The Iron Mask aka Le Masque de Fer based on Alexandre Dumas
The idea of this motion picture was so interesting that another, later, not necessarily better version would be made, with maybe the most popular actor of the moment – and one of the best – Leonardo di Caprio in the title role, Jeremy Irons and other titans in the cast.
Jean Marais dominates this early version of the famous story, a magnificent actor, with panache, style, majesty, great standing, fabulous performances, apparently lover of another glorious artist, Jean Cocteau.
When Louis XIV is born, he has a twin brother, this making the issue of who is the legal, rightful leader very delicate, awkward and dangerous ultimately for the nation that risks a civil war between two different factions lead by the respective brothers.
At least this is the view taken by some negative, perhaps too pessimistic and anyway cruel officials and advisers at the court, who finally decide to place an Iron Mask on the face of one twin, send him to the Sainte Marguerite citadel where he would live in isolation.
The mask would prevent anyone from recognizing him, no matter what the torment for the poor young human being would be, in the national interest he had to suffer all this – so they said, with their selfish, villainous thinking.
There are some humorous scenes, one refers exactly to the look of the prisoner, who is in intimate circumstances with a woman, when the man who claims to have all the rights enters, enraged that she has another man in her chamber only to see who the person is and stumble:
At this point, the poor prisoner has escaped his prison, but he still has no idea who he is, therefore maintains an air of innocence and humility, which further complicates matters and makes the embarrassed man ever more ridiculous and amusing…
Sire! You do not need to humiliate me and play this game!...words to that effect
Cardinal Mazarin plays a pivotal role, as he needs to arrange a strategic marriage, to create alliances that would help France to face its enemies, just as the king seems to be dying.
The famous D’Artagnan is sent to get the prisoner so that he would become the new king, twin brother as he is of the one who may soon depart, looking exactly the part and hence able to take the position without any fuss.
Of course, things are complicated, the famous musketeer has to fight multitudes, sending one after the other into the gutter, or the water, on the ground, the medieval equivalent of Superman, Iron man and other Super Heroes all rolled into one.
The film was released in 1962, and the musketeer slaps the behind of a woman who has misbehaved – pertaining to show that these were the morals of the middle ages, although one is not sure how far advanced men were in the middle of last century.
The Iron Mask is not a masterpiece, but probably much better than Iron Man I, II, III and the other sequels…and most of the action hero, cartoon character movies offered by the major studios today.