December 14th, 2011
The novels of Alexander Dumas are favorites of many generations of readers because of his fascinating characters, tangled stories and dynamic plots. One of them, “The Count of Monte Cristo” was finished in 1844. Given its brilliant storyline about love and revenge in the 18th century, the novel was brought to life for the first time in 1934 by director Rowland V Lee and skillful actors Robert Donat, Elissa Landi and Sidney Blackmer. However, would it be worth it to do second film based on the same novel? Joe Leydon from Variety believes so. He states his certainty in the director of the remake, Kevin Reynolds who “proves to be fully on top of his game, infusing the grandly melodramatic permutations of the plot with firm conviction and stylish gusto” (Leydon). The old film from 1934 was given a fresh, new, compelling production in 2003 filled with a lot of breathtaking, uniquely visualized action scenes. The plot in both films is naturally no different. The tranquil life of Edmond Dantes, a 20 years old sailor on the “Pharaoh” ship, who plans to marry the beautiful Mercedes, is shattered when his friend Fernand wishes the lovely Mercedes for himself. Three other people wish to harm Dantes for different reasons. Danglars is an accountant of the "Pharaoh" and fears that if Dantes becomes Capitan, he will lose his job because Dantes notices his abuses; young assistant prosecutor De Villefort is afraid that his father’s connections with the dethroned Napoleon might be revealed, and the neighbor of Edmond’s father is jealous of his success. On the eve of Mercedes’s and Edmond’s wedding, Dantes is slandered and accused of being a Bonapartist. He is sent to the d’If castle, a prison fortress not far from Marseilles, without an opportunity to object his sentence. Dantes is informed that he will remain forever in prison. He attempts suicide, but he is unexpectedly saved by the appearance of another prisoner - Abbe Faria, who for years has dug tunnels and attempted to escape, but due to erroneous calculations has ended up in Dantes’s cell. The two misfortunates quickly become friends. Abbe Faria is a highly educated individual and discovers who sent Edmond into d’If castle and what their motives were. At that moment, he unwittingly sowed the seeds of revenge in Dantes. For six months, Abbe helps to educate Edmond in English, German and Spanish and introduces him to math, physics, history and philosophy. After a year of planning their escape, Dantes and Abbe began to dig the tunnel to freedom. Sadly, incurable illness stalls Abbe from fulfilling their plan. Foreseeing his death, the abbot reveals to Edmond his secret treasure hidden on the island of Monte Cristo. When the abbot dies, Dantes takes his place in a body bag and is thrown into the sea instead of the dead Abbe Faria. It is unbelievable he survived. After miraculously managing to escape, he becomes the very wealthy and mysterious Count of Monte Cristo, establishes himself among the French nobility and skillful plans his revenge on everyone who stabbed him in the back. He is overwhelmed by the desire to find and assassinate his enemies, especially Fernand Mondego who married his fiancée and had a child with her. The story of revenge is long, full of action and unexpected plot turns. The Count sneaks past the enemies and discovers their devastating secrets which aid him in devising their suffering deaths. The Count of Monte Cristo first wins the trust of his nemesis’s and manages to get close to them to learn their weaknesses, which will be the cause of their eventual death. Until the last minute of their life none of them realizes the source of their troubles. The transformation of the uneducated, naïve and kind sailor Edmont Dantes into the wise, aristocrat with a desire for revenge is fascinating. The actor, Jim Caviezel, uses all aspects of acting – mimics, gesture, voice, eyes - to describe the transformation. His eyes...
Bibliography: "Film criticism in the age of the Internet." Cineaste Fall 2008: 1. General Reference Center GOLD. Web. 6 Dec. 2011.
Grey, Tobias. "Debating film criticism: Europeans share opinions on the pics they review and also on the qualifications for being a well-rounded critic." Variety 29 Oct. 2007: A2+. General Reference Center GOLD. Web. 6 Dec. 2011.
Leydon, Joe. “The Count of Monte Cristo.” Variety. n. pag. Web. 24 Jan 2002.
Walker, Jesse. "Everyone 's a critic: Don 't shed any tears for cinephilia." Reason June 2002: 62. General Reference Center GOLD. Web. 6 Dec. 2011.
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