26 July 2015

Les trois mousquetaires (1913)

Today's film special is about the two-part film Les trois mousquetaires/The Three Musketeers (1913). This early silent adaptation of Alexandre Dumas père's' famous novel was directed by Henri Pouctal for Le Film d'Art. The film starred Émile Dehelly as D'Artagnan and Nelly Cormon as Milady. The cards were unnumbered and the film is lost, so we tried to follow the order of the novel, but we have some hesitations about the cards on Milady's past.

Les Trois Mousquetaires 1
Émile Dehelly as D'Artagnan.

Les Trois Mousquetaires 2
Caption: At the inn of Meung-sur-Loire the outfit of the Chevalier d'Artagnan raised the sarcasm of Count Rochefort whom Richelieu sent to Milady de Winter, who is charged by Buckingham with a secret message for the Queen.

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Caption: Charlotte Backson, who has taken refuge in an inn, notices the Count de la Fère, a rich gentleman who lives in the neighbourhood. She decided to conquer him and to hide her past.

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Caption: When he discovers the past of his wife, the Count de la Fère avenges his honour by chastening the miserable woman who abused him.

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Caption: D'Artagnan helps Athos, Porthos and Aramis to take their revenge on the Cardinal's guards.

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Caption: In the presence of D'Artagnan, Mr De Treville, the Captain of the King's Musketeers saddles Athos, Porthos and Aramis with reproaches because they have been beaten by the Cardinal's guards.

Les Trois Mousquetaires 7
Caption: the Musketeers and D'Artagnan appreciate the stratagem by Planchet, who to enable his master to fittingly receive his friends, draws liquid and solid from Mrs. Bonacieux' table.

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Caption: D'Artagnan saves Mrs Bonacieux and he takes charge to bring the Queen's letter to Buckingham reclaiming from the Duke the twelve studs. On advice of the Cardinal, the king has demanded her to appear with these studs at the upcoming ball at the Hotel-de-Ville.

Extreme length

The very first cinematic adaptation of Dumas' Les trois mousquetaires was a French short made by Georges Méliès in 1903, Les trois mousquetaires et le collier de la reine/The three Musketeers and the Queen's Necklace.

The next adaptation, Les trois mousquetaires/The Three Musketeers (1913) by Henri Pouctal was the first feature-length film version of the classic novel. In the early 1910s, feature-length films were just starting, but Pouctal's Les trois mousquetaires had already the extreme length of 4000 metres.

The film was released in two parts, La Haine de Richelieu (Richelieu's Hate) and Le Triomphe d'Artagnan (D'Artagnan's Triumph). While several sources list the film as being made in 1912, actually, it was released in Paris and elsewhere in Europe in the fall of 1913 and in the US in 1914.

Henri Pouctal wrote the script too, while cinematography was by Louis Chaix. Sets were by Emile Bertin. The leading actors were Émile Dehelly as D'Artagnan and Nelly Cormon as Milady.

In addition, the film featured Marcel Vibert (Athos), Adolphe Candé (Porthos), Stellio (Aramis), Philippe Garnier (Cardinal Richelieu), Jean Peyrière (Count Buckingham), Guizelle (Constance Bonacieux), Henri Legrand (Planchet), Marcel Marquet (Louis XIII), Aimée Raynal (Queen Anne), Edouard Hardoux (Bonacieux), Jacques Volnys (Count De Rochefort). Bit parts were for Jean Duval, Rolla Norman, Édouard de Max, and Marsa Renhardt.

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Caption: Thanks to the passport taken from the Count De Rochefort, D'Artagnan can embark for Dover.

Les Trois Mousquetaires 10
Caption: Called back to Britain, the Duke of Buckingham has brought to London twelve diamond studs as a remembrance of their pure love, offered by the Queen of France, and which she had gotten from the King.

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Caption: Buckingham returns the twelve diamond studs to D'Artagnan. They are reclaimed by the Queen to satisfy the King's demands.

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Caption: Back from London. D'Artagnan has just returned to the Queen the twelve diamonds reclaimed from Buckingham.

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Caption: Adorned with the diamond studs, the Queen appears at the Aldermen's Ball, to the great discomfiture of the Cardinal who was already convinced of his triumph.

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Caption: Charged to win over D'Artagnan to Richelieu's side, Milady de Winter entertains him at her place, confiding that her charms will conquer the resistance of the ardent knight.

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Caption: The stigma.

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Caption: Milady de Winter realizes with terror that D'Artagnan has discovered her shameful secret and swears revenge.

The highlight of the season

In his thorough study on 1910s, French silent film, The Ciné Goes to Town: French Cinema 1896-1914 (1994), Richard Abel wrote that the film was distributed by AGC, the biggest distributor after Pathé and Gaumont around 1913.

From April to October 1913, AGC led a huge campaign to promote Les trois mousquetaires as the highlight of the season. As part of a new distribution strategy, it was pre-screened in the Fall of 1913 at the Paris' cinema Majestic.

Abel states that Pouctal was the sole director of the film, while the Cinémathèque française, IMDb and Wikipedia also list André Calmettes as a co-director.

According to Abel, Les trois mousquetaires is still a lost film, but these postcards give a nice impression.

After the version of Pouctal, many later versions would follow, such as the 1921 and 1933 version by Henri Diamant-BergerCheck out our post on the 1921 version.

Les Trois Mousquetaires 17
Caption: Having become the spy of the Cardinal and the lady-in-waiting of the Queen, Milady de Winter copies Buckingham's message to communicate it to the Cardinal.

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Caption: The Cardinal de Richelieu meets Milady de Winter at the Inn of the Red Dove in La Rochelle.

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Caption: At the Inn of the Red Dove, Athos recognizes the voice of his wife whom he thought dead. He hears her pleading to Cardinal Richelieu to sentence D'Artagnan to death.

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Caption: Unmasked, Milady de Winter leaves the Inn of the Red Dove, swearing revenge.

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Caption: As D'Artagnan has escaped her, Milady de Winter decides to hit the one he loves. She pours poison in the glass of Madame Bonacieux, whom the young man has just joined in the Monastery of Bethune.

Les Trois Mousquetaires 22
Caption: D'Artagnan and the Musketeers swear to avenge the death of Madame Bonacieux.

Les Trois Mousquetaires 23
Caption: Milady de Winter is captured by the Musketeers and D'Artagnan in the hovel where she had taken refuge after her murder, and is delivered to the henchman.

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Caption: JUSTICE!

Sources: Richard Abel (The Ciné Goes to Town: French Cinema 1896-1914), Ciné-Ressources (French), Wikipedia (French), and IMDb.


Juli Jerome said...

I hope they find this film.The film appears to be a faithful adaptation of the book.The postcards are great.The costumes and sets are 17th century accurate.By looking at the postcards one can see that this film had to be spectacular for 1913.102 years old and has held up so well.Just Beautiful!!

Paul van Yperen said...

Thanks, Juli!