From the BLACKNESS before the first images, we hear a young
woman's tortured SCREAM, muffled by her own will. We see her
mouth, open in agony; her face, beaded with sweat. Her name
is ANNE, and she is Queen of France. She lies in
A ROYAL BEDCHAMBER
The royal DOCTOR kneels at the foot of her bed; her own royal
mother grips her hands...
On the opposite side of the huge bedchamber, and separated
from the queen's bed by an artistically painted screen, are
royal ADVISORS sweating and anxious for any word to take to
their king. They wince as the Queen moans again in the pain
Her fingers claw out for help, but her Doctor ignores her
need to be touched and comforted; he is concerned only for
the baby. Only her PRIEST, FATHER BELLES, sits at her head,
stroking her hair gently and rapidly whispering prayers.
The head is born! One arm... the
other arm... it is a boy!
The advisors, disregarding the Queen's privacy, scurry around
the screen to see the doctor lift the beautiful baby, wet
with birth. The mother -- the Queen -- is still in agony,
yet she struggles to lift her head.
I shall tell the king!
I shall tell him!
They hurry for the door. But their race to be first to bring
this great news to the King is interrupted as the Queen emits
another cry; it surprises the doctor.
He kneels again to examine the Queen.
Another...? It is another!
The joy vanishes from the faces of the advisors. They look
gravely at each other, as they hear a second BABY'S CRY.
A DARK COURTYARD - NIGHT
A door groans open in a hidden corner of the palace courtyard
and into the darkness steps a dashing figure. His face is
hidden in shadow, but we know from the silhouette of his
cloak and plumed hat that he is a MUSKETEER.
He carries an OBLONG BASKET.
A carriage is just rattling onto the flagstones of the
courtyard. The Musketeer steps into its interior, with a
sharp word to the driver --
The whip CRACKS and the carriage plunges into the night.
EXT. ESTABLISHING THE ISLAND FORTRESS PRISON - DAY
On a gash of rock thrusting upward from the sea along the
southern coast of France stands an island fortress, a prison,
like an Alcatraz of the Mediterranean. Just off a coastline
renowned for its beauty, the fortress is horrible and
foreboding. As we SUPERIMPOSE:
TWENTY-TWO YEARS LATER
INT. THE FORTRESS PRISON
With the camera as our moving POV, we survey the prison. It
is a horrible place: dungeons where prisoners lie in their
own filth; corners where jailers rut with unresisting captive
women; long twisting corridors lined with cells, from which
prisoners whimper, or moan in madness. Up a long winding
staircase our POV moves; we push through the barred window of
a cell... It is somewhat cleaner than the rest of the places
we've seen, but still a prison. We PAN the cell.
And we see a man. A MAN IN AN IRON MASK. It is terrifying,
to think of anyone imprisoned in this way. We push in on his
eyes... They are blue, childlike.
A greasy jailer -- the prisoner's KEEPER -- puts his face to
the barred window of the door, and speaks with bored cruelty.
You dead yet?
MAN IN THE IRON MASK
EXT. ESTABLISHING PARIS - DAY
EXT. PARIS STREET - NIGHT
Through the narrow streets of the old city gallops a dashing
figure, his cloak flying behind him and catching the
moonlight, his horse's hooves clattering along the
cobblestones as he dodges the beggars living in the filthy
shadows. He is a magnetic sight, riding the horse as easily
as if they were racing across an open field and not through a
cluttered street, and guiding the stallion as if its grace
and power came not from the animal but from the rider.
Sitting lightly in the saddle is