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In the Kingdom of France from 1640 is the old with his body ailing Cardinal Richelieu, powerful man under Louis XIII, faced with the machinations of his tipped designated successor, the Marquis de Cinq-Mars.
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A political career too good to be true rushing headlong to its destruction in the trap of love
Although impeccably formal and correct all the way, it's undeniably a feast for the eyes in its rich pageantry of realistic costumes and environments, you will see a number of French fairy tale castles that actually are authentic from that glorious age of the Cardinal, restrainedly but perfectly convincingly played by Jacques Perrin, while also the other actors are quite perfect, maybe especially Stéphan Guérin-Tillié as the king, torn asunder between his affection for the handsome Cinq-Mars (Pierre Boulanger) and the unavoidable duties of his office. You are thrown headlong into the world óf the Three Musqueteers, D'Artagnan was actually a real person and appears briefly in one scene, with the classical web of intrigue with the Cardinal as the spider, doing his best as a statesman and formidable wonders as such, while the outrageous human cost of it will go equally down in history, especially in films and novels. The historical realism is as perfect as in the "Louis XI" film two years earlier and equally dramatic, while Jacques Perrin here has to take into account the dolours of the Cardinal with his rheumatism and other old age pains. The film is less dramatic and intriguing than "Louis XI" but of absolutely equal quality in dramaturgy, script, acting and scenery. No matter how many swashbuckling films were made in Hollywood from the 30s and onwards, the realism and beauty and historical truth of a film like this one is very much to be preferred and so much more enjoyable for its realistic truthfulness.