The Man in the Iron Mask (1998 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Man in the Iron Mask
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRandall Wallace
Screenplay byRandall Wallace
Based onThe Vicomte of Bragelonne: Ten Years Later
by Alexandre Dumas
Produced byRandall Wallace
Russell Smith
CinematographyPeter Suschitzky
Edited byWilliam Hoy
Music byNick Glennie-Smith
Distributed byMGM Distribution Co.
Release dates
  • March 13, 1998 (1998-03-13) (United States)
  • March 20, 1998 (1998-03-20) (United Kingdom)
Running time
132 minutes
CountryUnited States[1]
Budget$35 million[2]
Box office$182.9 million[3]

The Man in the Iron Mask is a 1998 American action drama film written, directed, and produced by Randall Wallace in his directorial debut. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio in a dual role as the title character and the villain, Jeremy Irons as Aramis, John Malkovich as Athos, Gérard Depardieu as Porthos, and Gabriel Byrne as D'Artagnan.[4] Some characters are from Alexandre Dumas's D'Artagnan Romances and some plot elements are very loosely adapted from his 1847–1850 novel The Vicomte de Bragelonne. This was Leonardo DiCaprio's first film following the success of Titanic (1997).

The film centers on the aging four musketeers, Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and D'Artagnan, during the reign of King Louis XIV. It explores the mystery of the Man in the Iron Mask, with a plot closer to the flamboyant 1929 version starring Douglas Fairbanks, The Iron Mask, and the 1939 version, directed by James Whale, than to the original Dumas book. The film received mixed reviews but was a financial success, grossing $183 million worldwide against a budget of $35 million.


The Kingdom of France faces bankruptcy from King Louis XIV's wars against the Dutch, causing French citizens to starve. As the country moves toward revolution, King Louis prepares for war and orders that rotten food be distributed to save money. At this point, the four Musketeers have gone their separate ways; Aramis is now a Jesuit priest, Porthos is a womanizing drunkard suffering from various ailments, and Athos has retired to his farm. Only D'Artagnan has remained in service and is now Captain of the king's guard.

Athos' only son, Raoul, aspires to join the Musketeers. At a palace festival, Louis sets his eyes on Christine Bellefort, Raoul's fiancée. He immediately plots to send Raoul to the battlefront, where he is killed soon after. Aware that Louis orchestrated his son's death, Athos renounces his allegiance to the king. After an assassination attempt on Louis by a disguised Jesuit is foiled by D'Artagnan, Louis instructs Aramis to hunt down and kill their leader. In response, Aramis summons Porthos, Athos, and D'Artagnan for a secret meeting in which he reveals he is the Jesuits' secret leader and has a plan to depose Louis. Athos and Porthos agree to join him, but D'Artagnan refuses. Athos brands him a traitor and threatens him with death should they ever meet again. Meanwhile, Louis seduces Christine, who later begins to suspect his part in Raoul's death.

The Musketeers infiltrate the Île Sainte-Marguerite prison and free a prisoner wearing an iron mask. The prisoner is taken to the countryside, where Aramis reveals he is Philippe, King Louis' brother. Their mother, Queen Anne, gave birth to identical twins. Louis XIII, to avoid dynastic warfare between his sons, ordered that Philippe be raised in the country with no knowledge of his true identity. As Louis XIII was dying, he revealed Philippe's existence to Anne and Louis XIV. Anne wanted to restore Philippe's birthright, but Louis, fearful of losing his throne, forced Aramis to seal Philippe in the iron mask and imprison him for life. Aramis wishes to redeem himself and save France by replacing Louis with the more benevolent Philippe. The Musketeers tutor Philippe in courtly life and how to behave like Louis. Meanwhile, Athos develops paternal feelings for Philippe.

At a masquerade ball, the Musketeers lure Louis to his quarters and subdue him. They dress Philippe in Louis's clothes and return him to the festivities while taking Louis to a waiting boat in the dungeons. D'Artagnan, however, sees through the ruse after Christine accuses Philippe publicly and he fails to dismiss her in Louis' manner. He and his men intercept Athos, Porthos, and Aramis before they can escape with Louis. The king is rescued as the three Musketeers get away, but Philippe is captured. D'Artagnan, upon learning Philippe's true identity, begs Louis to spare his brother. Louis, knowing that Philippe's worst fear is to be put back into the iron mask, does so and sends him to the Bastille. Christine then hangs herself, at which Louis shows no grief or remorse.

D'Artagnan summons the Musketeers to help rescue Philippe from the Bastille. Louis, suspecting an attempt, ambushes them at the prison. Louis offers D'Artagnan clemency in exchange for his surrender. D'Artagnan refuses, privately telling his comrades that he is Louis and Philippe's father from his affair with the Queen, and that was the reason for his unquestioned loyalty. As they charge one final time at Louis and his men, they are fired upon; their bravery compels the soldiers to deliberately miss. Louis attempts to stab Philippe but D'Artagnan shields him and is fatally wounded. Philippe nearly strangles Louis to death, but D'Artagnan's dying words halt him. D'Artagnan's lieutenant, André, angered by his mentor's death, swears his men to secrecy and sides with Philippe. They switch the twins again, and Philippe orders Louis locked away. He then names Athos, Porthos, and Aramis as his closest advisors.

At a small graveside service for D'Artagnan, Philippe tells Athos that he has come to love him like a father, which Athos reciprocates. Aramis, via narration, then recounts that Philippe later issued Louis a royal pardon and permitted him to live out the remainder of his life in peace and seclusion while he would ultimately be remembered as one of France's greatest kings.



In this version, the "man in the iron mask" is introduced as prisoner number 64389000 based on the number related to his namesake found at the Bastille.[5] The Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte acts as the primary residence of the king as Versailles was still early in its construction and years away from Louis establishing residence there.[citation needed]


Box office[edit]

The film grossed $17 million on its opening weekend in second place behind Titanic, another film starring Leonardo DiCaprio. It eventually grossed $56 million at the domestic box office, and $126 million in international receipts, for a total of $183 million worldwide.

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 32% with an average rating of 5.5/10, based on 41 reviews. The site's critical consensus states, "Leonardo DiCaprio plays dual roles with diminishing returns in The Man in the Iron Mask, a cheesy rendition of the Musketeers' epilogue that bears all the pageantry of Alexandre Dumas' text, but none of its romantic panache."[6] On Metacritic, it has a score of 48 out of 100 based on 18 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[7] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.[8][9]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave it 2.5 out of 4.[10] Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times wrote that while the "production values are not lacking", "Wallace, in his first try at directing, has been unable to unify the film’s disparate elements. There’s swordplay and tragedy, slapstick and romance, lots of DiCaprio for all those teenage girls--there’s everything but a consistent style. And events are handled so broadly it’s not surprising to learn that the director’s inspiration was the Classics Illustrated version of the Dumas novel he read as a youth."[5]


The film was nominated for the Best Original Score for an Adventure Film by the International Film Music Critics Award (IFMCA).[11]

Depardieu was nominated for the European Film Academy Achievement in World Cinema Award for his role as Porthos.[12] DiCaprio won a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Screen Couple for his interactions as twins.[13]


The Man in the Iron Mask (Original Soundtrack)
Soundtrack album by
ReleasedMarch 10, 1998 (1998-03-10)
LabelMilan Records
Nick Glennie-Smith chronology
Home Alone 3
The Man in the Iron Mask (Original Soundtrack)
The Lion King II: Simba's Pride
Review scores

The soundtrack was written by the English composer Nick Glennie-Smith.

2."Heart of a King"3:18
3."The Pig Chase"3:28
4."The Ascension"00:49
5."King for a King"6:21
6."The Moon Beckons"2:15
7."The Masked Ball"1:28
8."A Taste of Something"3:58
9."Kissy Kissie"2:07
10."Training to Be King"1:38
11."The Rose"2:20
12."All Will Be Well"1:06
13."All for One"4:39
14."Greatest Mystery of Life"1:49
15."Raoul and Christine"1:51
16."It is a Trap"2:45
17."Angry Athos"1:55
18."Raoul's Letter"1:00
19."The Palace"0:26
20."Raoul's Death"1:32
21."The Queen Approaches"1:51
Total length:50:34


  1. ^ "The Man in the Iron Mask". British Film Institute. London. Archived from the original on February 7, 2009. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
  2. ^ "The Man in the Iron Mask (1998) - Financial Information". The Numbers.
  3. ^ "The Man in the Iron Mask". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 18, 2022.
  4. ^ Olthuis, Andrew. "The Man in the Iron Mask". Allmovie. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
  5. ^ a b Turan, Kenneth (March 13, 1998). "All in a Masquerade". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on December 19, 2022. Retrieved 19 December 2022.
  6. ^ "The Man in the Iron Mask". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 4, 2023.
  7. ^ "The Man in the Iron Mask Awards". Metacritic. Retrieved January 4, 2023.
  8. ^ "Home". CinemaScore. Retrieved 2022-03-06.
  9. ^ "Critical Mass". Entertainment Weekly. March 27, 1998. The Man in the Iron Mask MGM/UA B+ [CINEMASCORE Audiences across the U.S.]
  10. ^ Ebert, Roger (March 13, 1998). "The Man in the Iron Mask movie review (1998) | Roger Ebert". Chicago Sun-Times.
  11. ^ "1998 FMCJ Awards". International Film Music Critics Association. 18 October 2009. Retrieved 19 December 2022.
  12. ^ "The Man in the Iron Mask". European Film Awards. Retrieved 19 December 2022.
  13. ^ Pirnia, Garin (January 26, 2017). "12 Surprising Razzie Award Winners". Mental Floss. Retrieved 19 December 2022.
  14. ^ "The Man in the Iron Mask (Music from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)". AllMusic.
  15. ^ "The Man in the Iron Mask". FilmTracks. Retrieved August 28, 2022.

External links[edit]