Last Updated on 6th May 2020 by Sophie Nadeau
Set in France and based on potentially real events, The Man in the Iron Mask is a film which is based on a novel by Alexandre Dumas and has been remade quite a few times over the years, and most recently in 1998. Here’s the best of The Man in the Iron Mask Filming locations (and the best part is that many of them are within an easy day trip of Paris!)
Basic synopsis: Based on the third Three Musketeers novel by Alexandre Dumas, The Man in the Iron Masks tells the story of the three older musketeers enjoying life in early retirement. Meanwhile, d’Artagnan maintains a post as protector of a young King Louis XIV (yep, the one from the Palace of Versailles and who is played by none other than Leonardo di Caprio in the 1998 film!)
However, all is not well for too long before things begin to go wrong. For starters, Louis sends Athos’ son, Raoul, to a certain death in battle on account of trying to get his hands on Raoul’s fiancée, Christine. As a result, the three older musketeers turn on d’Artagnan in a plot to get revenge on the king… And thus the rest of the film ensues.
Was the man in the Iron Mask real/ based on true events?
As you might imagine from the movie’s title, the film attempts to unmask the ‘Man Behind the Iron Mask’. Viewers should note that the film has many more similarities to the 1939 Man in the Mask film to the actual Dumas novel.
Truth be told, the Man in the Mask was a very real, not to mention incredibly mysterious, prisoner during the time of Louis XIV. Perhaps most astonishingly, though some crypto-analysts claim to know the identity of the man or woman behind the mask, no one is still quite sure.
You see, the prisoner became pretty his lifetime as ‘the prisoner wandering around with a mask on the battlements of the prison of Savoy’. Rumours swirled and circulated over the years, including the pretty juicy rumour (which is the one Alexandre Dumas utilised in his book) that Louis XIV had a secret twin.
Twins were confusing to the succession of the throne, and as they could not be killed, the rumour was that the second twin was forced to live as a prisoner. The key to solving the mystery was hidden away in a cipher in a book known as The Great Cipher. The much more likely reality is indeed that the prisoner was probably a military man (Vivien de Bulonde), who was a military man who fled his troops when the enemy were closing in.
Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte
One of the movie locations that features as a prominent backdrop for much of the film is that of the Château of Vaux-le-Vicomte. Easy to reach as a day trip from Paris, the Château was used to film much of the Man In the Iron Mask.
Before there was the Sun King’s Palace of Versailles, there was the magnificent mansion of Chateau de Vaux le Vicomte. A property so lavish, and so luxurious that the King of France himself grew envious of its owner and threw him into jail for the remainder of his life.
In the film, the grand Château is used to film scenes of the King’s Palace, and a particularly grand scene featuring over 250 extras was filmed on site. Another notable scene from the Man In the Iron Mask filmed at Vaux le Vicomte is a piglet chase.
Château de Fontainebleau
Once a royal hunting lodge, Fontainebleau (much like Versailles) was transformed into a great palace with its own papal apartments. Home to a horseshoe staircase where Napoleon gave his last formal command to his troops and a lake where you can rent a rowboat by the half-hour, there’s plenty of reasons to check out Fontainebleau on your next French adventure.
In Man in the Iron Mask, the Château of Fontainebleau was used to film the scene where the people of Paris start rebelling and protesting after being given rotten food. In the movie, the courtyard was used as a market place.
As I’m sure you well know, medieval Paris was largely ripped up and destroyed before being rebuilt during the Haussmann renovations of the 19th-century. As such, the medieval quarter of Le Mans was instead used to film scenes of Paris from the 17th-century in Man in the Iron Mask.