Studio canal have released a brand new 4K transfer of the 1973 swashbuckling classic The Three Musketeers.
Starring Oliver Reed, Richard Chamberlain, Frank Finlay, Michael York, Raquel Welch, Spike Milligan, Christopher Lee, Faye Dunaway, Roy Kinnear… The list goes on, the film is absolutely stacked with top notch performers. But does it live up to Dumas’ rather epic classic novel?
The film follows much the same narrative structure as the book. Those familiar with the book will note certain markers which keep the story ticking along.
The aesthetic is spectacular with sumptuous costumes and sets. The squalor on the other end of the scale is represented fairly, such as street scenes and D’Artagnan’s lodgings. This gives a sense of grounding somewhere in reality which makes the story more compelling.
The more serious scenes of intrigue and sword fights are offset by comedy, none more effectively than the ones featuring Spike Milligan as Monsieur Bonancieux. There are little touches of cheeky humour dotted throughout the film, much as there are in the novel although perhaps slightly different in flavour.
There is naturally not as much time for full character development as in a ~700 page novel. As a result, we don’t feel as sympathetic towards the heroes as the story sometimes demands. The plot of The Three Musketeers is so intricate and involved at times that it can be hard to stay focussed when we are not completely invested in the characters in this way
Having said that, this film moves along at such pace that it leaves the lasting impression of fun and exhilaration. This somewhat makes up for those moments which feel a little lacking and unfulfilling. The aim of this picture seems to be a pleasingly simple one: giving the audience a good smattering of excitement while distracting them with laughter at light absurdities and impish antics. And all of this while being immensely visually pleasing.
This film has undergone a stunning restoration. The work done certainly enhances the grandeur and majesty. I find that this type of work has the effect of removing a barrier between the story and the audience. The human elements of the film are made sharper and more emotive because I feel somehow tangibly closer to the characters.
Neil Sinyard on The Three Musketeers, The Saga of the Musketeers Part One, the original US and UK trailers and more.
If you are after a faithful adaptation of the Alexandre Dumas novel, this film is probably not for you. However, if you like a good swashbuckling romp and a bit of fun with some semi-familiar characters and a host of A-list actors, this is well worth a watch. Here at Old Time Review, we look forward to reviewing the sequel, The Four Musketeers. Watch this space!