This is my personal reading log, created as a system to record my reading activities. I not only include my personal thoughts on books that I have read, but also retell the contents of the book (based on my understanding) so I can remember what it is all about. If you have come across this page, beware! There will be SPOILERS.
Barbie and the Three Musketeers
Type: Animated movie
Barbie stars as Corinne, a 17-year old French girl from Gascony, who travels all the way to Paris to pursue her dream of becoming a musketeer who protects the Prince.
Apparently it had been agreed with her mother that she can choose to be a musketeer when she turns 17. Corinne is the daughter of the late D’Artagnon, who was a most respected musketeer during his days. Her mother asks her to meet Monsieur Treville when she arrives in Paris; Monsieur Treville was a good friend of D’Artagnon and he currently serves the royal family as the leader of the musketeers. And so, riding on her father’s horse Alexander, and bringing along her cat sidekick Miette, Corinne journeys to Paris.
As soon as she arrives in Paris, reality sets in: nobody trusts a woman to be a musketeer, not even Monsieur Treville. Corinne became a laughingstock among the other musketeers and the people in the city. Monsieur Treville, being a nice man, advises her that being a musketeer does not only involve proper training, but one must also possess the necessary experience and must have done a noble deed for the country before being appointed a musketeer. And only members of the royal family are able to appoint a musketeer.
Not long after, Miette got into trouble after being chased down by Brutus, the dog owned by the Regent Philippe. While Corinne chases after Miette to save her, she accidentally trespasses into the Palace grounds and encountered Madame de Bossé, who is the head of the palace maids. She had just fired one maid and is looking for a replacement when Corinne arrives. Corinne, who is anxious because the palace guards are looking to charge her for trespassing, quickly agrees to be a palace maid.
There Corinne met her co-workers Viveca, Aramina and Renée, who also secretly dream of becoming a musketeer. Due to the similarity, they become good friends in no time. They also become acquainted to a senior Palace maid, Helene, who knew their dreams of becoming a musketeer.
The mysterious Helene (not much is known about her character; only that she had worked in the Palace for a very long time and she knew every nook and crannies inside the Palace) one day shows the girls a secret room where musketeers of the past did their trainings. The training room had all sorts of weapons and training equipments, and it had not been used for a long time after the musketeers’ training ground was moved away to Monsieur Treville’s office. Surprisingly, old Helene is very agile and she has the fighting skills of a musketeer. She teaches fighting skills to Corinne and her friends everyday in the old room. She also shows them the secret passageways inside the Palace.
Meanwhile, the Prince Louis’ masquerade ball is coming soon within a week, so the girls had to work extra hard to ensure the Palace is spotless.
While doing the cleaning one day, they encountered the Prince (and are reminded by Madame de Bossé that they are not supposed to talk to the Prince – because maids are supposed to pretend to be non-existent). Prince Louis is a young 18-year-old who likes to experiment with his scientific inventions. He dreams of inventing the first vehicle that will enable humankind to fly. In the story, he experiments with hot air balloons.
But apparently, someone is plotting a sabotage prior to the masquerade ball; and that person is plotting to injure – or probably kill – Prince Louis. At one time, a palace chandelier was purposefully felled and it barely missed the Prince (and of course the girls had to clean up the shattered chandelier remains). Another time, the Prince’s hot air balloon was purposefully released while the Prince was inside it; and he was in danger because he did not know how to control the balloon and almost got into an accident.
One night, on the way back to their house after a day’s work, Corinne and the girls saw the Regent Philippe and his men trying to smuggle swords into the Palace. Based on Regent Philippe’s dialogue with his men, the girls discovered that Regent Philippe is the one trying to kill Prince Louis because he wants to be the next heir to the throne. Regent Philippe is Prince Louis’ cousin, but he resents the latter for being the next heir. If Prince Louis is out of the way, Regent Philippe will be the next King of France.
Corinne and her friends quickly report the incident to Monsieur Treville, being the leader of the musketeers. Monsieur Treville does not believe that Regent Philippe is planning Prince Louis’ assassination. In fact, he is confident that the swords being brought into the Palace are fake swords which will be used during the Prince’s ‘sword dance’ on the night of the masquerade ball. He ensures the girls to leave the masquerade ball security in the hands of the experienced musketeers.
However, Corinne and her friends are very certain that Regent Philippe has brought in real swords to be used to kill the Prince during the masquerade ball. So they plan to gatecrash the masquerade ball to keep an eye on the Prince and ensure his safety. On the night of the ball – luckily it is a masquerade ball, so everyone can just hide behind their masks – the four ladies sneaked into the Palace and assumed funny false names such as Barb E. Cue and Abbie Birthday to introduce themselves.
As the ball gets on, Regent Philippe’s men began to invade the Palace and attack the guarding musketeers, including Monsieur Treville who lost his consciousness after being hit at the back of his head. Commotion erupted at the ballroom, and Corinne and her friends got into action to take on Regent Philippe’s men. In the chaos, Corinne and her friends lost sight of the Prince who has been taken away by Regent Philippe.
Regent Philippe brought Prince Louis to the secret passageways, claiming that it was created as an escape route for the royal family during dangerous times. He pretends that he wants to bring Prince Louis to a safe place. However, Prince Louis began to feel suspicious of Regent Philippe, who earlier said that he would not be at the ball, but then attends it anyway. While they were alone together, Regent Philippe draws his sword and attempts to stab the Prince, but the latter ran away. Regent Philippe chased after Prince Louis until the Prince met a dead end on the Palace rooftop.
However, Corinne managed to arrive just in time and immediately spars with Regent Philippe. With her determination and skills, she managed to take away Regent Philippe’s sword. Meanwhile, Viveca, Aramina and Renée roused the Palace guards and the musketeers, including Monsieur Treville. Monsieur Treville quickly capture Regent Philippe and his men and throw them into jail.
After the incident, Prince Louis appoints Corinne, Viveca, Aramina and Renée as the first batch of female musketeers, eventually proving that ladies can be a musketeer after all.
Discussion: Facts and Observations
Yes, yes, I know some people might say, it’s just a Barbie movie so why bother to look into the details? Yet there are some elements in this story that interest me, particularly its setting and feminist messages being embedded.
This animated movie have been possibly set in the period anywhere between the years 1622 through 1776. I find it hard to pinpoint the exact period due to some factors. However, there are facts that can be considered as clues to this matter: it (obviously) took place in France before the French Revolution, where there are still reigning monarchs; it happened at a time in which Gascony still exists (and that is before the French Revolution); the reigning monarch (or in the case of this movie, a King-to-be) is named Louis; it is set at a time when musketeers existed in France; and last but not least the date precedes the invention of the hot air balloon in 1783.
Between 1610 and 1792, France was ruled by four Kings by the name of Louis – namely Louis XIII (1610-1643), Louis XIV (1643-1715), Louis XV (1715-1774) and Louis XVI (1774-1792).
The army group known as the musketeers was created by Louis XIII in 1622, thus establishing the possibility of the story being set against Louis XIII’s reign. Additionally, Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers, was also set during the reign of Louis XIII.
However, the REAL D’Artagnan (and Monsieur Treville for that matter) – who were the inspirations for Dumas’ novel as well as this movie – actually served as a musketeer during the reign of Louis XIV. D’Artagnan died in 1673 in a battle in Dutch territory. Taking into account this movie’s setting in which D’Artagnan had already passed away and his legacies being taken over by Corinne, we can conclude that Corinne may have possibly served either Louis XIV or Louis XV.
Meanwhile, Louis XVI ruled between the years 1774 to 1792 until the French Revolution. According to historical records, he apparently disbanded the musketeers in 1776 due to budgetary problems. Due to the fact that the period between his coronation as King and the disbandment of the musketeers were too short (only two years), it becomes unlikely that Barbie and the Three Musketeers took place during Louis XVI’s reign. Thus we are down to the period during the reigns of Louis XIII, Louis XIV and Louis XV only.
Messages of Feminism
The main message in this animated movie is obviously about women's power and their wish to be on the same level as men. In fact, in one of its soundtracks, the lyrics says “We are no damsels in distress”, which bluntly shows that the movie attempts to prove some women power.
In the story, it has been repeatedly stated that there are no lady musketeer. Earlier in the movie when Corinne says she wants to see Monsieur Treville in his office to apply as a musketeer, she gets laughed at and one man jeers that she can help Monsieur Treville clean his office instead, implying that women at the time were reduced to only carry out house chores such as cleaning. However Corinne is determined to pursue her dreams “even if everyone else says it’s impossible”.
Corinne also wastes no time in expressing her anger at the Prince when he initially laughed at her dream of becoming a musketeer. Corinne does what other girlish characters in other stories will never have done: shouting at The Prince Charming! She practically shouts at the Prince, saying that how could someone who dreams of getting humankind to fly in the sky, doubt the possibility of a woman being a musketeer? And that had apparently knocked some sense into the Prince.
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