Retro Film Review: Revenge of the Musketeers (La Fille de D'Artagnan, 1994)

in film •  last month 


Just like Hollywood studios today, writers in the past era made sequels, thus trying to earn some extra money by exploiting their past successes. French writer Alexander Dumas Pere, one of the most prolific and best known 19th Century authors, bowed under popular pressure and reunited the protagonists of his best-known novel The Three Musketeers. Such effort didn't result in the novel comparable to the original, but century and half later this fact didn't discourage makers of La Fille de D'Artagnan a.k.a. Revenge of the Musketeers, 1994 period adventure directed by Bernard Tavernier, to launch sequel of their own.

The plot begins in France 1654. Black man, apparently escaped slave, seeks shelter in a convent. His pursuers manage to catch him and they kill mother superior in the process. This turns out to be big mistake because one of the witnesses is Eloise (played by Sophie Marceau), daughter of famous musketeer and swordsman D'Artagnan (played by Philippe Noiret). Despite being a woman and being sent to convent, Eloise has inherited her father's martial skills and taste for adventure. Convinced that the incident is part of large- scale conspiracy, Eloise travels to Paris in order to warn young king Louis XIV (played by Stéphane Legros). In the process she becomes object of interest for Cardinal Mazarin (played by Gigi Proietti), king's corrupt prime minister. In the meantime D'Artagnan gathers his old musketeer comrades in order to fight the conspiracy. It is easier said than done, because the age had taken its toll and D'Artagnan and his friends aren't as fit and able as they used to be. It is left for Eloise to compensate their weaknesses with her youthful zeal.

We might speculate that Bernard Tavernier's motive for this project was his disgust with the way Hollywood had treated The Three Musketeers in its 1993 MTV-style version. Whatever the motives, Tavernier directs this swashbuckling adventure with the skill usually not associated with the film maker best known for serious dramas. Famous French actress Sophie Marceau (best known for her rather uninspired performance in Braveheart) shows great ability as action star. Apart from lush period settings and good swashbuckling action, the film is full of humour, but some of finer jokes would be lost to people unfamiliar with 17th Century France. On the other hand, it is fun to see Gigi Proietti and his character of Roman Catholic Cardinal running France (at times the world's mightiest state) in the same manner mafia chieftain run their "families". The acting is mostly good, although Claude Rich overacts in his role of villain. Yet, despite those flaws, La Fille de D'Artagnan is a film that should be recommended to fans of
period spectacles. Its two hours are going to pass much quicker than three hours of Queen Margot.
RATING: 6/10 (++)

(Note: The text in its original form was posted in Usenet newsgroup on April 8th 2003)


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