, and was part of the black Musketeers (the colors were picked based on the horses the men rode; black horses and grey horses.) Like d’Artagnan, Athos was from Gascony. His name comes from the small market town of Athos-Aspis where his family lands were, but also has ties to a holy mountain in northeastern Greece which forbids the presence of women and Athos was also one of Gigantes in Greek mythology. Basically loaded with symbolism, because, well, you’ll find out.
Everything I want to say about movie!Athos and book!Athos… well it’s 147 year old plot spoilers. So I’ll do that when the movie allows me to say all the things and make all the comparisons I want when we get there.
Here’s your weird fun facts: #1 = Armand d’Athos was first cousin once removed to Jean-Armand du Peyrer, Comte de Troisville (the real life inspiration for Monsieur de Tréville in the book, who isn’t a character in this film) and first cousin to Isaac de Porthau (aka the real life inspiration for Porthos.) #2 = Armand d’Athos was killed during a duel on December 21st, 1643. GUESS WHO WAS BORN ON DECEMBER 21ST, 1966?)
SMASH CUT back to the busy streets of Paris, where Gérard and his brothers (sporting bruises and bandages) are arriving in search of d’Artagnan. Oh noes! Our Mary Sue hero is riding his horse out through the stone arch when Gérard spots him! They try to clear a path but are stymied, giving d’Artagnan time to dismount, hand the reins off to a conveniently placed peasant boy with instructions to hold onto the horse, before he leaps off the wall and into a bunch of hay in a… I dunno, it’s sort of a stable-type area.
Jumping down he heads along a path that goes under the stone bridge and into an area where people are milling about and sitting at long tables, eating and drinking. In his rush to flee Gérard, d’Artagnan plows into a man carrying a bowl of bread and… some green vegetable, which he spills all over the table which consequently knocks over tankards and spills ale and wine all over the lap of unknown man.
D’Artagnan makes hasty apologies, but a boisterous voice calls out, “EXCUSE ME.” A tall, dark-haired man, wearing a long scarf wrapped around like a bandana over his forehead, stands up from the table and shakes the liquid from a sash, announcing “THIS SASH WAS A GIFT TO ME FROM THE QUEEN OF AMERICA.” [Dove: I love you. Forever. Even in 2012.]
“There’s no queen of America,” d’Artagnan retorts. (Because he is an asshole.) [Wing: And arguably wrong, depending on how you define “America” and “queen” and look at history and leadership and control.]
This second unknown yet insulted man begs to differ, drawing laughs from the crowd as he hints at intimacy between him and said queen. D’Artagnan whips out his sword, pointing it at the stranger, eliciting gasps from the crowd.
“It’s ‘twit of the month’, come to challenge the mighty Porthos!”
“The mighty who?”
“….don’t tell me you’ve never heard of me.”
D’Artagnan further insults stranger #2 by calling him a windbag, so stranger #2 calls him a “little pimple” (best insult) and challenges him to a duel behind the Luxembourg at one o’clock. He also tells d’Artagnan to bring a “long wooden box” along.
If you’re counting, that’s duel #2.
(Ah, Porthos! Real life inspiration Isaac de Porthau was a member of the black Musketeers, having joined around 1642. His brother, Jean, was also a Musketeer. Although book!Porthos and movie!Porthos are portrayed as braggarts and vainglorious men, Isaac was not and Dumas used a different source material in order to give the character these particularly unflattering personality traits. Artistic license, if you will. After his father died, Porthau resigned as a Musketeer and went on to be secretary of the Parliament of Béarn, marrying and having two sons, Arnaud and Jean. He died of a stroke in 1712. He actually outlived his three friends.)
We SMASH CUT to a statue of the Virgin Mary cradling the Christ child, surrounded by lighted candles. A deep voice is reading (well, reciting) passages from the book of Genesis from the Bible (although I have some qualms with this; it would be more like a common prayer book being read from, but this particular character would have access to a printed Bible of the time, so I think it’s a toss up on if I’m right or wrong.) and is focused particularly on the part where Eve is tempted and eats the forbidden fruit.
Unnamed stranger #3 is sitting on the end of the bed, reading/reciting, while a woman wearing a very tightly laced corset bodice is leaning in closer and closer, practically salivating on him. Finally she kisses him and the stranger gently pushes her back, admitting he’s flattered by her interest but he’s only there to tutor her in theology.
She claims all the talk of original sin caused her to become impassioned and begs Aramis to forgive her. Aramis, because Aramis, counters that it’s not unholy to express emotions and religion should be experienced in an “all embracing way”. (me: *face palm*) The kissing starts only to be interrupted by someone trying to open the locked door, yelling to be given access.
“My husband!” the woman cries, making Aramis gasp, “You’re married!?” Already on his knees, Aramis takes up the cross he wears around his neck and orders her to pray with him. The husband, who just happens to be a member of the Cardinal’s Guard, breaks down the door and fires a shot at Aramis. The bullet hits a vase and breaks it, because Aramis ducks just in the nick of time.
Making a joke about God being busy, Aramis grabs his sword and hat while the wife races to struggle with her husband. Aramis manages to get outside before the husband takes aim again, his wife pulling his arm so the shot goes off in another direction. Leaping into a passing hay cart, Aramis grabs onto a passerby, as both fall to the ground.
“Thank you, you broke my fall perfectly.” Aramis apologies but d’Artagnan isn’t having it, scuffling with him as they get up. Aramis informs our dumb ass Mary Sue that he cannot abide rudeness. There’s talk about swords being quick and blah blah blah and Aramis is all “A DUEL THEN!” directing d’Artagnan to meet him behind an abbey at two o’clock.
“Three duels in one day,” d’Artagnan muses to himself. Dude, it’s because your a hotheaded asshole. [Dove: I’m pretty sure this is business as usual for him. He must get into disagreements every minute of his life.]
(Which brings us to Aramis. The real life inspiration for the character, Henri, Seigneur d’Aramitz, was a Gascon abbé or a lower ranking Catholic clergyman. You guessed it; Henri was also a member of the black Musketeers with his besties Armand, Isaac, and Charles. His uncle was the Comte de Troisville, so basically his besties were also his cousins. Henri joined the Musketeers around 1640, married a staunch Catholic woman in 1650, and had three children. When his father died in 1648, Henri took the position of abbé of Béarn, following his father and grandfather. Basically, abbés aren’t like priests, who cannot marry and produce children. This also explains how Dumas turned his character Aramis into a philandering playboy who seduced any woman he wanted. Book!Aramis is… well, much worse then movie!Aramis when it comes to women. Kind of a weird parallel since movie!Aramis is played by Charlie Sheen.)
SMASH CUT RETURNS to take us to the front of (what’s supposed to pass as) the palace of Louis XIII. Cardinal’s Guards line the entrance and I’m still not sure (even to this day) who is in the carriage. Another SMASH CUT and we see a richly dressed woman, standing with her arms behind her back, looking over a massive, wall-sized map of the world.
ENTER: Queen Anne of Austria
(Although she technically was in the scene with Constance and d’Artagnan, this is where she’s properly introduced. She is not the queen Anne of the book; in the novel, queen Anne is conducting an affair with the Duke of Buckingham. Movie!Anne is comparatively shy, quiet, reserved, and wishes to go home to Austria. She’s not keen on this arranged marriage and hasn’t made a connection with king Louis. The film acts like they’re “newlyweds”, when in fact queen Anne and king Louis were married in 1615, when king Louis was 14. Really, the more I try to separate fact from fiction, it’s giving me a fucking headache. Basically, Disney went full out and Disney-fied the couple to make them A) more innocent, B) likeable, and C) pushed more to the background.)
Cardinal Richelieu asks, startling the young queen. Richelieu creeps, Anne gets creep’d out. They talk about how the queen is lonely in her “new” home and how the king isn’t showing much interest and/or affection to his new wife. (While in reality, King Louis XIII and Anne of Austria had already had two stillborn children by 1625, with a third stillborn child the next year.) Richelieu and Anne’s father arranged the marriage to unite the countries (When in fact their marriage followed a tradition of cementing military and political alliances between the Catholic powers of France and Spain with royal marriages, a tradition that had gone back over 60 years. WATCHING THIS NOW IS FRUSTRATING.)
ENTER: King Louis XIII
My god, what a horrible version this is. His super bland ass outfit doesn’t help, the weird wig really doesn’t help [Dove: THAT WIG. NOOOOO.], and the blue sash… oi. King Louis immediately sets to asking Richelieu why the fuck his Musketeers were disbanded. He’s mad at the timing, although he had previously approved the disbanding, and is also mad he wasn’t allowed to talk to them personally. His claim that the Musketeers are/were his friends I’m kind of dubious on. They were there to serve him, the king of France, so beyond politeness, I don’t exactly buy it. I could be wrong but it feels very Disney to me.
(Okay, I guess I should explain King Louis XIII. In reality, Louis was the son of Henri IV and Marie de’ Medici (yeah, you read that right, he’s a descendant of the fucking de’ Medicis) who ascended to the throne after his father’s assassination in 1610. Louis was 9. His mother held onto her regency even when Louis turned 13, which meant Louis was legally an adult at that point and the regency formally ended, until he was 16. Because, power. Eventually in 1617 a coup was staged and Marie ended up being sent away into exile. King Louis relied heavily on his ministers, particularly Cardinal Richelieu, and France was kind of a fucked up mess for a long while. So, in essence, that part of the movie is accurate. Most film adaptations of The Three Musketeers make king Louis a buffoon or incompetent, weak-willed or worse. This one makes him 20 and rather indifferent to some activities going on inside his court, but also portrays him as trusting and earnest, going for audience sympathy.)
Cardinal Richelieu apologizes (so fake) and reminds him that there’s a coming war with England to think of, and that the Duke of Buckingham plans to invade La Rochelle within the month. The Musketeers needed to be disbanded and conscripted to fight. King Louis pitches a snit fit about deciding what’s best for himself and France and queen Anne is all “oh hay boyfriend”. But the King doesn’t know how to talk to girls apparently, so he stalks off without saying another word to her. Awkward.
Oh boy! A sideways wipe!! How different! Cardinal Richelieu and Captain Rochefort are walking down the marble staircases, while the Cardinal bitches about how King Louis is as troublesome as his father and how the king is about to become a man (aka turn 21 because Disney could never handle a 13 year old boy-man-king.) He inquires if the “loose ends” have been tied up. Rochefort has to answer that two patrols have been sent to round up Athos, Porthos, and Aramis. Richelieu isn’t impressed and makes a jab about Rochefort having already lost one eye, and that losing the other would be “inconvenient.”
We move over to a patrol of Cardinal’s Guards who enter a… well I guess it’s an ale house. Can’t really call it a pub; this isn’t England. Anyway, one kicks in the door and we move inside to see that the patrols sent have been disarmed, knocked out, some are bound and gagged. The camera pans quickly down a long table to reveal…
Athos and Aramis! Athos is chilling, sword on the table top, smoking his pipe. Aramis is cleaning the blade of his sword with a lace-edged hanky. (Me: “Doc and Dick, reunited!”)
The lead Cardinal’s Guard asks what the hell, to which Athos informs it’s a private party and to GO AWAY. Aramis chides his friend, telling him that’s not how you greet guests. (me: “YES IT IS.”) He then welcomes the Cardinal’s Guards in, saying their friends have been expecting them!
“You’re under arrest!” The Cardinal’s Guard bellows. Athos challenges that. So in walks Captain Rochefort, announcing he’s the authority who’s demanded they be arrested.
“Hello again, cyclops.” Aramis quips. Oo, burn!
We learn that Captain Rochefort was once a Musketeer, before being cast out for “conduct unbecoming a Musketeer”. Athos, Porthos, and Aramis testified against him, leading to his dishonorable discharge. No wonder dude has a huge grudge!
Rochefort demands they surrender their commissions, surcoats, and swords or turn outlaws and be hunted. Athos and Aramis share a look (me: “Oh my heart. Young Guns, baby!”) and Rochefort cajoles them to do so, “for old time’s sake.”
Suddenly someone jumps from the rafters onto a wagon wheel candelabra, the massive wooden object speeding towards the floor, crushing all the members of the Cardinal’s Guard patrol under it.
“Did I miss anyone??” Porthos asks, looking around. “Drat, I was trying to hit Rochefort.” [Dove: Porthos. I love you so much.]
The others join Porthos, their swords raised and pointed at Rochefort, while Athos gets real close and warns him they’re not going quietly, they’re not quitting, and the Cardinal can suck it. These three Musketeers will remain on the job, protecting the king!
“Rochefort: isn’t that a smelly kind of a cheese?” Porthos asks rhetorically, before slapping swords with Aramis, then both follow Athos out. It’s almost noon, people! Athos has got an appointment to keep!
D’Artagnan comes galloping into the ruins at full speed. Coming up the hill and round the bend, he reins his horse to a sudden stop before jumping down. Athos, chill as fuck, is leaning on an old wall, smoking his pipe. He casually observes that A) d’Artagnan’s manners are still awful, and B) he’s late.
When d’Artagnan fires back that Athos is seemingly in a hurry to die (me: “you wish!”) we hear a whinny as two riders approach. “Here come the grave diggers now.” Athos smirks.
Immediately Porthos is all HELL NAH THIS IS MY IDIOT I GET TO TEACH A LESSON TO! and Aramis is all, wait, add me to that list. D’Artagnan reminds them that their scheduled engagements are until 1pm and 2pm respectively. Athos finds this hilarious and while the others dismount, removes his over coat (I am not a costumer, don’t kill me) and reveals, along with Porthos and Aramis revealing their surcoats, that they’re Musketeers.
D’ARTAGNAN IS FUCKING SHOOK!
Athos is all, well, you pick great opponents but you suck, so let’s get on with it. D’Artagnan is all got it, bro, and I’ll regret killing you. He and Athos move into the en guarde position but…
…here arrives yet another patrol of two-dimensional Cardinal’s Guards. “Only a fool would try and arrest us twice in one day,” Athos observes.
“You’re under arrest!” the lead Cardinal’s Guard yells.
“A fool,” Aramis and Porthos note. (For all its faults and historical inaccuracy, the dialogue in this film has its moments and is severely quotable. Plus it helps when you have some great delivery, which is demonstrated repeatedly throughout the film, most notably by Oliver Platt.)
Then we get one of Porthos’ best lines:
[Dove: This is what I mean. Oliver Platt is utterly gif-able in pretty much everything he does in this film.]
The three come together to discuss the odds. Watch carefully and you’ll see Porthos push d’Artagnan put of the huddle. I love it. (Also the discussion of “unfair odds” is very Young Guns, although this is 3-5 not 5-100 but I still laugh.) D’Artagnan insists there’s four, making Athos sharply remind him that he’s not a Musketeer and it’s not his fight.
So, because he’s a goddamn Mary Sue, d’Artagnan interjects that though he may not wear the uniform he has the heart of a Musketeer. (Me: “oh shut up already.”)
Because it’s in the script, the three are impressed and ask his name, before introducing themselves. Now acquainted, they draw their swords and prepare to defend themselves. “Now! We are prepared to resist you!” Porthos announces before the Cardinal’s Guards dismount and attack.
(God I hate recapping these.) TL;DR = we see Athos, Porthos, and Aramis in their element, kicking butt and not bothering to take names. Aramis fights two at once, before they accidentally impale each other. D’Artagnan is matched against the head Guard, finding himself slightly unprepared for this intense fight. Porthos, we learn, has a bunch of tricks and secondary weapons: a blade that splits into three blades at the press of a trigger, [Wing: I have hearts in my eyes and desperately want one.] which he wedges around his opponent’s sword and uses to break it, sending the man fleeing as well as bolas, the weights interconnected by cords that you throw, which causes them to wrap around their target and smash. The poor dude gets smashed in the face. Athos shows off the fanciest and most intense bit of swordsmanship (because, Athos) before stabbing his opponent, who falls from the ruins.
Meanwhile, as the others collect themselves, they realize d’Artagnan is A) still alive and B) still fighting. They almost seem impressed. He has pushed his opponent to a high point of the ruins, fighting hard. Eventually he knocks the sword from the Cardinal’s Guard’s grip, sending him into overbalancing, which leads to his fall from the ruins. It is implied he’s dead, as d’Artagnan looks down on the dude’s body.
(This whole sequence is close to the book. D’Artagnan does offend all three Musketeers and schedules successive duels with them, and of course the Cardinal’s Guards arrive to arrest them, using the fact that dueling is illegal as means. Unlike the movie, d’Artagnan only seriously wounds Jussac, which I think is implied but never spoken that it’s the same character in the movie, and when the King learns of this, he awards d’Artagnan a place in the Des Essart’s company — the company all recruits must serve in before they are promoted to the Musketeers — and forty gold coins. In the movie… well… no.)
We move to Aramis praying and saying last rites over a deceased Guard. D’Artagnan asks Athos what Aramis is doing, only to learn that Aramis takes death very seriously and, oh shocker, he was once a student of Cardinal Richelieu.
Porthos informs d’Artagnan that he very much reminds him of himself, which he likes, but Aramis insists that’s only encouragement and d’Artagnan’s now an outlaw for helping them. Athos tells him to leave Paris and run. D’Artagnan, whiny Sue he is, intones the Musketeer motto: all for one and one for all!
Athos angrily informs him that Musketeers are just a dream (and if you’ve seen Young Guns II, you are all HEY I KNOW THAT ANGRY RIDE AWAY ON A HORSE MOVE!) and is followed by Aramis and Porthos, the three riding away to parts unknown.
Crestfallen, d’Artagnan stares longingly after them. (I… I’m supposed to feel sorry for him? I don’t.) But because he lingers, taking time to mount his horse and look SO SAD about being ditched by his heroes, it gives time for Captain Rochefort and another company of Cardinal’s Guards to ride up. They quickly survey the scene. D’Artagnan withdraws his sword, screaming about long live the Musketeers (me: “Oh god, choke on it.”) and charging Rochefort.
Rochefort handily knocks d’Artagnan from his horse, while the Guards ride in and surround him. One even punches him unconscious. (me: “THANK. YOU.”)
Now we enter the part of the movie where I usually fast-foward but because this is a recap, I am stuck and will try not to whine too much. I mean, this whole section of the film is the big major plot point and drives the story, so I can’t skip it. Bleh.
Clouds roll through the sky, a full moon, a foreboding tower back lit by moonlight. [Wing: And yet no werewolves.] [bat: This movie could have benefited from werewolves. They already had a vampire and a transsexual Transylvanian.] Thunder but no lightning. I’m sure this scares five year olds. A jailer opens the barred door to a cell, allowing Rochefort to enter. On the ground, in the dirt littered with hay, lies d’Artagnan.
He wakes, moving only when he realizes Rocherfort has a a sword aimed at him. Not just any sword; d’Artagnan’s sword! The sword of his father! His father the Muskteer! SYMBOLISM. Rochefort doesn’t know this, I’m jumping the gun, because he asks d’Artagnan where he stole it from. Once the ownership of said sword is established, Rochefort tells d’Artagnan the sword is now his, so bummer.
Rochefort tells d’Artagnan that he collects the swords of men he’s killed as trophies. D’Artagnan says he’s not dead yet. (me: “HE’S NOT TALKING ABOUT YOU, YOU DAMN DUMB ASS MARY SUE!”) Charges against d’Artagnan and the Musketeers, for killing the Cardnial’s Guards, are punishable by death, so it looks like Rochefort is going to get to keep the sword.
Or… d’Artagnan can turn stool pigeon, sell out Athos, Porthos, and Aramis’ location and d’Artagnan have the sword back. (For all the good it will do him in this dungeon prison.) Because he’s a smart mouthed asshole, d’Artagnan threatens to cut out Rochefort’s heart with the sword, so Rochefort does the one thing I wish I could do, and clobbers d’Artagnan on the back of the head with the massive hilt, sending the Mary Sue to the cell floor. [Dove: *applauds*]
“Idiot. Like your father.” Rochefort notes as he leaves the crumpled youth in the cell. He orders the guard to take d’Artagnan below (???) and the guard moves to do so but of course d’Artagnan is our heroic Mary Sue, so he fights with the guard, knocking him out, and hurries to free himself.
Fantastic little sideways wipe brings us to a large disfigured man carrying a prisoner over one shoulder as he marches down the corridor. D’Artagnan steps out of the shadows from where he was hiding. It looks like he’s donned the guard’s clothes, because he’s in black leather now. Sneaking down the corridor, looking all around for signs of movement and maybe a conveniently placed EXIT sign, d’Artagnan sees a very large group of men escorting someone deeper down into the bowels of this prison.
So he follows. [Wing: Because down from the dungeons is 100% the way out.]
Some of them are Cardinal’s Guards, others look like noblemen based on their clothing. The most mysterious is wearing a hooded cloak, the hood hiding their identity. D’Artagnan, lurking in the shadows, watches Cardinal Richelieu appear in a doorway, the hooded figure entering the room. He orders the group to leave.
The hooded figure is a woman, because we see the lower half of her face as Richelieu closes the door and steps back into the room.
ENTER: Milady de Winter
(Although there’s possible historical basis, the bulk of Milady de Winter is fictional. I can’t really say much right yet, 147 year old spoilers at play, but we’ll get there. In the book d’Artagnan sees her in a carriage in the very first chapter. He, in fact, goes on to have an affair with her, though he himself is posing as another character at the time. For all that Milady does in the film, she is far more mean and nasty in the book (and other film versions) then this one. Because, Disney.)
Milady turns, pulling down her hood, revealing long blonde hair decorated by a pearl bun cage and a long slim braid. Richelieu yammers on about how hot she is and that even the most religious men would be tempted. She quips back that she doesn’t believe he’s burdened by chastity, as required by his vows. Snap! [Wing: Is he about to break into “Hellfire”? Because it seems like he’s about to break into “Hellfire.”] [bat: I have never seen Disney’s animated interpretation of Hunchback, so watching that clip without total context… holy shit, that was fucking dark and super uncomfortable.]
So he pushes back her cape, revealing her tight, low cut bodice and heaving breasts. (Pretty risque for Disney.) He reaches for them and Milady draws a knife, pressing it into his crotch, noting she was observing, not offering.
Unamused, Richelieu threatens to call for help and return to her to the block where he found her (this gets explained later, don’t worry) but Milady counters that with a flick of her wrist she can “change your religion.” ME-OW!
Richelieu laughs it off, stepping back and out of range. “For a moment I forgot your lovers have a tendency to end up dead,” he muses. Milady slips the knife into a hidden sheath in the bodice of her dress. Richelieu commends her on the dispatch of her “ex” husband, Lord de Winter (me: *snorts and mutters something about bigamy, which is also really racy for a Disney film*) and of course his death was helpful to their cause. Picking up a rolled parchment, Richelieu announces he has a new mission for her.
But, while the villains engage in dastardly plotting, we move back to d’Artagnan, who cracks open the door to lean in and listen! Because, hero!
TL;DR = Richelieu orders Milady to travel to Callais, where a ship will take her to England, where she is to take this signed treaty and give it to the Duke of Buckingham. Richelieu is pissed that King Louis XIII thinks “he should rule France and not me!” The ship sails Tuesday at midnight, so Milady must hurry, for Buckingham must sign the treaty before Friday, which is the king’s 21st birthday.
(Okay, this movie has no sense of direction, literally, and its concept of passing time and distance suck. Trust me, this comes into play down the road.)
D’Artagnan now knows the dastardly plot that drives this film, so he bolts to hide when Milady gets up to leave. He watches Cardinal’s Guards escort her, but because he sucks at hiding, Rochefort finds him and orders him, at sword point, into the Cardinal’s chamber.
“How much did you overhear?” Richelieu asks of d’Artagnan, who’s on his knees. He pleads innocence to a fault, that the prison was too noisy and the voices too low. Richelieu asks his name, and when d’Artagnan answers, Rochefort motions pointedly at HIS MISSING EYE.
“Ah, yes!” Richelieu grins. “Your father was a Musketeer!”
“He died while protecting the king!” d’Artagnan crows.
Richelieu makes small talk about how warriors always want to die nobly, for king and country, then asks d’Artagnan why he’s come to Paris. “Bad timing,” Richelieu notes, learning d’Artagnan wanted to be a Musketeer.
He repeats the offer Rochefort made: tell him where Athos, Porthos, and Aramis are and d’Artagnan’s life will be spared. D’Artagnan argues he can’t tell them what he doesn’t know. “Give my regards to the headsman and your father,” Richelieu waves him away.
D’Artagnan tries to stall, saying he likes his head “very much where it is!” but when Richelieu drives the point home, would d’Artagnan give up the info even if he had it, d’Artagnan confirms that he wouldn’t sell out the three guys he barely knows and got into fights with just earlier that day. And with that, d’Artagnan is hauled off to the block for beheading!
(Me: “If only. Sigh.”)
We move to… I guess it’s the courtyard? It’s outside the… wait is this supposed to be the Bastille? Because I suppose it kind of looks like the Bastille from what I can find on Wikipedia but what young child (and, honestly, what parent) watching this is going to know of the Bastille?
Unless you’re me who randomly knows all kinds of trivial crap. [Wing: I mean, I knew about the Bastille when I watched this the first time. I knew it from much younger reading, but we’d also learned about it at school years before.]
Okay. Pseudo-Bastille’s courtyard, where the magic happens! By magic I mean death! Where all the sentences are carried out! Anyway… a massive, raised wooden platform sits in the center, while spectators mill about among the posted Cardnial’s Guards. In between executions, there’s a jugular juggling fruit and vegetables that can be bought to sold at the condemned prisoners, there’s a fire breather, wholesome family entertainment!
D’Artagnan, his hands bound behind his back, is being ferried through the courtyard in a wooden cart. There is a pig stye in the background, for some reason, with some real big hogs in it. Okay. [Wing: Ooooh, do they feed the body to the pigs? Because they will eat the hell out of that.] The Cardinal’s Guards remove him from the cart and lead him towards the stairs that will take him to the block.
Hanging out in the shadows, on a balcony that gives him a great view, Richelieu is drinking wine while Rochefort informs him that Milady has left Paris by private coach. There’s a bit of banter about her and d’Artagnan, who is now making his way across the platform, where the headsman is practicing his blows on a handy melon.
Before he makes it to the block, d’Artagnan is stopped and measured by a dwarf woman, who holds a measuring stick, and another woman who marks the length minus d’Artagnan’s head, fitting him for a ready-made coffin. You can actually see her measure the coffins for one to fit d’Artagnan in the background, as he’s being walked to the block! How have I missed that all these years?!
A priest in a long black cassock and an oversized-brimmed hat waits on one side of the block, the headsman on the other. The Cardinal’s Guards push d’Artagnan to his knees in front of it. Out in the crowd, Gérard and his brothers push forward through the crowd. “D’Artagnan!” Gérard calls. “Don’t lose you head!” HA HA HA YOU’RE SO FUNNY.
The priest leans in, to whisper some last words of comfort to our soon-to-die Mary Sue: “Fear not, my son, we are with you always. All for one, and one for all.” D’ARTAGNAN LOOKS UP INTO ARAMIS’ FACE, WHO WINKS AT HIM.
“This axe was a gift to me from the tsarina of Tokyo.” Porthos informs d’Artagnan, as he pushes his head and shoulders down, so the youth is laying over the block.
MEANWHILE, Athos is off punching the coach driver and knocking him off the seat, so he can steal the coach. Yay. (Any day I get to see Sutherland punch someone is a good day.)
Somehow Porthos knows it’s time, so he smashes the end of the axe handle into the Cardinal’s Guard standing closest, knocking him into an open coffin, while Aramis opens the massive Bible and pulls out a loaded pistol, shooting the other. Still serious about death, he makes the sign of the cross with the smoking gun.
Porthos cuts d’Artagan’s hands free, Gérard starts to panic as the gathered masses start to flee, and Athos rolls up with a massive carriage: the Cardnial’s own personal carriage. Please note is pulled by two teams of white horses. Boy is Richelieu pissed when he sees it being stolen.
Leaping from the platform, d’Artagnan lands on the board next to Athos, while Porthos and Aramis jump unceremoniously into the actual carriage, putting a large hole in the canvas roof. And they’re off, Athos driving the carriage right through the fleeing townsfolk.
Gérard just stands there and screams, “D’Artagnan!” because he has the worst luck ever.
Inside the carriage, Porthos and Aramis remove the bench seats and find a whole stash of sacramental wine and what looks like a silver platter for the Host, along with a massive box of silver and gold coins. “Aha! The Cardinal’s sacred snack chamber!!” Porthos exclaims. Aramis is more interested in the coins.
Up top, Athos is doing what he does best (besides drinking): yelling and driving the horses hard with the reins. Aramis pops up through the hole in the roof, handing d’Artagnan the huge box of coins. Because d’Artagnan is an idiot, he looks dumb while holding the box, until Aramis orders him to throw it. He does and coins go flying all over the dirt road. And where there’s free money, people aren’t far behind. They crowd the road, grabbing coins, blocking the Cardnial’s Guards that are giving chase.
Richelieu, realizing and having seen them (apparently) stealing his coach, immediately puts a bounty on all four men. D’Artagnan knows the secret plan being carried out by Milady and if he tells the Musketeers, well, Richelieu gonna have some ‘splaining to do to King Louis. Adding that the reward is for dead or alive, but preferring them be dead. Ha ha, so funny, chew that scenery, Curry!
Finally out of the city limits, the Cardinal’s Guards hot on their heels, d’Artagnan screams because he thinks they’re being fired upon. Nope. Just Porthos opening a bottle of champagne.
“We’re in the middle of a chase, Porthos.” Athos growls.
“You’re right. Something red.” Porthos disappears back into the coach. He pops back up with a wine bottle. “For a chase, the Cardinal recommends his excellent ’24 Cabernet!” [Wing: I still laugh at this every time.] [Dove: Oliver Platt is amazing.]
Passing the bottle to Athos, Porthos reminds d’Artagnan he can’t have any, he’s too young. Athos hands d’Artagnan the reins (bad idea?) and uncorks the bottle with his teeth. (Drinking and driving, a thing that would eventually land Sutherland in prison. By the time this film came out, he had gotten his second DUI arrest. By 2007, after his fourth DUI, he landed in prison for a sentence of 48 days. I believe he actually served all 48 days, unlike other “celebrities”. Anyway, as I said before, drinking heavily is something he and Athos have in common.)
The Cardinal’s Guards are closing in now, starting to fire pistols at the fleeing coach. Porthos pops up through the hole, firing at and hitting a Guard, who falls from his horse. Aramis fires out the open window, hitting another.
“The picnic was delicious, the champagne was excellent. Remind me to send the Cardinal a note!” Porthos declares. [Dove: Everything he says is just joyous.] Which finally jogs d’Artagnan out of his fucking stupor. “THE CARDINAL!” he cries before proceeding to tell the Musketeers about the treaty with Buckingham, and how the spy is supposed to sail from Calais at midnight on Tuesday.
A bit of a huddle and it’s decided that if they can capture the treaty, they can provide proof to the King of the Cardinal’s treasonous ways. Then there’s a weird discussion of how far it is from Paris to Calais (it’s not “over 200 leagues”. Not remotely. I even found a conversion chart and it’s roughly 60 leagues, which is something close to 184 miles. So what the actual fuck, scriptwriters?) Anyway, it might take time to ride there but I guess because we need to keep the plot moving, there has to be seeming urgency.
Athos, being the only one who asks if the Cardinal knows d’Artagnan knows this plot, asks so. Just then he yells for d’Artagnan to turn the coach at a fork in the road, sending Porthos and Aramis falling into the coach. “Next time, you drive.” Porthos complains, brushing his surcoat off from all the champagne he just spilled.
A peasant with a cart full of wooden barrels blocks the road, the horse pulling the cart rearing up as the Cardinal’s Guards approach. The mess buys some time for the Musketeers and d’Artagnan, putting more distance between them and the Guards. Eventually the Guards go around (or jump their horses over the cart) and get past.
(Then we have one of the worst, most obvious continuity fuck ups that bothers me every time: we see the coach racing down a straight away, the Guards catching up, and it’s so damn obvious that it’s the stuntmen riding/driving the carriage. Like, what the hell, film makers??)
D’Artagnan drives the coach into what I guess is a small encampment of men preparing for the war. A fortress is off in the distance. Piles of weapons and tents, and barrels of gun powder are all around. Seeing the road is blocked up ahead by carts full of soldiers, Athos takes back the reins and drives the horses off the road, past the blockage and into the camp.
As soon as they are clear of the camp, Athos slows the horses and carriage to a stop, jumping down. He tells d’Artagnan to unhitch the horses before opening the carriage door. Informing Aramis and Porthos it’s the end of the ride, he instructs Porthos to hand him a bottle of brandy. “Oh, what a waste,” Porthos grumbles.
While the others prepare the horses, Athos coats the red velvet interior of the carriage with the brandy, before pouring a small pile of gunpowder into the middle. Aiming a pistol, he fires, the plush interior going up in flames. (I’m wondering why you’d wander around with a loaded gun but whatever.) [Wing: Drama. Plus it also takes awhile to load some guns, so better to have it loaded than need it and have to spend too much time loading it. But also, why waste the bullet like this?] Meanwhile, the Cardinal’s Guards have finally gotten free of their entanglement with the soldiers and are galloping towards the carriage.
It takes all four men to push the burning carriage but they manage, sending it careening down the hill, towards the encampment and the approaching Guards. All the soldiers and Guards RUN AWAY, as the carriage veers off the road and heads straight towards the gun powder wagon. Of course it explodes spectacularly. The Musketeers and d’Artagnan, now riding the white horses, watch their handiwork before riding away.
And then we are treated to one of my most favorite visual scenes in all of moviedom:
It’s growing dark, the Musketeers and d’Artagnan riding at breakneck speed in order to reach Calais in time. Back in Paris, workers are trying messages to the tiny feet of homing pigeons. The Cardinal surveys the cityscape bathed in the setting sun, as Rochefort announces that their enemies have been sighted on the rad to Calais.
Doesn’t matter, because the Cardinal is using said homing pigeons to inform all bounty hunters and mercenaries in France. The birds fly off in a great flock, we even get some slow motion shots. “All for one, and more for me,” the Cardinal muses.
Now it’s completely dark and pouring down rain. The Musketeers and d’Artagnan arrive in a small town, ready to stop for the night. (Honestly, I think if the real distance was used, they’d be in fucking Calais by now. But, movie.) As they dismount, a very well-dressed nobleman rides out. (Oh, we’ll be seeing HIM again soon…)
(Another fucking “are you kidding me?!” continuity error. Somehow, even though they were just shown clad in their surcoats and hat-less, the Muskteers and d’Artagnan are now wearing their hats, with the big oversized feather plumes, and the overcoats/cloaks they were wearing just before the duel behind the ruins. LIKE SERIOUSLY WHAT THE HELL THEY DIDN’T JUST HAVE THOSE STASHED IN THEIR POCKETS.) [Dove: New theory: they’re sims. Remember in Sims 1 when a sim could just pull a rocket firework out of their ass (well, since it’s a “family” game, I guess their backpocket, rather than actual ass) and set it off? Same thing.]
We enter a well-lighted inn that has a giant fire burning in the middle of the room, complete with suckling pig roasting on a spit… that has a lot of serving wenches and alcohol. Because who needs sleep when you have wenches and alcohol?
Porthos has made himself to home, with a wench on either side, and a third looming in the background. He’s telling d’Artagnan fanciful stories about queens being no different then barmaids in the dark, while Aramis returns to the table with tankards of ale.
Remember when Disney wasn’t so PC about everything? Yet now they’ve gone and changed the red-headed wench in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, completely attempting to erase history and the fact that pirates sold off women as “brides” (and slaves, and worse)? Yeah, this movie falls into the “before” times. [Wing: I’m pretty sure you can’t use the Pirates of the Caribean ride as a history lesson.] [bat: No, no you cannot. The ride depresses me so much now.]
Informing d’Artagnan that if he is to be a proper Muskteer, he must be schooled in the “manly art” of wenching, Porthos notices d’Artagnan’s instant interest in a barmaid who leans across the table to put down some dishes, shoving her boobs practically in his face. (me: “Ugh. Okay, at least this isn’t Game of Thrones. There’s no sexpositon in this.”)
“Oo, first subject,” Porthos announces, as he’s got one arm around one wench, clutching the hand of the other to his chest. (Me: “Can we skip this and go see what Athos is up to? I already know but it’s so much more interesting…”)
(This is where I pause and interject that when I was 12 and I watched this scene, I thought it was okay and cool and the like. Watching it now, I’m like, no. No. No, no, no. BUT! I am also not one to ignore that things were a lot worse for women in this particular era in history and this is fucking Disney-fied tame compared to, and including, events that happen in the book. Like, seriously, in the book everyone’s conducting trysts of some sort (even Athos, although it’s never written about, but the consequences of that come up in one of the later books) and using sex as a weapon (Milady is good at it and does so to survive in a male-dominated world; Aramis is a fucking douchebag) and anyway, this is supposed to be Disney’s concession to that, I guess. Light-hearted, “ha ha, Porthos is teaching d’Artagnan about love!”, that kind of thing.)
Ugh, how to recap this without making myself suffer? Okay. Porthos asserts that the “secret” to wenching is in the first kiss a couple shares, because it makes the first impression. He believes it should sum up everything you are: strong or weak, funny or serious, etc. He proceeds to demonstrate on the woman to his left, while d’Artagnan and Aramis watch. It must be pretty damn impressive, as he and the wench fall back onto the bench and get a bit tangled up before Porthos sits up, righting them both. Porthos adds that words are useless, causing Aramis to interject that only the wrong words are a waste of time.
So we see Aramis go down on one knee, reciting verse off the top of his head to the same woman, speaking flowery prose about romantic intimacy. Porthos just rolls his eyes and d’Artagnan seems interested that Aramis can recite Shakespeare. Aramis corrects him, Porthos decrees it as cheating, before Aramis receives a very impassioned kiss from the woman.
D’Artagnan can’t figure out how he’s become so lucky to sit among such studs. Porthos announces d’Artagnan is on deck, so of course our Mary Sue takes a massive swig of ale for liquid courage, gets up and pulls the bar maid over so he can kneel before her. His attempt at copying Aramis by reciting verse fails (he can’t remember the words, then confuses “passion’d” for “poisoned”) so he does what any manly man would do: stands up, grabs the girl, and smashes his mouth against hers.
Aramis gives up and Porthos applauds, declaring d’Artagnan a natural. The group of musicians just hanging out in the room strike up a chord and Porthos is inspired! INSPIRED TO DANCE, BABY!!
There’s a lot of hand clapping and boot slapping (?) but Aramis and d’Artagnan do not join in. Instead, d’Artagnan inquires why Athos is being totally anti-social and sitting alone in a tiny alcove. (me: “BECAUSE HE’S SMART AND DOESN’T NEED TO DEBASE HIMSELF WITH YOUR DAMN SHENANIGANS!”)
“Athos takes his drinking very seriously,” Aramis explains (me: SNORT) And damn right he’ll be his usual charming self by morning. (This cracks me up on several levels because Sutherland is ridiculously polite, being Canadian and all. I have experienced this in person.) [Dove: He even asked if he could attack the infamous Christmas tree (and paid for the damage he intended to do) before he took a flying leap at it.] [bat: See? SO. CANADIAN.]
While Porthos gets everyone else up and dancing, d’Artagnan grabs his tankard and goes over to bother Athos, because d’Artganan is a nosy asshole and also PLOT EXPOSITION. Entreating the sullen oldest member of the three Muskeeers to join them (fun fact: although Athos is the jaded, senior member of the trio, Sutherland is actually the youngest. Platt is the eldest, with Sheen in the middle. This mirrors the fact Sutherland was the leader yet also the youngest of the four vampires that made up the Lost Boys in The Lost Boys. USELESS TRIVIA, I HAS IT.)
Athos replies that d’Artagnan may fight like a man but can he drink like one? Pouring some of his wine into d’Artagnan’s tankard, our dumb ass Mary Sue asserts that he can totally match Athos. (me: “HA HA HAHAHAHAHAHAhahahahaha no.”)
Being Athos, he asks what they’re drinking to. D’Artagnan suggests love and immediately gets a bitter response from the eldest Musketeer. He offers to tell d’Artagnan a story about love.
TL;DR = Athos recounts a tale about a friend, a young man who was a count, who was afraid he’d never know love, get married, etc. The count ends up running into a beautiful woman and of course he falls madly in love with her, head over heels, has to have her. The count didn’t know anything about her but he married her ASAP. Out for a ride, the bride is thrown from her horse and falls unconscious. The count, freaking out, runs to her aide but that’s when he sees a brand on her body: A FLEUR-DE-LIS! Somehow, all this time they’ve been together, she’s hidden that she was marked as a murderer by the Crown and was supposed to be executed as punishment. Of course she begs the count to hear her out, that she’s been unjustly accused and branded plus she loves him, but he won’t hear it and immediately orders her taken away to be executed. Crushed and ruined by guilt because he sent the woman he loved to die (even though it was his job to uphold the judgement against her), the count gives up his title and land and disappears mysteriously. ALL BECAUSE OF LOVE!
(me: “And if you believe this he’s talking about a ‘friend’, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.”)
(The film version of events differs a little from the book. Yet, again I am faced by 147 year old plot spoilers and a major spoiler for this film, so I have to hold my tongue. DAMN IT. Oh, wait, I can say that in the book, said count finds the brand because he tears the bodice of her dress so she can get air, bride having passed out. He also does what is expected of the landed nobility and immediately hangs his branded wife from the nearest tree, serving swift justice. But this is Disney so we can’t have that mentioned. Better that the job was handed off to nameless, faceless NPCs.)
D’Artagnan manages to NOT say anything to ruin the seriousness of the moment (SHOCKING), but Porthos comes FLYING THROUGH, crashing into/on top of the table, breaking it. His favorite bar maids laugh as he looks up, asking Athos if he may have this dance. Athos stares at him before cold cocking him with a nasty right hook, chuckling. This is supposed to be some kind of demonstration of their friendship or something.
(I always imagine Nelson Wright punching Randy Steckle and it makes me laugh.)
Okay, we move from last night to today, a bright sun-lit field with… I dunno, are those weeds? Well, tall grass-stuff gently waving in the breeze. A very tall tower rises into the faded blue sky, surrounded by trees. Our three actual heroes and Mary Sue Wannabe Hero are riding across this open space. Porthos inquires to d’Artagnan’s head, d’Artagnan apparently experiencing a pretty bad hang over (this is why you don’t drink with Athos) though because this is a Disney film we can’t say drunk. Instead d’Artagnan wishes the Cardinal had chopped it off (??) and Porthos finds this hilarious, insisting the bar maid’s kiss “left him dizzy”.
D’Artagnan bitches about someone whistling, Porthos says it’s not him, then Athos is all WHAT THE FUCK as a cannon ball lands in front of the group and explodes.
“I HATE CANNON BALLS.” Porthos announces. I have to agree with him.
Seems like the little feathered friends of the Cardinal have made it to at least one destination that read the note. The cannon balls are coming from that aforementioned tower, who have somehow identified the “outlaws” and have decided to grant the Cardinal his wish of receiving them “dead”. Uh oh.
Have I mentioned that there’s unsubstantiated trivia that Charlie Sheen hates riding horses? Because it would explain why we don’t see him much in this sequence, and certainly not actively trying to calm his horse (as opposed to Sutherland managing to calm his and O’Donnell’s rearing up but him managing to stay in the saddle.) I can’t find anything to prove or disprove this, but I know I’ve read it in several different places. It must have been hell for Sheen, since all they ever did was ride around on horses.
ANYWAY. Athos does what he does best, yelling for everyone to “get out of here” (duh) as cannon balls are exploding all around them. Finally they manage to get in the right direction and head for the treeline but as soon as they’re through, we see a… well I guess it would still technically be a posse? A bunch of really angry dudes bent on collecting the rewards on their heads, we’ll go with that. I mean, we do hear one of them yell “KILL THE MUSKETEERS!” Oops.
Athos announces they’re splitting up and d’Artagnan will go with him. “We’ll see you in Calais!” Aramis calls. “OR HELL!” Athos retorts (me: “YOU STOLE THAT FROM HAN SOLO!”) They head back down the direction they just came from, splitting off into two groups. Athos isn’t even waiting for d’Aragnan, he’s already gone.
The angry posse decide their going to have to split up and just split the reward. I dunno, that dialog is hard to understand. So now the parted Musketeers plus one lame Mary Sue are being hunted. How could this ever end well?
BACK TO THE PALACE STAND IN! Another carriage arriving, the gravel road lined with what seems like double the amount of Cardinal’s Guards. Thinking on it, I’m going to say this is supposed to be a visual reminder that the King’s birthday is happening and of course he’s throwing a baller bash, so these carriages must be the guests arriving. Why did I never think of that before? Like it matters but now it finally makes sense.
We move to a dimly-lit chamber, which houses a MASSIVE stone bathing tub, the sheer curtains pulled back. Queen Anne is yammering on, asking Constance how she physically reacted to meeting d’Artagnan (I did not feel my cheeks flush, my hands are always cold, I don’t wear a corset, and my knees didn’t tremble, so I don’t identify with this.) and they’re basically having a pretty girly gossip moment.
(Fun fact: Gabrielle Anwar was pregnant with her first child during filming. Throughout the film there are many “clever” ways they hide this. The bathing scene is one. Costumers also had to let out her dresses to conceal the pregnancy.)
Constance can’t figure out why she reacted that way at just a bare minimum of a meeting. Queen Anne confides in her lady-in-waiting that when she learned of her arranged marriage she was fucking pissed, because she wasn’t down to marry a stranger. But, the first time she met King Louis, it only took looking once in his eyes to “know”.
OKAY I HAVE QUALMS. Queen Anne bitches, in the first real scene we meet her properly during, that King Louis doesn’t seem to know how to talk to her or be around her. Yet now she’s spouting about his they’re soul mates? WHAT?? [Dove: We know this one, bat. It’s just like My Little Pony. “As the plot requires” is all the motivation anything needs.]
(Nit picky reality check time! In 1615 Louis XIII and Anne of Austria were fourteen at the time of their marriage and were severely pressured into consummation of said marriage, out of the court’s fear that the marriage might be annulled. DIDN’T WORK. Louis ignored his bride, his mother Marie de’ Medici continued to be a baller and act like she was still queen of France, and Anne was left to the company of her entourage of high-born Spanish ladies-in-waiting, where she acted like she was still in Spain and failed to really master the French language. It wasn’t until Louis rid the court of his mother’s influence, assassinated her favorite, and got some pep talks about, y’know, being a proper husband from Charles d’Albert, Duke of Luynes, that the marriage was eventually consummated in 1619. What followed was a succession of stillbirths for the couple, which pissed Louis off, enough so that turned to Cardinal Richelieu, which pissed Anne off, because Richelieu wasn’t real keen on foreign policy with the Habsburgs. Anne being part of the Habsburgs dynasty, well, this put those two into opposition mode, and Anne remained childless for another sixteen years. I’m glossing over a lot of events, like how Anne went super religious, but that’s for you to read on Wikipedia. She eventually gave birth to Louis XIV in 1638 and Philippe I, Duke of Orléans, in 1640. You can watch all their adventures in that French television series, Versailles. Or read the other books in Dumas’ series about the Musketeers. They are featured in both.)
(Oh, and when Louis XIII died in 1643, shortly after Cardinal Richelieu, he had failed to prevent Anne from becoming Regent over Louis XIV, so Anne kind of got her revenge.)
Then she cops out on Constance, when the lady-in-waiting asks what the queen knew, deflecting that it’s the same thing Constance felt when she first saw d’Artagnan. What?? Constance gets worried, wondering if d’Artagnan doesn’t feel the same. Queen Anne insists that Constance never give up hope.
THIS IS SOME PURE DISNEY BULLSHIT RIGHT HERE.
Constance takes off to get the queen’s robe, since bath time and romantic fantasy heart-to-heart time is over. Queen Anne lingers in her bath, so milky-coloured you can’t see Gabrielle Anwar’s pregnant belly, and eventually rises so we can only see her back. Clever, clever, director! She starts to put on the robe Constance has retrieved…
…ONLY TO FIND RICHELIEU’S BIG MANLY HANDS ON HER SHOULDERS. Hell, I think she was actually nuzzling the right one before she realized, with a loud gasp, who had brought her the robe.
Cardinal Richelieu plays the supplicant, asking for forgiveness and saying he needs the queen’s help. (Suuuuuuuuure.) Anne is out of the tub and holding that voluminous robe to hide things, while Cardinal Richelieu explains Louis XIII is all emo and depressed and thinking about canceling his big birthday bash. Anne points out that maybe Louis is more concerned with matters of state and that war with England everyone’s gung ho for.
No, no, Cardinal Richelieu counters, we must have the party as a statement that France RULES and King Louis XIII is king for a reason! That’s when the dagger twists. “He will listen to you,” Cardinal Richelieu grins at Anne. Apparently this is enough, because she agrees to have a chat with King Louis XIII.
But then Richelieu pushes it, getting creepy close and up in Anne’s space, telling her about how he always thought she was as intelligent as she is beautiful, WHILE BRUSHING HIS FINGERTIPS ALONG HER TEMPLE. Yeah, that’s not inappropriate AT ALL.
“I’m not worthy of such a compliment,” Queen Anne turns away. Oh, honey. That’s showing him. Richelieu yammers away about how being a man in the service of God is SO FUCKING HARD because MANLY URGES, but he’s STILL A MAN. There’s more pointed inuendo about how he wishes he and Queen Anne could work closely together, because they could accomplish so much. (Consider real!Queen Anne hated real!Richelieu’s guts, I don’t think so.)
Turning to leave, Richelieu can’t help but get the last word in. Something about kings coming and going but he’ll always remain in place. Which, again, isn’t exactly true, but it’s good drama for a Disney movie.
OH THANK GOD SMASH CUT, YOU TOOK ME BACK TO BETTER HIGH-STAKES DRAMA! Athos and d’Artagnan are riding pell-mell through the forest (they are so blurry, ha ha) and another thing, it’s the actual actors not stuntmen! (By now, Sutherland was an accomplished horseman, so y’know, there’s another fun fact.) Evetually Athos pulls ahead of d’Artagnan and turns his horse around, to see if their pursuers are in sight. D’Artagnan wonders if they’ve lost them. Doubt it, this movie needs DRAMA.
“I hope we’re close to Calais! My horse could use a rest and my rear is killing me!” D’Artagnan whines. (me: “PUSH HIM OFF THE HORSE AND RIDE LIKE THE WIND, ATHOS! HE’S DEAD WEIGHT”)
Nope, instead, Athos just chuckles that fatherly chuckle and calls him a good man, “just like your father was.” OH NO. STORY TIME WITH ATHOS, PART TWO!
D’Artagnan is utterly shocked Athos knew his dear, dead papa! Athos is all, no not really, only by rep, and all Musketeers mourned him. (Which is giving me fits because this doesn’t exactly make sense but I cannot say why because SPOILERS. GOD DAMN IT, ATHOS.) Athos fills in all the details that d’Artagnan didn’t know: Daddy d’Artagnan uncovered an assassination plot and was lured into a trap by a fellow Musketeer and murdered. How terrible. (me: “Always with the dead parent trope, Disney!”)
But story time costs them, because suddenly one of the pursuers SHOOTS ATHOS’ HORSE (me: “OH MY GOD, POOR HORSIE, NO!!”) and both horse and rider fall to the forest floor. D’Artagnan, unsurprisingly, doesn’t get hit by any of the bullets flying around and somehow manages to dismount and grab his saddle bags and NOT HELP ATHOS AT ALL YOU DAMN MARY SUE ASSHOLE. The pursuers are setting up in the woods behind trees and shrubbery, taking shots at Athos and d’Artagnan, as they scurry through the brush to find a proper hiding place.
Athos gets a shot off just before ducking behind a tree. D’Artagnan peeks over an embankment and shots get fired, kicking up dirt. “Didn’t lose them!” Athos remarks sarcastically, as the two set to reloading their weapons. Athos also directs d’Artagnan to ride on to Calais, since he’s the only witness who knows who the messenger is, while Athos stays behind and covers him.
(me: “NO, THIS IS A TERRIBLE PLAN AND A STUPID PLOT DEVICE!”)
D’Artagnan isn’t real thrilled about this plan. Athos counters that a real Musketeer’s first duty is to protect the king of France. IF YOU WANT TO BE A FUCKING REAL MUSKETEER, D’ARTAGNAN, YOU GOTTA DO WHAT ATHOS SAYS. Mainly because Athos has now shoved a loaded pistol in d’Artagnan’s face and has threatened to shoot him if he does not go to Calais.
(me: “SHOOOOOOOOT HEEEEEEMMMMMMMM!”)
To his credit, d’Artagnan realizes Athos is real fucking serious and would totally shoot him. So he hands over his rifle and I think there’s another pistol. Athos just says, “Don’t let me down.”
D’Artagnan: “I’ll never forget you!” (me: “OH MY GOD YOU FUCKING SUE!”) Athos, in only the way Sutherland can yell: “GOOOOO!” (me: “Mmm, yelling, I miss the yelling.”) (I KNOW I HAVE SERIOUS ISSUES, SHUT UP.)
Because he’s a Mary Sue and probably rightfully scared of Athos (me: “HE DAMN WELL SHOULD BE!”) d’Artagnan runs away and jumps on his horse (again with the bum vaulting?? WHY??) (drama, I know, I know) [Dove: It’s still considered massively bad form. An adult male’s weight is not insubstantial, especially when it crash-lands on a horse’s spine. Every single bum-vault has pissed me off. Mounting properly isn’t just because it looks pretty, it’s because it’s the safest way for both horse and rider. Dick.] and begins to ride away the direction they had just come from. None of the pursuers notice d’Artagnan riding away. Shock.
Athos, because dramatic, raises the pistol and looks heaven-ward, before getting on with shit and firing on the pursuers. He manages to shoot one right away! D’Artagnan pauses and turns back to look at how Athos is holding up, then continues on his ride towards Calais. We get treated to one last shot of Athos, who starts when dirt kicks up from a bullet, gives one last look heaven-ward, and it seems the leader of the Musketeers knows he’s in deep shit. Will this be the last we see of our hero?
SMASH CUT to the not-remotely French palace! King Louis XIII is practicing his fencing skills with the sword master (bless you, Bob Anderson, you were amazing and gave us all so many fucking epic sword fights during your career!) The sword master coaches King Louis aloud, while a small gathering of courtiers watches. Enter Richelieu, who applauds then asks forgiveness for being late. (Dude is always asking for forgiveness…) King Louis dismisses the crowd so he can talk privately with Richelieu.
“I’ve been hearing many disturbing rumors about you,” King Louis starts in right away. “There’s so many to chose from!” Richelieu counters. HA HA HA!
The first thing on the King’s list is BETRAYAL. So Richelieu goes right in and basically reveals his whole REAL PLOT against King Louis and presents it as such that it’s just a silly rumor! He goes all in, adding bits about oaths with pagan goes and seducing Queen Anne in her chambers (huh, that one ain’t a rumor, either!), there’s something about teaching pigs to dance and horses to fly, and possession of the Moon in his robes. Only Tim Curry could make this scene work as well as it does, because he’s got King Louis and me laughing by the end of it.
The King goes back to believing they’re just rumors. Richelieu assures him that everything will be simpatico when they appear together at the King’s birthday party. Which the King immediately starts in on but Richelieu cuts him off, stating that Queen Anne is TOTES EXCITED about the party!
“Anne is coming?” King Louis looks shocked and surprised. Richelieu, putting his arm around the king in a fatherly fashion, assures him yet again that it will be an event to remember. “I promise!” [Dove: I love the way Louis is shocked his wife will be attending his birthday party. Even if they hated each other, I’m pretty sure she’d be obliged to at least show her face.]
SMASH CUT TO A DARK, ROCKY CLIFF OF NOT REMOTELY FRANCE! The waves of the sea crash below, as the camera pans left to a lone figure on a white horse, riding along a dirt path. It’s d’Artagnan! (Duh) Our Mary Sue is still at it, on his way to Calais, to stop the Cardinal’s spy! But exhaustion has set in! Oh dear! D’Artagnan falls easily from the saddle and gently drops to the ground, arms and legs spread out, in sleep.
The horse wanders away. BECAUSE THAT HORSE IS THE SMARTEST ONE IN THE FILM!
Soon (or later, since what is time in this film?) a black carriage comes rumbling down the dirt road. D’Artagnan’s unconscious body blocks the road, so the carriage is forced to stop, lest it run over him. (me: “RUN OVER HIM!!”) “There’s a body in the road, Milady!” the driver announces, as Milady herself gets out of the carriage and walks over to inspect d’Artagnan. The carriage drivers says d’Artagnan appears to be injured, but Milday’s bodyguard takes care to disarm d’Artagnan all the same. “Put him inside,” Milday orders. Well, someone’s getting a free ride to Calais!
FADE TO BLACK… then to bright screen, as d’Artagnan (now shirtless and laying in a sumptuous bed) is still unconscious as Milday strokes his brow. In a risque move for a Disney film, the camera pans right as d’Artagnan wakes, giving the audience a full on shot of Milday’s heaving bosom, constrained by her corset. Milady welcomes him back to the waking world, asking if he dreamed.
“Where are we?” d’Artagnan magages to ask.
D’Artagnan rushes off the bed, not realizing he’s TOTALLY GIVEN HIMSELF AWAY BY SAYING THAT, before he realizes he’s down to his underdrawers. Crossing his arms over his chest in modesty, he asks where his clothes are. Oh, yeah, there’s a bandage on his upper left arm, so it looks like he took a bullet or something. Gee. I guess our Mary Sue needed a war wound.
Milday asks his name, saying she can make one up for him. D’Artagnan is so stupid he immediately tells her his real name, so Milday introduces herself as the Countess de Winter, Milday. Awkward. She adds that her title is by marriage but her husband is dead, so waking up nearly naked in her bed is okay, d’Artagnan!
“I’ve learned to live with death,” Milday rambles, running her fingers over d’Artagnan’s super smooth pecs. Boy is d’Artagnan uncomfortable! He tells her he has important business and needs his clothes. Well, they’re in the wash, and won’t be ready for at least an hour. How inconvenient! If only they had had dry cleaners in 17th century France!
“Until then, you’re my prisoner,” Milday informs d’Artagnan. Gee, for once she’s not lying. She gives d’Artagnan some wine and asks him why he’s in Calais. WHICH IS WHEN D’ARTAGNAN DECIDES HE’S A REAL MAN AND TELLS HER THE WHOLE PLOT ABOUT STOPPING A SPY, ONLY CHANGES IT THAT HE’S ON A MISSION FOR THE KING AND ALSO NAMES HIMSELF AN OFFICIAL MUSKETEER IN THE PROCESS.
God damn it, d’Artagnan, I hate you so much.
Of course Milday’s got alarm bells ringing in her brain. She plays d’Artagnan like two-timing snake would, appealing to his vanity and agreeing that he’s totes a Musketeer! D’Artagnan is shocked his lies landed. Milday warns him that if the spy knew he was here, his life would be in grave danger. “A Musketeer isn’t afraid of danger!” He crows.
“I’m dangerous,” Milday warns, utterly serious. But d’Artagnan laughs it off and calls her beautiful. Milday seduces him, starts kissing him, all the while reaching for the elaborately jeweled hair pin in her bun. Tuns out it’s a small dagger! D’Artagnan tries to break it off just in time to find the dagger in her hand! (me: “Rats.”)
The two struggle before Milday falls to the floor, d’Artagnan trying to pin her as well as get the dagger from her hand. Just then the puffed cap sleeve of Milday’s nightgown/dress pulls down…
…to reveal a REALLY FAKE FLEUR-DE-LIS BRAND!
(Really it is so fucking fake. It looks drawing on in Sharpie marker.)
OH NOES, D’ARTAGNAN! SHE WASN’T KIDDING! SHE REALLY IS DANGEROUS!
D’Artagnan panics at the sight of the brand, giving Milday time to yell for her bodyguard. The door slams open, two men spilling into the chamber. D’Artganan gets up and raises his fist but, because apparently he has never seen an Asian person before, he is totally unprepared for the round kick to his face. D’Artganan goes down like a sack of bricks! The bodyguard and the carriage driver pick him up, holding him by the arms, as Milday orders them to kill d’Artganan.
“You can kill me but a surprise awaits you that even Buckingham can prevent!” D’Artganan cries.
Milday frowns. “You’re young and vain but I don’t know if you’re clever.” (me: “HE’S NOT! KILL HIS MARY SUE ASS!”) She decides (fatefully) to take d’Artganan with them. Once again dressed properly, d’Artganan is held with a knife to his throat as the foursome take the stairs down to the main floor. Milday stops short, gasping, hiding behind a column.
Because down in the kitchen is Lord de Winter, the surviving brother of her dead husband, who’s HUNTING FOR MILDAY! BECAUSE SHE MURDERED HIS BROTHER! Ooo, more drama! Milday orders the party to take the back staircase!
SMASH CUT to the docks, where a large sailing ship awaits. The bodyguards ride ahead of the carriage as the orchestral music swells to dramatic heights. Milday is going to sail for England and take dumb ass d’Artganan with her!
(Here’s where I get to interject a fun little aside. In the movie’s junior novelization, which of course I fucking own because I own all the things when it counts, we get a deleted scene involving the whereabouts of Porthos and Aramis. Of course when I’m writing this recap I cannot find the book but from memory it involves a ferry (which is basically a giant fucking raft) and Porthos and Aramis having to fend off the pursuers while on said ferry. It was an extraneous fight scene on a boat, which, with what’s about to happen in the actual film, was deleted for obvious reasons. Also, deleting it heightens the drama because viewers don’t know what has happened to Porthos and Aramis. And surely Athos didn’t survive his lone wolf holdout against those pursuers in the woods!)
I refuse to believe that the docks were COMPLETELY EMPTY AND NOT BUSY AT ALL even in the middle of the night, since ships pretty much relied on the tides to sail. There should be people working! Also, this part was filmed in Cornwall, England, which was the stand-in for Calais. Yeah, sure, okay. [Dove: I hope everyone got ice cream. You always get ice cream in Cornwall. Otherwise you’ve failed.]
The coach stops in front of a particular boat — pretty sure it was named the “Persephone”, after the queen of the Underworld, which if you know more about Milday then I’ve told you, you find it funny — and Milday exits, followed by d’Artagnan being manhandled out of the coach by the Asian bodyguard. The group, which is suddenly a lot more than the main four, cautiously approach the “Persephone”, whose gang plank is level with the dock. Also there’s a lot of mist and/or fog shrouding everything. Way to set the mood, set designers.
The coachman LOUDLY announces that it’s the Milady de Winter party from Paris (gee, shouldn’t you be a LOT MORE undercover here?) and asks permission to board. There’s a slight pause, before someone* yells back, “Permission gran-ted!”
*if you don’t know who that is strictly by the voice, then you have not watched this film as much as Dove and I have.
So, yet again, it’s dark, foggy, probably midnight (??) and NO ONE is walking around on board the “Persephone” — ALL things that would make me really fucking suspicious — but Milday and company just walk aboard without a second thought. The coachman approaches a dude who’s leaning against one of the mast poles and demands to be taken to see the captain. I dunno, the fact he’s just leaning and his gaze is distant and quite glassy…. MIGHT BE AN OBVIOUS CLUE.
“What are you, deaf??” The coachman growls, grabbing the crew member, who promptly falls over, VERY MUCH DEAD. The other hired guards have simultaneously discovered that the rest of the crew, that have been strategically placed about the top deck of the ship, are ALL DEAD!
“Well, not all of us!” Aramis snarks from where he was doing his impression of a Jesus Chris pose on the ship’s wheel, before he steps out and kicks the coachman dead center in the chest. The music swells into an up tempo beat to show us HEY LOOK OUR HEROES MADE IT TO CALAIS AND NOW THEY’RE GOING TO KICK ASS AND STOP MILDAY!
Boy does d’Artagnan look fucking surprised to see Aramis. In fairness, so does Milady, but it’s not like she knows him. Not one to stand on ceremony, Aramis throws the coachman over the side of the boat. One of the bodyguards draws his sword and takes a stab but Aramis is too fast.
…and then Porthos comes swinging in, literally. He even manages to aim and kick two of the bodyguards over the side of the ship before dashingly landing on deck. (Porthos can do no wrong. Ever.)
Two more bodyguards, swords drawn, advance upon Porthos. Immediately one yells, “Porthos the Pirate!” Both of them, as well as a third bodyguard, start to scream and run, jumping off the boat.
“Pirate?!” D’Artagnan asks, stunned.
“I told you I was famous,” Porthos retorts with a witty smile. (I love you, Porthos.)
Utterly done with this nonsense, the Asian bodyguard tosses d’Artagnan to the side (if only it had been over the side of the boat, a wasted opportunity!) yelling as he raises his hands into a martial arts stance. Porthos yells back, drawing his sword, and they begin to fight.
Seeing a chance to escape the stupid men hanging around the deck and fighting, Milday FLEES. I can’t blame her.
Aramis is still sword-less but he manages to punch his attacker and knock him out cold. But, oh no, he turns around and another armed bodyguard is climbing up the rope ladder. D’Artagnan makes himself useful (FOR ONCE) and picks up a handy cannonball and lobs it at the dude’s head, preventing him from attacking Aramis. *slow clap*
Porthos watches as the Asian bodyguard does several back flips down the deck before landing and drawing his sword, revealing that it’s NOT ONE BUT TWO SWORDS! Holy cow, Porthos is gonna want one!
Screaming, the Asian bodyguard shows up some impressive sword twirling moves, stunning Porthos even more. Dude is so caught up watching this display. Once the Asian bodyguard is finished he screams even louder at Porthos.
Porthos being Porthos, he swings his sword as well as his other arm in a poor imitation of the Asian’s impressive skills before he swipes his blade into a rope that secures a lever. Said lever drops, opening the hatch to the lower deck of the ship, sending the Asian bodyguard dropping into the belly of the boat. Porthos kneels on the deck and waves goodbye.
PRAISE BE TO GOOGLE, I FOUND VIDEO!
SMASH CUT TO… A SHADOWY FIGURE GALLOPING DOWN THE ENTIRELY EMPTY STREETS OF DOCKSIDE CALAIS! They literally hide his face with bad lighting on purpose but DUH, it’s Athos! He lived! (Of course he lived, who are we kidding?)
Milday, her velvet hood pulled up, is scurrying away as fast as she can from all that hot fight action on the “Persephone”, and of course she runs right into Athos’ path. He pulls his horse to a stop, staring in absolute utter disbelief, lowering the pistol he was brandishing.
(Okay, why the hell Disney chose to christen Milady “Sabine” (which is actually derived from Italian, but I’m not going further then that, I’m lazy) in this version, when in fact Book!Milday is… well, she has a lot of names. Book!Athos married Anne de Breuil but because of her extremely sordid past, this was a fake name. I’m also going to throw out that book!Milday totally has a full on sexual affair with book!d’Artagnan and when he discovers the brand on her body, she tries to kill him. Several times. And she fails at all of them. Sigh.)
Sorry. Back to the giant plot twist!
So Athos is all, “Sabine???!” and Milday is all, “Athos??!?” (which is BULLSHIT because she would not know that was his noms de guerre… fucking 147 year old spoilers! ARGH!!) and they’re still staring at each other in the dim torchlight when Milday turns around and tries to bolt the other direction.
Getting over his shock, Athos dismounts and aims his pistol at her back, yelling “STOP!” (me: “This man has yelled ‘stop’ so many times in so many films/shows, in so many different tones, I have lost track. Also I love it when he yells ‘stop’! My favorite ‘stop’ is in Young Guns, if any one cares.”) Milday does, to her credit, turning around to face Athos as he advances upon her.
“I thought you were dead…???”
Milday explains Cardinal Richelieu took “pity” on her and saved her, which is when realization hits Athos and he knows Milday is the spy d’Artagnan was talking about. Milday talks about how lies are valuable and Athos just re-aims the pistol at her and demands the treaty. (me: “SHOOT HER! SHOOOOT! HEEERRRR!”)
She won’t hand it over and Athos is all, babe I will shoot you, and Milday is all “AIM FOR MY HEART!” (me: “Uhhhhhggggggggg.”) And of course, because he’s a lovesick, heart-broken alcoholic, Athos can’t fire. (me: “UUUHHHHHHHHGGGGGGG! Way to disappoint me, Athos.”)
AND THAT’S WHEN THE BROTHER OF COUNT DE WINTER STEPS IN AND GRABS MILDAY AS SHE TURNS TO RUN AGAIN! YAY!
Boy, does Athos look super relived he doesn’t have to shoot Milday. I WONDER WHY.
Smash cut to Aramis unrolling the parchment on which the treaty with the Duke of Buckingham is outlined. The three Musketeers and d’Artagnan are all sitting around the table as Aramis explains that the agreement is contingent on a “demonstration” of Richelieu’s power. The camera zooms on a super solemn and contemplative, lost in his own thoughts, Athos. D’Artagnan wants to know what kind of demonstration but as the plot says, it’s not outlined in said treaty.
“I know someone who does,” Athos growls. And that’s why the plot wouldn’t let Athos shoot Milday. No, actually not, but it’s convenient.
SMASH CUT to a cellar, where Athos enters and asks to speak with the prisoner. (??) De Winter’s brother coldly informs Athos that Milady dies in the morning. (???) But anyway, he lets Athos in the cell to have a little chat with Milady just the same.
Staring at Athos with tears in her eyes, she says something about there being a time when she would have given anything for a kind word from him. Athos counters about being a fool and unable to give it. (Me: “Oh shut up.”) He presses her to tell him if she really did kill the Count de Winter.
“I have become the monster you once thought me to be,” Milday hisses.
THAT’S RIGHT. ATHOS’ DRUNKEN STORY TIME WASN’T A STORY AT ALL, IT WAS HIS REAL LIFE. HE’S THE COUNT WHO DEMANDED HIS BRIDE BE EXECUTED FOR BEARING THE FLEUR-DE-LIS BRAND, THEN RAN AWAY AND GAVE UP HIS OLD LIFE TO HIDE AMONG THE MUSKETEERS.
Fuck. Finally I am freed of those damn 147 year old spoilers!
So yes, Athos is really Comte de la Fère (his given name isn’t mentioned in the books but appears in one of Dumas’ plays; it’s Olivier) and Milday is really Sabine, the Comtesse de la Fère (except that Sabine part; in the same play she’s called Charlotte) and both thought the other was dead but they’re STILL LEGALLY MARRIED and technically that makes Milday a bigamist, though I guess that’s not really an issue since she MURDERED her second husband… whatever.
(Seriously though, the BBC drama series The Musketeers handled all of this SO MUCH BETTER. Tom Burke’s portrayal of Athos literally blows Sutherland’s out of the water and that used to be a hard thing for me to admit but it’s true. That series KICKED ASS. I’m gonna go watch it AGAIN after I finish this recap.)
(me: “Oh god, here’s the sappy bullshit part, uhhhhgggg.”) Athos asks her if she was when they were together, Milady says no. (me: “LIES. ALL LIES!”) Then he’s all kneeling before her, asking if she will tell him Richelieu’s plan. Milady tries to bargain, asking him to have her life spared. Athos seems actually sad that he can’t. Milady bitches about society and swift justice and refuses to tell Athos Richelieu’s plan. Gee, I dunno, you ADMITTED TO MURDER, Milady. That ain’t going to slide.
Next thing you know, Athos is taking her hand and calling her Sabine (me: “STOP. THAT!”) and telling her she has to pay for her crimes but she can choose how she leaves the world (no, no she can’t?) and Milady isn’t having it.
So now we’re watching a slow procession to some kind of cliff. Okay. There’s some statuary of peasants… which… I dunno… maybe they’re supposed to be looking up towards Heaven in supplication? That always confuses me. But there’s a couple of crosses and sad, somber music is playing. I guess it’s supposed to be a public execution site? In the middle of nowhere, on a cliff. Sure.
The hired executioner leads Milady, who’s followed by de Winter, Athos, Aramis, d’Artagnan, and Porthos. It’s a blustery day. Oh, that’s right, the statues are actually a recreation of the crucifictin of Jesus Christ and the two prisoners at Calvary, or Golgotha. But they’re dressed as French peasants….?
ANYWAY. Aramis, being the handy pseudo priest, is on hand to read the last rites and the death sentence to Milady. Convenient. Of course the camera is all hyper focused on Athos’ reaction (I’m not complaining) to all this. The executioner orders Milady to her knees. She drops and he pulls her hair back to expose her neck, drawing the sword for decapitation. D’Artagnan actually looks away, the wuss.
Just as the executioner draws the sword back to swing, Athos yells NO and runs in and grabs Milady, crying and asking her forgiveness for, y’know, sending her away to be executed even though he was madly in love with her. She grants it, sigh, and kisses him goodbye before whispering the plot to assassinate King Louis XIII at his birthday celebration.
In a huge act of defiance, in front of five men, Milady stands up and backs away, before throwing herself off the cliff to die upon the rocks below. IN A DISNEY MOVIE, PEOPLE. Porthos actually moves to (seemingly) stop her, but she’s gone, shown falling in a very long distance shot (and we don’t see her hit the rocks) before de Winter pronounces it as God’s justice and Aramis makes the sign of the cross.
Welp. Athos remains crouched, staring apparently down at the bottom of the cliff, in silent contemplation. It takes about a minute for him to get over his now-really-dead wife. He informs the others the king’s life is in danger and they have work to do!
(In the book, Athos charged Milady with deception and a witness came forward at the last minute, which led to her being found guilty and executed. I guess in some small way the Disney-fied version gave her a stronger (?) exit though it was far more ambivalent about her past crimes and tried to make her sympathetic in a way. Also they pushed the “romance” angle, though it was unnecessary, since there’s the bullshit romance between d’Artagnan and Constance to more than cover that. Actually, the romance between our Mary Sue Hero and his 2-D love interest is WAY MORE DETAILED in the BBC series and, I forgot this, totally non-consummated in the book. Yeah, the BBC series, go watch it already!)
SMASH CUT to the barrel of a rifle! We hear it fire and immediately ANOTHER SMASH CUT as a large bullet hole appears in the forehead of King Louis XIII! Okay, well, it’s a painting of King Louis XIII (that doesn’t remotely look like the actor playing him, geez) but still. Not a good sign of things to come.
I love that the camera suddenly shows us the view back to where the bullet came from, a balcony at the palace, where the marksman stands up. Richelieu swings into view in the middle of the bullet hole (in a way that only Tim Curry can, my god, this casting was a coup!), promptly cocks a brow, and declares, “Impressive!”
Rochefort adds that the marksman can hit that shot every time and has no qualms about killing a king, because he believes man should honor no kings before God. “How reassuring!” Richelieu makes the sign of the cross and smiles politely at the marksman. He promptly orders Rochefort to double the pay, because he wants the King’s birthday to be “memorable”.
SMASH CUT and a orchestral cue takes us back to our four heroes, who are currently galloping back across the French countryside, in order to make it to Paris before the King’s birthday celebration. As they ride past encampments (??) and settlements, Porthos shoots a crossbow with a piece of parchment attached into various trees. The notes read: “All For One One For All”, a clarion call to arms for the Musketeers that were sent back home after the preemptive disbandment.
(HISTORICAL SIDE NOTE: “Unus pro omnibus, omnes pro uno“, in Latin, or “Un pour tous, tous pour un” in French, became quite popularized by the novel. According to Wikipedia, reliable or not, the phrase was used in a letter between the leaders of the Bohemian, Catholic and Protestant communities in 1618, just before the second defenestrations of Prague (did you know “defenestrations” literally means “thrown out a window”? Because I just fucking learned something!) which precipitated the Thirty Years’ War. In 2002, when Dumas’ remains were moved from their original burial place to the Panthéon, a blue velvet drape with the motto on it covered the coffin.)
OKAY, so back to the action. After receiving the summons, men are running all over the place, uncovering hidden caches of swords and Musketeer surcoats! Out of wine cellars, barrels… hay lofts? I dunno, there’s hay covering stuff… the point is! Everyone is ready and armed (and properly dressed) to make a huge come back!
(….I have questions. Like, since there’s no other info given, did they all just show up someplace in Paris and get the 411? I mean, even knowing what happens, because I do, I’m still hung up on this THE PLOT SAYS SO loophole.)
Over at the palace, people are arriving in droves. Some by carriage, others on foot. Soldiers march around the perimeter, carrying pikes (uh, long sticks with sharp pointy ends?) and we see the Cardinal’s Guard mixed in among them. (It just now struck me, after seeing this wide shot of the palace buildings, that it looks suspiciously like the palace of Naboo. Maybe it’s just the green roofs, but still.)
We zoom into the crowd, a bunch of excited ladies looking around in wonderment. Behind that initial group hides Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, concealed by the hoods of their cloaks. D’Artagnan, the only one bareheaded, looks bewildered. Athos tells him to search the perimeter while he tries to find the King. Of course d’Artagnan starts to protest but Athos barks. “GO!” at him, as he and the other Musketeers disappear into the crowds.
Inside the palace, nobles and courtiers and whatnot are hanging around in groups, surrounded by the Cardinal’s Guards, as Richelieu sweeps in. The crowd parts, giving him ample room as they bow/curtsey, but Richelieu ignores them. He has more important things on his mind.
Throwing the giant train of red satin fabric over his arm in a way only Tim Curry can, Richelieu falls into line with the rest of the VIP guests as the guards come to attention. Enter Louis XIII and Queen Anne, coming together from opposite sides of the palace, to make their entry to palace balcony to commence the birthday celebration.
After some complementary small talk, King Louis asks Anne is something is wrong. The camera immediately focuses on Richelieu. Long story short, Anne calls Richelieu “evil”, the King semi-defends him by telling her not to believe rumors and that the Cardinal is very powerful. Anne counters that she rides through the countryside every day and sees the abuses of his “power”. Meanwhile, we see Richelieu fall into step behind the King, while Rochefort falls in behind Anne, which puts Constance farther back in line behind the Queen. (me: “Oh my god, this fake ass whispering, EVERYONE CAN HEAR YOU, YOU IDIOTS!”) I’ll sum this up by saying the King and Queen realize they have a giant problem named Richelieu but whatever they end up doing — apparently to stop it?? — they will DO TOGETHER! [Dove: TWOO WUV! That’ll sort everything out. Or, y’know, the three guys and their Mary Sue that are actually doing something.]
Back outside, d’Artagnan shoves his way through the crowd to make it into the grounds where the celebrations will be held. (Like, wasn’t he there in the last scene? I smell fakery.) He looks around, eyeing the royal balcony, over the crowd, then up towards the roof tops. What’s this, a shiny glint of sun off metal?? OH MY! It’s the assassin setting up shop on the corner of the roof of the building opposite the royal balcony!
Well don’t fucking stand there, d’Artagnan!
The doors to the balcony open and the curtains between the doors and the balcony (I’m sure there’s a reason for this; flies? I dunno) are drawn back, and the trumpets sound though it’s very obvious none of those dudes are actually playing the trumpets and here is the not so large “large” crowd of not-actually-Parisians cheering our generic King Louis XIII and Queen Anne of Austria. Yay.
Smash cut to d’Artagnan racing up the billion marble steps, shedding his cloak as he runs, the musical cue telling us THIS IS URGENT BIZNESS while the marksman (assassin? whatever) gets into position with his loaded rifle, ready to blow King Louis XIII away. Speaking of, he and Queen Anne have almost reached the railing. BETTER HURRY, MARY SUE’TAGNAN!
Okay, that sounded better in my head.
Queen Anne waves to the crowd, the crowd waves back, d’Artagnan is still running up the staircase. Yawn.
FINALLY. Geez, I was growing older just watching this stupid staircase get raced up. D’Artagnan reaches what’s, um, it’s the fancy decorations on the building’s roof. I forget words. He’s running along that now, to reach the marksman. We cut away (UGH) to see King Louis put his hand over Queen Anne’s in a loving gesture (a little too late?) as they share a look. I don’t know what’s supposed to be conveyed by that shared glance; togetherness? Not buying it.
Richelieu apparently sees said hand covering and is most disgusted by it, before he glances in the direction he knows the marksman is. Said marksman is pulling back the hammer and has his finger slowly finding the trigger to squeeze it…
…when dumbass Mary Sue d’Artagnan comes up over the roof and ends up sliding down the other side, smashing into the marksman, who fires the rifle, sending the shot into a stone pillar that’s part of the balcony railing. Like, literally, Richelieu is closer to being hit then King Louis XIII.
Queen Anne screams in surprise, Richelieu looks totally nonplussed and is probably pissed off but immediately screams, “Get back!” at the king and queen.
CUE OUR TRIO OF HEROES TOSSING BACK THE HOODS OF THEIR CLOAKS (also, how is their hair perfection? my hair is always a fucking snarled mess when I wear a hood any sort) and dashing forward, into the fray, as the crowds flee back out of the palace grounds.
King Louis yells “Richelieu!” which I guess is to imply he knows the Cardinal is behind this failed assassination attempt? But it doesn’t matter. The King and Queen are grabbed up and hustled inside by the Cardinal’s guards, under his orders.
BACK TO d’Artagnan struggling with the marksman, by wrapping his arms around the dude’s neck from behind. Okay. They’re still on the roof, where falling off over the edge would, you know, be fatal. (me: “OH PLEASE. OH PUH-LEESE!”)
AND SMASH CUT to Athos, Porthos, and Aramis having ditched their cloaks and totally wearing their Musketeer surcoats, standing below the balcony. Richelieu immediately orders the Cardinal’s Guard to kill them, because CLEARLY THEY’RE THE ONES WHO’VE TRIED TO KILL THE KING. Subtle. Real subtle, Richelieu.
The trio draw their swords and we’re treated to a 3 against 50, as the Cardnial’s Guard draws their collective swords. Wah wah. Boy, Aramis looks real worried, Athos is semi-worried, and Porthos is fucking blurry because he’s way at the back of the shot (and Platt was not one of the headliner credits.)
BUT! From the weird grandstands (?) men start to run forward, holding their cloaks about them (I wonder why *snort*) as they gather behind the Three Musketeers — LOOK IT’S ALL THEM OTHER MUSKETEERS! THEY GOT PORTHOS’ NOTE!
Some cheeky smiles and Porthos’ fabulous eyebrows, and Athos yells (I originally wrote scream, but Sutherland does not scream, trust me, that is not something he does, and all his attempts…. yeah….) [Dove: how about “bellows”?] [bat: That’s a great description, thanks, Dove.] SAVE THE KING and now I have to somehow describe this fucking battle… bleh.
Basically, we get an aerial view of the Musketeers and the Cardinal’s Guard clashing on the courtyard battlefield. Out all of the things I have randomly researched through self-taught study… warfare and combat are not among them. I own a copy of DK Eyewitness Books: Weapons (how much do I love that fucking series! I have been collecting them since the 1990s, need more of them) but y’know, understanding how sword fighting works and positions (?) and styles… I tried, once or twice, when I was like 12. It didn’t take root in my brain, just like French lessons, which was another thing triggered by this goddamn film. (I can understand and potentially read French, I can’t speak it for shit.)
ANYWAY. Kudos to the stunt and fight choreographers who plotted this whole massive battle, you did what you could with a Disney budget and granted, I don’t know about Platt, but at minimum Sutherland and Sheen came in with some rifle/gun know-how. (Did I mention that Sheen hates horseback riding? And failed massively at it during the filming of Young Guns? While checking the IMDb trivia, I have learned that everyone but Sheen endured six weeks of fencing and riding lessons. Explains a lot.) [Dove: That trivia used to be inside the UK DVD cover too. Apparently after a couple of weeks, the boys started slouching and not riding as… uh, precisely as instructors would usually require. They decided to just let them do their own thing (as long as it was safe) because in the Billy the Kid era, they weren’t likely to be schooled hard in the fine art of equitation.] [bat: So basically Sheen failed and Sutherland loved it so much he went off to ride professionally in roping competitions. Explains everything.]
D’Artagnan is still struggling with the marksman, neither have fallen off the roof. Pity. The marksman gets the upper hand; I’m not sure if he’s trying to strangle d’Artagnan or snap his neck, or push him over the edge. I honestly… that’s weird.
We go back down to Aramis, who does some basic “fancy” fencing (SO. LAME.) then over to Athos, who gets to growl and snarl and yeah okay, whatever, while dueling with a Cardinal’s Guard. We shoot back up to d’Artagnan, who’s gotten free of that weird… I don’t even know what to call that… but now they’re standing and the marksman is pushing d’Artagan’s head back while trying to make him step off the edge of the roof. Okay.
BACK to Aramis, who slashes a Cardnial’s Guard and pronounces, “Go with God.” Like, okay, ha ha, funny, not really. This will become more of a running joke, if I remember correctly.
OH HERE’S THE MAN OF THE HOUR: PORTHOS! Finally. An older member of the Cardnial’s Guard has Porthos backed up against a fountain but Porthos whips out a pistol and fires, killing the Cardnial’s Guard, who is much surprised! Another steps in to fight but Portho’s pushes a switch and a blade shoots out from the top of the pistol, which he promptly drives into the attacker’s forearm! I LOVE YOU, PORTHOS. Always bring a gun to a sword fight, kids!
Up on the roof, the marksman pulls a barely concealed dagger from his boot and attempts to stab d’Artagnan with it, but (unfortunately) d’Artagnan forces the marksman’s arm down and knees him. FORTUNATELY, the marksman punches d’Artganan, who goes flying off the edge of the roof…
…and grabs a hold of a banner, saving him from plummeting to his death, unfortunately. (me: “BOO!! HISS!!”)
The marksman draws his sword, while d’Artagnan swings around, holding onto the banner with one arm while attempting to draw his own sword, as the marksman jumps down to get closer to slash d’Artagnan to ribbons.
They begin to sword fight with d’Artagnan swinging in mid-air. Sigh. WOULD YOU JUST DIE ALREADY, YOU FUCKING MARY SUE TWIT.
On the ground, Porthos kicks a Cardinal’s Guard in the face JUST AS ATHOS RUNS OVER AND RUINS MY DAY (me: “GOD DAMN IT!”) by telling Porthos their “young friend” could use some help. Both of them look up to see
Tarzan d’Artagnan barely holding onto the banner, still swinging and slashing at the marksman. This is where I swear for a long fucking time at Athos for ruining everything.
Porthos hands his sword to Athos, who promptly begins to fight with both swords (THIS IS A LITERAL FORESHADOWING MOMENT) and he gets to yell and I’m STILL ANGRY WITH YOU ATHOS but it’s fun to watch Sutherland get a moment of kick ass-ness. Whatever. Meanwhile, Porthos just happens to have a small sized bolt-crossbow-I forget the name of said weapon hanging from one of his various belts and concealed by his surcoat. He pulls it out and immediately aims at the marksman, firing the bolt.
Which goes right into the marksman’s torso. Not his heart, which I feel is odd, but it’s enough to stop him and he immediately falls over the edge of the building, to his death, as d’Artagnan watches. Porthos kisses his fingertips and nods, a job well done.
“IT’S ABOUT TIME!” THE UNGRATEFUL MARY SUE YELLS.
“COME, D’ARTAGNAN! WE’RE SAVING THE KING!” Mighty, wonderful Porthos yells in retort!
In the palace, Cardinal Richelieu sweeps forward among the Cardinal’s Guards, his red satin robes spreading out in a semi-circle of protection, as he stalks towards the twin thrones decorated in the blue and gold fleur-de-lis of France.
Cardinal’s Guards push King Louis into the shot, where he yells that Richelieu has failed. Richelieu chuckles, in that amazing only-Tim-Curry-can-chuckle-like-that chuckle, before he tells the king everything is going perfectly, as though he planned it all out. “The king of France dies at the hand of his own personal guard!” The rest of the plan is that the grief-stricken huddled masses turn to religion, and who leads the religious order in France? Cardnial Richelieu! Who “humbly” assumes the throne! Which Richelieu promptly sits in, throwing his robes out over the chairs, and adding that Queen Anne will be by his side.
“I would rather die!” Queen Anne informs Richelieu.
“THAT CAN BE ARRANGED!” Richelieu roars, kicking the royal footstool down the steps.
BUT FIRST, King Louis XIII will be found dead, pierced through the heart by the sword of one of his Musketeers. This is when Rochefort withdraws the sword he stole from d’Artagnan and slowly stalks forward. Why is this important? Tell us, Richelieu! “The same sword that FAILED to protect his father!”
DUN DUN DUN!
Remember how d’Artagnan’s father was a Musketeer and he died trying to protect the King? FULL. CIRCLE.
Queen Anne weeps and King Louis closes his eyes as Rochefort advances, taking WAY TOO FUCKING LONG because of course there’s a huge BOOM as the doors are kicked open and here comes the three Musketeers and all their buddies! The King and Queen are hustled away as the mob surges into the throne room. Porthos clashes with a couple of Cardnial’s Guards as Aramis runs defense so Athos can run in and be in charge. *snort*
AND THEN THE BEST SHIT EVER HAPPENS BECAUSE SUTHERLAND AND WINCOTT GET TO CHEW THE SCENERY TOGETHER YET AGAIN! AT LEAST THE LAST 18 MINUTES OF THIS WON’T BE ENTIRELY TERRIBLE.
“I hope we’re not interrupting!” Athos snarls with a smile, training his sword on Rochefort.
“On the contrary!” Rocherfort replies, untying his cape and doffing his hat with a hella flourish. “YOU’RE RIGHT ON TIME!”
Thank, Michael Wincott, for doing your best to keep the audience entertained.
Okay, so, here we have a duel that’s apparently years in the making, since Athos really has it out for Rochefort. They immediately begin to duel, Athos and Rochefort swirling and whirling and I have difficulty in describing this, it’s so ridiculously over the top. There’s plenty of slash and perry and blocking and yay I know sword fighting terms.
We cut to Porthos having an excellent day at work, enjoying his fighting. Then over to Aramis, who elbows one dude in the face, stabs another in the throat with the point of his sword (??) before stabbing two more Cardinal’s Guards. Richelieu notes Aramis as he hurries down the steps from the throne. Hmmmmmmmmm…
Richelieu orders the Cardinal’s Guards who are holding the still-pathetically-struggling King and Queen to follow him. BUT we smash cut to the Athos vs Rochefort duel, because, plot says so. Rochefort has so much more panache and passion; Athos just… well, as we all know, Sutherland just yells a lot. Yay.
They become entangled in choke holds before Rochefort sends Athos to the ground, rolling until he hits the bottom of the steps to the thrones. Ouch. At least there was carpets. Just as Rochefort lunges in, Athos blocks him. But it’s not enough. Rochefort stabs Athos in the upper right arm, so Sutherland gets more yelling to do. (me: “It’s ALWAYS a hand or an arm with him, what the fuck!”) Wounded, Athos falls back, grabbing his stabbed arm, but he still manages to struggle to his feet. Bravo.
And promptly switches his sword to his left hand. SEE, FORESHADOWING.
Rochefort just shakes his head like, damn, man, seriously?
Richelieu is stopped short by none other than Aramis, sword pointed at his former mentor/teacher. AGAIN, FORESHADOWING. Aramis asks if he’s leaving so soon. “I abhor bloodshed,” Richelieu smirks, ordering Aramis to stand aside. Doesn’t happen. In fact, Aramis raises his sword higher, aimed at Richelieu’s throat, and says he’s under arrest for treason.
When did this become a police procedural?
Richelieu laughs that famous Tim Curry laugh and reminds Aramis that the Cardnial does not answer to the laws of men. Aramis informs him that Richelieu will answer to God.
That’s when the camera pans down just enough as Richelieu fires the pistol in his hand. Sheen overacts being shot JUST LIKE HE DID IN YOUNG GUNS (oh shit, sorry, spoilers for that film, sorry, sorry) and goes down. “You first,” Richelieu replies, before stepping over Aramis’ body. He, the Cardinal’s Guards, the King and Queen, they all disappear into a room concealed in a hidden door in the middle of the wall of the giant world map, which you would remember from when Richelieu was ogling the Queen near the beginning of the film.
SUDDENLY! PORTHOS NOTES! ARAMIS! IS ON THE GROUND!
Pushing his way through and breaking up a few one-on-one fights, he slides to the floor at Aramis’ side. He is literally looking for a bullet wound. But he also notes where Richelieu and his prisoners disappeared. Helpful.
We smash back to Athos vs Rochefort. Rochefort is holding his sword with both hands and smashing it down on Athos, who’s barely fighting off the vicious attack. (me: “DUDE. YOU WERE ONLY 25 WHEN YOU SHOT THIS, WHAT THE FUCK.”) Rochefort miscalculates and Athos manages to gut punch him, before grabbing him by the throat and squeezing hard. Just when it looks like Rochefort might go down, he draws a hidden dagger and attempts to stab Athos. So now Athos has to fend that off with his wounded arm. Ugh. Such drama.
Of course he does, because this is Disney.
Knocking/throwing Rochefort back, Rochefort goes sliding across the marble floor, his stolen sword sliding out of his grasp. A boot stops the sword and lifts it, sort of kicking it into the air, because d’Artagnan knows all sorts of fancy ass footwork. UNIMPRESSED.
“This sword belongs to me,” he informs Rochefort. Then d’Artagnan signals Athos that he’s going to tag him out of this duel. Athos wearily signals back and limps away. Since Rochefort is unarmed, d’Artagnan tosses him the sword in his left hand. GEEZ. Just rearm the dude, will ya. Pretty sure that’s a dumb idea.
Now we get some stupid male peacocking, as d’Artagnan and Rochefort circle and square off, because let’s face it: ROCHEFORT IS THE BIG BAD BOSS LEVEL. Why? Why??, you ask? (I know you’re not but play along here.)
“Let’s see if you are as brave a man as your father was. And as foolish.” Rochefort tells d’Artagnan. OOO I WONDER WHY ROCHEFORT WOULD SAY SOMETHING SO MEAN. Rochefort proceeds to attack d’Artagnan, who manages to fend him off. (Annnnnnd here’s Wincott totally dramatizing… this is fun!)
OH LOOK. ATHOS BOTHERED TO SHOW UP. Sorry. As I was saying, Athos just happened to show up beside Porthos, who is still attempting to investigate Aramis’ murder. “Is he dead?” Athos asks. (me: “Are… are you fucking…. kidding… what?”) During the course of his thorough investigation, Porthos has pushed back Aramis’ surcoat and undone the buttons on his coat, plus opened/untied Aramis’ shirt (you know what, I don’t care about historical clothing terms right now) and we see that giant silver cross Aramis has been kissing when he’s saying prayers. Portho’s barely touches Aramis’ chest when Aramis suddenly comes to consciousness.
To say Athos and Porthos are overly startled by Aramis’ sudden return from “death” would be an understatement. (I can only imagine the direction they were given.) Porthos pulls out the silver cross, which literally stopped the bullet — which the more I look at this looks like a modern bullet and not a period accurate bullet, wtf — and Aramis is all, “See! There is a God!” AH HA HA HA HA!
(Without getting into 147 year old spoiler territory… and y’know, I’d hope this recap somehow inspires someone to read the original novels or delve into the BBC television series… I can safely say that Aramis is the heart of the trio. Athos is the grumpy father figure and Porthos is the fun loving uncle, but everyone loves Aramis. And of course Aramis is the biggest fuck up of all time in many ways (which, hello irony, having Sheen play him) but it boils down to the other two would be completely lost without their spiritual playboy. I’m not kidding. I’m pretty sure the fact that Sheen was billed first has zero to do with him playing Aramis but the character is central to the trio.)
“Resurrected”, as it were, with Porthos leading the charge, the Three Musketeers burst through the hidden door, hot on the heels of Richelieu. They’ve got to save the King and Queen or they will really and truly be out of jobs.
Down in those weird dungeons we started the film in, Richelieu comes down a tunnel and tells a very large and deformed hulking man that they’re being followed and to do something about it. The camera takes time to zoom in on this prison… guard? torturer? comic relief?… so we can see all the deformities of his face and head. I’m not really sure what to call it? It’s like fleshy tumors? Whatever. [Dove: I always get this underground bit mixed up with the underground witch in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. I guess in the 90s you needed Michael Wincott as a bad guy, Bryan Adams on the soundtrack, and an underground layer where the bad guy does his evil plotting. I’m putting Prince of Thieves on my to-do list.] [bat: I am so there for that recap! WHERE’S MY SPOON!!?]
BUT FIRST SMASH CUT BACK TO MARY SUE’TAGNAN, where Rochefort is really giving him a dramatic tale to tell. D’Artagnan has barely worked up a sweat, dodging easily as Rochefort swings and thrusts wildly. Like, dude, overkill.
Finally, after being pushed up the stairs to the throne platform, d’Artagnan jumps and lands at the bottom of the stairs without falling or hurting himself. (me: “LIES!”)
Okay whoever edited this, you’re fired, because instead of continuing with one plot line, we jump back to the dungeon, where a bunch of filthy, bearded dudes are hanging from their wrists. That last guy, he might be dead, there’s a lot of blood dripping from his head. The Three Musketeers run into the dungeon and Athos literally says, “My god.” LIKE DUDE HOW DID ANYONE NOT KNOW ABOUT FUCKING CREEPY DUNGEONS UNDER THE PALACE??
Aramis wants to know which tunnel they take (did I mention there are three? How strange.) and Porthos is all, “I’ve never been here before!” (The first one to deny…) Athos orders them to split up, so gee, how convenient there’s three tunnels…
Let’s go with Porthos! Running into a tunnel, there’s much emphasis that Portho’s smells something really rank in the cell/room he’s just entered. (Like, how? You’re in a fucking dungeon full of dead and/or dying prisoners and I’m 99% certain that a cleaning crew does not come in every week.) The room is poorly lit, only a band of light illuminating a strip across Portho’s eyes.
That’s when deformed ugly strong guard dude growls and appears from behind Porthos. Uh oh.
“Whoa, ugly!” Porthos yells, dodging the sword the guard dude is swinging at him with both hands. Porthos whirls and dodges, using his own sword to block the bastard, in a bit of a struggle. Ducking just in time, Porthos misses having a sword blade chop off his head. The blade is stuck in a wooden beam, so Porthos takes the opportunity to grab a handy red hot poker and shove it into the guard’s backside. How it burns through all that leather to make the dude scream and roar I don’t know but PLOT SAYS SO. But it’s not enough. The guard grabs Porthos from behind, Porthos screaming “you smelly lump of lard!” as he manages to get his feet raised and push them off against a wall.
Which is enough to send the guard reeling backwards right onto the iron spikes that just happen to stick out from the cage wall. (Oh look, it’s a cage, Dove. Where’s some Ponies?? [Dove: I bet there’s a net in the nearby trees too.]) Impaled from behind, the guard shakes spasmodically as his body registers multiple wounds, before going still. Catching his breath, Porthos creeps up to make sure the dude is dead, just as guard dude roars in his face!
Grabbing an ax, Porthos hits the rope (I checked and he doesn’t chop the rope, he just hits it, wtf) that releases the other side of the cage… which isn’t really a cage? I don’t know… which sandwiches the guard dude between them and instantly shuts him up. Wow, so much violence in a Disney film.
BUT NEVER MIND ALL THAT! BACK TO D’ARTAGNAN AND ROCHEFORT’S RIDICULOUS DUEL!
The camera whirls around overhead as the two fence towards the death, passing by a bunch of dead Cardinal’s Guards sprawled out on the marble floor. Man, that’s gotta suck, getting blood off a marble floor. Rochefort is now in the defensive position, who knows how the hell that happened, and is d’Artagnan is backing him towards one of those stupid staircases. Unfortunately, d’Artagnan lunges too soon, giving Rochefort ample chance to grab him by the neck and throw him towards the stairs. Oops.
Now d’Artagnan is prancing along the chiseled marble railings of said staircase, literally gaining an upper hand but now he’s on the defensive AND he could fall (me: “FALL, DAMN IT, FALL!”) if he steps wrong or Rochefort knocks him off balance.
Rochefort swipes his sword at d’Artagnan’s feet and d’Artagnan leaps and does a total body rotation in mid-air before landing on the landing below. Oh my god. I don’t remember gymnastics terms, so somebody tell me what the fuck that stuntman just did, that was totally not Chris O’Donnell.
“Impressive,” Rochefort growls (me: “LIES!”) as he walks down the steps to the landing to face off, again, with d’Artagnan. (me: “OH MY GOD JUST GET TO THE FUCKING PLOT TWIST ALREADY.”)
Finally! Rochefort goes all in, slamming d’Artagnan against a wall before pulling him forward and slamming him into the opposite railing, where he knocks d’Artagnan’s sword from his hand. It clatters to a landing below, where suddenly we see Constance creeping silently up the stairs, watching her hot crush get smacked around. FORESHADOWING.
Also: HOW THE FUCK DID SHE NOT GET HAULED OFF BY THE CARDINAL’S GUARDS???
Kneeing d’Artagnan in the gut, Rochefort sends him flying to land in a crumpled heap. (me: “YAY! It won’t last but YAY!!”) Aiming his sword with a swift flourish and a forceful musical cue, Rochefort slowly advances on the impetuous youth. TIME FOR SOME VILLAIN MONOLOGUING!
Yeah, you knew this was coming, shut up.
D’Artagnan manages to get to his feet, back pressed against the wall, as Rochefort calls him pathetic, before going in for the emotional kill:
“Killed by the same man that killed his father!”
DING DING DING!! YES, ROCHEFORT KILLED D’ARTAGNAN SENIOR AND WAS THE TRAITOROUS FORMER MUSKETEER WHO WAS INVOLVED IN THE PLOT TO KILL HENRI IV (you know what, I just realized they never named King Louis XIII father in this, what the actual fuck) AND OUR TRIO OF HEROES TOTALLY TESTIFIED AGAINST HIS ASS AND NO WONDER THEY HAVE A HUGE ASS GRUDGE AGAINST HIM!
And that’s when we get a total Star Wars-rip off moment, when d’Artagnan gets all wide-eyed and astonished, in total disbelief that Rochefort his responsible for his father’s death. Just as he’s about to stab d’Artagnan, the Mary Sue twat leaps to the side and struggles with the man in black. Before Rochefort totally throws him down the stairs.
D’Artagnan rolls down to yet another landing, where he ends up at the base of a column, his hand out-stretched towards the steps. Suspicious. Rochefort casually walks down the stairs, ready to end this for once and all. But, for all his confidence, Rochefort starts another goddamn monologue, saying “For certain you are no Musketeer!” as he raises his sword to plunge it into d’Artagnan…
…when the hilt of the sword he drop is shoved into d’Artagnan’s outstretched palm, giving him time to plunge the blade straight into Rochefort’s heart.
Rochefort is super surprised and d’Artagnan is grimacing SO HARD it’s comical.
“I might have been mistaken,” Rochefort admits, choking on his own blood. Oops. D’Artagnan withdraws the blade, allowing Rochefort to stagger sideways towards the wall before crumpling under his own weight, the camera focusing tight on his face as his remaining eye closes for the final time. DRAMA!
Ugh. Drenched in sweat, d’Artagnan pants out, “For you, Father!” as Constance removes the sword from his hand and replaces it with her own, as she’s all laid out on the stairs to reach her worthy crush. They share a loving look. BLEH. Gag. Stop.
BACK IN THE DUNGEON. We see the Cardinal’s Guards hustling the King and Queen down a ramp. But a pathway above, in the distance, oh look, it’s Athos! Still fighting left handed, holding his wounded arm in a protective way, Athos manages to fight off a few of the Cardinal’s Guards as the prisoners look on. One Athos even manages to pin back until the prisoners grab him through the bars of their cell and hold him there, as he screams.
And then we get five seconds of what would totally be a precursor to Jack Bauer: Athos walking across a narrow wooden beam before sliding down a rope. Oh, with the sword clenched in his teeth. Can’t forget that. Now, I honestly wonder if that was Sutherland or a stunt double.
Anyway, he lands and a bunch of Cardinal’s Guards rush to block him, as the King and Queen are being loaded into one of those small boats we saw at the beginning of the film. WHO THE HELL DID NOT KNOW THERE WAS NOT JUST A DUNGEON UNDER THE PALACE BUT ALSO A RIVER??
Doing his best to dispatch them, Athos ends up grabbing one of the lit torches from the wall and smashing the flames into the Cardinal’s Guards surcoats, roaring angrily all the way. What can I saw, dude just roars all the time. But too bad, Athos gets pinned down and the boat sails away from the dock.
THAT’S WHEN PORTHOS JUMPS DOWN FROM ABOVE AND SMASHES INTO THE CARDINAL’S GUARDS!
“Where have you been!?” Athos snarls.
“Taking care of something… UGLY!” Porthos replies.
Rushing down the steps to the dock, Athos gets to yell again, this time it’s “Richelieu!” Okay, stop with the yelling. Geez.
And now Richelieu starts his villain monologue. Sigh. I’ll just surmise. He tells the Musketeers it’s too late, clearly the Duke of Buckingham has already signed the treaty and his alliance with England is complete. That’s when Athos randomly raises the treaty in the air and tells Richelieu too bad so sad the goddamn treaty never left France!
Okay, wait, where was he keeping that treaty? Like it doesn’t fit in a pocket.
Yet again, Tim Curry steals the scene by retorting: “A MINOR PROBLEM!” Then he promptly vows to return twice as strong and the throne will be his! All this while the King and Queen just stare at him in shock.
You honestly didn’t think he’d get away, did you? Did you notice who was missing?
Sure enough, that robed/hooded figure standing at the back of the boat suddenly disrobes and OF COURSE IT’S ARAMIS. He pushes his way past the Cardinal’s Guards, Queen Anne even elbowing one, promising to God that Cardinal Richelieu will never harm another living soul ever again. Just as Aramis is right there to hit Richelieu, King Louis stands up and tells him to wait. Richelieu grins just before King Louis cold cocks him, knocking him out of the boat and into the murky water, never to be seen again. Uh huh.
“Well done, your Majesty.” Aramis congratulates the King on the only decent thing he’s done this entire film, before King Louis embraces Queen Anne and they kiss and ughhhhhhgggggg those wigs are terrible.
WOW! We fade instead of smash cut into the throne room, which has been cleaned up and all the bodies removed, the carpets laid out, the entirety of the Musketeers are in attendance, and the trumpeters are all there to sound the fanfare as the trio walk up towards the thrones, with d’Artagnan to Athos’ right. Of course their surcoats are all clean and pressed and somehow they got their hats with the enormous ostrich plumes back but whatever.
(me: “And that’s when you really see how tiny Sheen and Sutherland are.”)
The King gets off his throne and comes to the edge of the dais, with Queen Anne standing as well, and there’s Constance, which isn’t totally against protocol! It’s a Disney movie! Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and d’Artagnan doff their hats and kneel before the king, who tells them to arise. Then gives a goddamn speech, which I will sum up, because I’m super done.
Oh, wait, I’m sorry, I jumped the gun.
No, instead he asks if this is the young man who saved his life. Porthos informs the king that his name is d’Artagnan. So the king is all dude I’m in your debt, what can I totally give you to make us even. But of course, because he’s a fucking idiot, d’Artagnan doesn’t know what to say, so he looks at Athos. So Athos has to be his dad and say the dumbest line ever: “His heart has but one desire and that is to become a Musketeer.” (me: “HOW DID YOU SAY THAT LINE WITH A STRAIGHT FACE AND NOT RAIL AGAINST HOW STUPID IT SOUNDS??”)
…is this over yet?
King Louis orders d’Artagnan to approach, which he does, and kneels before the king. Being this is a Disney film, Constance gets a big goofy grin on her face before sharing a glance at Queen Anne, who smiles politely in return.
OKAY HERE WE GO, this is when the King is basically knighting d’Artagnan and that’s where the dumb speech comes in. The world is dangerous and the realm is filled with uncertainly, blah blah blah, power tries to undermine honour, yadda yadda yadda, freedom being oppressed, uh huh, but there’s those who stand against the oppressors, yeah yeah yeah, zoom in on the trio looking stoic, something about truth,
justice honour, and the American Way freedom until we get to Porthos who’s looking rather emotional.
Tapping d’Artagnan’s shoulders with the sword, the King tells him to rise and join the Musketeers. That’s when a chamberlain steps in and ties the Musketeer surcoat around d’Artagnan’s shoulders and a big cheer goes up. Athos and Aramis are smiling in a ha ha okay dude’s good now way while Porthos dries a tear from his eye with a pinkie. That’s when Aramis notices and is all, “dude, seriously??”
As d’Artagnan wanders down the steps to join his new band of brothers, Constance steps in and grabs him for a passionate kiss, giving the Muskteers something to cheer even louder about. (me: “LIES! BROKEN PROTOCOL!”) The trio just stare at that turn of events before donning their hats and turning around, leaving the throne room without having been properly dismissed WHAT THE FUCK
Outside, under the carved arch that marks the entrance to the palace, d’Artagnan runs to catch up with the trio. Athos tells him Daddy d’Artagnan would be proud of him, ugh just continue to be a father figure why don’t you, that he’s a Musketeer now. Mary Sue’tagnan wants to know what they do now, what’s next. DUDE.
Aramis and Porthos inform him they protect the King and Queen in the name of God and France. Okay.
That’s when they come to a stop as d’Artagnan’s name is screamed. People and poultry go flying as Gérard and his still very wounded brothers raise their swords in challenge. Oh my god, these guys don’t know when to quit
“I’ll handle this,” d’Artagnan informs them, before Athos holds up an arm to block him as Porthos informs him that Muskteers also protect each other. D’Artagnan confirms this with the other two, Athos actually nodding, before d’Artagnan draws his sword and sticks it in the air, screaming, “All for one!” as the others draw theirs and answer, “One for all!”
Here, just have a gif of it:
The camera switches to Gérard, whose eyes get huge and he screams “Run!” at his brothers, as they are chased down by a huge pack of Musketeers (none of which are the trio or d’Artagnan, just nameless extras in Musketeer surcoats) as the locals cheer and THE END comes up on the screen. [Dove: … so, basically being a musketeer means you get to bully smaller gangs, but with the King’s blessing? That end scene always bugged me. I know it’s a ha ha, see how this funny joke from the opening scene paid off, isn’t it hysterical, thing, but it seemed really… dishonourable, after watching two hours of guff about doing the right thing.] [bat: It’s a terrible ending, agreed.]
FADE TO BLACK. ROLL CREDITS. PLAY STUPID SONG WRITTEN SPECIFICALLY FOR FILM:
I thought this song was cool when I was 12. But most of us have terrible taste at 12. I guess Disney figured the combo of Bryan Adams (who had totally hit it big with Everything I Do (I Do It For You) for the film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves two years prior, Sting (whose album Ten Summoner’s Tales is still one of my favorite album shut up) and the not-too-old-yet Rod Stewart (so that’s two Brits and a Canadian) would pay off. It did. Song shot to #1 in North America and “several other territories” (??) I still have the CD single, which is emblazoned with four blue and white fleur-de-lis. [Dove: Raven’s comment on this song: “It’s bad enough as a song, but why did they give the worst singer the lead vocals?” Me? I have a shameful amount of Bryan Adams on my iPod.]
OKAY MOVIE OVER.
Please note: this was originally published on December 21st, 2018. Yes, the 375th anniversary of Armand d’Athos’ death and Kiefer Sutherland’s 52nd birthday. If there is anything anyone should know about me, it’s that I love a timely coincidence. Wait, nothing I ever do is coincidence. It’s all planned. Trust me.
That said, this is pretty much the largest recap I have ever written, clocking in at 26K in words, some of which is commentary by Dove and Wing but the majority is me. I know, it’s long and probably boring in places, but there is so much to the novels and the various media interpretations that have been born of the novels and SO MUCH CONTEXT and plot twists and all that Disney-fied crap… I had to restrain myself. I did poorly at that but still.
Is this a decent interpretation of the source material? Sure. In many ways, it is. In hindsight, there’s many traits the actors shared with their fictional counterparts, some of which were obvious and others that were only revealed many years down the road. The movie did well at the box office, bringing in over $53.5 million total, once you deducted the $30 million budget, it made about $23 million. I know it’s now 2018 and we’re in this weird period of Disney “reimagining” its animated features as “live action” remakes but Disney already had a history of live action films, particularly in the 1960s/70s/90s, and a lot of those were either based on books or original concepts. They’d already turned Robin Hood into a talking fox, why not use real men for Musketeers? (Wait. Can Disney do a talking fox for Athos?? OH MY GOD.)
Is this a film you can show your kids? Sure. I mean, getting past Milday’s suicide (which, thinking back, didn’t really strike me much when I saw this at 12 but again it was because I didn’t care about her character) and some of the scenes in the dungeon, those are actually incredibly tame compared to what most kids have seen these days. Is it cheesy as hell? FUCK YEAH. But is Porthos the best? HELL YEAH! (And Rochefort, too!)
Do I have to grade this? I dunno, I’ll say B-, even though I don’t really have to give it a grade. I mean, I picked to recap it. Took me most of the year to write this, too, but it’s finally done. So I will take my leave and let Dove and Wing add their final thoughts. Until next time, I bid you adieu. I’mma gonna go watch me something not Sutherland-related.
[Dove: I love this movie. I’d give it an A, but not in any kind of subjective way, merely as a reflection of how much I enjoy this movie. I originally watched for Kiefer Sutherland, I didn’t realise that Michael Wincott was in it (the pre-IMDb days were had, kids), and finding Oliver Platt was in it too was amazing. Given that Tim Curry steals the show every step of the way and gleefully chews the scenery, it’s a pretty impressive feat that I always walk away from this moving thinking about how brilliant Platt is. Also, well done to bat for the detail in this recap.]