The Dumariolles: when “The Three Musketeers” blend into Web culture

The Dumariolles: when “The Three Musketeers” blend into Web culture

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“To all those who maintain that the work of Alexandre Dumas père was in great need of “being dusted off”, “modernized”, we would like to say a few words to you, behind the Carmelite convent, at noon, 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. . Bring your witnesses. » It was through a provocation in a duel – which is a direct reference to that which d’Artagnan and the three Musketeers launched into in the serial novel of 1844 – that the members of the Dumariolles, an online community of fans of the author , begin their manifesto.

Are Athos and d’Artagnan really just friends? More than a “big joker” , isn’t Porthos above all a “sugar baby fashionista” ? Could Aramis have been a fan of Beyoncé? For two years, the Dumariolles have studied seriously but, not without humor and panache, have multiplied the discussions, illustrations and writings in homage to the four Dumasian heroes. In April, in the 13th arrondissement of Paris, you even had to queue for more than an hour to hope to pass a glance at the opening of their exhibition-sale titled “L’Avant-Garde”, which put the spotlight on works produced by the group’s artists.

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A character-centered exploration

Born around the summer of 2021 on a Messenger group before becoming a small 2.0 literary salon, on a Discord server the following year, the Dumariolles initially brought together a handful of artists who loved The Three Musketeers and its sequels, Vingt ans after and Le Viscount de Bragelonne . “I was already participating in communities of fans of romantic literature and historical novels and I wanted to reread The Count of Monte Cristo . My friend, the screenwriter Rutile, strongly advised me to read The Three Musketeers before doing so . I talked about it a lot on my networks and I ended up dragging a few friends from the Gobelins school,” says Juliette Brocal, character designer in animation and cartoonist.

With Rutile and the illustrator Manon Cansell, they ended up bringing together a hard core of around twenty artists. Thirty-year-old creators, many of them professionals in comics, illustration and animation. “We [also] come from different fandoms [circle of fans] where we greatly cultivate the transformative aspect of our passions with the writing of fanfiction or the creation of fanart,” specifies Juliette Brocal. When we hold a salon at the Dumariolles, it is therefore with memes, debates with speckled foils to determine, for example, which actor best embodies Richelieu or to evoke secondary characters like Mordaunt, Milady’s tragic son, and Raoul, offspring disputed Athos.

“Aramis Thirst Trap”, by Edouard Trefert.

In online fan culture and fanfiction, a large part of the exercise consists of lending relationships to characters independently of what the author had chosen; to extrapolate details and weave narratives into the interstices left vacant by the original creators. Like the unwavering friendship between Athos and d’Artagnan, which many Dumariolles prefer to read as a romantic relationship. “If we reread Athos as a closeted homosexual rather than as a big misogynist, this explains much more his actions in the novel and his behavior towards his wife. Its dimension will be much more powerful,” defends Rutile, for example.

“It’s not the adventure or action aspect that interests us in The Three Musketeers, I’m even a little fed up with the affair of the ferrets, which we’ve seen again and again ,” she says. . On the contrary, we prefer to focus on the psychology of the characters and the drama between them; Dumas described rich and complex protagonists. » From this, “we can imagine and work on a lot of things, transposing their personality traits into different situations,” she assures.

Representation of a scene between d’Artagnan and Athos by the artist Lou, taken from Rutile’s novel.

As evidenced by La Confusion des sentiments and other titles of French films , a pastiche novel self-published by the screenwriter, in which our swashbucklers live in the 2020s and maintain romantic and erotic relationships with each other. The Dumariolles claim a freedom of interpretation which, without denoting the original material, “highlights women, racialized people, and LGBT themes” , according to its manifesto.

For another vision of masculinity

The latest film adaptation of Dumas’ work, by Martin Bourboulon, whose second part, Milady, was released on Wednesday December 13, did not really have the luck of seducing the Dumariolles. This diptych which “intends to revisit the swashbuckling film by giving it a touch of modernity” , according to La Croix , and whose first opus “brings the genre back towards cheerfulness and humor, in a united and joking boy scout spirit, mixed with a sensitive virility between handsome kids from the Canal Saint-Martin” , according to the cinema section of the World , is even the antithesis of their philosophy.

“Martin Bourboulon’s film is a battle for contemporary masculinity while Dumas, who made The Three Musketeers a story about the death of chivalry and a certain masculine ideal, offered a more interesting and modern vision ,” argues Rutile. The Musketeers are beautiful as gods but are not paragons of heroism and morality, quite the contrary. » For the Dumariolles, Dumas is certainly very loved, but often unloved. To this new blockbuster, their circle largely prefers The Musketeers , a BBC series dating from 2014, or the comic strip Milady de Winter , by Agnès Maupré.

Among fans of the Musketeers – the Pastiches Dumas site lists hundreds of fanfictions and adaptations over decades – the Dumariolles approach is increasingly attractive: their Discord server now hosts around two hundred members, French-speaking or English-speaking , coming from different countries, whether specialists or new converts. The Dumariolles, for their part, now hope to tackle the entire “dumasverse” and explore other novels such as The Count of Monte Cristo or La Reine Margot .

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