The Man in the Iron Mask also known as “El hombre de la máscara de hierro,” “Der Mann mit der eisernen Maske,” “L’homme au masque de fer,” “A vasálarcos,” “Demir maskeli adam,” “La maschera di ferro,” “Mannen med järnmasken,” “Moz z zelezno masko,” “O Homem da Máscara de Ferro,” “O anthropos me ti siderenia maska,” “Omul cu masca de fier,” “Rautanaamio”
Reviewed by: Jeremy Mayhew
Action Adventure History Drama Adaptation
2 hr. 12 min.
Year of Release:
March 13, 1998
“For the honor of a king. And the destiny of a country. All for one.”
I have fond memories in my youth of brandishing a broomstick, donning a straw hat, and crying out, “All for one and one for all!” Like so many, I grew up with the legend of the Three Musketeers, fancying myself a noble Frenchman, fighting for the honor of the king. And so, I never miss a Hollywood incarnation of the legend.
Once again, Hollywood has treated us to another addition to the swashbuckling genre-“The Man in the Iron Mask.” This time director Randall Wallace (Oscar for best screenplay in “Braveheart”) brings the musketeers to the screen.
In this adaptation of Alexander Dumas' rollicking tale, King Louis XIV (Leonardo DiCaprio) has assumed the throne of France, much to the chagrin of the French people. The wicked, womanizing king has diverted valuable food and funds to maintain his foolish military campaigns, and the people of Paris are starving to death, as a result.
We find that the noble D'Artagnan (Gabriel Byrne) has become the captain of the musketeers and chief protector of the king. The other three musketeers, the lusty Porthos (Gérard Depardieu), melancholy Athos (John Malkovich), and the religious Aramis (Jeremy Irons) have retired from the royal guard. The three former musketeers, already vexed by the callousness of the king, are forced into active rebellion against the monarchy when the son of Athos is sent to the front lines of battle and killed so that the king can take his fiancé to be his mistress.
The valiant three must defy D'Artagnan, who remains loyal to the king, and enact their plan to remove the king from the throne. The plan revolves around a mysterious prisoner in the Bastille, the man in the iron mask…
This film is by no means a classic, but it is a rendition of a tireless familiar tale. It is a fun film full of action, intrigue, and lofty idealism. Some of the cast are not well suited for their roles, and although Wallace is an accomplished screenwriter, anyone who is expecting another “Braveheart” will be sorely disappointed.
The film is relatively clean by today’s Hollywood standard, and it incorporates many redeeming biblical elements. Loyalty and integrity are explored as the musketeers are faced with moral challenges. Prayer is portrayed in a positive way. At one point, Aramis makes a statement that forgiveness is the most important pursuit (contrasted with the lustiness of Porthos). Even Louis' affair with his mistress parallels the account of King David's adultery.
However, there are a few instances of obscene language and a profanity uttered. Porthos jests in course humor, and he is the subject of a scene where he bares his behind during a drunken escapade. There is also some sexually suggestive conduct and dialogue. Sexual intercourse is, also, implied several times, though nothing explicit (female breast nudity is shown). The swordplay and mostly implied womanizing of the king make the film inappropriate for children.
Overall, this film is recommended for all the armchair musketeers out there. Relive a little childhood. you’ll leave the theater wanting to take up your broomsticks for the king once again…
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