Get ready for adventure. Count on revenge. Back to the classic story of the “Count of Monte Cristo”!
They say, revenge is a dish best served cold. It may take months, or even years, for the revenge to occur, but when it is enacted there will be no shortage of surprises. Vengeance, revenge, and retribution are common themes in artwork. Age-old short stories, novels, movies, TV shows, and plays that have enchanted audiences for centuries, the thirst for getting never even gets old. One of the most infamous revenge stories is that of Alexandre Dumas the count of Monte Cristo, the French novel first published in 1844. The story involves a man who has been wrongfully imprisoned. After escaping, he comes into a huge fortune. He thus creates a new identity for himself to reintegrate into society under this new appearance in order to deceive his enemies and demand the retribution he so desires. A classic tale that has been adapted countless times and remains one of Dumas’ famous works next to The three Musketeers.
the count of Monte Cristo has been adapted for the big screen several times, with the first film dating back to a silent 1908 feature starring Hobart Bosworth as Edmond Dantes, the man wrongfully imprisoned and bent on revenge. Since then, the story has gone through several iterations that include TV shows. The very first begins in 1956, and although most versions of the story are very loose adaptations of the original story, the heart of it all remains. Last month, on January 25, the latest film adaptation celebrated its 20th anniversary. the count of Monte Cristo with Jim Caviezel, Guy Pearce, Richard Harris and Dagmara Dominczyk.
So, with the endless supply of adaptations available, what makes this 2002 film worth considering? What are the main differences between the film and the novel? And why is revisiting the swashbuckler genre so exciting?
The Count of Monte Cristo 2002 Trailer | Jim Caviezel | Guy Pearce – YouTube
As said before, most of the versions that have been made are loose adaptations of the original novel, and this 2002 feature film is no different. The film opens with the landing of Edmond Dantès (Jim Caviezel) and his friend Fernand Mondego (Guy Pearce) on the banks of Elba, the very island on which Napoleon Bonaparte is exiled. The pair landed on shore to seek medical attention after their ship’s captain caught a brain fever. After making their presence known to the British soldiers patrolling the shores, a brief fight ensues, but the exiled leader himself spares the two men’s lives.
In return for helping their captain, Napoleon asks Dantès for a favor. He delivers a letter to an old friend once back in Marseille, France. Edmond agrees and after their captain is killed on Elba, the men are free to go. Once back in Marseille, Edmond is relieved to see his girlfriend Mercedes (Dagmara Dominczyk) again and is made captain of her ship, the Pharaoh, after his courage in seeking medical attention for his sick captain. Much to the dismay of his second, Danglars (Albie Woodington) becomes furious with this new promotion.
With such good news at the feet of Dantès, he is carried away at the moment and wants to marry Mercedes even if he does not have the money to afford a ring. Mercedes and Edmond have known each other since they were children, and even though they are in love with each other, Fernand is jealous of their romance, and with his constant need to consume alcohol, his so-called friendship with Edmond is on the brink. of collapse. It is revealed that Fernand witnessed the exchange of letters between Edmond and Napoleon, and after consulting Danglars, a plot is hatched to get rid of Edmond and seek fortune for themselves.
Edmond is later arrested for treason after the contents of the letter are reported to authorities. Edmond himself never opened the letter nor is he able to read the letter as he is illiterate. After a meeting with Chief Magistrate Villefort (James Frain), it looks like Edmond is going to be freed and set free, but everything changes when Edmond names who the letter was to be delivered to; a M. Clarion, who is a Bonapartist and who happens to be Villefort’s father. Edmond is then arrested and is about to be taken to the infamous prison named Château d’If but narrowly escapes and retreats to Fernand’s residence for help. There he learns the truth and is arrested and taken to prison.
For the next thirteen years, Edmond is locked up in prison and forgotten by the rest of the world. He knows his innocence, and after six years of solitude, a strange man enters his prison cell that will change his life forever. A prisoner named Abbe Faria (Richard Harris) tries to escape from the Castle by digging under the concrete slabs and accidentally enters Edmond’s cell. This man gives Edmond hope as they hatch a plan to escape their chains and free themselves. The two men have a lot in common, one being that they were wrongfully imprisoned. Faria teaches Edmond everything in education, economics, reading and writing, and even fighting techniques. A friendship becomes beneficial for young Edmond as he ages in prison.
During one of their study sessions, Edmond tells Faria the circumstances of his imprisonment, and after their conversation he learns the full background of why he was betrayed. This fills his spirit with revenge, and seeking revenge for the life that was stolen from him, Edmond is eager to escape and start his life over. What follows is a daring escape, and an opportunity arises for Edmond when Faria gives him a map showing where to find the legendary treasure hidden on the island of Montecristo. After successfully escaping from the Château d’If, Edmond is finally free and meets a group of smugglers who offer him a deal. He must fight one of their smugglers, and if he wins, he will join the ranks of the smugglers, and if he loses, he will be dead.
Choosing to skip the rest of the plot details, I’ll rush into the next few parts. Edmond and his new friend Jacopa (Luis Guzman) find the treasure, and it is here that Edmond changes his identity and forms The Count of Monte Cristo, a wealthy man who is well-educated and has a way of mingling with the elites. where he travels. A total of 16 years have passed since Edmond’s arrest, and from that point on, Edmond hatches his plan to exact revenge on those who wronged him long ago. He learns that his long-lost love Mercedes has married Fernand and has a son named Albert (Henry Cavill).
The rest of the film details Edmond’s plans to steal those of everything, the same one that was done to him. You can guess what happens next, but it’s more impressive to see it for yourself than for me to write about it.
The Count of Monte Cristo (2002) – An Epic Rebirth – Documentary – Film by Jim Caviezel – YouTube
Kevin Reynolds directed The Count of Monte Cristo, and his vision takes us right back to the early to mid-19th century. The set designs are wonderful to watch, and even the dialogue feels appropriate for the times. What’s fascinating about the film is seeing young Edmond’s abrupt transition into the calm, calculating Count of Monte Cristo. He has such a complicated plan that the movie doesn’t seem to allow the audience to get deeply involved in his devious plan. The majority of the film focuses on the disastrous life Edmond is forced to live, while the second half feels empty and leaves us wanting more.
It’s a minor complaint that departs profoundly from the novel this movie is based on. Watching a period movie is one of my favorite genres because you get to be transported to another era. Speaking of which, what are the major differences between the novel and the movie?
Differences between the novel and the film
Let’s list some of the main differences present in the film. That’s not to say the movie is any less than the novel because the movie works on its terms, but, in all fairness, the movie could have benefited from an extended runtime by expanding the planning and execution of the Edmund’s revenge.
- Mercedes and Edmond never get back together like they do in the movie.
- Edmond is not tortured during his detention at the Château d’If.
- Fernand commits suicide once the truth is revealed.
- Edmond and Fernand are just casual acquaintances instead of best friends, as the film suggests.
- The exact revenge plot is a big plotline in the book, while it feels like a stuck-together subplot that doesn’t get enough screen time to have a deep impact.
- Albert Mondego is Fernand’s real son, and not Edmond’s son, as the film tells.
The Count of Monte Cristo – Mercedes recognizes Edmond Dantès – YouTube
In all, the count of Monte Cristo is a joyous adventure film that pays homage to the 1844 novel. Screenwriter Jay Wolpert admitted to condensing the novel considerably and turning it into a love story to satisfy audiences venturing to see the film. The film offers awe-inspiring scenery, a love story we can all enjoy, and action that has us relishing in anticipation as Edmond seeks revenge. Whenever the movies can take us back to the days of the crooks, we have a great time. Just look at the resounding success of Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
Even still, the count of Monte Cristo is a wonderful adventure movie that should have been longer and bigger, but the result is nothing less than pure entertainment. While Jim Caviezel gained international popularity in The passion of Christ, it is a role in which he sinks perfectly. It was 20 years later the count of Monte Cristo is a story that will continue to be told to future generations. We love Edmond Dantès’ story and will always support him when we see him again.