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The Count of Monte Cristo (1844)

af Kevin Reynolds (Director), Jay Wolpert (Screenwriter)

Andre forfattere: Gary Barber (Producer), Roger Birnbaum (Producer), James Caviezel (Actor), Jim Caviezel (Actor), Dagmara Dominczyk (Actor)13 mere, Alexandre Dumas (Original story), Andrew Dunn (Cinematography), James Frain (Actor), Mark Geraghty (Production Design), Jonathan Glickman (Producer), Luis Guzmán (Actor), Richard Harris (Actor), Guy Pearce (Actor), Tom Rand (Costume Design), Stephen Semel (Redaktør), Edward Shearmur (Music), Michael Wincott (Actor), Chris Womack (Redaktør)

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
309363,355 (4.09)19
An innocent man, Edmond Dantes, is imprisoned for years on a godforsaken island while the friend who betrayed him takes Dantes ravishing fiancé for himself. Dantes eventually escapes, recovers a fortune in buried pirate treasure, transforms himself into the mysterious Count of Monte Cristo, and methodically goes about exacting his revenge.… (mere)

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The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)

Jim Caviezel – Edmond Dantes/The Count of Monte Cristo
Guy Pearce – Fernand Mondego
Richard Harris – Abbé Faria
Luis Guzmán – Jacopo
James Frain – Villefort
Albie Woodington – Danglars
Dagmara Dominczyk – Mercedes
Michael Wincott – Armand Dorleac
Henry Cavill – Albert Mondego
Alex Norton – Napoleon

Screenplay by Jay Wolpert, based on the novel of Alexandre Dumas père
Directed by Kevin Reynolds

Universum Film, 2002. 126 min. 1.85:1 (16:9 anamorphic). Dolby Digital 5.1. Bonus: documentaries, deleted scenes, commentary by Kevin Reynolds.

==============================

An original and powerful interpretation of a great book

The key word here is “interpretation”. This is not Dumas’ “Monte Cristo”. It is an independent work of art merely based on the great original. It is rash, however, to proclaim that “Dumas would have been ashamed” of this movie version. I doubt that. The man who readily adapted his novel for the stage and even launched a newspaper Le Comte Monte Cristo would almost certainly have appreciated imaginative adaptations for the screen.

Of all movie versions of this tremendous novel, this is the one that has the least to do with the original. This is not, of course, an indictment on the novel. It merely is a proof that movies are works of art on their own. This one has been harshly criticised by zealous fans on the novel, bookworms who read books much like the caterpillars devour leaves: without thinking at all. I have said it before and I will say it again. If you want a movie that follows a book exactly, then read the book and make the movie in your head. A book is a book, a movie is a movie, each must stand or fall on its own merits. They may serve to illuminate each other, but they most certainly don’t have to. Never has a great book saved a lousy movie or vice versa. Screenwriter Jay Wolpert has made a reply to all who accused him of infidelity to Dumas that can’t be bettered: “Thank you. My job was not to stay close to the book.”

This version of “Monte Cristo”, by far my favourite, cuts at least half of the original plot and is none the worse for that. The story becomes tighter and far more dramatic. There are countless changes in the characters, virtually all of them at least as valid as the original ideas. Some, indeed, are distinct improvements. For example, Fernand is made not just a count’s son from the beginning, but Edmond’s best friend. Danglars isn’t a supercargo but a first mate, fiercely resenting Edmond’s promotion to captain (from second mate, not first as in the novel). Thus their hatred is better explained and easier to believe. Edmond himself is made illiterate and more ingenuous in the beginning, accepting the traitorous letter from the insistent Napoleon himself, not as a dying wish of his captain. Thus his transformation into the sophisticated and merciless Monte Cristo is all the more effective. Villefort’s hiring Fernand to murder his Bonapartist father is an entirely original and very effective touch. So is Armand Dorleac, the sinister and sadistic warden of the Chateau d’If. Albert is revealed to be Edmond’s son (this is alluded to in the 1975 version, but no further use is made of it; “I have never understood why Dumas didn't use that”, Jay Wolpert says with a smile). Such changes make the story more exciting yet more plausible. When Dumas asks us to believe that Fernand somehow turned himself from a Catalan fisherman into the heir of one of the oldest families in France, he asks just a little too much even by the lax standards of the adventure novel.

Monte Cristo’s fight with God is there in the novel, but it is wonderfully developed in the movie. Here Edmond is made deeply religious from the very beginning: he doesn’t turn to God only when he has been imprisoned for so long that all hope has vanished. The gradual loss of faith is superbly conveyed on the screen. Compare, for instance, Edmond’s bold defiance of Dorleac that God is everywhere and sees everything with his curt words to Faria “There’s no talk of God in here, priest!” Note also the moving scene when Edmond watches the “God will give me justice” inscription carved on the wall in his cell, but no longer has the strength, or the desire, to carve it still deeper. When he entered his cell, the inscription was barely scratched on the wall. When Faria asks him about it, Edmond replies unambiguously: “It has faded, just as God has faded from my heart.”

Monte Cristo’s regaining his faith in the end, his reconciliation with Mercedes, and his decision to use his wealth for good deeds from now on have been viewed as weaknesses of the script. I don’t see why they should be. It is simply implied that Edmond’s corruption into the Monte Cristo monster is reversible. Why not? After all, however much he may change, it is a superficial change. Edmond can never altogether escape from his essential goodness. And, after all, in the end God does give him justice.

The movie is, in fact, as close to perfection as possible, from the tremendous performance of Jim Caviezel in the title role to the soundtrack of Edward Shearmur, from the lavish sets and costumes to the accomplished direction of Kevin Reynolds. Jim Caviezel is particularly outstanding. The transformation from the naïve and good-natured Edmond to the worldly but cold Monte Cristo is the heart of the story and Caviezel does a fantastic job with it. It is not just the costumes and the make-up that change. It is the whole body language, the tone of his voice, the very look of his eyes. It is a chilling and mesmerising spectacle to watch. For my money, Caviezel is right up there with the best in this most difficult feat of acting, the character transformation (not development!), the classic example being Al Pacino in The Godfather, Part I. (Come to think of it, there are several fascinating parallels between Michael Corleone and Monte Cristo. Michael, too, begins as a naïve youngster, thinking he would never be part of the familial affairs, and ends as a deadly instrument of vengeance to his enemies, only he avenges wrongs done, not to himself, but to his family.)

The supporting cast could hardly have been better. Guy Pearce as the nasty “best friend” Fernand, Luis Guzmán as the faithful knife master Jacopo, James Frain as the proverbial social climber Villefort, Albie Woodington as the scheming Danglars, Dagmara Domynczyk as the lovely and far from stupid Mercedes, Michael Wincott as the sinister and sadistic Dorleac, Alex Norton as Napoleon himself, no less, and especially Richard Harris as the learned Abbe Faria: they all deliver excellent performances, infusing every word and gesture with meaning. This was one of Harris’ last roles and thus has a special poignancy. The death of this boisterous Irishman in 2002 was a great loss to the silver screen. He is a superb Faria. To take but one example of pure acting genius, note his slight pause and the following “Of course!” when Edmond asks him if he would teach him to read and write. And who can forget the affecting death scene with one of the many flashes of profound wisdom in the dialogue:

Faria: Here is your final lesson – do not commit the crime for which you now serve the sentence. God said, “Vengeance is mine.”
Edmond: I don't believe in God.
Faria: It doesn't matter. He believes in you.

Last and least, a few words about the “competition”. I am not much impressed with it. The 1998 mini series with Gerard Depardieu reduce the first two parts of the story, the accusation and the Chateau d’If, to mere flashbacks – a fatal dramatic mistake that makes Edmond’s transformation utterly unconvincing. The rest is presented in a haphazard way difficult to follow. Nobody from the cast, the overpraised Depardieu included, is especially memorable. All characters are a good twenty years older than they are in the novel and the whole thing looks like set in something between a retirement home and a lunatic asylum. The movie has its few moments of moving beauty, but its monstrous total length (ca. 380 min) drags much more heavily than the full version of the novel. The 1975 TV movie with Richard Chamberlain is one of the better achievements. It packs a remarkable amount of the novel in only 100 minutes and marvellously avoids the melodramatic end. Chamberlain gives a stellar performance in the title role; his Count is scarily intense. He completely puts Depardieu to shame (to be fair to the Frenchman, he was handicapped by the script in the first place). The 1934 “classic” with the handsome but awfully mediocre Robert Donat is only of historical interest. Why it is highly regarded by many people is beyond me. The less said about it, the better. ( )
1 stem Waldstein | Sep 26, 2015 |
131 minutos
  Miquinba_F | Mar 3, 2012 |
Flere brugere har rapporteret denne anmeldelse som misbrug af betingelserne for brug. Det er derfor fjernet (vis).
  snvids | Jul 30, 2007 |
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» Tilføj andre forfattere (9 mulige)

Forfatter navnRolleHvilken slags forfatterVærk?Status
Reynolds, KevinDirectorprimær forfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Wolpert, JayScreenwriterhovedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Barber, GaryProducermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Birnbaum, RogerProducermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Caviezel, JamesActormedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Caviezel, JimActormedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Dominczyk, DagmaraActormedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Dumas, AlexandreOriginal storymedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Dunn, AndrewCinematographymedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Frain, JamesActormedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Geraghty, MarkProduction Designmedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Glickman, JonathanProducermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Guzmán, LuisActormedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Harris, RichardActormedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Pearce, GuyActormedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Rand, TomCostume Designmedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Semel, StephenRedaktørmedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Shearmur, EdwardMusicmedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Wincott, MichaelActormedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Womack, ChrisRedaktørmedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet

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An innocent man, Edmond Dantes, is imprisoned for years on a godforsaken island while the friend who betrayed him takes Dantes ravishing fiancé for himself. Dantes eventually escapes, recovers a fortune in buried pirate treasure, transforms himself into the mysterious Count of Monte Cristo, and methodically goes about exacting his revenge.

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