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The Count of Monte Cristo

"The Count of Monte Cristo"... romance and adventure.

THE CLASSIC tale of a man wrongly implicated, thrown into prison and his brilliant strategy for revenge. One that is known to many. Alexandre Dumas would never have imagined that his masterpiece would fascinate so many, especially film makers, even right until the year 2002. And so you have the enth celluloid version of this famous story with today's superior technology, gorgeous locations, and incredible camera work (Andrew Dunn) to recreate the world in France in the days of Napoleon Bonaparte. Touchstone Pictures/Spyglass Entertainments' ``The Count of Monte Cristo," is perhaps not too faithful to the novel. Many parts in the film are made visually more cinematic. Which is fine if you consider the kind of interest it generates with each passing scene. You do know what is going to happen but to see it so well recreated has its own appeal. There are moments the film drags but it would do well to remember that it is set in the 1800s - a few lags here and there are acceptable.

Two friends Edmund Dantes (James Caveizal) and Fernand Mondego (Guy Pearce) land on the island of Elba where Napoleon Bonaparte lives in exile. The two arrive there to save their captain, who is suffering from brain fever - but he dies. Napoleon, the shrewd manipulator, takes Edmund aside and asks him to deliver a supposedly innocent letter to a friend in Marseilles. And also makes him promise not to utter a word about it to any living soul. Which also means Fernand, with whom he has shared everything till then.

But Fernand has seen Napolean giving him the letter and is angry when Edmund does not tell him about it. This and the fact that Edmund has the beautiful Mercedes (Dagmara Dominczyk), as his fiancée are most galling for Fernand, who wonders why Edmund should lead such a charmed life. When opportunity presents itself, he betrays him with the hope of marrying Mercedes. Thus Edmund is implicated on false charges of treason against the country and is imprisoned at the Chateau D'If, a lonely dungeon surrounded by the sea, with absolutely no hope of escape. There in the depths of his misery he befriends Abbe Faria (Richard Harris), an old army captain who is there for 11 years for refusing to tell about a hidden treasure. Abbe teaches fencing, economics, politics, maths and the art of strategy. And so after 13 years, there literally is light at the end of the tunnel and Edmund escapes. He goes in search of the treasure to the island of Monte Cristo and returns as the mysterious, fabulously rich Count to wreak vengeance on all those who betrayed him.

Directed by Kevin Reynolds with screenplay by Jay Wolpert, the film has some good moments of suspense and swashbuckling action - the romance of the time, of lords and ladies, of duels and horse driven carriages, of castles and moats and of a world quite out of place in these days of the internet and mobile phones! While Guy as Fernand, does a good job as the villain, James as Edmund is sometimes wooden. Worse, in his post prison scenes he isn't exactly unrecognisable! If anyone looked closely, they probably could have recognized good old Edmund! But then if you didn't look too closely with a magnifying glass for the flaws, this is an enjoyable film.


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