Alexandre Dumas (pere)'s 1844/45 novel. Young Edmond Dantes is wrongfully imprisoned by jealous rivals. After 20 years in the island prison of Chateau d'If he escapes, retrieves buried treasure; and disguised as the rich, mysterious and magnetic Count of Monte Cristo, insinuates himself into the lives of those who betrayed him, and then takes revenge. Sex, drugs, beautiful women, murder. Robin Buss' 1995 translation is the best.

Dumas relies heavily on older romantic literature as well as on Byron (e.g., Childe Harold, Don Juan). Edmund Dantes as the Count is an archetypal Byronic figure, both savior and outsider. His strength is in his individuality and isolation.

"Madame, I do not eat muscatel grapes."
The Count of Monte Cristo is a brilliant novel written by Alexandre Dumas (pere). The novel follows the life of Edmond Dante, a man wrongfully accused by a rival lover of his fiance Isabelle and is sent to an island prison of Chateau d'If for twenty years. In the island prison he meets an old man (a Cardinal) who tells him a secret about a cavern full of riches on a small island of rock. They become great friends and even dig a tunnel between their two cells. When the older man dies, Edmond Dante climbs through the tunnel and switches places with the dead man, he climbs into the bodybag himself and is thrown into the water surrounding the island. Luckily he had a sharp object with him to cut himself out of the bag. He then gets picked up by a pirate ship and makes himself useful. Later he gets to the aforementioned pile of rocks and finds riches beyond your imagination. He re-enters society then under the disguise of the Count of Monte Cristo and rewards those that were good to him in the past and takes revenge on those that betrayed him.
There is also a movie based on the book coming out in Feb 2002 by Disney Studios. The star, Jim Caviezel, is an alumn of my high school so he decided it would be cool to take us all to a pre-showing of the movie. I've never read the book so I can't compare, but in the movie he is in Chateau d'If for 13 years rather than the 20 years mentioned earlier by Dorian. I don't want to give anything away, but it was a great movie one that I'm certain I'll go see once its out to the general public. The acting was good. Unfortunately since the star was in the audience with us my school felt that it would be appropriate to chear extremely loudly everytime something cool happened so it was hard to hear some of the better parts.

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The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)

Genre: Historical Thriller

Running Time: 128 min

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Directed............................. Kevin Reynolds
Screenplay........................ Jay Wolpert

James Caviezel............... Edmond Dantes
Guy Pearce....................... Fernand Mondego
Richard Harris................. Abbe Faria
James Frain..................... Villefort
Dagmara Dominczyk..... Mercedes
Luis Guzmán.................... Jacopo

The Count of Monte Cristo is the film translation of Alexandre Duma pere's 1844 novel of the same title. The themes of the story are so raw and thoroughly mined by Dumas as to make a Hollywood director weep for joy. It is a tale of love and revenge. Plain and simple.

The story begins as young sailor Edmond Dantes' ship comes in, both literally and figuratively. As he returns to port following the death of his captain, he is granted command of the Pharaon which grants him the financial freedom to finally wed the love of his life, Mercedes. Not everyone is happy for him, however. His shipmate and good friend Fernand Mondego is also deeply in love with Mercedes and jealous, despite his own riches, of Edmond's success. He and the local Magistrate, de Villefort, who also has good reason to fear and hate Edmond, conspire to have him accused of treason and summarily incarcerated. Without getting a chance to see his father or Mercedes, Edmond is thrown into the Chateau d'If, a cold, dark island prison where France keeps the prisoners it is ashamed of.

While in prison, Edmond meets the Abbe Faria, a wise old man, educated in the ways of the world. He agrees to teach Edmond to read, dissemble, reason and fight with unparalelled skill in return for his assistance in his planned escape. Edmond quickly learns everything the Abbe teaches him, eager to escape his brutal prison and put his new skills to use. Tragically, the Abbe dies in an accident and, on his deathbed, tells Edmond of a fortune hidden on the Island of Monte Cristo. Edmond contrives his own escape and, with the help of a young pirate named Jacopo, goes to claim his treasure. He discovers a fortune beyond compare, but more importantly, a means to exact his revenge.

The movie translation is fairly true to the novel up to a point. The problem that Kevin Reynolds, best known for Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, faced was the scope of Dumas' novel. The friends I saw the movie with, both of whom had not read the book, said they enjoyed it thoroughly. However, it is simply impossible to truly capture Dantes' cold, implacable revenge in a two hour film. The novel is well over a thousand pages and superbly detailed. There is no way, short of making a 5 hours movie, to capture all the intricacies of Edmond's plans for Fernand and de Villefort. For those who have read the novel, the final third of the movie is a fairly disappointing, as everything comes to a head all of a sudden and seems to rush through to the end. On the upside, Jim Caviezel and Guy Pearce give excellent performances as Edmond Dantes and Fernand Mondego. Both are extremely talented actors. Caviezel is probably best known from Frequency and Angel Eyes, while Pearce can be seen in L.A. Confidential and Memento. The supporting cast does an equally superb job, especially Richard Harris as the Abbe Faria. The film also has a very artsy cinematic quality. The contrast between the worlds inside and outside the Chateau d'If is splendid. Reynold's use of color and the intricate and beautifully designed sets make the film a real pleasure to watch.

The soundtrack, done by Edward Shearmur, can be found easily enough. The music was, in fact, fairly good. No pop hits or anything, but it supported the movie quite well. If you enjoyed this movie, I would also reccomend seeing The Man In the Iron Mask, which was excellent despite starring Leonardo DiCaprio, anything starring Guy Pearce, particularly Memento and L.A. Confidential, and Jim Caviezel's Frequency. All are superb movies.


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