Movie Review: “Man in the Iron Mask”


Questions - Answers About the Movie "Man in the Iron Mask"

  • Is this a “star-driven” movie? Who is the principal star of the film? If you feel that the film is star-driven, does that add or detract from the historical authenticity of the film? Why or why not?

“The Man in the Iron Mask” is definitely a star-driven movie as many well-known actors starred in this movie. The principal star of the film is Leonardo DiCaprio, who was extremely famous at that time due to his huge success in the film “Titanic”, which was released a year before Besides DiCaprio, other well-known, respected actors such as Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, and Gabriel Byrne starred in this movie. The film, as star-driven, definitely adds to the historical authenticity of the plot, because of the talent and capability of the actors to portray the characters realistically. These well-known actors became famous because of their ability to act much better than the others, that is why it is always better to have real stars in a movie. By his acting, Leonardo DiCaprio can take the audience into the time period in its historical context of the movie. DiCaprio is an extremely talented actor. He always portrays interesting and complicated characters that can keep the attention of the viewer until the very end of the movie. For example, while portraying King Louis XIV and his brother Philippe, Leonardo showed all his abilities by playing two different characters with two absolutely different personalities in a single movie. Luis was militaristic, spoiled, and heartless, on the contrary, Philippe was kind, loyal, and had a pure soul. The play of all actors in “Man in the Iron Mask” is absolutely brilliant. All characters were portrayed perfectly. The whole period in its historical context was portrayed without mistakes. While watching the film, I had a feeling that I really got back into the seventeenth century.

  • From what you have learned about the real historical events and people depicted in this film, do you think that this film is historically accurate, or rather, true to history? If so, where is it accurate?

From what I know about the real historical events and people depicted in this movie, I can say that not everything in the film is depicted with full historical accuracy. However, there are many real people, events, and places depicted in the movie that were heavily fictionalized.

The events in the movie take place in the seventeenth century, during the reign of King Louis XIV. It is historically accurate because King Louis XIV really was a king of France in the seventeenth century. In the movie, the king is depicted as a selfish and militaristic man, who bankrupted the country and did not care about people. He had numerous affairs with young women and was spoiled. This is historically accurate. The king, indeed, had a lot of affairs with women. At the same time, the people of France were starving, and the king ordered his adviser Pierre to give them rotten food, which resulted in a riot, and Pierre was executed. Meanwhile, Raoul, the son of Athos, returns from the war and is planning to get married to his love Christine. However, before Raoul can propose to his beloved, king Louis decided that Christine had to belong to him. Louis commands that Raoul must return to the war. Meanwhile, Christine becomes the king’s mistress. After Raoul’s death on the battlefield, his father Athos tries to kill the king, but D’Artagnan saves the king’s life. D’Artagnan was a historical person, a leader of musketeers; however, there is no record about the fact that D’Artagnan had ever saved the king’s life. After this event, aging musketeers Athos, Porthos, and Aramis decide to overthrow the king. They help a mysterious prisoner in the iron mask to escape from the prison where he was kept for a very long time. This mysterious prisoner, according to the movie, is Philippe, the brother, and the identical twin of Louis.

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Part of this story is actually historically accurate because at the time of King Louis’s XIV reign there really was a mysterious prisoner that was wearing an iron mask. No one knows who this man was, but he was indeed kept in prison for 34 years by King Louis XIV. Meanwhile, in the movie, Aramis, Porthos, and Athos teach Philippe how to act like a king and how to replace Louis on the throne. In the movie, Philippe is shown as a kind man who does not even want to be a king. He just wants to live in a village and enjoy life. During a ball, three musketeers abduct Louis, and Philippe takes his place. But Philippe gives himself away during the ball. He is too kind to Christine and other people. D’Artagnan notices his strange behavior and escorts him outside, where he sees the real Louis abduction and prevents it. After that, Louis wants to execute Philippe, but when he hears that his brother is more afraid of the iron mask than death, he decides to send Philippe back to Bastille. Bastille is the real prison, where prisoners were kept at that time. Meanwhile, Christine commits suicide by hanging herself from the window of her bedroom. After D’Artagnan finds out that, besides Louis, Philippe is also his son, he decides to help Athos, Porthos, and Aramis to break into the Bastille and steal Philippe again. D’Artagnan helps them to replace Louis with Philippe. Though D’Artagnan has to sacrifice his own life, this time, the replacement is successful. Louis is sent to live in the village where he was often visited by his mother, Queen Anne. Queen Anne was a historical person, mother of Louis, and a queen of France. According to the movie, after the replacement, the king was the best ruler France ever had. In the real-life, King Louis XIV remained a militaristic person until the end spending a lot of time on war. During his entire life, there was no significant change in his behavior.

  • Do you think that there are historical inaccuracies in the film, and if so, where do you find these inaccuracies? What do you think was the filmmakers’ reason for making changes from the facts?

There are many historical inaccuracies in the movie “Man in the Iron Mask”. For example, D’Artagnan was a real historical person, but he actually died in the battle ten years later than he did according to the movie. Besides that, he was not, by any chance, a father of the king. Besides, the three musketeers, who helped Philippe to escape from Bastille and replace the king on the throne, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis are completely fictional characters created by Alexandre Dumas in one of his books. Another historical inaccuracy is that after the replacement, King Louis XIV was remembered as the most generous king of all times. In reality, the behavior of the king did not change. He remained heartless, selfish, and authoritarian. Besides that, in real life, Louis had a brother Philippe, but he was not his twin, so he could not replace the king on the throne without being noticed. Another historical inaccuracy is that, according to the movie, in 1662, the king was unmarried. This was not true because in 1660 he married Maria Theresa of Spain. Besides, Christine, the mistress of the king in the movie, is a fictional character. However, she can be compared to Louise de la Valliere, a real mistress of the king. All of these historical inaccuracies were made on purpose. Filmmakers make changes from the facts to make the story more interesting. They wanted to draw the attention of the viewers by showing numerous details of the royal life. To draw even more attention, they had to change the facts and make the story more intriguing and dramatic.

  • Do they think that the filmmaker tends to glamorize or romanticize the historical period, characters, and/or dramatic action in the film? If so, what has led you to believe this, and why do you think the filmmaker chose to do this?

The filmmaker definitely tends to glamorize and romanticize the historical period, characters, and dramatic action in the film to make the story more interesting and intriguing to the viewer. I think so because there were a lot of glamorous, romantic, and dramatic moments in the movie. For example, Christine was in love with Raoul; their relationship was romantic, and after his tragic death she did not care about anything in the world. She had absolutely no fear, she went to the king and told him that Raoul’s death was completely his fault. It was a dramatic gesture. After that, she committed suicide, and that was even more dramatic. This historical period was shown as a glamorous one because royal and rich people were beautifully dressed and acted in a glamorous way. I think that the filmmaker chose to dramatize and romanticize the historical period in the movie because he knew that people would like to see a dramatic and intriguing story of royal life.

To sum up, “Man in the Iron Mask” is a very interesting and intriguing movie. I enjoyed it very much. It is a star-driven movie, in which all characters were portrayed perfectly by famous actors. Leonardo DiCaprio, the main star of the movie, was able to brilliantly portray two completely different characters in a single movie. This movie is based on the life of real historical persons, who are heavily fictionalized to make the story more dramatic, romantic, and intriguing.

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