Do you know the story of the Three Musketeers by heart? Well we’re taking the bet: you’ve never seen it like this.
What is The Three Musketeers? In 1625, the young D’Artagnan (Maxime Le Gac-Olanie) left his native Gascony on a moped to join the prestigious troop of musketeers of King Louis XIII (Grégoire Lagrange). In Paris, he will bond with Athos (Guillaume Pottier), Porthos (Charles Van de Vyver) and Aramis (Robin Causse); together, the four men will thwart the Machiavellian plans of Cardinal de Richelieu (Jade Herbulot). To protect Queen Anne of Austria (Eléonore Arnaud), they will have to face the Cardinal’s CRS and his damned souls, Milady de Winter (again Eléonore Arnaud) and Rochefort (Robin Causse, bis)…
Published in serial form from 1848, the novel The three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas is a masterpiece of French literature, a staple of popular culture. Everyone knows the adventures of D’Artagnan and his acolytes, which have been the subject of a multitude of film and television adaptations. Do you think you know the history of three musketeers, have you read or seen it dozens of times? Maybe – but certainly not like that.
It is indeed the collective 49701 which reappropriates the novel in its own way, in the form of a series of 10 episodes of approximately 20 minutes. With a result that can only be described as completely crazy, offered by the CultureBox platform of France television. And what was a play using the codes of the TV series (with credits, action divided into episodes, etc. over three “seasons” making up a show of more than ten hours in total) becomes a TV series taking up the codes of filmed theater, between classicism of the original text and crazy modernization.
In the first minutes of the first episode, in the courtyard of an old inn where the cameras are installed, the actors distribute the roles. We set the context of the religious wars of the 17th century, then D’Artagnan arrives on a moped under the eyes of a Rochefort wearing a borsalino. The tone is set. Far from the classic and conventional adaptation, we revisit The three musketeers irreverently and maliciously. All this, taking the form of the TV series, which also recalls the original serial publication, with credits (sung a cappella), “previously on…” and ultra-effective cliffhangers for which we can thank Dumas.
No cape, no sword, no wigs and not even horses. It’s a rebellious D’Artagnan with his backpack, a Milady de Winter in a leather jacket who fears no one (in a Harley Davidson), a lunar Louis XIII who gives live interviews on TV, a version of the time of Apostrophe when we exhaust Dumas’s novel (far too many duels), an Anne of Austria perched doing yoga with her companion who escaped from Almodovar’s, the Musketeers who fight with the Cardinal’s CRS, D’Artagnan who surveys the port of Calais with his “The Englishman from A to Z”…
A series of anachronisms in castles and other decors worthy of the time, parodies, constant back and forth between the 17th and 21st centuries, gags, modern replies that burst out in the middle of the original text, incessant references to the novel… With its strong format of ten times 20 minutes or even a little less, the series runs and connects the adventures of the book, the eccentricities, the jokes at a frantic pace. Some traits of humor are expected, others totally surprising, some gags are grotesque and others more subtle. But one thing is sure, we laugh out loud and we have a lot of fun.
At least as much (or almost) as the members of the 49701 collective. Sometimes interpreting several roles (for example Guillaume Pottier plays Athos and Buckingham, Eléonore Arnaud is both Anne D’Ecosse and Milady), they transmit their dynamism, their good humor , their playfulness and also their involvement in this ambitious and quirky project, where they show seemingly limitless inventiveness and contagious enthusiasm.
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Normally at this stage, we have lost the purists and fundamentalists of French literature. And in a way, good for them! If the anachronisms give you pimples, if you are one of those who believe that you cannot touch a classic like this with impunity, you risk heart attack. You have to agree to dive into this version of the three musketeers with a minimum of open-mindedness and curiosity, let yourself be carried away by the imagination of this troupe which plays with intelligence and insolence with the story, the characters and the context, between series and theatre.
If we get caught up in the game, we enjoy this series where we have as much fun with the comedy of the situation and the discrepancy as with the allusions and winks. And even if we know perfectly well what will happen, we can’t wait to see what’s next. Because like any good self-respecting series, this first season ends on a formidable cliffhanger: at the end of the Ball given by Louis XII and while D’Artagnan has just saved the royal buttocks of Anne of Austria by bringing back her famous studs, Cardinal Richelieu swears revenge. And we will therefore have to wait for the second season to know the rest of the story – at least as it is revisited by these happy fanatics.
If one is the type to faint at the idea of seeing Louis XIII play Connect 4 or Buckingham exclaiming “Fuck! », it is better to move on. For others, The Three Musketeers Collective version 49701 offers an incongruous but fresh and humorous reinterpretation of Dumas’ novel – a little Monty Python sauce, with a good dose of anachronism, absurdity and wit. And from what we know of the personality of Alexandre Dumas, we say to ourselves that he would certainly have loved it.
The three Musketeers.
10 episodes of around 20′.
Available on CultureBox