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Review: Count of Monte Christo

Old 03-01-00, 12:45 AM
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Fox/Winstar should be congratulated for actually providing a version of this "critically acclaimed Bravo original co-production...the most watched mini-series in the history of French television." however, this dvd set cannot be recommended unless you are truly a fan of the Count of Monte Cristo ( which i am )

first, the technical issues:
(Amazon has all of the technical details)
1.33:1 ratio (but seems to be greater, small black bars on top and bottom, probably due to PAL conversion)
French Stereo (2 channels) with English subtitles ( which you cannot turn off )
other features (some just barely)

the subtitles, in general, are decent but a few inconsequential lines are not subtitled, and some subtitles are almost cut off the screen. the text is also just white and fuzzy. interestingly, the subtitles are left or right sided depending upon the location of the speaker. overall, it could have been a lot better.

stereo separation was minimal. not only that, but i have noticed audio sync problems. the voice is a scientifically accurately just-a-tiny tad slow compared to the lip movements of the speaker. this is the first time i have noticed this much discussed phenomenon.

the video quality ranges from poor to fair. well, it was made for TV. also, there are tons of camera reflections, shots with too much backlight, high color saturation, not enough saturation, etc. don't expect to show off your system with this DVD set.

technically, this DVD set is only OK. 2 1/2 stars out of five. 5 out of 10. thumb sideways.

as for the mini-series itself, unfortunately, imho, it is also only average.
Gerard, may i call him Gerard, seems to be sleep-acting through the movie. where is the pain of injustice and imprisonment? where is the burning divine retribution in his eyes? where is the passion of love forsaken when he greets Mercedes? Gerard as Cyrano is GREAT; as Edmond, a pumpkin.

everything is clearly explicated and didactic (that is to say, what happened to the French sublety and ambiguity? yes, yes, you could argue that the book is also not subtle...) similarly, none of the other characters (except perhaps Bertuccio) are very interesting.

overall, the effort is mediocre
i had expected much more than this. however, i say again, if you really really liked the book, the movie gives a concrete reality to the novel and hearing the French language version is a treat for those of us that grew up with the Chamberlain effort. otherwise, just rent it.


SPOILERS and a few more complaints to follow:
despite what i had heard, the mini-series does not portray everything in the novel (which would have suprised me anyway) and it does take some liberties with the continuity. i had half dreaded the image of Gerard playing a 21 year old but thankfully we are spared this.

unfortuneately, there is very little development of how Edmond was imprisoned, and why by the conspirators. Danglars jealousy and enmity? no big deal. Fernand's equal love of Mercedes and guilty ruination of Edmond? no big deal. Edmond's father's heartbreak? Morel's many kindnesses? Mercedes' desperation? ditto. ditto. ditto. also, the development of Edmond's knowledge thru the teachings of Abbe Faria, his experiences as a smuggler and hunt for the treasure of Monte Cristo, his experiences in the East, are all merely mentioned or quickly flashbacked.

and then, you are subjected to quick scene after scene that progresses the story of Edmond's revenge. this contrasts nicely with the lethargic acting of almost every actor.

and then, there are the hit-you-over-the-head-with-that-giant-ranma 1/2-hammer shots. Edmond bursting thru the water at his escape with a cross/dagger in his right hand... Edmond washing his face with jewels and money after finding the treasure... Edmond in disguise in ridiculously fake noses and wigs... they actually show him putting on the rhino-prosthetic, applying make-up, and adjusting the wig (clown?). i think the Superman Disguise would have been more appropriate (that is, it is inconceivable that Clark could be superman). this could have been used for all of his aliases, and not just as the Count.

in the end, i felt ambivalent towards the movie. its quantity does make up for some of its quality issues. but, this is one of those rare occasions where the book is better than the movie

[This message has been edited by young (edited February 29, 2000).]

[This message has been edited by young (edited February 29, 2000).]

[This message has been edited by young (edited February 29, 2000).]

[This message has been edited by young (edited February 29, 2000).]
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Old 03-01-00, 02:04 AM
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Join Date: Apr 1999
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I agree with the most of the above. However, I think that Depardieu's rendition of the character is at least interesting. This is the first Count de... which looks like a real person.
The letterboxing (1.66:1) observed during the credits sequences, actually shows the real aspect ratio of the program, butchered by Fox Lorber (no surprises here). But, this is the first Fox Lorber disc with the paper insert! Wow, time for celebration...
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