THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO

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Based on one of the most enduring classics of all times, The Count of Monte Cristo was destined to garner enough attention from the beginning. What was left to be seen was how well placed this attention was. Kevin Reynolds undertakes a mammoth task to bring to life one of the super sized books of Alexander Dumas to life. The book by Dumas was highly detailed and left a vivid impression on the readers for years. So to recreate its magic on screen was a big risk as comparisons with the written material could not be avoided. What we as viewers should understand at the beginning is no movie can possibly accommodate the amount of details and the entire episode without making any cuts into a single narrative. It would be exhaustive and flat out boring. So the director had to take some cinematic liberties for which we ought to consider him.

Count Of Monte Cristo works mare as highlight to the exhaustive narrative of Dumas and everyone who has read the book will be disappointed with its lack of depth but then again the cinematic medium has its limitations. The Movie follows the journey of a young sailor, Edmund Dantes (Jim Caviezel) from a voyage wherein he has a chance encounter with Napoleon Bonaparte. Bonaparte asks a favor of him to deliver a letter when in Marseille and he reluctantly agrees. Once ashore and now promoted as the captain of his ship, Dantes sets about to marry his childhood sweetheart, Mercedes (Dagmara Dominczyk). However fait has other plans for him as he is falsely accused of Treason by a jealous friend Fernard Mondego (Guy Pierce) and a judge named Villefort (James Frain). Dantes is thrown into a dungeon where he befriends a priest Abie Faria (Richard Harris). Faria teaches him the way of life and educates him. He also provides him with a map to a hidden treasure and also an escape route from the Dungeons. Once out of the Dungeon, Dantes sets out to extract revenge on the wrong doers who had robbed him of his life and taken away everything that he held dear.

The basic premise remains the same as would be expected. The count of Monte Cristo, however scores as a cinematic experience. If one is able to shrug off the detailed source material, the merits of the movie will reveal itself. The biggest plus would be an ensemble cast who look and do the part. Jim Caviezel is outstanding as Edmund. His transformation from a mild mannered country boy to the shrewd and merciless Count is beautifully shown with enough time given to the character to flesh it out. His prime adversary Mondego is again beautifully essayed by Guy Pierce, who as we all know, has forgotten to set a wrong foot forward. Richard Harris is engrossing as Faria and his husky voice is captivating. It serves the notion of Faria to perfection.

Count of Monte Cristo is beautifully filmed with some really thought after visuals and poetic feel to it especially in the second half. It has a perfect run time which is neither too short nor too long for the liking. It’s just about enough to tie in all the ends of the basic premise and provide each of the characters with enough flesh for us to actually care for them. The costume design is another job well done for the team and the direction is spot on. The action sequences, whatever little is there, are done with conviction. The background score though was a letdown.

For all those who haven’t read the book, Count of Monte Cristo should be an above average watch. It has everything going for it. An ensemble cast of good-looking people who act just as well, sweeping visuals, an engrossing plot, what more could we ask for???

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