Bourboulon’s film is intense. Anyone with an aversion to reports of the bloodshed in Gaza may like to either attend, on the assumption that “like cures like”, or stay away altogether.

The daily violence assumed in the film set in 1627 may be anchored in historical fact. Or it may, like the romance in the film, be tailored for an audience less aware of the complexities of human life. I found the movie untrue to Alexandre Dumas’ and Auguste Maquet’s book in many ways. Maybe I’m being fanciful, but it seems the alterations were designed to soothe the beast of modern day NATO country audiences, used to daily violence and calming themselves with the expectation of a pure love connection.

Neither were in the original book. But they are in this movie.

The costumes are enthralling. If you like a good “dress up”, this is a film for you.

The photography makes good use of drones and black and white to insert a touch of tension into scenes. Colours are muted.

But let me get back to the violence. Its dominance of the film disturbed me, mainly because we tend to make movies using the assumptions of our time, and fail to make them true to the time about which we write – medieval France and England (the book was written in 1844 France). Foucault asserted the state, in medieval times, took the right to violence seriously favouring conciliation over compulsion with violence most likely to be enacted on purses rather than bodies. It’s noteworthy that such was also the philosophy underlying John Maynard Keynes’ “General Theory” in 1936, another period of great social tension. The Cambridge World History of Violence asserts that in medieval time principled violence held sway. So I suspect this film reflects the emotions of today, rather than being an honest portrayal of historical times. But it fascinates me that it revisits the tension between bodily violence and economic violence: both the tools of a “might is right” world view.

There is much to ponder after seeing this film. If you have yet to read the action novel “The Three Musketeers”, start there.

I’d be interested in what you think after reading the book and seeing the film. This is part one, with part two “Milday” to screen later in May.

On at the Palace Cinemas starting 16th May 2024.


Kerry McGovern