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The Count of Monte Cristo (2 disc)


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The Count of Monte Cristo (2 disc) + NEW Cyrano De Bergerac (DVD)
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Memories of past adaptations of the Alexandre Dumas novel inevitably hover over this four-part French miniseries, originally broadcast on American cable television in 1999. It's hard, for instance, to top the 1934 feature starring Robert Donat as Edmond Dantès, the sea captain who is framed and unjustifiably imprisoned in 1815 for nearly two decades. Similarly, anyone who saw Richard Chamberlain essay the same role in a memorable 1975 TV movie may remember just how exciting that program was. Yet this lengthy costume adventure starring Gérard Depardieu as the vengeful Dantès, despite a rocky beginning, is absolutely mesmerizing in its own way. Rich in detail and overlapping subplots, strikingly handsome in art direction without getting ostentatious, this particular Count comes to life after Dantès escapes his lengthy incarceration in solitary confinement. Fans of the story know what comes next: Dantès makes his way to an uninhabited island off Italy, where he locates a vast treasure he has heard about. His sudden, phenomenal wealth gives him the means to reward allies, punish enemies, and become an architect of events without anyone knowing who's behind them. While Dantès's mind is bent on destroying those who betrayed him, his deeper nature causes him to perform a vast amount of good as well. Depardieu's big, beefy, clean-shaven self is not exactly the right fit, initially, for a character supposedly subsisting on thin soup for 18 years. He quickly assumes the central role with one of his most knowing and subtle performances, ingeniously painting Dantès as a man who has exchanged one sort of prison for another, the latter his own hatred. The sharp, engaging screenplay is by Didier Decoin (The Chambermaid on the Titanic), and the production is directed with flashes of bold inventiveness by Josée Dayan, a prominent European television director. --Tom Keogh

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Cedric Derenoncourt on Sept. 22 2009
Format: DVD
MonteCristo is supposed to be a tall, slender young man, and despite the fact that Gerard Depardieu is an excellent actor, seeing Monte Cristo come out of 18 years of confinement and be about 75 pounds heavier then when he went into the "Chateau d'If" really stretches ones' suspension of disbelief throughout this well-wrought miniseries. Of course it also doesn't help that he is blond when he should be dark haired. Nevertheless this is a very good rendition of the story, with skilled actors who fill their roles with relish and panache as would be expected in a period piece and with actors playing along side the caliber of someone such as Gerard Depardieu. It was a worthwhile purchase.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Zaroff on Jan. 17 2002
This is an insult to the book. This grotesque work has nothing going for it. Written with the left foot and photographed with the right one, this is arguably one of the worst adaptation of the fabulous work of Alexandre Dumas.
Half the characters have been scraped, Depardieu is laughable at best as the revenge-driven Dantes (I mean, come on, we see a frail young guy go in the worst prison of the time, and 14 years later he reappears with Depardieu's face and after having gained 100 pounds? Give me a break here), and all this farce stinks of self-importance. For the definitive, ultimate film version of Dumas' book, see the TV adaptation of 1979, a gorgeous French/Italian/German co-production, with Jacques Weber, who IS the Count, forever in my opinion. All the dramatic tension, sadness and suspense, not to mention EVERY character from the book, are present in that version, whilst all this is completely absent here.
Avoid at all costs!! I wish I could give this piece of trash zero stars, really.
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By N. Patterson on Feb. 11 2002
This movie was very well done. The acting was incredible, and the set locations were spectacular.
There was what I feel to be a significant amount of modification to the original story. Some of these things are justified for the sake of keeping the movie from being too long (such as leaving out a few minor characters). However, it only would have taken a few extra minutes to expand on Faria's role in educating Dantes at the beginning of the film, as well as Danglars' punishment at the end (more on this shortly).
What I didn't like were the additions that were made to the script. These were done to make the count a more "friendly," likeable character, when in fact his darkness was part of the appeal of the book. I didn't like how they changed his role in giving the poison to Heloise Villefort to make him less "evil," playing less of a role in Albert de Morcerf's abduction by Luigi Vampa, his lack of a role in the building up of Villefort/Hermine Danglars' son and using him to destroy Villefort's career, taking away his intention to actually see Villefort's daughter poisoned, and cutting the amount of time Danglars' suffered in Vampa's custody to nothing (did I miss anything?). Overall, I feel that off the 4 characters that were the subject of the Count's revenge, they only stayed true to Caderousse's and Fernand de Morcerf's. The fate of Danglars' was going along great until that last scene which I mentioned. I feel that they took out any part the Count played in Villefort's misfortune. This, as I said, was probably to make the Count a friendlier character.
Another thing that perturbed me was the addition of Madame de Richardais' character. As a caveat, I must say that I really liked her character and the actress who played her.
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This French mini-series, co-produced by the Bravo network and starring Gerard Depardieu, is probably the most complete version of the Dumas tale to date. Of course, this is the classic yarn of Edmond Dantes, the sailor sent to prison unjustly, and who escapes to avenge himself on those who put him there. With solid production values and a good cast, this classic tale of romance and revenge is given a performance that is both involving and moving, with a literate screenplay that does justice to the original source.
Despite being a bit too beefy for the role, Depardieu (in his first television role) turns in a stalwart and stern performance in the title role. It's a mannered performance that contrasts to some of the more bombastic roles that he has done in American films like THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK. It might not be the definitive performance of the role, but Depardieu does justice to it.
Because of the length of the series, many of the plotlines of the original are left untouched. Of course, if you're not used to foreign films with their subtitles and the long mini-series format (this series runs almost 400 minutes), you might find yourself getting impatient with this production. However, this is a fine production that I heartily recommend.
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Gerard Depardieu's protean presence dominates several recent DVD transfers of French films inslcluding Alexander Dumas' beloved novel of love and revenge which was adapted as a mammoth, four-part French TV miniseries. "THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO" (Fox Lorber,...), is the story of sea captain Edmond Dantes (Depardieu), who, in 1815, is falsely imprisoned in solitary confinement for nearly twenty years, then escapes, finds a huge treasure, takes on a new identity, gets a girlfriend and wreaks vengeance on those who betrayed him; in the process, exchanging one kind of prison for another. Filmed on numerous European locations, this was the most-watched miniseries in the history of French TV.
Richly detailed with interwoven subplots, this movie is great looking and involving, especially for those not familiar with the novel. For starters, Depardieu's plump, beardless departure from prison where he ostensibly had only bread, watery soup and no barber, is an eyebrow raiser. The screenplay adaptation by Didier Decoin is at variance with Dumas in many other instances. Characters, relationships, events and motivations are, in some cases significantly, altered, as is the ending. And these aren't improvements. They are arbitrary changes the screenwriter chose for unclear personal reasons. After all, it was not for a shortage of running time, this version runs just over five hours. Josee Dayan, a well known European director, approaches this material with moments of brilliance mixed with apparent indifference. The end result is an intriguing, watchable epic that's a fractured reflection of Dumas' great tale, but not a true mirror image. Full frame, in French with English subtitles.
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