The Count of Monte Cristo is a 2002 adventure film directed by Kevin Reynolds. The film is the tenth adaptation of the book of the same name by Alexandre Dumas, père and stars Richard Harris, James Caviezel, Dagmara Dominczyk, Guy Pearce, and Luis Guzman. It follows the general plot of the novel (the main storyline of imprisonment and revenge is preserved); but many aspects, including the relationships between major characters and the ending, have been changed, simplified, or removed; and action scenes have been added. The character of Sultan Ali Pasha's daughter Haydée, with whom Edmond forms a bond in the novel, and who ultimately falls in love with Edmond, is missing from this version. It was distributed by Touchstone Pictures.
Edmond Dantès (James Caviezel) and Fernand Mondego (Guy Pearce), childhood friends and sailors employed aboard the French merchant vessel Ferion, make way toward the island of Elba where Napoleon Bonaparte lives in exile, seeking medical attention for their captain, who has fallen into a coma. Acting against the orders of first mate Danglars (Albie Woodington) Dantès and Mondego land upon the shores of Elba late at night, and attempt to engage a patrolling squad of English Dragoons in the distance. Mistaken for spies, Mondego and Dantès are fired upon and pursued into the hills near the beach. After wounding several of the English soldiers, Mondego and Dantès are met by Napoleon (Alex Norton), who declares that the sailors are not his agents. Dantès explains the situation and the captain is taken to receive medical attention. Later that night, Napoleon requests that Dantès give a letter to a friend in France. When the captain dies that night, they are sent on their way. At Marseilles, Dantès is reprimanded by Danglars for disobeying orders. However, the shipping company's boss, Morrell (Patrick Godfrey), commends Dantès' bravery, promoting him over Danglars. Mondego intercepts Dantès' fiancée Mercédès (Dagmara Dominczyk) and unsuccessfully tries to seduce her. When he hears of Dantès' promotion, Mondego realizes that Dantès will be able to marry Mercédès sooner than expected.
Mondego gets drunk and tells Danglars about the letter Napoleon gave Dantès. Danglars has Dantès charged with treason and sent to magistrate J.F. Villefort (James Frain). Villefort is sure of Dantès' innocence, but discovers the addressee is Villefort's father, Clarion, a Bonapartist, whom he had denounced to secure a promotion. Villefort burns the letter and fools Dantès into submitting to arrest, then attempts to send him to an island prison, Château d'If. Dantès escapes and goes to Mondego for help, but Mondego turns on him and wounds him so he cannot escape; when Dantès asks him why he has betrayed their friendship, Mondego says that he is angry that he wants to be Dantès, despite his wealth and superior social position. Dantès is re-arrested and successfully imprisoned in the Château d'If. Meanwhile, news spreads that Napoleon has escaped from Elba. Mondego, Mercédès, Morrell, and Dantès' father go to Villefort to plead that Dantès is innocent, but Villefort rejects their efforts. Mercédès thanks Mondego for his support; but after she leaves Mondego and Villefort discuss their reasons for wrongfully imprisoning Dantès. Mercédès is later told that Dantès has been executed.
In prison, Dantès befriends Abbé Faria (Richard Harris), a priest and former soldier in Napoleon's army. Dantès learns Faria was imprisoned because he claimed not to know the location of the deceased Count Spada's fortune. Over the next fifteen years the priest educates the illiterate Dantès, teaching him mathematics, literature, philosophy, economics, hand and sword combat and military strategy. He also helps Dantès discover why he himself was imprisoned. While escaping, their tunnel caves in, mortally wounding Faria. Before dying, Faria gives Dantès the location of Spada's treasure. The priest's death gives Dantès another opportunity to escape. When the guards put the priest into a body bag, Dantès removes the corpse, hides himself in the bag and is thrown into the sea.
Dantès washes onto a desert island, where he encounters Luigi Vampa (JB Blanc), a smuggler and thief. Vampa persuades Dantès to fight Jacopo (Luis Guzmán), a traitor whom they had intended to bury alive. Dantès defeats Jacopo but makes a deal with Vampa to let him live; Jacopo vows to serve Dantès for the rest of his life. Dantès joins the smugglers for three months, leaving when they arrive at Marseilles. Not recognizing him, Morrell tells Dantès that his father committed suicide upon learning of his imprisonment and that Mercédès has married Mondego. Danglars took over Morrell's shipping company after Morrell made him a partner. Dantès goes to the island of Monte Cristo, finds Spada's treasure and vows revenge on Mercédès, Mondego and the other conspirators. Dantès becomes the "Count of Monte Cristo". He hires Vampa to stage a kidnapping of Mondego's son Albert (Henry Cavill) and then "rescues" him, inviting the boy to his residence. In return, Albert invites the count to his sixteenth birthday at the Mondegos' residence. Dantès meets with Villefort to discuss a shipment of unspecified property. Mondego meets with Villefort later that evening and mentions that his son heard Monte Cristo use the words gold, shipment, and Spada. They believe the shipment is treasure, and plot to steal it.
At the party, Mercédès is shocked to recognize Dantès, with whom she is still in love. Jacopo allows her to hide in Monte Cristo's carriage to speak with him, wanting his master to abandon his obsession with revenge and simply live his life. Dantès does not admit to being her former love, but accidentally says 'Edmond Dantès'; Mercédès had never mentioned Edmond's last name. When Danglars and his men arrive to loot the ship where the treasure shipment is supposedly stored, Dantès confronts Danglars with the police in tow; Danglars fights Dantès, who easily defeats him and reveals his true identity before having Danglars arrested. Later, Dantès gets Villefort to confess that he persuaded Mondego to kill Clarion Villeforte in return for telling Mercédès that Dantès was executed. Villefort is charged with conspiracy to murder, and realizes Monte Cristo's true identity before being led off to prison. In the transport, Villefort finds a pistol purposefully left there by Dantès; he attempts suicide, but finds that the pistol is not loaded (in a filmed alternate scene available on the DVD, the pistol is loaded and Villefort kills himself).
Mercédès secretly comes to Dantès and reveals that she still loves him. Despite his burning desire for revenge, Dantès admits that he still loves her, and after they spend the night together he decides to take Mercédès and her son and leave France. Dantès has Mondego's debts called in, bankrupting him and Mondego makes preparations to flee his creditors. Mercédès confronts Mondego, revealing she is leaving him and Albert is Dantès' son; she had only married Mondego and claimed that the boy was born prematurely to cover up his true paternity. Mondego leaves for his family estate, where the stolen gold shipment was to be taken. He finds that all of the chests are filled with dirt and sand, and that one chest contains a chess king that he and Dantès passed between each other as a sign of victory, and that Dantès has arrived to take his revenge. Albert, who has secretly followed, rushes to defend Mondego, until Mercédès appears and reveals to Dantès and Albert that they are father and son. In the confusion, Mondego pulls out a pistol and aims it at Dantès. Dantès claims that it will take more than one shot to stop him, and (alluding it would hurt Dantès more) Mondego attempts to kill Mercédès, but only wounds her as Jacopo throws his knife at Mondego, throwing off his aim. Mondego flees, but, realizing that he doesn't want to live in a world where Dantès has everything and he has nothing, returns to fight him. They fight a fierce duel, which ends with Dantès running Mondego through the heart.
Three months later, Dantès returns to the Château d'If to pay homage to the priest and promises him that he has given up on revenge and will live a better life. He then leaves the island with Mercédès, Albert and Jacopo.
- James Caviezel as Edmond Dantès
- Guy Pearce as Fernand Mondego
- Richard Harris as Abbe Farria
- Luis Guzmán as Jacopo
- James Frain as J.F. Villefort
- Dagmara Dominczyk as Mercédès Iguanada
- Michael Wincott as Armand Dorleac
- Christopher Adamson as Maurice
- J.B. Blanc as Luigi Vampa
- Alex Norton as Napoléon
- Henry Cavill as Albert Mondego
- Albie Woodington as Danglars
- Patrick Godfrey as Morrel
- Freddie Jones as Colonel Villefort
- Helen McCrory as Valentina Villefort
The Count of Monte Cristo was well received by critics with a rating of 74% based on 133 ratings at Rotten Tomatoes with critics conceding that it was an "entertaining tale of revenge reminiscent of those swashbuckling movies made in the 1940s."
At Metacritic, the film received a score of 61 out of 100, with generally favourable reviews.
The Count of Monte Cristo Official Soundtrack was composed and conducted by Edward Shearmur and performed by the London Metropolitan Orchestra.
- "Introduction" – 1:56
- "Landing on Elba" – 3:33
- "Marseille" – 4:23
- "Betrayed" – 3:52
- "Chateau d'If" – 4:26
- "Abbe Faria" – 2:24
- "Edmond's Education" – 0:58
- "Training Montage" – 1:54
- "Escape from the Island" – 7:24
- "Finding the Treasure" – 2:52
- "Invitation to the Ball" – 2:12
- "Involving Albert" – 2:47
- "After the Party" – 3:06
- "Retribution" – 5:29
- "End Titles" – 5:47
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