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Film / Le Capitan

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Le Capitan (English title: Captain Blood) is a 1960 French swashbuckler film directed by André Hunebelle, starring Jean Marais, Bourvil (the second time in a row with the two of them after Le Bossu), Elsa Martinelli, Arnoldo Foà, Guy Delorme and Christian Fourcade. It is based on the eponymous novel by Michel Zévaco.

In the year 1616, 15-year old King of France Louis XIII (Fourcade) is surrounded and kept away from power by his mother Marie de Medici and her protégé, a minister and marshal from Italy, Concino Concini (Foà), who plans to usurp the throne. The chevalier (knight) François de Capestang (Marais) witnesses the murder of his friend, the Marquis de Teynac, by Rinaldo (Delorme), Concini's main henchman, who has been tasked to eliminate all influent nobles who could stand in Concini's way up to the throne. Capestang is saved just in time by Gisèle (Martinelli), the daughter of Duke Charles d'Angoulême, who conspires with many nobles against both Concini and the king.

Now working to unmask Concini's sinister conspiracy, Capestang will do his best to protect both the king and Gisèle, who he has fallen in love with, with the help of Cogolin (Bourvil), a jester whose life he saved.


  • Adaptation Name Change: The hero goes from Adhémar de Trémazenc de Capestang in the novel to François de Trémazenc de Capestang in the film.
  • Adapted Out: Armand Jean du Plessis, later better known as Cardinal Richelieu (though not yet made a Cardinal) appears in the novel, but not in the film.
  • Artistic Licence – History:
    • Concino Concini and his wife Leonora Galigai got the Historical Villain Upgrade treatment, trying to outright murder king Louis XIII, which they never did in real life.
    • The real Charles d'Angoulême did conspire against a French king, but he did so against Louis XIII's father, Henri IV, in 1604, and not against Louis XIII himself in 1616. He served the French Crown loyally by this point, after narrowly escaping execution in 1604.
    • Charles d'Angoulême also did have a daughter — two actually, but none of them was named Gisèle.
    • The final duel between Capestang and Rinaldo takes place on the ramparts and roof of the castle of Pierrefonds. Most of the roof and ramparts were "restored" by architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc in the "Troubadour style" (some describe it as "Neo-gothic") of the mid-to-late 19th century, which was The Theme Park Version of the "medieval" style.
  • Badass Boast/Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: Upon being trapped by Rinaldo and his goons after the meeting with Concini, Capestang is ordered to surrender his sword. His answer to Rinaldo:
    Capestang: Come and take it, assassin! So I will make you pay for the murder of the Marquis de Teynac! [the fight begins]
  • Beard of Evil: Concini is the Big Bad and sports a goatee. His ruthless enforcer Rinaldo is also bearded.
  • Big Bad: Concino Concini combines Corrupt Politician, The Starscream and Evil Chancellor.
  • The Blade Always Lands Pointy End In: Rinaldo's favorite move to kill someone is to throw his parrying dagger.
  • The Cavalier Years: The films is set in France at the beginning of the 17th century, a few years after the assassination of king Henri IV and at the very end of Marie de Medici's regency.
  • Chandelier Swing: Following his meeting with Concini, Capestang is trapped by Rinaldo and his men. He fights them even when outnumbered, and escapes using the rope of a chandelier to swing to a window.
  • Court Jester: Cogolin manages to become the favorite jester of the young king Louis XIII, which comes in handy when he has to spy on the court for Capestang in order to protect the king.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Some characters have their snarky moments. Even the young inexperienced king.
    Concini: Your Majesty receives comedians?
    Louis XIII: Better than making them ministers.
  • Death Glare: Rinaldo's default facial expression is a menacing stare, reinforced by Guy Delorme's dark eyes and beard.
  • Depraved Dwarf: Leonora Galigai's Master Poisoner is a dwarf.
  • Disney Villain Death: How Rinaldo dies. Capestang skewers him with his sword, and he falls from the castle's rampart.
  • Dirty Coward: Rinaldo is a villainous and cowardly Combat Pragmatist who prefers throwing daggers in his victims' back to fighting them.
  • The Dragon: Rinaldo is the ruthless main henchman of Concini.
  • The Dulcinea Effect: Capestang risks his life to free Gisèle out of love for her, yet he only met her twice — the first time she was taking care of his wounds and disappeared without a word, and she pretended to not know him the second time he met her.
  • The Fettered: François of Capestang is an incorruptible hero, a man of honor who defends justice and his king, despising cowardice and treachery. Concini describes him as coming from a "small, but good nobility", to which Capestang agrees, especially about the "good" part, pointing out his family's honor in his refusal to become a Double Agent for Concini.
  • Florence Nightingale Effect: Happens to Capestang as Gisèle saves him and helps him heal his wounds at the beginning. She doesn't reciprocate the feelings at first, quickly leaving him while he sleeps, and deliberately ignores him until he comes to her rescue.
  • Foreign Ruling Class: As in Real Life, Concino Concini and Leonora Galigai are Italian nobles who ingratiated themselves with Queen Regent Marie de' Medici (the Italian consort of the late King Henry IV) and gained much power at the French court.
  • The Hero: François of Capestang, an incorruptible knight who's loyal to the Crown of France and will do the impossible to save the woman he loves.
  • Historical Domain Character: Quite a few historical figures show up: Louis XIII (at age 15), Marie de Medici, Concino Concini, Leonora Galigai and Duke Charles d'Angoulême.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: While he allowed the French treasury to be pillaged and used his status as favorite of the young king's mother to become one of the most important persons in the kingdom of France, and attracted a hatred from most of the nobility that would cause his downfall as a result, it is not sure if Concini really planned to usurp the throne in Real Life. Here, he clearly wants to, makes sure young king Louis XIII doesn't get involved in important matters and even outright tries to have him murdered.
  • It's Personal with the Dragon: Capestang seeks revenge against Rinaldo, Concini's dragon, who killed his friend the Marquis of Teynac right in front of him.
  • Killed Offscreen: Concini is arrested and executed offscreen in Paris on the king's orders shortly before the Final Battle happens at the castle of Saint-Leu.
  • Master Poisoner: Concini and his wife Leonora use the services of an expert poison-maker, who happens to be a dwarf. When asked where his deadly talent comes from, he answers "Nature has played a mean trick on me. I'm not done paying it back."
  • Master Swordsman: François of Capestang is among the best swordsmen in the kingdom, and it shows in every one of his fight scenes.
  • Murder by Mistake: Luckily for Cogolin, one of Concini's guards takes the poisoned wine that was meant for the young king from his hand and drinks it.
  • Must Make Amends: Béatrice of Beaufort has been blackmailed by Concini into selling out Charles of Angoulême and his loyalists. As she realizes her detained father is already dead, she rushes to Capestang to tell him the truth to prevent a massacre at the castle of Saint-Leu.
  • Perfect Poison: The poison Concini intends for the young king to drink is undetectable and fast-acting. The unfortunate guard who treats himself to the poisoned wine dies a few seconds after drinking it.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Cogolin, played by Bourvil. Quite similar to his role in Le Bossu, he is the hero's comical sidekick, except this time he is also a jester by trade.
  • Sidekick: Much like in Le Bossu the year before, Bourvil plays a good-natured comical sidekick to Jean Marais.
  • Stepping-Stone Sword: Capestang uses daggers to climb the wall of the castle of Piefferond to rescue Gisèle, who's imprisoned inside.
  • Taking the Bullet: Taking the dagger, that is. Béatrice of Beaufort places herself in the trajectory of Rinaldo's throwing dagger so Gisèle of Angoulême won't take it. She most likely preferred to die because the burden of her treason was too much to handle.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: Leonora Galigai and Concini have king Louis' wine poisoned. Cogolin is on the verge of drinking from it when one of Concini's guards snatches the glass from him, drinks it and dies.
  • Title Drop: Upon their first meeting, Concini mockingly compares Capestang's name and behaviour to a Commedia dell'Arte archetype, the Capitan.
  • Torture Cellar: Cogolin tries to flee Concini's guards after discovering that the king's wine was poisoned. He tries to hide in a room... only to find out it's a torture chamber. Then he faints there, and wakes up tied with his naked feet above a fire and metal spikes above his head.
  • Undying Loyalty: Capestang is driven by his loyalty to king Louis XIII through and through.
  • Unholy Matrimony: The one remotely positive thing that can be said about Concini is that he and his equally wicked wife Leonora are a very mutually devoted evil couple. She happily partakes in his evil schemes, and he promises her the position of Queen while doting on her in the scenes they're together.