I must be going through a nostalgic phase in my mania: Boy Meets World, listening solely to 90s music, and revisiting my favourite movies from that decade. Today’s appreciation post is dedicated to an underrated Leonardo DiCaprio film, The Man in the Iron Mask (1998). I saw this movie in theatres shortly after my birthday, my mom taking me, of course, being that it is rated PG-13 and I had just turned 9-years old. Even at a young age I was a appreciator of cinema and had already started memorizing actors and their works and developed the uncanny ability to memorize lines verbatim. I have had many celebrity crushes in my life: Jonathan Taylor Thomas being my first. Leo was just another in a string of unattainable men and I just HAD to see this movie. I also love literature and I am always excited when a book I like is being adapted into a film; this also can lead to heartbreak, but that’s another subject entirely.
The wonderfully awful things about this flick are the use of only 3 French actors in lead roles (even though the movie is set in 17th century France), the rest of the cast being of English or American origins (Dr. House being one of the King’s Advisors), and last but certainly not least, the acting by all of the cast is just so terrible that you can’t help but fall in love with this story.
The original Musketeers, Porthos, Athos, and Aramis, are older men and are no longer a part of the palace legion. D’Artagnan still serves the new King, Louis XIV. Aramis is a religious advisor to Louis and he bestows a mission to Aramis to find and murder the Jesuit leader who is behind the attacks on his life. Aramis has other plans: To place Louis’s twin brother on to the throne in hopes of a better France. Together, the Musketeers smuggle Phillipe out of the Bastille and proceed to educate him in the ways of court. D’Artagnan is resistant at first but later proves to be the uniting force behind them all. It was truly he who wore the mask.
Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, and Gérard Depardieu play the valiant yet aging Musketeers in this film. Iron as Aramis, Malkovich as Athos, and Depardieu as Porthos. All of these seasoned veterans bring life to their respective characters. Irons as the religious and steady Aramis; Malkovich as the poetically tragic Athos; Depardieu as the lively yet sullen Porthos, who feels useless in his older age. These characters blend so well together that you really could imagine them standing for justice for all.
Leonardo DiCaprio, then age 24, was already on a pretty good run for himself. The previous year he had starred in a little film, you might have heard of it, Titanic (1997) by James Cameron. While some people may agree that this movie as well as The Beach (2000) were not his best movies, I firmly believe that this movie was one of the films that showed Leo’s versatility. The other being Romeo+Juliet (1996). He also was able to holds own along side such wonderful actors who had far more experience than he had at the time.
This is one of those movies that I could watch over and over again (and I have). No matter when it comes on television or is available on a streaming platform, I will get excited and stop what I am doing to watch this masterpiece of cinema. You’d think I would own this movie by now and it would be one of the prize pieces in my collection. Well, you would be right and wrong at the same time. I did at one point own this movie and treasured it dearly. I made the unfortunate mistake of loaning it to my sister while she was in college and then POOF! the DVD had disappeared. I fully blame it on her boyfriend at the time, but she also gets the blame being that it was at her apartment. If you haven’t guessed, I’m still a little sore about the whole thing. I know I can always go and find a copy on Amazon or such, but I guess I’m just holding out that one day, by the grace of Hollywood, it will be returned to me.
There are so many memorable scenes that it really is hard to choose the best that represents the film as a whole and captures the love I have for it. I have chosen two that I think are the best, based on acting and the spectrum that the film reaches. One video is a mash up of two scenes, both equally hilarious while the other, being more serious, still gives me chills.