The Man in the Iron Mask

The Man in the Iron Mask


France is under the reign of the militaristic King Louis XIV (Leonardo DiCaprio), who is bankrupting the country with his unpopular wars. When starving peasants in Paris start to riot for food, he responds by ordering his chief advisor, Pierre, to send them rotten food - although he later orders Pierre executed for this. Meanwhile, the King wallows in hedonistic luxury and seduces a parade of women. The legendary Three Musketeers have retired from their posts: Aramis is now a priest of the Society of Jesus; Porthos is a frequent visitor to Parisian brothels; Athos has a son named Raoul who is just back from the war and ready to marry the girl he loves, Christine Bellefort. At a festival, the two lovers are greeted by an older D'Artagnan and wished luck, but just before Raoul can propose, the King's eyes fall on Christine. He arranges for Raoul to be returned to combat, where he is killed in a suicidal charge.

In the wake of Raoul's death, Louis invites Christine to the palace where she sleeps with him, grateful for the medical assistance his doctors have given to her mother and sister. When Louis orders the death of the secret leader of the Jesuit order, Aramis initiates a plot to overthrow the King with the help of his old comrades for he is the secret leader of the Order of Jesuits. Only Athos and Porthos agree to the plan; D'Artagnan refuses to betray his oath of allegiance. The three Musketeers sneak into an island prison and arrange the escape of a mysterious prisoner: a man in an iron mask. They replace him with a corpse in a matching iron mask so the guards will not know. They take the young man to a safe house in the countryside and unmask him: he is Philippe (Leonardo DiCaprio), the identical twin of King Louis. While he is identical to his brother, Philippe is compassionate and gentle. Aramis reveals that Philippe was sent away by his father, King Louis XIII, to save France from dynastic warfare. Later, Louis XIV was too superstitious to have his brother murdered; instead, he devised a way to keep him hidden: hence, the iron mask. Aramis was the one who took Philippe away to prison, an act which has haunted him ever since.

Meanwhile, King Louis succeeds in seducing Christine completely, claiming that he ordered Raoul to be placed far from the battlefront. Later, Christine receives a letter from Raoul, predicting his death and saying that he forgives her for becoming the King's mistress.

Athos, Porthos and Aramis teach Philippe how to act like royalty, so he may replace Louis as King. Together they abduct Louis during a fancy dress ball. Before his absence is revealed, Philippe takes his place. However, Philippe's good nature gives him away as he helps a lady up from the floor when she falls over, and spares Christine's life when she storms in and accuses him of murdering Raoul, promising to make amends for wronging her. D'Artagnan realizes something is amiss and forcibly escorts Philippe outside. They arrive at the docks just as Athos, Porthos and Aramis are about to sail for the Bastille with Louis. The men collectively decide to make a trade for the brothers' lives; however, Philippe is re-captured in the ensuing struggle.

However, D'Artagnan is stunned to learn that Philippe is Louis' brother and pleads with Louis to spare his life. Louis at first refuses, but Philippe bluffs that he is more terrified of the iron mask than death itself. Therefore, Louis orders him returned to it and placed within the Bastille. In the meantime, Christine is found, having hanged herself from her bedroom window.

Athos, Porthos and Aramis brush off their old Musketeer uniforms and with D'Artagnan's help, break into the Bastille prison and escape with Philippe. Louis, however, has prepared an ambush. Fortunately, the narrowness of the corridor and the guards' respect for D'Artagnan, their captain, prevents them from overwhelming the four Musketeers with their numbers. Determined to save his friends, Philippe offers to give himself up in exchange for their lives. D'Artagnan refuses, saying: "Even if I could give up my King, I could never give up my son." He explains that he is the twins' father, having had an affair with Queen Anne, and that it was out of fatherly devotion that he served Louis, not loyalty. He adds that Philippe has made him feel pride as a father for the first time.

The four Musketeers and Philippe then charge at Louis's front line. The soldiers are so amazed by their "magnificent valour" that they close their eyes before firing their muskets. The smoke clears to reveal the five men still standing; all the shots, barring a few flesh wounds, missed.

An enraged Louis lunges toward Philippe and tries to stab him. However, D'Artagnan jumps between them and is fatally wounded. Philippe knocks Louis down and begins to strangle him, but D'Artagnan, with his dying breaths, reminds Philippe that Louis is his brother. Philippe embraces his father for the first and last time as he dies, commenting that D'Artagnan was the one wearing the mask all along. D'Artagnan's right-hand man, Lieutenant Andre, furious at Louis for killing D'Artagnan, orders his men to leave and swears them to secrecy. By the time another battalion breaks in via another door, the three Musketeers and Lieutenant Andre have made Louis and Philippe swap clothes and locked Louis in the iron mask. Philippe introduces Athos, Porthos and Aramis as his royal council and truest friends. Posing as the King, Philippe orders the guards to take Louis and lock him away.

The next day, Philippe, Athos, Porthos, Aramis and Queen Anne attend D'Artagnan's funeral, in which the three Musketeers are finally redeemed. After the funeral, Philippe asks Athos to love him like a son and Athos accepts and kisses Philippe's forehead. With Louis (whom Philippe, for the sake of their blood relation, granted a royal pardon) now living in a house in the country, France is now at peace under Phillipe's rule.

Rated PG-13

Directed by Randall Wallace
Produced by Randall Wallace
Russell Smith
Written by Randall Wallace
Alexandre Dumas (Novel)
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio
Jeremy Irons
John Malkovich
Gabriel Byrne
Gérard Depardieu
Anne Parillaud
Judith Godrèche
Peter Saarsgard
Music by Nick Glennie-Smith
Cinematography Peter Suschitzky
Editing by William Hoy
Studio United Artists
Distributed by Theatrical (United States):
United Artists
Home Video:
MGM Home Entertainment
Release date(s) March 13, 1998 (1998-03-13)
Running time 132 minutes
Country United Kingdom
United States
Language English


Leonardo plays 2 roles in the movie, King Louis XIV and Philippe (twins)


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