It’s time for another installment of Victorian Snark Theatre 3000! And this time we’ll be discussing The Man in the Iron Mask (1998). As you guys know, I watch a lot of shitty Victorian-inspired films with my good friend @VictorianMasculinity (whose blog can be found here) and we decided to turn them into blog posts.
Previous posts on VST3K include:
–Vanity Fair (2004)
I appreciate that this film isn’t really appropriate for a Victorian Snark Theatre 3000 post, since the book and film are set in the 1660s. However, the book was written in 1850 by Alexandre Dumas (and also, this film is silly and we had a damned good time watching it), so it counts. Because I say so.
What I didn’t realize is that The Man in the Iron Mask isn’t actually a book–it’s only about a third of a book. Alexandre Dumas’s D’Artangnan romances include The Three Musketeers (1844), Twenty Years After (1845), and The Vicomte of Bragelonne: Ten Years Later (1850). “The Man in the Iron Mask” is just the last section of this last book, and yet it’s the part that everyone remembers the most.
Let’s get started on the film!
WARNING FOR SPOILERS (obviously) AND EXCESSIVE SWEARING
The movie opens with Jeremy Irons telling us very, very seriously, that what we’re about to hear is partially legend. But what is true is that when the Bastille was sacked, the rioting citizens found a record of a prisoner from 100 years before–
And I think that’s the last accurate thing we’ll hear in the film.
Gabriel Byrne plays D’Artangnan, the youngest (and fourth) musketeer. All you need to know about him is that he and his pony are FUCKING FABULOUS
Let’s be real about a few things:
1.) I don’t believe a film exists in which Gabriel Byrne is not fucking fabulous,
2.) VictorianMasculinity and I decided to watch and blog about this film almost entirely because Gabriel Byrne was in it, much like with Vanity Fair, and
3.) I’m never going to remember which of the musketeers are Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, and spelling “D’Artangnan” pisses me off, so I’m just going to call all the musketeers by the names of the actors portraying them.
Gabriel Byrne is concerned because the commoners are rioting in the streets (as is shown by these four scruffy-looking dudes knocking over some barrels and scattering feathers)
(this film did not have a very big budget for extras, let me tell you)
Gabriel Byrne decides to play his favorite game, nine-pin-plebe bowling
He scatters them all, and gets a return volley of potatoes, but it’s okay, because his pony is fast and potatoes are largely non-lethal projectiles. This is how we establish social unrest.
Meanwhile, over at Three Musketeers Headquarters, Inc., Jeremy Irons is praying. Gerard Depardieu bursts into Jeremy Irons’s room and brings bitches and farts to the prayer circle:
Jeremy Irons tells Depardieu to get rid of the biddies–he is trying to pray. Depardieu apologizes to his girlfriends, who will not be partying with Jeremy Irons today, saying that it’s a real shame because Jeremy Irons is (and this is verbatim) “hung like a donkey“.
I wish this film were 100% about Gerard Depardieu wenching in gorgeous coats, and Jeremy Irons getting irritated with him.
They talk for a bit about Gerard Depardieu’s midlife crisis, discuss nipples (Jeremy Irons, verbatim: “Sometimes there are more important things to life than a good pair of tits“), and then they get into a good-natured scuffle before Gabriel Byrne comes in and breaks up the fight.
Gabriel Byrne, who is the king’s head musketeer (now that the other three have retired), says that the king wants Jeremy Irons to report in ASAP.
Meanwhile, the third musketeer, John Malkovich, lives over at Casa de Boredom, with his emotionally-botoxed son, Raoul. Everything is beige.
Here’s the thing: his son is played by Peter Sarsgaard, and I know Peter Sarsgaard can act. I have seen him act. But he’s very clearly trying to do an impression of Malkovich (to show that they’re related), so everything they say is completely emotionless and monotone. I don’t think these two could even pass the Turing test.
Raoul is on his way to a fancy shindig at the palace, where he intends to propose to his girlfriend, Christine (insert Phantom of the Opera jokes here). Malkovich gives Raoul his mother’s ring. The scene could have been touching, if it weren’t a vacuum where all emotions went to die.
MEANWHILE, at the Palace of Greasy Wigs, everyone’s hair is ass-nasty . . .
. . . King Leo is in desperate need of some conditioner for those split ends . . .
. . . and Hugh Laurie does not look good in a wig.
Hugh Laurie, the chief adviser, is like, “Hey, your people are starving and pissed. Maybe do something?” And King Leo is like, “Or nah.”
Father Jeremy Irons shows up as requested. King Leo is having some trouble with the Jesuits, who think he’s a shitty king and are planning an assassination.
The Jesuits have a secret leader running the whole show, and King Leo says, “Hey, I know you’re a priest now, but could you maybe find out who the secret Jesuit leader is and assassinate him for me?”
Jeremy Irons is like, “Yeah, I got your back, bro.”
ONLY JEREMY IRONS IS A DOUBLE AGENT, AND HE *IS* THE SECRET LEADER OF THE JESUITS, and he’s going to have some absolutely delicious guilt later.
Raoul and Christine are at the palace for the party, and they are attempting romantic chemistry and failing hard. If possible, Christine is even blander than both Raoul and Malkovich.
Also, the film later reveals that she lives on Skid Row, so I’m not sure how she could afford a dress like this.
The king spots Christine and instantly wants to hit dat ass, for reasons utterly unclear to VictorianMasulinity and me.
We are also introduced to the king’s mother, Anne of Austria, who spends her days mooning after Gabriel Byrne. Can’t fault her for that, except that she is SO FUCKING OBVIOUS about it, I’m not sure how no one at court has picked up on this.
Raoul and Christine are still attempting a passable facsimile of romance . . .
(This was the point where VictorianMasulinity said in Raoul’s deadpan, “Come. Let’s frolic by that fountain like young lovers. Look at us. Frolicking“.)
. . . but then they are interrupted in the WEIRDEST POSSIBLE WAY: frat-boy Leo wants to chase a pig-unicorn!
Seriously. Leo trusses up a pig in a gimp mask, with a horn attached, hangs an expensive necklace from the horn, and tells everyone to chase it. Raoul decides to get the necklace for Christine. Before Christine can join the chase, the king turns on what we only can assume to be his specially-designed predator sprinkler system, which forces Christine into a more secluded spot:
While everyone else acts themselves a damn fool over a terrified pig, the king unleashes his inner creep. Or outer creep. The king’s a creep, is what I’m trying to say:
Leo’s like, “Wanna fuck?”, but Christine is like, “I’m engaged. Or I will be. Or something. I’m just not that into you.” And Leo’s like, “I don’t see how that’s an impediment to what I want, though.”
But Gabriel Byrne, who is the chief of security, is lurking nearby and is totally unimpressed with King Leo, so he catches the unicorn-pig with, like, no effort whatsoever (because he’s Gabriel Fucking Byrne), and throws the pig at Christine and the king to break them up.
They have got to be the weirdest cock-blocking duo of all time.
VictorianMasculinity: Two things: 1.) “Horn”, “porking”, the phallic water jets . . . this is all a bit heavy-handed imagery. 2.) Does . . . does the king keep a pet dwarf specifically for pig-related japery, or . . . ?
BUT WE NEVER FIND OUT, because just at that moment, a Jesuit assassin pops out of hammer space!
But Gabriel Byrne kills him, so it’s okay.
VictorianMasculinity: Wow, thank god that assassin ran in slo-mo, or Leo really would have been in trouble.
Meanwhile, in the dungeons of oppressive choral singing, the Man in the Iron Mask is doing the ‘tin cup against the bars thing’ wrong:
VictorianMasculinity: We can only surmise he’s in jail for stupidity.
And Anne of Austria comes to thank Gabriel Byrne for saving her son from an assassin. By “thank Gabriel Byrne”, I really mean that she mumbles, walks too slowly, and gives bedroom eyes.
Gabriel Byrne then goes to hang out with Malkovich, but Raoul comes home looking dejected and interrupts them:
VictorianMasculinity: *dead-panning in a Malkovich voice* What’s wrong, Raoul? You’re not your usual spritely self.
Raoul reveals that the king specifically requested that Raoul go to war, and Raoul knows it’s because King Leo has taken a fancy to Christine. Raoul then reveals that he will not propose to Christine, since he is almost definitely going to his death and doesn’t want to make her a widow.
Malkovich is understandably pissed and declares that the king is now his enemy. Gabriel Byrne stands helplessly by while everything he knows and loves goes to shit. On his ride back to the palace, peasants throw rotten tomatoes at him (which, of course, he deftly skewers on his sword), and he’s like, “Oh, ffs, now I have to handle riots, too?”
So Gabriel Byrne puts out 17 fires at once, and then goes to visit King Leo and deliver a smackdown.
VictorianMasculinity: Have you noticed that everyone in this palace seems to navigate exclusively via secret passages? It’s like Clue, but shitty, and gilded. And POINTLESS, if everyone knows about them.
. . . she is not wrong.
Gabriel Byrne is like, “Hey. Asshole. Could you maybe not do the thing with Christine and Raoul? And also, people are rioting because you gave them rotten food, and they’ll be after your head.” And because Leo feels this really weird feeling called “guilt”, but doesn’t know how to process it in his tiny reptile brain, he blames the food thing on Hugh Laurie and has him executed.
Hugh Laurie: demoted, soon-to-be beheaded. Rough day. RIP.
Raoul goes WAAAAR, and leads an extraordinarily pathetic battle charge of (quite literally) three dudes against some cannons (which were very obviously filmed in close-up at another location).
VictorianMasculinity: Huh. I guess the budget that was earmarked for this battle scene ended up getting spent on all of Leo’s sashes.
The battle charge, led by Raoul, ends about as well as you’d expect. He’s too dull to live, really:
Christine, who is living in a shit hole with a mother who has a cough (movie shorthand for “we’re poor”), gets the news about Raoul.
CHRISTINE, THERE IS NO TIME TO GRIEVE
YOUR MOTHER HAS A COUGH
LIKE, A *MOVIE* COUGH
BREAK OUT THE GOOD LINGERIE
Malkovich also receives the news and as much as I love John Malkovich, the acting is . . . well . . . he just kind of flops on a table for a minute and then knocks a candlestick over in mild irritation.
But it’s okay, because there is a MALKOVICH RAMPAGE A’COMIN’
He rides into the soldier training ground, injures one random dude by throwing a knife at him, and is wrestled to the ground by Gabriel Byrne.
Malkovich says that Gabriel Byrne is a traitor, and walks off. Rampage over.
Meanwhile, the stabbed soldier in the background is like, “Someone . . . for the love of god . . . call a doctor. I’m not dead!”
I’m not sure even 24 hours has passed, but Christine is all tarted up and having dinner with King Leo, glittering beigely in yet another dress I’m not sure how she could afford.
VictorianMasculinity: Oh my god, is Leo’s actual plan for the date to . . . “have some chicken, maybe some sex”?
Yes. Yes, it is. Because apparently that date plan works:
Meanwhile, Jeremy Irons summons Gerard Depardieu, John Malkovich, and Gabriel Byrne so they can all plot to overthrow the king, because fuck that guy.
Byrne is like, “BIG OLE NOPE” and peaces out of the secret meeting. Jeremy Irons reveals to the remaining musketeers that he’s the secret Jesuit leader, and that King Leo has a SECRET TWIN BROTHER KEPT IN AN IRON MASK IN PRISON, LE GASP! And we’re going to bust him out and replace King Leo with him.
So Irons & Co break into the prison, with Irons disguised as an Italian priest, by which I mean some sort of hideous love-child of Hagrid and Friar Tuck.
Irons goes into Other Leo’s cell to give him “confession”. In what is perhaps the least plausible thing in this movie, Irons reveals that underneath his giant robe . . .
. . . he’s got a dead guy in a replica mask. I’d like to know where he got a corpse at such short notice, but I’ve also learned it’s best not to ask these questions.
Other Leo rallies from this shock like a champ, and gets up under that robe, to be carried out the same way the dead dude was carried in.
Irons comes out saying to the guards in his bad Italian accent, “He’s-a dead! He’s gotta da plague! Burn-a everything in da room! Leave-a no convenient corpse-a for examination!”
So the guards burn the corpse in the mask, and bustle Jeremy Irons out the door:
“Don’t mind me! Nothing suspicious going on. Just pregnant with a felon baby.”
And they all run off to an isolated country house where poor Philippe (for this is Other Leo’s name) can get over his serious psychological trauma for a while. Step One: Get the mask off. I mean, step one should probably be “explain what the fuck is happening”, but I guess we could jump straight to pinning him to an anvil and hitting his head with hammers:
VictorianMasculinity: “Athos, is it absolutely necessary that we trepan him?” “Necessary, Porthos? No. Fun, yes.”
Unsurprisingly, Philippe faints from the shock. Which leads us to Step Two, which should really be “explain what the fuck is happening”, but actually is Give Philippe a Makeover.
VictorianMasculinity: “Well, Philippe, we could tell you what’s going on. But instead, Jesus and Rasputin have come to shave you.”
Philippe reveals that he doesn’t know why he was imprisoned in a mask for the last six years. He spent his childhood growing up in an isolated country house, raised by guardians, until one day a man in black showed up and took him to prison.
Meanwhile, Jeremy Irons and Gerard Depardieu are having a long discussion; Depardieu is having a midlife crisis that even tits can’t cure.
Well, maybe they can. He’ll give it a valiant effort, anyway:
The servants are finally done shaving Philippe, and that brings us to Step Three: Explain what the fuck is happening. Irons reveals that King Leo was the elder of two twins, and the night the twins were born, King Leo’s father decided that the younger one should be kept secret and hidden away for . . . reasons. He told the queen the second baby died, and gave the baby to Irons, who placed him with guardians in the country.
We are treated to Queen Anne’s erotic childbirth, because she really cannot help but give bedroom eyes in every scene.
Later, when King Leo ascended to the throne, he had his younger brother put in the mask and thrown in prison, so no one would ever know of his existence. Queen Anne was told that her second baby was alive, but as King Leo wanted him in prison, there was nothing she could do.
I mean, keeping him as a poor peasant far away from your palace is less conspicuous than a mystery dude in an iron mask, but okay.
They tell Philippe, “Listen, I know you’ve had a long day . . . being rescued . . . being shaved all over . . . but what do you think about overthrowing the king in a bloodless coup and replacing him?” The result? Philippe needs time to think about it.
News of Philippe’s death “from plague in jail” reaches the palace. King Leo is thrilled, but Queen Anne is understandably upset. Gabriel Byrne shows up at the church where she’s praying so he can comfort her through the time-tested magic of grief sex.
VictorianMasculinity: You know, I hope Gabriel Byrne has written on his CV, “I can wear a soul patch and not look ridiculous”, because that is a skill.
Meanwhile, back at the Country House of Personal Crises, an even less erotic sex scene is happening. Depardieu is rolling around in the hay with a serving wench and having some trouble getting things started . . .
. . . despite the presence of a second wench . . .
. . . and a third.
VictorianMasculinity: I would laugh so hard if that third wench popped up out of the straw going, “Oy! Keep it down! I sleep here!”
Depardieu runs off, sad and naked and talking about how his penis is dead, to kill himself.
Jeremy Irons and John Malkovich watch from the window as Depardieu prepares to hang himself in the barn. Irons says it’s okay, he’s sawed the beam in half. He does not anticipate this, however, and says, “I’m a genius, not an engineer!”:
Depardieu is crushed to death by the falling barn, Irons is so stricken with guilt that he abandons his plans to replace King Leo, and Malkovich gets caught in another assassination attempt. Philippe is put back in the mask, and King Leo goes on to be a prick for the next 50 years. THE END.
Just kidding. Depardieu is fine.
Philippe gets a little crush on a farm maid nearby and tells the musketeers, “I would tend lambs with her for the rest of my life.”
Well, everyone has their fetishes I suppose. But, Philippe, did you know that the palace has unicorn pigs for you to tend?
Ultimately, Philippe cries at the moon for a while, which convinces him to take part in the plan. Because the moon represents freedom, or a mother, or because he’s half wolf, or some bullshit like that. Which means that it’s now time for A TRAINING MONTAGE.
They teach him all the stuff that a king needs to know. Like how to walk, which looks like this, I guess:
How to make your pony step REAL high:
The basics of pimp shoes:
VictorianMasculinity: Okay, I’ll be the one to ask it: does knife-play come up a lot in kinging?
And then even more pony high-stepping:
VictorianMasculinity: How hilarious would it be if we find out that there’s another subplot where that horse is the secret identical twin of the king’s horse?
Christine gets a letter delivered to the palace for her. It’s from Raoul, who knew she would end up there after his death. He says he forgives her for all the sex she’s about to do with the king and guilt trips her pretty badly.
Raoul’s been dead, like, a year and his letter is only just reaching Christine. Gotta be honest, I’m not real impressed with the French postal system.
She confronts King Leo about it later on when they are in bed. King Leo swears up and down that he wanted Raoul to come back from the war alive, and that he placed him in the back of the fighting, but Raoul was irrational and charged right to the front.
VictorianMasculinity: Even if he weren’t lying, what he’s not telling her is that “The back of the fighting” meant that Raoul was behind THREE OTHER DUDES.
Christine and King Leo get into a huge fight, and he tells her that she’s going to hell. Leo really needs to work on his pillow talk game.
The musketeers plan to use King Leo’s upcoming masquerade ball to replace King Leo. Irons and Depardieu dash off to complete some plans, leaving Malkovich at the house to finish training Philippe.
I mostly wanted to include this image from the film because I’m convinced that this is just how John Malkovich sleeps: bolt upright, against a stone wall.
Malkovich tries to teach Philippe that if he’s going to pass as King Leo, he needs to act like a real dick hole: never apologize for anything, try not to get servant germs on you, etc.. The idea of acting like a jerk hurts Philippe’s sensitive soul, and he lashes out by saying, “Oh, yeah, well your son is dead!”
Philippe sure as shit didn’t learn tact in prison, but he also clearly didn’t learn how to bang a tin cup against the bars correctly, so maybe we’re setting the bar too high for him.
He and Malkovich make up.
Gerard Depardieu picks up his costume for the masquerade ball from his tailor. For reasons I CANNOT FATHOM, his tailor shares premises with a brothel (or his tailor is a brothel worker, or something). He kicks all of the johns out of the brothel, so he and the prostitutes can have an uninterrupted tailoring session.
The johns don’t take kindly to having their sex interrupted.
So Depardieu does the only reasonable thing: beat up the dudes and then sodomize them with their own guns.
Not only does Depardieu get his costume, but he also gets his groove back. Apparently the only cure for the ennui and depression caused by a midlife crisis is sticking a gun in a dude’s pooper. You heard it here first, folks.
(actually, please do not try this at home)
(I am not a doctor)
(well, I am a doctor, but not of clinical psychiatry)
Finally, it’s time for the baaaaaall!
King Leo is there with his backup mistress, because he’s still pissed at Christine. I would like to point out that his backup mistress is 600X more interesting than Christine, and she only has three lines.
Part of the musketeers’ plan for the masquerade ball–a part that makes ABSOLUTELY ZERO SENSE–is for Gerard Depardieu to dress up as a woman. They’re all wearing masks, regardless, so I cannot figure out why he has to go as a woman:
If anything, Depardieu is even more conspicuous dressed as a woman, because you can still see his facial hair under his mask, if you look at him in profile. I’m 99% sure this was just one of the conditions in Depardieu’s film contract: “I want to dress as a woman, have a nude scene, and sodomize a guy with a gun. And if you throw in a 4-way sex scene, I’ll reduce my price by $100,000”.
So now that they’ve infiltrated the party without being recognized (Step One), here comes Step Two: Some Black Swan psychological shit. They put on iron masks underneath their gold masks, and when King Leo gets up to dance, they periodically flash their iron masks at him and then disappear into the crowd:
I never realized how stupid Jeremy Iron’s plan was until this moment. The entire plot would be shot to shit if even a single other person in the giant, spinning crowd happened to look their way when they take their golds masks off. But nope. They manage to catch King Leo’s eye and flash their iron masks only when none of the other hundred people are looking.
They are also extremely lucky that poor Philippe didn’t have some kind of ‘Nam flashback around all these masks. I wonder how Irons would have improvised if, as soon as Philippe entered the ballroom, he just started shrieking and slapping the masks off of people’s faces.
Thankfully, none of this happens.
King Leo thinks he’s having a nervous breakdown and flees the party.
The musketeers take the secret passageways to the king’s bedroom, where they promptly punch his lights out. He wakes up dressed in Philippe’s old peasant clothes:
VictorianMasculinity: That is always the sign of a great party, though–when you black out and wake up in someone else’s clothes.
Philippe jumps into King Leo’s costume and nervously heads back into the ballroom. Everything goes fine until one overly vigorous dancer trips near the king’s throne. Philippe, not being a raging fuckface, helps her up off the floor.
There is a record scratch and the party comes to a complete halt as the whole court stands in suspicious awe of the first nice thing they’ve ever seen the king do.
Philippe realizes he’s fucked up somehow, but just nervously sits back down and tells everyone to keep dancing.
VictorianMasculinity: Honestly? If he had just recovered by face-planting in that woman’s cleavage, everyone would think it was totally in character for the king.
Everything comes to a grinding halt for a second time when Christine shows up disheveled and screaming that the king is a murderer and a liar. This is the most I’ve ever liked her. Turns out, she’s done some investigating and found out that the king ordered Raoul to the front of the action, despite the king’s assurances that he asked for Raoul to be put at the back.
VictorianMasculinity: To be honest, I’m kind of glad Christine killed the party. I was getting really sick of listening to that one song over and over again. Note that there was an enormous feather budget for this film, but they couldn’t afford to buy two songs. These people have been dancing to that one tune over and over for the last four hours, I guess.
Philippe apologizes to Christine, and everyone–especially Gabriel Byrne–is like, “Two nice things in one night? Something super fishy is going on . . . ”
It all comes unraveled down in the dungeon, where the musketeers have thrown King Leo in a boat.
Gabriel Byrne figures it out, shows up with Philippe, and blocks their escape. He then gives the musketeers some serious Mom Eyes–“I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed.”
There is a standoff where Malkovich puts a knife to King Leo’s throat, and Gabriel Byrne puts a knife to Philippe’s throat, and Byrne says “You take my king and I’ll take yours”, which is almost a good line, except that it fundamentally misunderstands how chess works.
There’s a bit of a scuffle where Byrne is able to rescue King Leo, and the guards take Philippe away, but the musketeers escape.
King Leo takes Philippe back to his bedroom so he can check him out and decide what to do with him.
Two points: 1.) This is shockingly good CGI for the ’90s, and 2.) this is the closest I’m ever going to get to my dream of having a three-way with two Leonardo Dicaprios.
King Leo says that Philippe will be put back in his mask and will go back to jail forever. Philippe has a breakdown and says he would prefer to be killed outright than to ever go back in the mask. He goes back in the mask.
Not long after, King Leo hears a shriek come from Christine’s room. She has hanged herself by throwing herself out the window. RIP Christine, our cliched sexually impure woman, who is punished for her promiscuity with death.
We’ll miss her as much as we missed Raoul.
When the musketeers manage to get back to Musketeer Headquarters, Inc., they find a “secret” message left there by Gabriel Bryne. He says that there is an opporunity to rescue Philippe that night when he’s being transfer to the prison. Gabriel Byrne is sick of the king’s shit, and he’s throwing his lot in with them, all for one, one for all, etc.
Except here’s the thing: all the guards are out looking for the escaped three musketeers. And Gabriel Byrne sends them a secret message, WHICH HE DOESN’T EVEN PUT IN AN ENVELOPE, AND TO WHICH HE SIGNS HIS NAME, by stabbing it to the front door of the musketeers’ house.
The musketeers break into jail, and there is some dumb shenanigans with soldiers who all die completely bloodless deaths, and then a guard exchanges some taunts with Malkovich, because the two of them have Bad History, except all of this backstory has clearly been left on the editing room floor, and whatever, this post is running long.
They get to Philippe and are like, “We’re so glad you’re not having a psychological breakdown after being put back in your mask!” Philippe says “I wear the mask; it does not wear me.”
VictorianMasculinity: That is not what you were saying literally 20 minutes ago when the king ordered you back into it.
King Leo puts on his flounciest armor and gathers all his soldiers to trap the musketeers at the prison, because he knew about the plan . . . somehow.
They’re able to fight off most of the king’s swordsmen–those two fencing lessons they gave Philippe really paid off–but ultimately they’re trapped at the end of a long corridor, with only their swords, staring down the barrels of 20 muskets.
They have a touching moment–
VictorianMasculinity: Oh, come on, guys. Don’t give the “one for all, and all for one” line to Malkovich!
–and they do the only thing you can really do in a situation like this.
Except the king’s musketeers make imperial stormtroopers look competent–they sent off a giant volley down the corridor, but don’t hit shit.
Even with the implication that the king’s musketeers don’t want to kill their heroes, and that they all secretly aim badly, guns at this time are not accurate and the musketeers are about 10 feet away. There is no way all of the guns would miss.
When the smoke clears, all the king’s musketeers surrender to their badassery, pissing King Leo off somethin’ fierce.
He attempts to stab Philippe, but Gabriel Byrne throws himself in the way, and gets stabbed instead.
Byrne reveals as he lay dying that he is actually the twins’ SECRET FATHER!!! Good god, how many more secrets does this family have?
VictorianMasculinity: I’m sorry, but he and Queen Anne would never produce blonde children in a million years.
Byrne has a touching goodbye with Philippe.
“The family resemblance is uncanny, Philippe. You never knew your grandmother, but she had a metal face, too.”
Gabriel Byrne dies and they break out the Irish flutes of warbling grief.
King Leo tries to sneak away from this decidedly awkward scene, but he is stopped when his head musketeer points a sword at him, pissed that the king killed Gabriel Byrne.
He says, gesturing to Byrne, “All my life, all I wanted to be was him.”
VictorianMasculinity: Well . . . there’s a vacancy now.
King Leo and Philippe swap clothes–AGAIN–and King Leo is put in the iron mask.
VictorianMasculinity: You know, they forcibly strip Leo a lot in this film. It’s down to a fine art now. I just picture Malkovich trying to retie Philippe’s cravat in a hurry and saying, “This doesn’t look right. Oh, I have to put it on myself to do it.”
When reinforcements arrive, they hand King Leo over to them and tell them to throw him in jail. Which is exactly what happens. Buh-bye, fuck knuckle!
Philippe takes the throne and later on, they all visit Gabriel Byrne’s grave and listen to more Irish flutes.
VictorianMasculinity: *sniffling* We buried him in the Cyberman graveyard. Just as he wanted.
Jeremy Irons then tells us in voice over that it was rumored that the prisoner in the iron mask was eventually pardoned and allowed to live in the country, where he was frequently visited by the queen. Also, Philippe ended up being the world’s greatest king . . .
. . . which is significantly inaccurate.
Any suggestions for bad films set in the nineteenth century or based on nineteenth-century texts are very welcome. Up next, we’ll be watching The Raven. Pray for us, kittens.