Write down the date: Friday, October 21—it’s one you won’t want to forget. For, this date will mark the first time that the age-old adventure story of The Three Musketeers will be made into a film!… this year.
Truth be told, the movie has been made countless of times, in countless different ways. There have been the straight-forward adventure tales, the family friendly animated versions, and, of course, the comedic re-imaginings. Every generation, every group of people gets their own version of their stories. They’re classics for a reason.
And while few other literary achievements reach the degree of The Three Musketeers retell-itude, there are plenty of timeless stories that have also been remade in each of these (and other) film genres. Here are a few of the more notable, diverse iterations:
The Straightforward: There have been a handful of big screen attempts to capture the original spirit of the Redwood Forestian who robbed from the rich and gave to the poor. Two of the more recent examples would be the 2010 Russell Crowe-starrer Robin Hood and the 1991 just-hearing-the-title-gets-Bryan-Adams-stuck-in-my-head film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, starring Kevin Costner.
The Straightforward: Faithful Peter Pan film incarnations have spanned many a decade. The movies date back to 1960, with the somewhat frivolous, but fondly remembered filmed stage production starring Mary Martin. More recently, another family-oriented version of the movie came out, starring Jeremy Sumpter in one of his earlier big screen roles.
The Animated: This is one of those occasions where the animated movie might be held in even higher regard than any of the live-action adaptations. In 1953, Disney released its take on Peter Pan, which featured Captain Hook as the second greatest Disney villain to date (I’m a Scar man).
The Comical: In the case of Peter Pan, the story itself is pretty innately comical. So the “comedy” version of this story might actually not even be the most comical. In fact, there’s an awful lot of sincerity in it. But Robin Williams’ stardom in the 1991 movie Hook keeps it remembered as a fun and funny new take on the story.
The Straightforward: Naturally, the first ones we think of here are the 2009 Robert Downey, Jr., starrer and its upcoming sequel, A Game of Shadows. However, no one is more famous for playing the unstoppable detective than South African actor Basil Rathbone, who played the character in fourteen different films. A close second: Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC’s recent Sherlock series.
The Comical: Ah, last year’s Jack Black comedy version of the Jonathan Swift story. 2010’s Gulliver’s Travels may have been well cast, but it probably won’t go down in history as one of the great literary adaptations.
The Straightforward: Clive Owen and Keira Knightley brought the legendary king back to the big screen in 2004, in the particularly gritty and “demystified” (as it is often billed) King Arthur. It may not capture the whimsical mood of the original King Arthur stories of indomitable swords and magical kingdoms, but it is a raw, human take on a timeless tale.
The Animated: The Sword in the Stone is more along the lines of the old fables. Disney produced this animated feature in 1963, telling a tale of the young orphan Arthur who rose to his fate as the rightful king of England.
The Comical: Does it really need to be said? One of the silliest, strangest, and most beloved comedy films of all time: Monty Python and the Holy Grail could not exist if it weren’t for the legends of King Arthur and Camelot. Of course, I don’t know how many vicious bunnies were in the original tale…
Don Quixote of La Mancha
The Straightforward: Don Quixote really found his footing on television, rather than in film. In 2000, a Don Quixote TV movie was produced, starring the great John Lithgow as the delusional adventurer, and Bob Hoskins as his sidekick, Sancho Panza. The film and its two amazing leads captured the spirit of the character as created by Miguel de Cervantes. Slightly less simplistic is the 1972 musical adaptation Man of La Mancha, which features legendary actor Peter O’Toole with an enormous, prosthetic forehead (in which he dreams impossible dreams).