“The Count of Monte Cristo” is one of the most popular stories in adventure literature – no wonder that the classic has been filmed many times. Two adaptations worth seeing have now appeared on Blu-ray for the first time.
+++ Opinion +++
Adventure cinema has changed over the past 20 years: since the success of Pirates of the Caribbean, Hollywood has increasingly devoted itself to genre contributions with a supernatural twist. Compelling tales of people settling differences with swords without a curse or monster involved have not entirely disappeared from the face of the earth. But they no longer have the prominence they once did. And when exceptions get to the cinema, they often play in the present and it’s about scavenger hunts like in “The Legacy of the Knights Templar” or “Uncharted“.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with that – trends come and go, but no one can take the classics away from us. Nevertheless, in view of how rare the adventure cinema of the old Swashbuckler school has become, one can look forward to every occasion to celebrate it. Exactly such an occasion is now pending: Two film adaptations of the legendary Alexandre Dumas novel “The Count of Monte Cristo” finally celebrated their Blu-ray premiere this week – once the classic of the same name from 1975 and then the more action-packed “Monte Cristo” from 2002.
» “The Count of Monte Cristo” (1975) on Amazon*
» “Monte Cristo” (2002) on Amazon*
“The Count of Monte Cristo” versus “Monte Cristo”
Director David Greene sticks quite closely to the original with “The Count of Monte Cristo”: The focus is on the intrepid seafarer Edmond Dantes (Richard Chamberlain). Shortly before he can marry his fiancée Mercedes (Kate Nelligan), he becomes the victim of a scheme and ends up in prison as an innocent man. Only 14 years later did he manage to escape. He then devises a complex plan to get revenge on his treacherous friend Fernand Mondego (Tony Curtis).
“Monte Cristo” roughly tells the same story, with Dagmara Domińczyk as the fiancée and Iron Man 3 villain Guy Pearce as the traitor. Jim Caviezel stars in the title role and is directed by Kevin Reynolds, who previously directed the hugely popular 1990s adventure classic Robin Hood: The Prince of Thieves.
However, the 1975 version focuses on the psychic duel between Edmond and Fernand. In addition, the British-Italian production, in which “Halloween” psychiatrist Donald Pleasence plays a supporting role, emphasizes the romantic component of the template. The cast is impressive, the staging is rather unambitious, but the costumes are magnificent.
Although Kevin Reynolds’ version is longer than the 1975 film, it also packs more lively set pieces and well-dosed humor into its running time. Without dragging the Dumas template into comedy, the cast is more amused here – probably also to allude to the spectacle around them.
So while the 1975 version is a classic adventure drama, the 2002 version is more like it the subtly modernized version of typical adventure fun, as Hollywood produced in abundance in its golden era. And how it is extremely refreshing now that it has become rare. Both film adaptations are worth a look for adventure fans and impressively show how differently you can tackle the same subject without making it unrecognizable!
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