With the release of The Three Musketeers this Friday I thought it would be a good idea to look back at some other movies based (more or less) on his work. There have been over 40 films based on Alexandre Dumas novels, some made for television, others major motion pictures with big stars. Here’s a look at the more recent ones.
Now I know this new 3D version of the beloved Alexandre Dumas novel is anything but faithful but hey, it’s called The Three Musketeers, features characters from the book and that’s about as much as you can expect today from Hollywood when it comes to adaptations (there are exceptions, obviously). Wikipedia lists 45 films inspired by Alexandre Dumas novels and most of them are based on The Three Musketeers or The Count of Monte Cristo.
Since musketeers are the main topic here, I’ll start with them and I must say there has been quite a lot, with both live-action and animated films, and even 7 TV shows. You can find here a detailed list. Since I can’t find all that much data on the old ones I’m going to focus on the recent ones starting with the 1993 Disney movie The Three Musketeers, starring Charlie Sheen, Kiefer Sutherland and Chris O’Donnell. As far as I remember that wasn’t a particularly faithful adaptation either but as a straight swashbuckler it wasn’t bad. It made $53.8 million in North America and I’d be very impressed if the new 3D version can match that.
The Man in the Iron Mask, based on The Vicomte de Bragellone (the 3rd book in the musketeers series), came out in 1998 starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, Gerard Depardieu and Gabriel Byrne. While not particularly well received by critics it became the highest grossing Alexandre Dumas based movie with $56.9 million in North America and $182.9 million worldwide. These are the numbers that The Three Musketeers 3D should be aiming for.
In 2001 an even looser adaptation came out called simply The Musketeer. Anyway you look at it this was a bad movie with some cool fighting scenes and nothing else. The Musketeer made $27 million in North America.
The Count of Monte Cristo, another very famous Alexandre Dumas novel, was most recently adapted into a movie in 2002. Titled simply The Count of Monte Cristo, it starred James Caviezel, Guy Pearce and Henry Cavill (Immortals, Man of Steel). This film grossed $54.2 million in North America and $75.3 million worldwide. According to Wikipedia there have been a total of 6 Count of Monte Cristo movies made so far.
Bottom line is this, if you want Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers you kind of have to read the book and if you enjoy that you must give Twenty Years After and The Vicomte of Bragelonne a try. When it comes to really faithful adaptations, they are hard to find but usually the older a movie is, the better your chances are. Personally, I think the best way to adapt these books on the big screen would be in a HBO like mini-series, similar to Game of Thrones. Unfortunately as you can see, the Musketeers movies have never been all that big at the box office.