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The Count Of Monte Cristo (A Film Review)

Updated on December 11, 2014

About The Film

This particular encarnation of the film "The Count Of Monte Cristo", presented and produced by Touchstone Pictures and Spyglass Entertainment, was directed by Kevin Reynolds and starred Jim Caviezel, Guy Pearce, Richard Harris, James Frain, Dagmara Dominczyk, Michael Wincott, Luis Guzman, Christopher Adamson, Henry Cavill and J. B. Blanc. It was released in 2002 (in the US). This is a film version of Alexandre Dumas' classic novel of the same title.

Edmond Dantes, a sailor aboard a merchant ship is falsely accused of treason and imprisoned. During his time in prison he meets someone who helps him to escape, and provides him with the means to carry out his long dreamt of revenge on his accusers.

Edmond Dantes, a sailor aboard a merchant ship is falsely accused of treason and imprisoned. During his time in prison he meets someone who helps him to escape, and provides him with the means to carry out his long dreamt of revenge on his accusers.

The Review

Alexandre Dumas' "The Count of Monte Cristo" is my favorite story of revenge. This particular version does his story proud. I've only seen a few other versions of this story, mostly television serials, and I've enjoyed every one of them. But, this one is my favorite.

The film starts off right into the friendship of Edmond Dantes and Fernand Mondego. Edmond is determined to save the life of his captain, taking steps contrary to his superior's orders, followed by his reluctant but loyal friend, Fernand. The mayhem and adventure that ensue reveal the closeness of their friendship. But very early on a shadow appears over the loyalty of Fernand to Edmond. Fernand even directly hints at it to Edmond, but he doesn't catch it. Edmond's innocence and trust blinds him to it.

As the story progresses, the charmed nature of Edmond's life shows itself as the boldness of his compassion wins him the reward that he's been striving for. Fernand hints at his jealousy of Edmond in his secret attempt to seduce Mercedes, Edmond's beautiful fiancé. Mercedes herself speaks of it as she recounts experiences in the childhood they've all known each other since. And when Edmond informs Fernand of the good fortune that will allow him to marry Mercedes, that jealousy writes itself across his face.

The character of Fernand Mondego is clearly quite self-centered with clear ideas of how life should be. All of it in his own favor. As his resentment of Edmond comes to the surface in the face of Edmond's good fortune, he runs into someone who shares his contempt for Edmond. Danglar, first mate of the ship on which both Edmond and Fernand serve, partners with Fernand in a plot to destroy Edmond.

The full extent of Fernand's darkness shows itself in his revelation to Edmond of his complicity in the destruction of his life. This effectively makes the character of Fernand rather easy to hate. His jealousy of Edmond shows him his own sense of inadequacy, especially in the face of the fact that he comes from a wealthy family and stands to inherit.

Edmond, from the beginning, right up until the point where he's locked up in the Chateau D'if, is steeped in an innocence that borders on naivete, to say the least. When Edmond was arrested and brought before Villefort, the prosecutor, his innocence of the charges was so profound that Villefort couldn't find a reason to hold him. However, Edmond, in the course of trying to save his captain's life, had unwittingly come into possession of information that could incriminate Villefort through his father, Colonel Villefort. It wasn't until the prosecutor had discovered this that he decided to have Edmond locked up. He was nearly overcome with hurt and confusion over Fernand's betrayal as he tried to escape. And while he was in the Chateau d'If, you could see Edmond's innocence and trust that everything would work out die a slow death, melting nearly into madness, as the days and weeks became years.

It is at this point that the story turns. Now that Edmond's innocence and trust in what was basically the charm that blanketed his life is gone, he meets a fellow prisoner, Abbe Faria, who ultimately becomes instrumental in his escape. Now, provided with an education from Abbe Faria and the promise of escape, having come to an understanding of the full scope of his betrayal, Edmond's innocence is replaced by an ardent desire for revenge.

Edmond escapes as a man transformed. His innocence is replaced by a determination that is matched only by his rage. When he finally returns home, what he discovers helps him to determine the targets of his revenge. And, having obtained a legacy left to him by his prison companion along with the advantage of being left unrecognizable by the years spent in the Chateau d'If, he now has the power to exact his revenge.

It's at this point that the fun begins.

It was with great satisfaction that I watched as Edmond's plans come together. During Edmond's time in the Chateau d'If, each of the contributors to Edmond's downfall had become worse and more powerful. But none of them were out of Edmond's reach. He had the power to destroy them all, and he made a great show of it. Having transformed himself into the Count of Monte Cristo, he had a perfect disguise with which to infiltrate the lives of each of his targets. And he did so, carrying out his plans with such finesse and style, it made me shiver.

But there was something that he didn't count on. After Edmond was locked up, Mercedes married Fernand. Having found this out upon his return home, Edmond had numbered her with those he targeted for his revenge. But, Edmond didn't know the reason why she married Fernand. (A nice twist to the story, to be sure.) This served as a little bit of a shocker toward the very end. Before Edmond was locked up, Mercedes had, in her own way, pledged her love to Edmond forever. And, despite her marriage to Fernand, she kept that pledge. She was the only one who recognized him when she saw him. Because she was led to believe that he was dead, she didn't believe it was him right away. But he did something that only she noticed, something unique that only she knew him by. The moment she realized it was really him, almost to the exclusion of all else she was determined to be with him. Mercedes was every guy's dreamgirl. Her whole life was defined by her love for Edmond. Her desire to be with Edmond outmatched his desire for revenge. All she cared about was being with Edmond. (Her love for Edmond was so strong, it almost broke me watching it.)

Of the few versions of this story that I've seen, this was the most fun to watch. Seeing Edmond transformed by the adversity of betrayal was captivating. Then, in the second half of the movie, seeing his plans come to fruition was equally as captivating. It's almost impossible not to share in the satisfaction of seeing Edmond's enemies go down like dominoes, watching their lives crumble around them from the first to the last.

The Recommendation

Whether you're a fan of revenge movies or not, whether you're a fan of period films or not, I would heartily recommend this movie. In fact, I would recommend it to just about anyone. It has a little bit of everything for everyone. And, if you are a fan of revenge films, if you're a fan of period films, you're in for a treat. To put it bluntly, this movie was multiple levels of awesome. If you haven't seen this movie, see it. If you have seen this movie, see it again. (I know I will.)

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    • MikeSyrSutton profile image

      MikeSyrSutton 2 years ago from An uncharted galaxy

      This movie is one of my favorites! Great review.

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