FILM / Production Notes: By Stephen Herek, the director of the latest film version of The Three Musketeers

The Three Musketeers are still doing the rounds, as they have done many times before. Stephen Herek explains his attempt to avoid the biggest pitfall of the remake: repetition.

'At first it was rather daunting because immediately you're going to be compared to the others. So when I started the project, I stayed away from the other movies and tried to develop my own point of view. Only about halfway through the pre-production process did I look at them to make sure that I wasn't copying them and I was relieved because I felt that, in tone, we were quite different.

'The version I responded to the most was the one with Gene Kelly (1948) - very swashbuckling and the fighting had a lot of excitement, almost like a dance. In Richard Lester's version (1973), a lot of it was very gruelling - realistic perhaps, but I wanted to bring back the dance, the fairy-tale quality. Richard did a wonderful job being anachronistically witty about history, but I had no such intentions. Dumas was writing fiction anyway, so we didn't pay that much attention to historical accuracy.

'What we tried to do with production and costume design, and even with dialogue, was to update, to give it a historical flavour but to be a bit hip. And where all the other versions have followed the book pretty closely, we distanced ourselves from it. Basically, I wanted to have fun - to make it a roller-coaster ride.'

(Photograph omitted)

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