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The Count of Monte Cristo

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Went with my mom.  I had never read the story nor seen any of the other movies before.  All I knew about it was some guy gets betrayed, kidnapped/arrested and is stuck in a tower for years, gets out and sets out for revenge.  My mom wasn't sure how they'd fit the entire story into a movie.

It's pretty clear that they blazed through the early stuff pretty quickly.  I think the entire Napoleon stuff didn't take ten minutes.  They spaced out a few tidbits of the men's friendship through the first quarter of the film for their backstory.   In fact, they got the guy arrested and declared dead very early in the film.   The details leading up to that almost weren't important.

Next, was the long imprisonment.  There were a coupla verisimilitude breaks that struck me.  The prisoners didn't seem to have to be very quiet.  At times they were pretty rambunctious.  Also, why were they even kept alive?  If they're such an embarrassment then why not just kill them?  I realize that makes for a lousy story, but...

One thing both my mom and I noticed was that they didn't age anybody in the film.   The events were supposed to have taken place across something like thirteen years, but everyone looked identical.  And the main character was supposed to come back as unrecognizable.  As it was, everyone should have been able to recognize him easily.

The finding of the gold and the setup as the Count was another section handled very quickly.  Again, probably less than fifteen minutes.

I guess once again I'm amazed at what audiences can fill in for themselves.   Facets of the story are now considered archetypal, so really all they have to do is kind of show bits.  A guy rides up and says he wants to buy the estate.  He's told it's not for sale.  He shows the guy a wagon-full of gold.  Cut to the guy mounting the wagon and riding away.  When the boy is captured, they don't have to show any of the setup.  He's enticed away from the crowd, grabbed, a few lines of dialogue and he's rescued.  After he leaves the scene, it's revealed exactly who captured him and we know that it was all a setup.  The entire sequence, less than five minutes.  Very impressive tight story telling.

Far better than the standard Hollyweird fare.  On my brother's Total Movie Value Scale, Matinee.

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Last modified: June 14, 2004
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