The Count of Monte Cristo
Summary: Edmund Dantes is a handsome french sailor who docks the French Ship, the Pharaoh in Marseilles after his captain died on the way home. Due to this action, Dantes is promised a captainship, but before he ascends to the job, and before he marries his fiancee, a conspiracy of men get him thrown in jail for different reasons. The first conspirator is Fernando who is jealous of Mercedes (Dantes’ fiancé). The second conspirator is Danglars who wants the captainship. The third conspirator is Caderousse who just generally has a bad moral compass. Finally, the last conspirator is Villefort who is protecting his father from the present royalist regime and believes Dantes is carrying a letter that betrays his fathers political alignment. After many years of almost losing his mind in prison, Dantes one day hears a neighboring prisoner burrowing in the ground, thus Dantes begins to do the same. As Dantes begins digging, he meets an Abbe from who Dantes begins to learn art and science. Then the Abbe tells him of a hidden treasure that used to belong to an extremely wealthy Italian family. However, before they can escape, the Abbe dies which forces Dantes to hide in the burial sack. After achieving escape in the ocean, Dantes is picked up by some smugglers, and he leads them to where the treasure is hidden. After Dantes becomes filthy rich, he arrives back in Paris and has assumed the facade of The Count of Monte Cristo. Vowing revenge on the conspirators, Dantes one by one begins to give them what he thinks they deserve. After a lot of Drama, Dantes helps two young lovers to happily end up together and sails away, and he was never seen again.
One particular theme that continues to be a prevalent issue in modern day society and The Count of Monte Cristo is human justice. Dantes turns to his own justice due to his belief that the society’s criminal system contains a multitude of faults. Due to Dantes dismayed beliefs in the justice system, he begins to wreak havoc in the guilty and innocents lives. However, during his journey of revenge, Dantes comes to realize that human justice may be limited because only God is capable of providing a true reward or punishment. The dismayed feelings that Dantes has about the justice system continues to be a prevalent issue today. For example, the ongoing misuse of the law and apparent racism within the police force has caused major distrust between many minority communities and the police.
Love Vs. Alienation
The idea of love versus alienation becomes a major factor for Dantes throughout the novel. Due to the lack of true love in Dantes life after the death of the Abbe, Dantes becomes alienated from all human emotion, therefore his revenge becomes a major driving force rather than his love for Mercedes or his father. However, when Dantes falls in love with Haydee, he becomes reconnected with his human emotions, and he begins to view revenge in a completely different way. The idea of love in an individuals life over alienation has always been present with human beings, therefore making it a theme relevant to modern day society.
Critical Scenes in the Story:
Inciting Incident: The Letter Scene
Arguably, one of the most important scenes of the novel happens in the the beginning when Dantes receives a letter from his dying captain that will ultimately ruin his life. The contents of this letter seal Dantes fate, and sparks Dantes long journey from a cell to becoming the vengeful Count of Monte Cristo.
Dantes Meets the Abbe
The second most vital scene to the story happens when Dantes meets the Abbe. Not only does the Abbe begin to educate Dantes in the science and the arts, but he also enlightens Dantes on who is to blame, therefore he sparks Dantes journey from a prisoner to the vengeful Count of Monte Cristo. The Abbe acts as a catalyst for the most controversial but crucial transformation of Dantes.
Dantes Finds Peace
Perhaps the most vital scene in the story happens in the end when Dantes character ultimately changes for the better. When Haydee reveals her love for Dantes, he realizes that god does not wish to punish him, and he sees that his revenge plan is futile. Dantes, at the end, is content with his life with Haydee, and he ponders on his happiness brought from helping two innocent lovers while also having his revenge.
In order to highlight one of Dumas' main ideas of greed and the effect it has on human beings, we decided to set our story during the 21st century in the financial district (Wall Street) in New York City. Dantes begins the story as a rising star in the multi-billion dollar company Goldman Sachs, but along his rise to power and money, he makes four bitter enemies who ultimately bring on his downfall, which sparks his vengeful journey, and the peace he ultimately finds in his life at the end. One of Goldman Sachs finest managers in the company decides to retire at the ripe old age of 65, leaving an open spot for a promotion, but rather then give the promotion to some of the more experienced members of the company, Mr. Morrel gives it to Dantes after seeing his promising skills leading some of his other peers in the company project that the retiring manager had dropped. While this job promotion could have been the first step on a long journey to extreme wealth and power, the jealousy it creates among his peers: Fernand Mondego, Baron Danglars, Caderousse, and Gérard de Villefort ultimately changes his fate forever. All of the characters wish for the downfall of Dantes for several reasons. Fernand Mondego, hopelessly in love with Dantes girlfriend: Mercedes, hopes to win her love after Dantes leaves the picture. Baron Danglars, envious of Dantes new position, hopes to gain the wealth and power that Dantes would have received. Caderousse, a petty criminal, is hired by the other three conspirators, only cares about the money he is going to receive as payment for framing Dantes for the crime. Gérard de Villefort, whose father used to embezzle money from Goldman Sachs, hopes to keep the crime a secret (Dantes had discovered evidence of Gérard de Villefort father's crime on his previous employer's computer, and he was planning on turning over the evidence to authorities). All four conspirators get together and decide to change the evidence from incriminating Gérard de Villefort's father to incriminating Dantes, and they get Caderousse to break into Dantes office and plant it on his computer. After informing the company and the FBI of Dantes' crime, he is convicted on charges of embezzlement, and he is sentenced to prison for 20 years. On his tenth year of prison, Dantes befriends a wise old man named Abbé Faria, an Italian priest and intellectual, who is imprisoned for protesting his political beliefs. Faria teaches Dantes about his life and begins to educate him, while simultaneously enlightening Dantes to who is truly to blame for his situation. Together, they hatch a plan to escape and hide on the laundry truck, however, Faria dies before they can complete their plan. All hope is not lost though. Before faria dies of a heart attack, he tells Dantes of his Swiss bank account that contains billions of dollars, and he gives permission to Dantes to use it to get revenge on the conspirators. After becoming rich, Dantes locates the failing bar that Caderousse owns and learns all the details about the plan that the conspirators hatched to incriminate Dantes, and he learned that Danglars and Mondego have become rich and powerful and are living happily in the Upper East side of New York City. However, Dantes notices Caderousse's extreme regret for being a part of the conspirators plan, and he leaves him a valuable diamond as a present. Dantes waits ten years to hatch his perfect revenge plan, and he remerges into society as the son of a Count in Monte Cristo. Mondego is the first to be punished. Dantes leaks to the authorities that not only did Mondego make his fortune by stealing money from the billionaire Ali Pacha, but he sold Ali Pacha's daughter Haydee (whom Dantes had rescued 7 years earlier, and she is now living with him) into the sex trade. Haydee testifies in court about the crimes of Mondego, and Mondego goes to prison for his life. Mercedes flees the country with the money. Dantes brings Villefort's punishment in slow but effective stages. Dantes first turns Villefort's wife against him, and then Dantes frames Villefort for murder. Finally, Dantes brings the ruin of Danglars by playing on his greed. Dantes gains control of Danglars personal account, and he invests all of it in a bad stock, therefore Danglars is left penniless. After all of Dantes' acts of revenge, he enacts one final act of goodness. He unites Valentine and Maximilian, two young lovers previously separated by their horrible parents, and he leaves them his fortune. Dantes allows himself to fall in love with Haydee, and they are never seen again.
The Actors for the Movie
Jake Gyllenhaal as second choice
Edmond Dantes: "Young Edmond doesn't usually have insights like these. He's innocent, naïve, and forgiving, maybe not quite so naïve as his father, but close. Every time he tells someone – whether Villefort or Faria – that he can't think why someone would want to hurt him, the more obvious his innocence, his ignorance of human nature, becomes. "He was a fine, tall, slim young fellow of eighteen or twenty, with black eyes, and hair as dark as a raven's wing; and his whole appearance bespoke that calmness and resolution peculiar to men accustomed from their cradle to contend with danger." Edmond Dantes has two major character developments, the personality before and after his imprisonment. Dantes starts out with a world view of black and white, right or wrong, and no discernment. He could not look past what a person wanted him to see. His character then develops and deepens during his time in jail, cultivating in a strong sense of justice. Dantes under the alias Count of Monte Cristo is the king of profiling, able to read others around him, plan his endgame, all the while believing that he is the avenging hand of God. Under the tutor Abbe Faria, his bright mind flourishes and learns nearly all there is to know. He is a chameleon, able to imitate whatever nationality or station in life that he chooses due to his education in and out of prison. Despite his austere means of punishment, customizing his avenging methods for the individual who has trespassed against him, he has a generous heart. Dantes remembers the kindness of those around him, and guards his friends against misfortunes that he can prevent. He despairs over the injustice happening around him, and is proactive to prevent it or at least avenge it.
Russel Crowe as second choice
Gérard de Villefort: "[E]very step we take is more like a reptile's progress across the sand, leaving a track behind it. And often, alas, the track is the mark of our tears!" (67.9) Gerard de Villefort has three major character developments. Villefort is at first portrayed eager to prove his worth and in love with his bethrothed, Renee de Saint Meran. He is fighting against his father's legacy of being a great man and a Bonapartist. He even changes his name to distinguish himself from his father Nortier. The second personality change happens when he sacrifices Edmond Dantes for his own ambition, at the cost of corrupting the justice that is his job to uphold. His character on the surface does not seem to change, but his entrance in to the world of success was built on a corruption of justice. So he begins to harden himself to be irreproachable to society and his own sense of justice. He lives to embody the harsh, impartial law. The third and final transformation is when Dante's revenge kicks in, revealing a more relatable human side of Villefort. This transformation is complete with grief and despair over the unjust acts committed in the past and present. This revelation reveals that the second transformation wasn't complete, just a cover for his emotions.
Kevin Bacon as second choice.
Baron Danglars: Baron Danglars has short, curly, dark brown hair and blue eyes. Danglars is characterized by his manipulative dealings, being the source of the idea that imprisoned Edmond Dantes. He uses people like he uses tools, often manipulating people to do the dirty work to further his own fortune. Of all the characters, he is the one that does not change in any major way. His business dealing as a banker reflect his personality, forceful and greedy. He maintains a family for mere appearances and for his own personal use, marrying for money and using his daughter for an advantageous leap through her marriage. He has no remorse for taking short cuts, or cutting his losses.
Ramin Karmiloo as second choice
Fernand Mondego: Fernand Mondego is good looking. He has course hands and long, straight, brown hair. Mondego represents the pride of the Catalans, fierce and strong. He pursued Mercedes even before Dantes was imprisoned, but Mercedes repeatly rebuffed him. His character is straight forward and fit for a military man. The only deviations from this description is when he frames Dantes, and betrays Ali Pacha. Both were strategic moves to further his fortune in life and station. His character transformation manifested itself in the form of committing suicide when he watches Mercedes and his son leave him because of his base deeds. He knows that he will always be second in Mercedes eyes to Edmond Dantes, which led him to listen to Danglars plan and put it into action.
Haydée: "The extreme beauty of the countenance, that shone forth in loveliness that mocked the vain attempts of dress to augment it, was peculiarly and purely Grecian; there were the large, dark, melting eyes, the finely formed nose, the coral lips, and pearly teeth, that belonged to her race and country. And, to complete the whole, Haidee was in the very springtide and fulness of youthful charms -- she had not yet numbered more than twenty summers." She is the embodiment of pure love. Her simplicity is used to contrast the complicated relationships and life of the man she loves, the Count of Monte Cristo. She resembles a young Edmond Dantes, having a defined black/white view of life. Though seemingly childish, she possesses a steel backbone, avenging her father by testifying against Fernand Mondego in court for his betrayal of her father, Ali Pacha.
Kelsey Grammer as second choice
Caderousse: "A lazy, drunk, and greedy man. Caderousse is present when the plot to frame Dantès is hatched, but he does not take an active part in the crime. Unlike Danglars and Mondego, Caderousse never finds his fortune, instead making his living through petty crime and the occasional murder." He is a complacent man, never as robust and active in shaping his fortune as Mondego and Danglars. However he is similar to Danglars in his greed, though too cowardly to be as hands on as Danglars. He deceives himself and others around him, believing that his situation was due to fate of misfortune, not by his doing. Or there lack of. He is a static character who is there to compare the simpler minded to the depths around him.
Jessica Alba as second choice
Mercedes: Mercedes is a beautiful Catalan who was originally engaged to Edmond Dantes. Due to Dantes imprisonment, she cared for his father with all the devotion of a true daughter-in-law up until his death. She is at first a young simple woman, but she develops into a discerning mother with social grace and dignity. She retains her beauty, and is mentioned often that her beauty matches her personality. Mercedes is kind and caring. While recognizing the need for justice, she intervenes when her son is in danger from Dantes' agenda. She is the only one besides dying elder Morrel to recognize Edmond Dantes under his alias as Count of Monte Cristo by herself, though does not voice her revelation to anyone, not even Dantes until near the end.
Ian McKellen as second choice
Abbe Faria: he Abbe is also a political prisoner. The Abbe is cunning, resourceful, and disciplined. He has made his own tools and has also written a treatise while incarcerated. The Abbe spends the next few years educating Dantes in the sciences, literature, and languages. He fed Dantes mind with all he knew, which was considerable considering his aristocratic background and former occupation. He embeds in Dantes the means of becoming the Count of Monte Cristo, both in social and academic education. Abbe Faria was the one who passes to Dantes the hidden treasure, a fortune of a life time.
Maximilian Morrel: The son of Monsieur Morrel. Brave and honorable like his father, Maximilian becomes Dantès’s primary beneficiary. Maximilian and his love, Valentine, survive to the end of the story as two good and happy people, personally unaffected by the vices of power, wealth, and position.
Valentine Villefort: Villefort’s saintly and beautiful daughter. Like Maximilian Morrel, her true love, she falls under Dantès’s protection. She reflects Hydee's disposition of sweet and simple nature, which lead the two to become friends.
Monsieur Morrel: Monsieur Morrel is a good father, an honest businessman, and young Edmond Dantès's greatest advocate. He is honorable to a fault, planning to commit suicide to restore the family honor when the company almost goes under with debt. Dantes saves the family in disguise, leading to the Morrel family venerating the unknown savior. However Morrel knows the truth by some means, on his death bed proclaiming it was Edmond Dantes who saved them.
Settings, Costumes, and Music
Location: New York City: Specifically, the financial district or wall street. The hub of the most greedy people in the world.
Company: Goldman Sachs
Costumes: Before Prison-Nice business attire
After Prison: Revenge Time
The Happy Ending: Dantes sails away on his boat with his true love Haydee
Explanations: The business attire clearly highlights the prominent theme of Justice and Greed, while the jumpsuits help the viewer visualize the 10 years of jail time Dantes went through. The man facing a window helps the reader to comprehend the level of focus that Dantes has with achieving his revenge. After Dantes completed his revenge, he sails away on his boat never to be seen again.