The Iron Mask

Die eiserne Maske
In 1638, a son is born to French king Louis XIII. In fact, twin brothers are born. Seeing the second heir as a threat, Cardinal Richelieu orders his aide Rochefort to take the second twin to Spain. To keep the secret, Constance, D’Artagnan’s girlfriend, is stabbed to death by Milady de Winter. Twenty years later, D’Artagnan has become the young king Louis XIV closest confidante. Rochefort kidnaps the young ruler and replaces him with his twin, who has been raised to tyranny. He places the real king in an iron mask to disguise his identity and imprisons him. D’Artagnan calls on his old comrades-in-arms, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, to free the king from his dungeon … The film is a late example of the ‘cinema of attractions,’ with a title card summing up the plot as ‘mystery – secret passages – villainy.’ Exterior scenes flooded with sunlight alternate with interiors and night shots that were sparingly illuminated with natural light sources such as torches and candles. This produced the chiaroscuro style of the old masters Rembrandt and Rubens, making the flash of daggers that much brighter. Even when it was made, The Iron Mask could be said to be a piece of cinematic nostalgia.
by Allan Dwan
with Douglas Fairbanks Sr., Leon Bary, Stanley J. Sandford, Gino Corrado
USA 1929 123’