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Laramie Movie Scope:
The Count of Monte Cristo

A classic tale, well constructed

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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January 27, 2002 -- "The Count of Monte Cristo" is the latest in over a dozen films based on the classic novel by Alexandre Dumas dating back to 1908, and it is one of the best, with solid performances and lavish production values.

James Caviezel of "Angel Eyes") stars as Edmund Dantes, betrayed by his jealous friend Fernand Mondego (played by Guy Pearce, who starred last year in "Memento") and sent off to prison by a corrupt prosecutor, Villefort (James Frain of "Elizabeth") and others. Dantes is sent to the remote Chateau DIf, set aside for political prisoners. There, he meets Abbe Faria (Richard Harris of "Harry Potter"), a fellow prisoner, who, like Dantes, is being held because he knows too much.

Faria, a priest, educates Dantes and tries to dissuade him from taking vengeance on those who have wronged him. During his long imprisonment, Dantes is haunted by the motto carved in the prison cell wall, "God Will Give Me Justice." He loses his faith in God and becomes bitter. Only his hatred keeps him alive. Faria tries to persuade Dantes to seek justice, rather than vengeance. In the end Dantes must find the strength to deal with his inner demons as he tries to follow the teachings of Faria. Dantes eventually escapes from prison and goes to find those who wrongfully put him there in the first place.

Caviezel is effective as the determined Dantes and Pearce is excellent as the treacherous Count Mondego. Also giving a top level performance is Luis Guzmán of "Traffic" as Jacopo, Dantes' loyal right hand man. This is a meaty supporting role for Guzmán, and he makes the most of it. Also good is Dagmara Dominczyk of "Rock Star"), who plays Mercedes, Dantes' fiancée. Richard Harris does a great job with the role of Faria. Also good is Albie Woodington of "The 13th Warrior" as Danglarsi, another evil character who conspires to imprison Dantes. There are other good supporting performances as well.

In addition to some fine acting performances, the production design by Mark Geraghty ("Welcome To Sarajevo," "The Commitments") is top-notch. The film was shot mainly in Ireland, but the production also included some very large and elaborate studio sets. The cinematography by Andrew Dunn ("Gosford Park" and "Ever After") was very effective on both the interior shots and exterior shots of Ireland, Malta and other island locations. There are some well-staged sword fighting scenes, but this movie concentrates on the drama of the story and the development of its characters, rather than action. Director Kevin Reynolds does a fine job with this film. Some of his past projects, like "Waterworld," "Rapa Nui" and "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" have not turned out so well. This movie, however, is decidedly above average for a costume adventure drama. It rates a B+.

The print I saw seemed a bit dark, but I attribute that to a relatively dim projector bulb. This film hasn't made it to Laramie yet. I saw it at the Carmike Frontier Six Cinema in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2002 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)