Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Movie Review: The Count of Monte Cristo

Title: The Count of Monte Cristo

Author: N/A

Genre: Action/Adventure

My Rating: ****

Age Group: 17+

Official Rating: PG-13

My Summary:

One can never be too trusting in the world of guns, swords, and Napoleon. Sometimes, one can't even trust one's best friend. "Kings to you."
And such is the case for the Count of Monte Cristo. Framed for a crime he did not commit, he is sent to a terrible prison and flogged each year as a sort of anniversary "gift". Slowly, he goes crazy. Until the stones in the floor move and out pops a crazy priest who has been in prison for a very long time. He manages to reverse the insanity of the Count, even teaching him to read and do all sorts of science and math problems. Together, the two work on an escape, their work light by lanterns contained in the skulls of the rats they catch for extra food.
When he escapes, the Count runs into more trouble. He almost loses his life, but then becomes incredibly rich and creates a rather unique name for himself. All this time, he is driven by one thing: revenge on the man who destroyed all that he had.
He uses people, plans things carefully, and finally sets up two epic scenes where he faces those who did him wrong. Then, it is concluded.
But not without great action. Beautiful sword fights and even a few guns are involved in this movie. And the acting: very very well done.
Catch Phrase: "Kings to you."
Memorable Quotes:

"God has everything to do with it. He is everywhere."

"God. Can I never escape Him?"
"No. He is everywhere. Even in a kiss."

Word of Warning: There are, I believe, three awkward scenes in all.
1) In the beginning of the movie a man asks a girl, who is courting the man's friend, if she will "make love" with him, assuring her that the man she is courting will never know. (She refuses.)
2) Later, the man she was courting becomes her fiance and they go swimming, presumably with no clothing on since she was wearing a dress and it is not visible in the shot that gives only the detail of two people's silhouettes swimming in an ocean. In a scene soon after that, they are seen on the beach, girl barely visible behind rocks and the man leaning over her with no shirt on, kissing her. Then still later they seem to be in a cave of some sort and have clothes on (though they might be undergarments. it's hard to tell as this is semi-medieval) and are talking. Somehow they get distracted and kiss. The kiss doesn't end and the girl leans back, falling to the ground, with her fiance not a centimeter behind. SPOILER: it is revealed 16 years later that the girl gave birth to her fiance's son (presumably resulting from this beach scene).
3) Still later, a married woman (former girl-on-the-beach) finds her old fiance and kisses him. He pushes her away (wanting to continue with his plan, which did not include her), but she manages to get into his house and ends up spending the night in his bed--with his most willing consent. The scene closes on them kissing while standing near a window, then opens with her sleeping in the bed next to him. Later, the butler comes in and it is clear (though not shown) that she has no clothing on.

The interesting thing to note is what Stacy told me. She told me that the actor for the fiance was Catholic and refused to do some scenes that the directors had originally planned. The directors worked around it and so even the scenes we see are not all that graphic and we have the assurance of knowing that it is not the case that we didn't get the right camera view, but that nothing really "happened". Perhaps they only seem graphic because of the time period.

A man is arrested and given a gun. He sticks it in his mouth, shuts his eyes, and pulls the trigger. Nothing happens. It was empty. Nonetheless, that does not take away from the fact that the man did try to commit suicide.
A married man openly admits to his wife that he has other mistresses, remarking that "Paris and me is not a recipe for fidelity".

My Thoughts:
The reason for a rating of four instead of five is all the content in the "Word of Warning" section and the slightly weak ending. Because as great as the epic is, the man who drives the whole thing is driven by something dark: revenge. Not justice, but revenge. And it is this revenge that causes the end to be so weak. For a man who has been driven by revenge for 16 years, or 2:30 hours of our time, how is he supposed to just reorder his life suddenly? With a wife and his 16 year old son and a great friend for a butler, sure, but something is missing. It's hard to swallow, but in defense of the film the Count's last words on screen are "You were right, Priest."

Still, if you're looking for a great story full of action, determination, twists and turns, set in the Napoleonic time, you would find it very hard not to like this movie.


Kings to you, Count.

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