Friday, 13 December 2013

Adults and adultery: Cleaning up Dumas onscreen.

Some time ago, I watched the recent film of The Three Musketeers. The one with the airships.

If that wasn't a big enough deviation from common sense, I then watched 1993 Disney version and promptly choked on my own boiling spleen. This blog article has been over a year in the writing, mostly because trying to work on it it causes me to start spewing blood before I collapse, shivering, in a corner in some literary form of post traumatic stress syndrome.

Oh, I wish I were joking.

It did not look like this.
Before anyone points out that a movie is not the same thing as a novel, I'll clarify; I wasn't expecting it to look exactly like the novel. Films and books are different art-forms, with different requirements. For example, in the novel, the fight between the Musketeers and the Cardinal's Guards is three against five. In these circumstances, D'Artagnan's offer of assistance brings a realistic chance of victory while still showing the Musketeers as superior fighters - four against five: more than plausible. In a film, though, that wouldn't look so hot, so I was fully expecting improbably large numbers of the Cardinal's guards and one heck of a sword fight. That's fair enough. In the same way, I'd hardly expect screen minutes to be wasted explaining the fact D'Artagnan had to serve out the equivalent of an apprenticeship in another regiment because the Musketeers isn't open to raw recruits. Alright, maybe it was going a bit far to disband them entirely, but we'll run with that, shall we? In movies, we do exposition differently.

And then the characters. Again, I knew there would be some drift. I get it, I honestly do. You want a sympathetic Athos, not an alcoholic psychopath. And, yeah, Richelieu needs to be a plain-dealing-villain, not an anti-hero politician trying to do what he thinks is best for France... Sure, we lose a lot of depth, but we also cut the need for a lot of exposition.

I can handle all that. Really. I can. It makes me itch, it makes me mutter, sometimes it elicits a scornful laugh or two, but it comes up every time I watch a film adaptation of a book I happen to love. It does not reduce me to putting my head into my hands and whimpering, “Make it stop, please, kill me. Kill me now.”

It does not make me get the fucking novel out and start shouting quotations at the television.

So what was the problem, then?

...or indeed an appropriate prize for Bible study.
And I will answer you, oh my dear hypothetical ideal and obliging reader, Sex is what bothered me. Well, sex and Milady.