Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)


*** Warning: This review contains spoilers! ***

I remember being very excited to see this movie in the theaters, and then being very disappointed. After re-reading the book - and seeing the French mini-series - I actually ended up enjoying this re-watching more than I thought I would.

Of course, the original 1,462-page story is really too much for a standard 2-hour movie, so some condensing of the story and omissions of characters is expected. Making Fernand the son of a count actually turned out to be a smart way of making Mercedes into a countess without having to spend any time on Janina, which was completely left out. No Haydee! A significant omission, but one could easily suspect the she would not be needed in a Hollywood version of the story.

All told, I wouldn't be surprised if there were more characters omitted than included - no Caderousse, no Bertuccio (who was replaced by Jacopo, whose role was increased), no Benedetto, no alter egos for the Count of Monte Cristo, no Maximilian and Valentine love story, no Franz or DeBray or Beauchamp. The only young person was Albert, whose story was given an unexpected twist.

Danglar and Villefort were minimized, and Edmond's revenge on them was much less complex than in the book. Fernand was the primary antagonist, and he was made into a womanizing gambler with no sense of honor at all - quite a change from the character in the book.

Despite all the differences from the book, I really enjoyed the first part of the movie. I loved that the movie progressed chronologically, and we saw Edmond at sea, we saw the love between him and Mercedes, and we saw the hope of his future as he was promoted to captain. Edmond's imprisonment, and his developing relationship with the Abbé Faria, was portrayed so well that it was just all that much more disappointing when, after Edmond escaped, the story veered farther and farther from the book.

I thought the casting of Edmond was perfect - he made a believable transformation from naive young sailor to worldly count. Mercedes, though, didn't have the dignity or the beauty I expected. Guy Pearce was maybe a bit over-dramatic as Fernand.

The ending, though far from the one laid out in the book, was about what you'd expect from a Hollywood production. I really didn't mind, but being such a huge fan of the book, I just can't bring myself to give this movie more stars. Still, it was entertaining, and not bad.

No comments:

Post a Comment