Enkomputiligis Don HARLOW

The Count of Monte Cristo

by Alexandre DUMAS père and Jay WOLPERT

reviewed by Don Harlow

One of those books I always meant to read (there are thousands of them). Actually, back when I wrote my age with one digit I did read a chapter about Dantès and the Abbé Faria working at escaping via tunnel from the Chateau d'If. Still, that did not give me any idea of why they were there, or what they would do when they got out ...

Edmund Dantès (Jim Caviezel, here sporting the same open-mouthed look he had in Angel Eyes), a good-hearted but essentially innocent young sailor, convinces his friend Fernand Mondego (Guy Pearce) and several shipmates to land on Elba to seek help for their captain, struck down with brain fever. Elba, of course, is where sometime French emperor Napoleon is imprisoned, and in return for the use (ineffective) of Napoleon's personal physician, Dantès promises to take a personal letter from him to an old buddy in Marseilles. The letter is, of course, part of Nappie's preparations for the Hundred Days, and Dantès, of course, manages to tick off both the ship's first mate (by getting promoted over him) and Fernand (by winning the love of the fair Mercédes [Dagmara Dominczyk]); these two less than admirable souls denounce him to Villefort, the government prosecutor. Villefort is a thoughtful and insightful man who immediately realizes that Dantès is indeed an innocent, but -- for his own reasons -- he finds it necessary to ship Dantès off to France's finest oubliette, the prison of the Chateau d'If on (or in) an insland in the Mediterranean, and then informs all and sundry that Dantès has been executed.

Pacing is decent in this film; Dantès' incarceration is not overlong (except to him, for whom it lasts a decade and a half), particularly after the Abbé Faria (Richard Harris, taking a vacation from the Headmastership of Hogwarts in "Harry Potter") tunnels up into his cell, enlists him in a plan to tunnel out of the chateau, and teaches him everything he could have learned at Harvard had he ever gone there. Eventually, of course, Dantès (though not the Abbé) manages to escape, acquire a right-hand man Jacopo (Luis Guzman), find the greatest treasure in all france, and, no longer a helpless naif, set out to get his revenge against Fernand, Danglars, Villefort and Mercédes, who, one month after vowing eternal love for him, let herself get married off to Fernand and in short order bore him a son, Albert. The latter part of the movie is about Dantès' revenge -- which, he finds, is not all it's cracked up to be, especially when you don't have all the facts about the case.

The one flaw in the film that I found -- and it may have been the fault of Alexandre Dumas père rather than the movie-makers -- was Fernand's motivation. I would have liked to believe that he was merely a weak soul who gave way to temptation; I can sympathize with that. But Fernand, whom Dantès originally considered a good friend, turns out to be a thoroughgoing rotter and villain, one of those people that Jack Vance once described as "just plain bad". (1)

All in all, quite a decent film, I thought. See this one at your local theater.

Piednoto / Footnote

(1) In "Rumfuddle".

Aliaj Recenzoj / Other Reviews