Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Books to Movies: The Count of Monte Cristo

Adam C. Zern shares some thoughts on the film adaptation of  Alexander Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo:

"Before I knew much of anything regarding Alexandar Dumas' masterpiece The Count of Monte of Cristo I saw the film adaptation directed by Kevin Reynolds and adapted by Jay Wolpert. I found it to be a great adventure film—emotional, engaging, and thoroughly entertaining. Then I read the book and discovered that the film was an adequate but not a brilliant adaptation of a truly marvelous book.

The book surpasses its film adaptation in every way imaginable. It's more exciting, more thrilling, more filled with intrigue, character, passion, and everything else that makes a great adventure, revenge, and redemption story. Edmond Dantes, once he becomes the Count we all know so well, is one of the most memorable characters I have ever come across—being compassionate and merciful as well as ruthless and implacable. As I turned the last page of Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo it instantly became one of my most beloved books. Simply put, there are very few other books I love as much as I do The Count of Monte Cristo.

So what of the movie? It's not a bad film, not by any measurement, even when it's compared to the book which inspired it. The film of necessity slims down characters and plot as well as 'hollywood-dizes' several relationships, most notably Mercedes and Edmond Dantes. Overall, these are wise decisions for a film adaptation, although I would have liked the relationship between Mercedes and Dantes to have mirrored the book more since I felt it was more emotionally charged and heartbreaking. Furthermore, the filmmakers should have taken more chances with some of the more complicated but interesting plot points and character relationships the book handles so well.  Above all, what the film doesn't do is leave an impression the way the book does. I think often of the book and rarely about the film even though I own it and enjoy it quite a bit.

Taken together, The Count of Monte Cristo book and film are worth anyone's time, but the original work of Alexandar Dumas is truly unforgettable. In hindsight, it was probably a good thing I saw the film first and then read the book since I would have hoped for more and possibly would have been disappointed in the film. My advice to others would be to do the same. But if you only had a choice between the two, do yourself a favor and read the book. You'll never forget it."


  1. Definitely agree. I first read 'The Count of Monte Cristo' in the eighth grade and have read it once or twice since. I highly anticipated the movie and thoroughly enjoyed it. However, the movie and the book are almost two different stories. The book is darker and deeper. You will remember how the book made you feel for a long time. The movie? You will just remember it was entertaining.

  2. I read it a year and a half ago, being a fan of the movie for a long time. I love both for their individual plots, but I feel like the two are so dissimilar in plot for the most part especially the further it goes and outcome that a lot is different.

  3. I adore this book - it's almost 1,000 pages and I still wish it was longer - but, having said that, I still think I prefer the movie version. Why? Specifically for this reason: Jay Wolpert's script gives a nice symmetry to Edmond and Mercedes' relationship that isn't in the novel. They're given that rare opportunity to make up for lost time. At the end of the film, when Mercedes lightly rests her hand on her belly as she stands behind the triumphant Edmond, I even think there's the suggestion that Albert is getting a little brother or sister.

    Although I love Haydee as a character (despite Dumas' slightly pseudo-incestuous suggestion that she'll marry a man who's, essentially, her foster father), I also feel there's something very cosmically right about Edmond and Mercedes reuniting. It probably doesn't hurt that Jim Caviezel and Dagmara Dominczyk are two incredibly beautiful people who look like they should be together.

    That said, I would love to see a film version some day that includes Max and Valentine (something a bit more realistic than Gankutsuou, that is). How is this not a more famous love story in popular culture? It's Romeo and Juliet BUT WITH A HAPPY ENDING.