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The Three Musketeers (Signet Classics)

The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas CELEBRITY DEATHMATCH REVIEW*(* entertainment purposes only) The Three Musketeers v. The Divine Comedy(from the diary of Virgil)It is true I was never baptized a Christian, and am therefore bound forever to dwell in the First Circle of Hell. But when strangers mistakenly wander into our condemned realm, I have volunteered to act as their guide and assist them in safe passage back to the World of the Living. For these services, my Dark Master allows me a period of rest each year from Hell.Last year, I had planned to take my vacation in Heaven, but got quite lost, and stumbled into a most curious place. It was neither Heaven, nor Hell, nor again was it Purgatory. It was a fourth place, whose inhabitants named “Paris”. While I tried to get my bearings, I met a man called d'Artagnan, who generously offered to guide me back on my rightful path to Heaven. In our travels, we shortly met up with d'Artagnan’s three friends Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, who traveled a few steps behind us, whispering to one another. After a short while, Porthos drew a sword and attempted to bisect me, but -being only a spirit- the blade passed through me, as air. “Wherefore strike you at me, Friend?”, I inquired.With a smug smile, Porthos resheathed his sword and walked towards me. “It was worth a try.”, he said. “Listen, we both know why you’re here.”I considered for a second, then admitted: “Celebrity Deathmatch Reviews.”“That‘s right. But we‘ve been watching you, and we already know what you‘re going to do.”“You’re going to try to send us to Hell.”, Athos chimed in, “You’re a one-trick pony.”“You’ll pass judgment on our shenanigans. Portray our romances as vile lust; our hijinks as contemptible violence.” , Aramis added.“It can’t work this time.” Porthos explained. “Our spirited secular love of life is our strength! It’s what brought us this far in the tournament. Meanwhile, your joyless stifling religiosity will spell your end, this very Round.”I bowed my head a moment and collected my thoughts.“If that’s what you believe, then you’ve misunderstood me entirely. I am in Hell because I was a man. That is to say, I was created by God, in His image, and disposed of as He saw fit, on my passing… But you four aren’t men; you’re literary characters. Created by Man, in Man’s image. Neither God nor I have anything to say about your fate. That is for Man to decide.”“Ahaaaa!”, Athos jumped up! And you’re a man, so you’re going to destroy us? I call foul; you're part of the competition! You can't be our judge!”“No, Athos, put your worry aside. I’m not a man anymore; I’m a spirit now. To discern your fate, you need to look to the world of men.”“Ahaaa!”, d'Artagnan exclaimed, “This is where you tell us that since your book endures from the 1300’s, and ours only from the 1800’s, you have the stronger claim as an enduring work of world literature!”Again I shook my head. Snapping my fingers, a tiny angel and tiny demon appeared to assist me. They produced a looking screen for us to gaze upon.“See here.“, I instructed, “This is the Wikipedia entry describing your book.” The poor d'Artagnan travels to Paris to join the Musketeers. He suffers misadventure and is challenged to a duel by each of three musketeers (Athos, Aramis and Porthos). Attacked by the Cardinal's guards, the four unite and escape.D'Artagnan and his new love interest, Constance, help the French queen give a particular piece of jewelry to her paramour, the Duke of Buckingham. The Cardinal learns of this and coaxes the French king to hold a ball where the queen must wear the jewelry; its absence will reveal her infidelity. The four companions retrieve the jewelry from England.The Cardinal kidnaps Constance who is later rescued by the queen. D'Artagnan meets Milady de Winter and discovers she is a felon, the ex-wife of Athos and the widow of Count de Winter. The Cardinal recruits Milady to kill Buckingham, also granting her a hand-written pardon for the future killing of d'Artagnan. Athos learns of this, takes the pardon but is unable to warn Buckingham. He sends word to Lord de Winter that Milady is arriving; Lord de Winter arrests her on suspicion of killing Count de Winter, his brother.She seduces her guard, who then assassinates Lord Buckingham, and escapes to the monastery in France where the queen secreted Constance. Milady kills Constance. The four companions arrive and Athos identifies her as a multiple murderess. She is tried and beheaded.On the road, d'Artagnan is arrested. Taken before the Cardinal, d'Artagnan relates recent events and reveals the Cardinal's pardon. Impressed, the Cardinal offers him a blank musketeer officer's commission. D'Artagnan's friends refuse the commission, each retiring to a new life, telling him to take it himself, and so he takes it and later on he becomes a well known lieutenant."“God! It sounds long and complicated, when you say it like that.” Porthos admitted.“Perhaps. But look now at the entry for the 1993 Three Musketeers movie:” The looking screen changed again, and Wikipedia spoke its piece: In 1625 France, following in his late father's footsteps, d'Artagnan (Chris O'Donnell) sets off to Paris in hopes of becoming a member of the Musketeers, a band of men sworn to serve and protect the King of France. d'Artagnan is pursued by Gérard and his brothers, who accuse him of blemishing their sister's honor. Gérard saw his sister kissing d'Artagnan goodbye or as d'Artagnan put it "she wanted to give me something to remember her by!". At Musketeer Headquarters, Captain Rochefort (Michael Wincott) and the cardinal's guards have disbanded the musketeers as per the orders of Cardinal Richelieu (Tim Curry), the King's minister, ostensibly to help fight in an impending war with England. Rochefort confides to the Cardinal that there are three musketeers that have refused to relinquish their duties: Athos (Kiefer Sutherland), Porthos (Oliver Platt), and Aramis (Charlie Sheen).Upon reaching Paris, the headstrong d'Artagnan has a series of chance physical encounters with these same three musketeers, resulting in d'Artagnan accepting a duel with each one that very day. d'Artagnan arrives at the Ruins for his first duel and, much to his surprise, Athos, Porthos and Aramis reveal themselves as musketeers. But before the duels can commence, the captain of the cardinal's guard appears with orders to arrest the resistant musketeers. Although d'Artagnan himself is not under arrest, he joins the three musketeers in the ensuing skirmish, implicating himself with them. Displeased (but still impressed) by d'Artagnan's involvement, the three musketeers leave d'Artagnan behind. More of the Cardinal's guards, led by Rochefort, arrive and d'Artagnan is captured.During an escape attempt, d'Artagnan is able to eavesdrop on a conversation between Cardinal Richelieu and Milady de Winter (Rebecca De Mornay), as the cardinal asks that she deliver a signed treaty to the Duke of Buckingham of England. Before he can get a view of the cardinal's spy, d'Artagnan is caught at the doorway by Rochefort, interrogated by the Cardinal, and ultimately sent for execution the next morning. At the execution, d'Artagnan is saved by Porthos and Aramis, and the three make a getaway in the Cardinal's personal coach, driven by Athos. While d'Artagnan reveals Richelieu's plans, the three musketeers decide to intercept Richelieu's spy to prove that the Cardinal is guilty of treason.That night d'Artagnan and the three musketeers stop at an inn to rest. Athos tells the story of a count that fell in love with a beautiful woman, but upon discovering that she was branded for execution, betrayed her by giving her up to the authorities. The party decides to split up during a skirmish. Athos sends d'Artagnan to ride ahead and intercept the cardinal's spy and the treaty, but d'Artagnan passes out from exhaustion in the middle of the road. When he wakes up, he finds he is stripped of his weapons and clothes and Milady de Winter is there to rouse and seduce him. Not knowing who the spy is, d'Artagnan tells her of his plans, whereupon she tries to kill him. Instead, d'Artagnan convinces her to keep him alive. When Milady de Winter's party tries to escape by boat to England, they find that the crew has been killed by Porthos and Aramis, and another skirmish ensues. Milady attempts to run away, but is confronted by the newly arrived Athos, who recognizes her and calls her Sabine. He is astonished to see her, as he thought she was dead. It is revealed that he was the count of his story and that Sabine was the wife he betrayed. Milady de Winter is then apprehended by her former brother-in-law, as Sabine is responsible for killing her husband, Lord de Winter, and sentenced to death by execution.The three musketeers retrieve the treaty and learn that the Cardinal is planning something on King Louis' birthday, though it does not specify what in the treaty. Athos attempts to learn what it is by visiting Sabine in her cell. She asks if he can stop her execution tomorrow. Athos cannot and Sabine does not reveal what the Cardinal's plan is. During the execution, just as Sabine is lowering her head for the executioner, Athos stops him and begs forgiveness from Sabine for his betrayal. She accepts and whispers to Athos Richelieu's plans to assassinate King Louis before jumping off a cliff to her death. After learning of the Cardinal's plan, the three musketeers set out to re-band the rest of the musketeers, in secret, for the king's birthday celebration. Richelieu and Rochefort hire a sharpshooter to assassinate the king. During the assembly, d'Artagnan is able to stop the sniper from killing the king, but the shot narrowly misses its target and the Cardinal blames the musketeers in the crowd for the attempted assassination.Athos, Porthos and Aramis drop their cloaks to show their musketeer tunics and face the Cardinal's guards. Meanwhile, men from the crowd rush to their sides and reveal that they are musketeers. A battle between the musketeers and the Cardinal's guards engulfs the palace. Richelieu takes the king and queen as hostages and tries to take them to the dungeon below. Aramis confronts the Cardinal to stop him, but Richelieu shoots him in the chest with a pistol and makes his way into the passage to the dungeon. Athos duels Rochefort and d'Artagnan interrupts the battle to fight Rochefort himself. During d'Artagnan's duel, Rochefort reveals that he was the one that murdered d'Artagnan's father, and d'Artagnan, from anger, renews his efforts to kill him. Rochefort fights back and is able to disarm d'Artagnan. Just as Rochefort is about to deal d'Artagnan the final blow, d'Artagnan's sword is jettisoned back to him and Rochefort is killed before he can strike. d'Artagnan has finally avenged his father's death. Constance, on the stairs, slides the sword away and puts her hands in his, smiling.Athos joins Porthos, who is at the unconscious Aramis' side, and as they search for his wound, Aramis suddenly wakes, and it is revealed that the bullet was stopped by the huge cross that Aramis wears. They follow Richelieu into the dungeons and split up to stop him from killing the king and queen. In the dungeon, Athos and Porthos just miss the Cardinal as his boat starts on the underground river. Athos says that they have proof of Richelieu's treason, but Richelieu does not seem to care. The boatman then casts off his cloak and the Cardinal is astonished to see that it is Aramis. Aramis attempts to apprehend the Cardinal, but King Louis stops him and punches Richelieu, knocking him in to the river. It is the last time Richelieu appears in the film.The musketeers are reinstated by the king. Accompanied by Athos, Aramis, and Porthos, d'Artagnan is honored in a ceremony. King Louis makes him a musketeer. Constance, who has remained by the queen's side, runs to him and gives him a big embrace, impressing both Aramis and Porthos. Outside Musketeer Headquarters, Gérard and his brothers challenge d'Artagnan to an immediate duel. d'Artagnan tells his new friends that he will take care of this problem and Porthos stops him from continuing, stating that in addition to protecting King and country, musketeers protect each other. d'Artagnan calls out, "All for one..." and the rest of the musketeers shout out, "One for all!" The scene ends with Gérard and his brothers being chased by the entire division of musketeers.“Wait! That’s nothing like what Dumas wrote.”, Porthos complained.“And I’m played by Charlie Sheen.”, Aramis whined.“If you look further", I continued, "you will see that most of the Three Musketeers movies, comics, television shows and video games based on you four characters are only very loosely based on Dumas’ story. In fact, d'Artagnan, you don't even appear at all, in some versions!”My angel and devil provoked further proof from Wikipedia on the screen.“So what!?”, d'Artagnan sneered. “So some bad screenwriters ruined our story... So some Hollywood directors dumbed down our plot to make it more marketable. None of that speaks to the quality of Dumas‘ original work! At least people are making movies about us! When’s the last time you saw a movie or comic based on The Divine Comedy?"He still didn’t understand. I motioned towards the screen again. “Here is an image of your latest feature film.”, I offered.A pall silence fell on us all. I could see in their faces now they understood. Porthos looked at the ground in shame. “We aren’t enduring. We're being changed beyond all recognition. Our actual story is obscure; we only exist as a loose idea in the popular imagination.” Athos brushed away a tear. “Screw the popular imagination! Adaptations and updates are an homage! Ethan Hawke did a version of Hamlet set in New York City…”Aramis shook his head. “Yeah, but they kept Shakespeare’s dialogue. They kept the core story. Look at us… Jesus Christ! Flying ships??!?”I wanted to comfort them. “Dumas wrote a engaging story...”“It’s not a goddamned popularity contest! It's about the being the best book!” Aramis persisted, but Porthos understood. He put an arm around his friend. “You’re right, Aramis. It isn’t. But I think Virgil here is saying that we don’t have a strong claim on being the greatest book of all time, if we aren't really known for our book. Come on. Let’s be going.”They turned to walk away, and my heart was heavy. I didn't want it to be like this. These men were not my enemies. I called out:“Hey! In the end, we’re still all books. We touch people in a way no other medium does.”The Musketeers turned around. “Come on,” I held out my hand “we gotta stick together.”Porthos slowly smiled and received my hand. “We’re really still on the same team.”Athos and Aramis joined us, placing their hands on top of mine and Porthos’. “It’s not like we’re fuckin' Facebook.” Athos quipped.D'Artagnan came closer and completed our hands’ embrace, placing his atop the rest. “One for all…” he said softly.“And all for one.”, we solemnly completed in unison.MATCH POINT: The Divine Comedy