Who doesn’t love a good swashbuckler? We’ve all probably seen some version of The Three Musketeers, but have you all been introduced to Edmond Dantes, the wronged penniless sailor from the Alexander Dumas’ novel? (Ironically, Dumas is also the author who penned the Musketeers’ adventures.) This is a deeper, more complicated story than those escapades, although I don’t know that the feature film got it totally right in comparison to the novel, but nevertheless, the movie is one of the best good old-fashioned swashbucklers to this day.
The Count of Monte Cristo (2002) Film Review
As the son of a penniless fisherman, Edmond Dantes (Jim Caviezel) is not a wealthy young man, but he’s a happy one. Second mate on a prestigious cargo ship, he’s fiercely loyal to his friends, and his captain. Through a series of events, he comes to a secluded island where imprisoned Napoleon Bonaparte resides. The British closely guard the exiled French ruler and should anyone set foot on the island, they shoot first. Somehow, Edmond manages to obtain the services of a physician to attend their dying captain. While on the island, Napoleon hands a letter off to Edmond, which he swears is completely innocent. Edmond takes the letter, and promises to deliver it. Impressed with his loyalty, the ships owner decides to make the young, naïve Edmond its next captain much to the dismay of the first mate Dangler.
Bursting with the news, Edmond takes his excitement to his fiancée Mercedes (Dagmara Dominczyk). While his wealthy best friend Fernand Mondego (Guy Pearce) is more jealous of Edmond’s good fortune. Privileged with every earthly comfort he wants, Mondego has always been jealous of Edmond’s contentment, plus he holds the lovely Mercedes’ heart. This inspires Mondego to report Edmond to the authorities for the letter. The prosecutor, Villefort (James Frain) arrests him, and sends him to the prison where they “forget” prisoners, Château d’If. For fourteen years, this is where Edmond remains, all while fellow prisoner Abbe Faria (Richard Harris), bestows on him great knowledge.
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Even if you’ve not seen this feature film, everyone “knows” how the story plays out. Right up front, I’m just going to admit; I absolutely love this movie. Its messages as regards forgiveness, get a little lost, but there is genuine repentance in the final scene. Everything else about this production is scrumptious. From the costuming to the structures, it’s simply grand. In fact, Edmond’s whole “transformation” is actually one of the most exciting parts of the movie. Each time he meets a person from his past we’re a little more enthralled; just watching his elaborate plans take shape is a thrill. Helping him in all of this is his companion Jacopo, who is hilarious. His straight-forward honesty and fierce loyalty is one of the most admirable traits in the movie.
Seeing this movie is probably among the first I saw that was “grown-up” and I fell in love with the romance, adventure and excitement of it all. Jim, Guy, Dagmara and even a very young Henry Cavill are all marvelous in their respective roles. Jim plays Edmond perhaps more naïve than he needs too, but it isn’t because he lacks confidence in the role, quite the contrary. Once he becomes the Count, he exudes confidence. On the downside, sometimes the movie may lag a bit; this is especially noticeable during the imprisonment. Filmmakers do seem to rush through the enemy “take-down” during what’s supposed to be about a two-year timeframe; though some of these scenes are actually the best.
The script has a lot of intertwining poignant truths. God tells us in scripture that “vengeance” is His, but it’s true that sometimes in order to recognize a truth, we must first walk the path in order to learn the lesson. This hero’s journey is fraught with unhappiness, but the outcome makes him a better person.
You can rent or own, digitally, The Count of Monte Cristo on Amazon Video
Content: one couple has pre-marital sex resulting in a pregnancy – there are a couple of far out shots of nude bodies. Mondego is a ladies man and constantly engages in extra-marital affairs; a married woman later sleeps with the man she truly loves. There is some swordplay including a few more graphic deaths; at least two men are run through with a sword. The film is PG-13.