Here I was, ready to have a go at what they’ve done to The Musketeers, and then it struck me that it was on at nine pm, and not at half past six on a Saturday. It’s intended for adult consumption. Hardly surprising the ladies on facebook were sighing with delight over the handsome ‘young’ men in The Three Musketeers. Except it’s called The Musketeers, and is only ‘based on the characters’ of Alexandre Dumas.

So that’s all right. They can do what they want with them. And they have. If I hadn’t read – and actually remembered – the books, I would have no complaints. Other than it being rather 21st century in spirit. But if that’s what viewers want, it’s what viewers get. Enough swash was buckled and it was an excellent action film/episode/whatever you call it.

How I loved my Musketeers! The real ones, that is. For 25 minutes every Saturday evening Swedish children had something good to watch. It was usually British dramatisations of classic novels. We thought it was great. (Well, we didn’t have much else.) I lived and breathed Musketeers. I quite fancied being Milady. I drew Musketeery clothes for my paper dolls. I was in heaven when I found a ring that looked like you could keep poison in it, just like they did on television.

The Three Musketeers, 1966

The television series started me reading all the books, and in this case I really read everything I could lay my hands on. It’s good if you get a push like that, trying a book you’d never have noticed otherwise.

Is there anybody old out there? Someone who can tell me if there was a slightly earlier television version of The Three Musketeers than the 1966 one? I want it to have been a couple of years before. But I suppose it was that one. I have no recollection of Jeremy Brett as d’Artagnan, but I remember what Constance Bonacieux looked like. And it’s definitely Kathleen Breck.

So, anyway, what with the more mature ladies getting the hots for whatever Musketeer took their fancy last Sunday, I presume it’s fairly unlikely that younger people – real children – will look out a copy of The Three Musketeers and read it? I’d been so pleased we were due more televised Musketeers, because I thought there’d be a reading revival.

Me, I’m off to fantasise about Cardinal Richelieu. He’s the only one old enough for me, this time round. Or possibly Captain Treville.

Dumas can’t have had an inkling of what later generations could, and would, do to his action heroes.

3 responses to “Musketeering

  1. I read the books (all of them, and getting hold of Son of Porthos pre-internet was a marathon task only possible with a librarian mother!) as a result of the Disney(?) film in the 1990s with Chris O’Donnell as a painfully American d’Artangan and no Treville at all. I was horrified to find that the book and film versions were at best, second cousins twice removed, and bored my family stupid with all the details that were wrong. So inauthentic adaptions are hardly new, and the dodgy version still got me reading – admittedly, I’m the sort of person who would have done so anyway. It remains one of my favourite books, and I actually own copies in four languages!

    I can’t help with televised Musketeering, but the two Richard Lester films are definitely the most accurate of the movie versions. Although I retain a soft spot for Gene Kelly(!) as the hero in an old Hollywood version. And that one is more accurate than you’d think – for one thing, it doesn’t go for a pat happy ending.

    I am a bit disappointed the BBC version doesn’t seem to be as good as I’d hoped, as I was looking forward to it. At least I don’t need to go to extreme lengths to get hold of a copy before it makes it to German TV. But coming on top of the rather disappointing film a few years back, it must be about time for a good retelling. Maybe in France?

    PS: I designed musketeery outfits for several teddy bears, as my sister can confirm, so you’re not alone in that sort of thing either!

  2. What a relief! I am not alone. But I have to admit to not having enjoyed the Lester films as much as I had hoped. Maybe my first encounter spoiled me for anything else, however accurate.

  3. Actually, I agree – I didn’t enjoy the Lester films as much as I’d wanted, despite a big build-up. But they are accurate. Gene Kelly left a big impression (Singin’ in the Rain is a family favourite anyway), and I have a soft spot for the French D’Artangan’s Daughter. If you’re going to ignore the source material, at least do it with panache!

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