The Count of Monte Cristo (2002 film)

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The Count of Monte Cristo
The Count of Monte Cristo film.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byKevin Reynolds
Produced by
Screenplay byJay Wolpert
Based onThe Count of Monte Cristo
by Alexandre Dumas
Starring
Music byEdward Shearmur
CinematographyAndrew Dunn
Edited byStephen Semel
Production
company
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures
Release date
  • January 25, 2002 (2002-01-25)
Running time
131 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$35 million
Box office$75.4 million[1]

The Count of Monte Cristo is a 2002 American historical adventure film that is an adaptation of the 1844 novel of the same name by Alexandre Dumas. It was produced by Roger Birnbaum, Gary Barber, and Jonathan Glickman and directed by Kevin Reynolds, and stars Jim Caviezel, Guy Pearce, and Richard Harris. It follows the general plot of the novel, with the main storyline of imprisonment and revenge preserved, but many elements, including the relationships between major characters and the ending, were modified, simplified, added, or removed. The film was met with generally positive reviews from critics and grossed $75 million.

Plot[edit]

The Azure Window of Gozo appears in the background of some scenes (picture from 2003)[2]

In 1815, Edmond Dantès, second mate of a French merchant vessel, and his friend Fernand Mondego, a representative of the shipping company, seek medical help on Elba for their ailing captain. Napoleon Bonaparte is in exile on the island. Having kept his guardians from killing the pair, Bonaparte privately requests that Edmond deliver a letter to the mainland in exchange for his physician’s services. Edmond is sworn to secrecy, but Fernand witnesses the exchange.

In Marseille, the company owner Morrell commends Edmond for his bravery, promoting him to captain over first mate Danglars, who had given Edmond explicit orders not to land at Elba. Edmond thereafter states his intention to marry his girlfriend, Mercédès, whom Fernand lusts after.

Envious of Edmond’s good fortune, Fernand and Danglars inform on Edmond regarding Bonaparte's letter, which reveals information that could be used to aid Bonaparte's escape from Elba. Villefort, the city's magistrate, has Edmond arrested, but initially prepares to exonerate him until he learns the letter is addressed to Villefort's father, Monsieur Clarion, a Bonapartist. He burns the letter and orders Edmond imprisoned in the Château d'If. Edmond escapes from Villefort and turns to Fernand for help, but Fernand instead turns him over to the pursuing gendarmes. Edmond is consigned to the island prison and its sadistic warden, Armand Dorleac. In exchange for persuading Mercédès that Edmond has been executed for treason and that she should take comfort in Fernand, Villefort has Fernand assassinate his father.

Six years later, Edmond is startled in his cell by an eruption in the ground revealing another prisoner. Abbé Faria, who has been imprisoned for 11 years after refusing to tell Bonaparte the whereabouts of the treasure of Spada, has dug an escape tunnel. However, upon seeing that he is in Edmond's cell, he realizes he dug in the wrong direction. In exchange for Edmond's help digging a new tunnel, Faria educates him in numerous fields of scholarship and swordsmanship over the next seven years. Faria is seriously injured in a tunnel cave-in, but before dying he gives Edmond a map to the treasure and implores him to use it only for good. Edmond escapes the prison by switching himself for Faria's body in the body bag, and is thrown into the sea, pulling Dorleac along with him, whom he drowns.

Wading ashore, Edmond encounters a band of pirates preparing to execute one of their own, Jacopo. Their leader, Luigi Vampa, decides justice and entertainment would be better served by pitting Edmond and Jacopo in a knife fight. Edmond wins but spares Jacopo, who swears himself to Edmond for life. They both work with the pirates until they arrive in Marseille.

Edmond learns from Morrell, who does not recognize him, that Fernand and Danglars were complicit in his betrayal, and that Fernand and Mercédès wed shortly after Edmond was imprisoned. With Faria's map, he and Jacopo locate the treasure of Spada on the island of Montecristo. Using his newfound wealth and advanced education, Edmond establishes himself in Parisian society as "The Count of Monte Cristo", and swears vengeance on those who conspired against him.

Edmond ingratiates himself to the Mondegos by staging the kidnap and rescue of their son, Albert. He lures Fernand, Villefort, and Danglars into a trap by letting slip the notion that he has located the treasure of Spada, and is shipping it through Marseille. His plans result in Danglars being caught red-handed in the act of theft, and Villefort being tricked into revealing his role in his father's death; both are arrested. Fernand is brought to financial ruin as Edmond has his gambling debts called in. Even though his appearance has changed dramatically, Edmond is recognized by Mercédès. Eventually, she softens him, and they rekindle their relationship. As Fernand prepares to flee, Mercédès reveals the only reason she married him was that she was pregnant with Albert, who is actually Edmond’s son.

Edmond ambushes Fernand in the ruins of his family's country estate, having led him to believe that the treasure of Spada would be waiting for him. Albert intervenes when Edmond attempts to kill Fernand, but Mercédès tells him of his true parentage. Fernand attempts to flee, but changes his mind upon realizing that Edmond has everything and he has nothing, and challenges Edmond to a fight to the death; Edmond prevails. During the encounter, Mercédès is shot in the shoulder, but the wound is not fatal.

Edmond purchases Château d'If, intending to raze it, but instead leaves it standing as he swears to Faria to use his vast resources for good.

Cast[edit]

Filming locations[edit]

About 80% of the movie was filmed on the island of Malta, where the capital of Valletta stood in for Marseilles.[3] The fortified city of Vittoriosa, part of the Grand Harbour of Valletta, was chosen for its strong resemblance to the Port of Marseilles in the early 19th century.[4] The waterfront stretch of Vittoriosa known as Xatt Ir-Risq and Fort St Elmo featured specifically in the "Marseilles" scenes.[5] The Grand Harbour had the added advantage of being one of a very few ports deep enough to allow the huge period sailing ships brought from the UK to dock.[3] Saint Mary's Tower on the island of Comino was used for the exteriors of the Château d'If; the Azure Window of Gozo also makes an appearance in the scenes set on the island of Montecristo.[6][2]

In Ireland, locations included Powerscourt Estate, which stood in for the estate which Dantès buys and where he hosts his grand introduction to Paris society, while Kilruddery House appears as Mondego's home early in the film.[7][8] The climactic fight scene between Dantès and Mondego was filmed near Slane in County Meath.[8]

Reception[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes the film holds an approval rating of 73% based on 143 reviews, with an average rating of 6.71/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "Though it may not reach for any new artistic heights, The Count of Monte Cristo is an old-fashioned yet enjoyable swashbuckler."[9] At Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 61 out of 100, based on 33 critics, indicating "generally favourable reviews".[10] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.[11]

Roger Ebert gave the film 3 stars out of 4, writing, "The Count of Monte Cristo is a movie that incorporates piracy, Napoleon in exile, betrayal, solitary confinement, secret messages, escape tunnels, swashbuckling, comic relief, a treasure map, Parisian high society and sweet revenge, and brings it in at under two hours, with performances by good actors who are clearly having fun. This is the kind of adventure picture the studios churned out in the Golden Age--so traditional it almost feels new."[12]

Soundtrack[edit]

The Count of Monte Cristo OST
Soundtrack album by
Released25 January 2002
Recorded2001
GenreSoundtrack
Length53:03
LabelRCA

The official soundtrack for the film was composed and conducted by Edward Shearmur and performed by the London Metropolitan Orchestra.[13]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
SoundtrackNet3.5/5 stars link

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-09-18.
  2. ^ a b Khomami, Nadia (8 March 2017). "'It's heartbreaking': Maltese mourn collapse of Azure Window arch". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 8 March 2017.
  3. ^ a b Producers' Creative Partnership (2010-11-14). About Malta and the Making of "The Count of Monte Cristo". Vimeo. Retrieved 2020-06-17.
  4. ^ www.visitmalta.com. "Filming Locations". Retrieved 2020-06-17.
  5. ^ www.visitmalta.com. "Filming Locations". Retrieved 2020-06-17.
  6. ^ Borg, Jean Pierre; Cauchi, Charlie (2015). World Film Locations: Malta. ISBN 9781783204984.
  7. ^ "Movies". powerscourt.com. Retrieved 2020-06-17.
  8. ^ a b "The Count of Monte Cristo". visitwicklow.ie. Retrieved 2020-06-17.
  9. ^ The Count of Monte Cristo at Rotten Tomatoes
  10. ^ "The Count of Monte Cristo Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2008-02-27.
  11. ^ "Find CinemaScore" (Type "Count of Monte Cristo" in the search box). CinemaScore. Retrieved August 9, 2020.
  12. ^ http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-count-of-monte-cristo-2002
  13. ^ "The Count of Monte Cristo (Soundtrack)". Retrieved 2009-02-07.

External links[edit]