Best current TV Show : BBC One’s and Hulu’s MUSKETEERS!!

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MUSKETEERS courtesy OF BBC One and currently available on Hulu is far and away my current favorite show. From series creator and main-writer Adrian Hodges comes this wonderful reworking of Alexandre Dumas perennial classic, THE THREE MUSKETEERS. Perhaps outside of Shakespeare and the Bible, the work of Alexandre Dumas (the son of the Black Giant, The Black Devil, Napolean’s greatest general, Thomas Alexandre Dumas) has been the most adapted into film of any body of work.

Napolean’s Greatest General

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–Olivier Pichat’s portrait of Alexandre the Elder

And with good reason, its themes of heroism and villainy, liberty and tyranny, corruption and honor, love and lust, are timeless, and its characters… iconic, and its swashbuckling action lends itself to the cinematic.

I’ve seen many of the films, and a few different TV shows, seeking to adapt the work of this most brilliant of France’s writers (a writer whose work was infused with a pride in his father, and his heroic exploits) and unfortunately none of the adaptions, none of them, ever refect the rich Haitian, and Black, and African, and Moorish nature not just of the writer, nor of the inspiration for these stories… his father, but of a France and Spain and an Europe that was teeming with a melting pot of a people… a rich vibrant stew of exslaves, freemen, and emissaries from distant lands.

So adaptions have always felt for me lacking, due to this sense of a fiction, less rich than the facts, this lack of any characters of color. Which is no great plot, it is infact an extension of Dumas himself writing for a mainstream audience, so the grestest mass of france could see themselves in his writing.

And so finally 172 years after Alexandre Dumas first wrote of his d” Artagnan and the Three Musketeers (serialized in the Parisian paper Le Siecle) in Adrian Hodges MUSKETEERS we finally get a Black Musketeer, played awesomely by Howard Charles. And on top of that you get a multicultural France, sprinkled with people of color.

In many ways I find the BBC One Adaption superior, because it takes risks in terms of ethnicity and politics that are, if not completely absent, dialed down, in at least the English translation of Dumas THREE MUSKETEERS. But the current adaption appeals to a 21st century audience, the original had to appeal to a 19th century audience, and be published.

“In those times panics were common, and few days passed without some city or other registering in its archives an event of this kind. There were nobles, who made war against each other; there was the king, who made war against the cardinal; there was Spain, which made war against the King. Then, in addition to these concealed or public, secret or open wars, there were robbers, mendicants, Huguenots, wolves, and scoundrels, who made war upon everybody.”
—THE THREE MUSKETEERS by Alexandre Dumas

I really think the series, wonderfully speaks to a little bit of the ‘truth is stranger than fiction’ lives of the Alexandres. The wonder of their lives, the height of their challenges, the magnificence of their victories. You get just a smidgen of this in the new series, but its enough… to finally allow me to completely embrace this show.

That and the fact the writing in the series is great, the direction is great, the performances are great, and the action is fun and swashbuckling. I love this show.

The third season has wrapped up, BBC says it is the last season. Hopefully Netflix will pick this up for a fourth season. But whether or not they do, for my money they have left us with the definitive version of Alexandre Dumas’ MUSKETEERS. (At least until Carl Franklin releases his version of the THREE MUSKETEERS, with multiple musketeers of color 🙂 )

I am going to buy all three seasons, because this is a series, (much like the 80s ROBIN OF SHERWOOD that is also the definitive treatment of that property) that deserves to be always readily available; whether or not you have an internet connection.

Highly Recommended!

 

 

 

Musketeers, The (BD) [Blu-ray]

Musketeers, The: Season 2 (Blu-ray)

Musketeers, The: Season 3 [Blu-ray]

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2011 Upcoming Movies! Pt 2 of 3! THREE MUSKETEERS and Alexandre Dumas and Gordon Parks

October 2011, at this point is looking pretty bleak for films. The most interesting things?

Well something that could have been interesting: Paul W.S. Anderson is making yet another remake of Alexandre Dumas’ THE THREE MUSKETEERS.

A brief aside.

Alexandre Dumas, was the son of Thomas Alexandre Dumas, of Haitian birth, he was the Colin Powell of his age (only like, popular 🙂 ), he was Napoleon’s greatest and most feared general. nicknamed The Black Devil and alternately the Black Giant, Unequaled in combat and strategy, he was worshiped by his soldiers and the French people, and feared and hated for his popularity, even by Napoleon. This led to well known machinations against, what could be argued was, the true power behind Napoleon, Thomas Alexandre Dumas, which led to the Black Giant’s arrest and incarceration.

So Alexandre Dumas, a mix of his father’s darkness and his mother’s light, grew up on his fathers exploits, and all his works are about his father’s courage, his father’s honor, and the wrongs done to his father. All Alexandre’s works were praises to his beloved father, The Black Giant, and castigations of the monarchy that betrayed and brought low, the nation’s greatest warrior and its truest son. And if the father was the nation’s greatest warrior, the son was the nation’s greatest writer, its greatest Renaissance man.

I say all this to say, it would be great if one effing day the three Musketeers were played, appropriately, by Moors, Black actors.

The closest cinema has come to acknowledging this, is Gerard Depardieu darkening his skin and curling his hair, to play the young Mulatto Alexandre Dumas in the 2010 French film L’Autre Dumas. A film that of course has not received any US release. It’s chuckle inducing, that here in the 21st century, we still have White actors doing Black face, AT BEST, or at worst simply refusing to acknowledge the fact that many of the men who defined the culture of a young Europe and a young World… were Moors.

And don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming Depardieu, he is one of the world’s greatest actors, I adore his CYRANO and his attachment to the L’Autre Dumas film guarantees it an exposure, it would perhaps otherwise lack. Still, I hope we can get actors of color, playing historical characters of color. And maybe Depardieu’s film, for at least going through the steps of trying to show an ethnic pedigree to France’s greatest writer, is a step, a poor, wobbly one, in the right direction.

At least it’s better than films like THE THREE MUSKETEERS that historically have given no indication of a France, peopled with Moors.

So yeah, I have very little interest in yet another whitewashed production of the THREE MUSKETEERS.

I hold out, because of this presentiment I have, for the director (a new generation Gordon Parks perhaps, the departed Parks… himself a Renaissance man, perhaps the last one- Cowboy, Photographer, Writer, Musician, Filmmaker… Parks’ film THOMASINE & BUSHROD showing his skill at period work) who will do a THREE MUSKETEERS film, that will finally do both the father and the son… the honor they have earned.