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Film / The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)

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God will give me justice.

The Count of Monte Cristo is a 2002 film, one of many based on the novel of the same name by Alexandre Dumas.

In 1815, a young Frenchman, Edmond Dantès (Jim Caviezel), is falsely imprisoned by his jealous "friend". Several years later, he escapes, and uses a hidden treasure to exact his revenge.

It follows the general plot of the novel, with the main storyline of imprisonment and revenge preserved, but many elements, including the relationships between major characters and the ending were modified. The cast also includes Guy Pearce, James Frain, Luis Guzman, and Richard Harris. And a young Henry Cavill.

This film provides examples of:

  • #1 Dime: A chess piece has sentimental value to Edmond and Fernand.
  • Absurdly Youthful Mother: Dagmara Domińczyk was twenty six at the film's release. Henry Cavill, who played Albert, the son of her character Mercedes, was nineteen. Meanwhile, Jim Caviezel, who as Dantes turns out to be Albert's true father, was thirty four, which is slightly better. Justified in all cases due to the time frame involved, and the needs of the actors to play their younger selves.
  • Actionized Adaptation: The original book has very few action scenes, with two duels interrupted before they can begin. The film adds a bunch of sword and knife fights, including a climactic duel between Edmond and Fernand.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Faria bursts out laughing when he realises he's spent five years digging a tunnel in the wrong direction.
  • Adaptational Dumbass: Dantes in the movie Never Learned to Read and it is the first thing Faria has to teach him. In the book, he could already read and also had a working knowledge of Italian and Romaic (Modern Greek).
  • Adaptational Heroism: The Count's schemes result in a lot less collateral damage than in the novel.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • The warden of Chateau d'If, named Armand Dorleac in the film, is depicted as a sadist who tortures prisoners as part of an annual rite, despite the fact that he knows perfectly well that all the prisoners in Chateau d'If are innocent. In the book he did no such thing, never gave any indication of knowing his prisoners were innocent, and didn't even put Dantes in isolation until after a violent outburst on his part.
    • Fernand was already an unscrupulous serial traitor in the book, but the movie goes out of its way to make him as deeply repulsive as possible — in the book, he and Edmond weren't friends to begin with, so the betrayal was not as deeply personal. The book's Fernand was also not explicitly unfaithful to Mercedes, nor did he routinely challenge people to duels for sport; he also did not show as much disdain for his son Albert. The book's Fernand was also not a born aristocrat, so he lacks the classist tendencies of the film character.
    • In the novels, Villefort is ashamed for sending Dantes to prison in order to secure his ambitions. His guilt over this (as well as some of his other crimes) eventually breaks him. The film version has no such remorse and even conspired with Fernand to kill his own father.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Inevitably given its size, large swathes of Dumas's novel are omitted or trimmed. Prominent characters such as Caderousse, Haydée, Franz d'Epinay, Benedetto, Bertuccio and Ali are also omitted. Some of the minor characters appear as one-shot cameos or become combinations of such. For example, we get a glimpse of Albert's three friends, with whom he goes to Rome, who, most likely, are based upon Franz d’Epinay, Beauchamp and Debray. We can also see a black servant among the Count’s retinue, who is probably supposed to be Ali. Also, Jacopo in the movie is the combination of the novel’s Jacopo and the Count’s majordomo Bertuccio.
  • Adaptation Name Change:
    • Monsieur Clarion was "Noirtier" in the novel.
    • Captain Leclere became "Captain Renaud".
    • Heloise de Villefort is now named "Valentine", which was the name of Villefort’s daughter in the novel.
    • Peppino (Vampa’s right-hand man) is referred to as “Peppono”.
    • Slight example with Fernand Mondego. In the book, Mondego was a commoner who later becomes and is called "Count de Morcerf".
  • Adapted Out: In the novel, a petty criminal named Gaspard Caderousse co-conspires with Fernand, Danglars and (indirectly) Villefort against Edmond Dantes and re-appears as an important character after Dantes' return as the Count. He provided exposition on what happened to Edmond's father, lover and "friends" during his imprisonment. In the film, Caderousse is left out completely, with the latter part of his role fulfilled by Morrel, while Danglars is Demoted to Extra.
  • Affably Evil:
    • Napoleon Bonaparte shamelessly manipulates Edmond to try and secure his own return to power, but he treats the lowly sailor respectfully, saves his and Mondego's lives from his guards, has his own physician look after their ailing captain, and even allows the young men to drink from his own wine stores.
    • Luigi Vampa is a ruthless smuggler and bandit, happy to bury a disobedient crewman alive. He's also friendly, reasonable and encourages Edmond to seek his destiny outside of smuggling. He can even be seen assisting Edmond's schemes (and yes, he's being paid handsomely for it, but it's also just as much a favor to Edmond too).
  • Altar the Speed: In this adaptation, Mercedes married Fernand barely a month after Dantes was imprisoned so that she could pass off her child by Dantes as Fernand's prematurely born heir.
  • Answer Cut: Albert is delighted to have to Count visit his home, saying they'll arrive just in time. When the Count asks what for, the scene cuts to Albert's birthday cake.
  • Antagonistic Offspring: Albert confronts Dantes, though neither of them are aware of the relationship at that time.
  • Anti-Hero: Edmond, as The Count, starts off as a Nominal Hero, only heroic at all because he's using his deplorable tactics to gain vengeance on the men who condemned him to false imprisonment. However he graduates to Unscrupulous Hero at the end when he remembers his mentor's words and offers Mondego the chance to leave with his life. He doesn't take it.
  • Arbitrarily Large Bank Account: The size of the treasure of Monte Cristo is measured in how many boat loads of treasure chests full of gold coins it contains. This allows the Count to buy whatever he wants.
  • Ascended Extra: Jacopo, who obeys the Count's instructions without question in the book, becomes The Watson. Jacopo also serves as a Composite Character, merged with Monte Cristo's faithful servant Bertuccio.
  • Badass Longcoat: The Count sports an impressive one once he enters French nobility.
  • Badass Preacher: Abbe Faria is revealed to have been a soldier before he was a priest, and teaches Dantes all he knows of swordfighting while in prison with him.
  • Batman Gambit: The Count's plan for revenge has two of them. The first is that everyone will be so overawed by his spectacular displays of wealth that nobody will contact the local College of Heraldry and find out there is no "Count of Monte Cristo". The second was that since his enemies were willing to betray him for so little the first time, they'd be more than willing to betray him a second time given the opportunity to make a fortune while doing so — enabling him to use his vast wealth as bait for a trap.
  • Beardness Protection Program: The Count trims his prison beard as part of his noble disguise. Noteworthy because of how effective it is. Upon returning to exact his revenge, Dantes is able to fool Villefort (who admittedly only met him once), his longtime employer Morrell and his lifelong friend Mondego. Only Mercedes recognizes him, and that only after spotting various little traits and quirks that only a few people would have been likely to know in the first place. Mondego actually doesn't recognize him 'til he shaves. Granted, it had been almost two decades since they last saw him and everyone else had every reason to believe he was dead.
  • Best Served Cold: The original novel is probably the most famous example.
  • Big Fancy House: We get some nice views of Mondego's and Villefort's mansions, and one of the first things Edmond does as "Count of Monte Cristo" is to buy one himself.
  • Bodybag Trick: Dantes taking the place of Faria's corpse in a body bag (subsequently being thrown off a cliff into the ocean).
  • Bond One-Liner: An unusual variation, as it is exchanged while the victim is still dying from their wounds.
    Fernand: What happened to your mercy?
    Edmond: I'm a count....not a saint.
  • Cain and Abel: Played straight, with the villainous Mondego betraying his wide-eyed, innocent childhood friend Dantes. This is the core plot and what really drives the movie, and is the most personal betrayal of Dantes. It's only fitting that the best is saved for last.
  • Call-Back:
    • How Mercedes realises that the Count is Edmond, given his habit of twirling his hair.
    • When Edmond accuses Mercedes of betraying him by marrying Fernand, she shows him their 'wedding ring' (made of simple twine) which even after many years has never left her finger.
  • Chekhov's Skill:
    • Jacopo's skill with a knife comes back in a big way at the finale when he performs a perfect knife throw to save Mercedes' life.
    • From Faria, Edmond learns to disarm and turn the opponent's blade against them. He uses this first on Jacopo (only to spare his life), and again in his final duel with Fernand.
      Faria: Who were you fighting...Danglars or Mondego?
      Edmond: Who do you think?
    • Fernand disarms Edmond the same way in their duels at the start and end, only for Edmond to pull off the above technique to reverse the situation.
  • Chess Motifs: Edmond and Fernand have a chess king that they trade back and forth when the other has a victory, recognizing the other as "King of the Moment". Edmond explains this to Napoleon Bonaparte, who observes that "In life, we are all either Kings or Pawns." This becomes foreshadowing for later, when Fernand refuses to give up the king piece to Edmond after Mercedes accepts his proposal. Fernand soon after makes Edmond a pawn in his machinations. Fernand then gives Edmond a king piece as Edmond is dragged away, to "remember better times." When they next meet, Edmond manipulates Fernand in turn, ultimately leaving one in an empty treasure chest, which represented Fernand's last chance to regain his wealth and prestige.
  • Clark Kenting: Edmond in his new persona manages, via his new aristocratic bearing, to fool both his former best friend, his former employer, and several other figures from his past, while only having grown a short-cropped beard in the interim. However, thanks to some telltale mannerisms, he quickly gives himself away to his former fiance Mercedes.
  • Conspicuous Consumption: The Count goes out of his way to show off his wealth in order to draw Villefort and Fernand's attention, so that he could learn enough about their current habits to plot their destruction. Some items include buying an enormous villa with a literal cartload of gold, inviting hundreds of people to his coming-out party, and arriving at the party in a hot air balloon.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Abbe Faria, the sole living man who knows the location of the treasure of Monte Cristo, tunneled his way into Dantes's cell by accident. Years later, just after Dante manages to escape, he runs into a smuggler who he convinces to give him a new identity and wardrobe, so he can earn enough to buy a skiff to sail to Monte Cristo.
  • Cruel Mercy: So Fernand has narrowly escaped Dantes' revenge on the whim that he wants to bestow him "mercy". Good for him. ...Except, what has he to escape to? He has nothing left. His wife has essentially left, his only child is really Dantes' son, his wealth has dried up. And Edmond, the man he's always envied and looked down upon, has come out on top as the Count of Monte Cristo. All Fernand has is his horse and an uncertain future that won't be kind to a penniless gambler. It's little wonder he chooses to duel Dantes, knowing he'll either win it all back or die a merciful death.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: Edmond of course. Being betrayed by your close friend and staying for 14 years in a Hellhole Prison as a consequence does that to you.
  • Death by Adaptation: Clarion, who is Villefort's father. It was something of a running gag in Dumas's novel that he was virtually indestructible.
  • Defeat Means Friendship. When Edmond spares Jacopo after defeating him in their knife duel, the latter swears eternal loyalty after his defeat.
    Jacopo: I swear on my dead relatives — even on the ones that are not feeling too good — I am your man… forever.
  • Defiant to the End: Danglars when the constables surround him and his crew realises he's screwed, especially when Edmond states they'll be searching his vessel for the supposed stolen goods (and he kept two chests out of Greed for his own payment), but he shouts he "won't hang for [Fernand]" and tries to kill Edmond. "Tries" being the keyword, as Edmond doesn't even physically hit him and lets Danglar's own anger do him in.
  • Demoted to Extra: In comparison to the novel where he is the driving force behind the conspiracy against Edmond, Danglars is almost a nonentity in the film (aside from being the one to push the envious Fernand to the betrayal) and most of the villainy slack is picked up by Fernand.
  • Dialogue Reversal/Ironic Echo: "Why are you doing this?" "It's complicated." Said first when a shocked Edmond questions Fernand's betrayal, then when an equally shocked Fernand questions Edmond's vengeance.
  • Did You Actually Believe...?: The Count's final words to Villefort. He never intended to allow Villefort the dignity of suicide.
    Edmond: "You didn't think I'd make it that easy for you, did you?"
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation:
  • The Dog Bites Back: The sadistic warden of Chateau d'If gets killed by Edmond, the man he regularly tortured for several years.
  • Dramatic Irony: Towards the climax, Fernand pits Albert against Dantes, claiming the latter is trying to put a wedge between them both, further spurring Albert to defy the Count of Monte Cristo. Unknown to Albert, not only is Fernand not his father (and Dantes is), but Fernand secretly disowned the boy for not being his biological son. So Albert is wasting his energy trying to protect the man who would not care if his "son" lived or died (on top of intending to murder him once he kills Dantes). Bonus dramatic irony when Dantes threatens to fight Albert if he further impedes his revenge, unaware he's dangerously close to killing his own flesh and blood.
  • Driven to Suicide: Dantes's father killed himself in despair over his son's imprisonment. Later, when Villefort is being carted off to Chateau d'If, Dantes has a pistol left behind for him if he'd prefer the easy way out. He almost immediately does. It was unloaded, however, prompting Dantes to reveal he wouldn't let him off so easily.
  • Duel to the Death: Several added to the script.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After being betrayed by his jealous friends on the eve of his wedding and condemned to spend years in a dungeon by a self-serving prosecutor, and then learning that his grief-stricken father committed suicide and his beloved fiancée married his enemy, Dantes would be forgiven for feeling on top of the world as he left the Chateau d'If for the last time with his true love, his son and his best friend at his side, the vast Spada fortune in his possession, and having exacted sweet revenge on his betrayers.
  • Engineered Heroics: The Count when he rescues Albert in Rome.
  • Engineered Public Confession: The Count devises one for Villefort.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • Subverted with Mondego; he doesn't care for his own father, describing him as "alive, unfortunately" before the Time Skip, and while he lusts after Mercedes, he's unfaithful to her after they marry and barely pays their son any thought. After he's been brought to ruin, though, he's at least willing to bring his family with him as he flees justice, but is happy to write them off after Mercedes reveals that Albert isn't Mondego's son.
    • Played straight with Villefort; although only marginally less despicable than Mondego, he does genuinely love and is loved by his wife. After Villefort's arrest, his wife even sends Albert after the Count in the hope of avenging her husband's downfall.
  • Everyone Has Standards: After learning that Albert, whom he came close to killing in a duel, is his own son, Edmond immediately backs down and is even willing to let Mondego go.
  • Evil Stole My Faith: The despairing title character gives up all hope in God, having been unjustly incarcerated in a harsh French prison for several years. The warden continually whipping him and mocking that God didn't come to punish his cruelty didn't help either.
  • Fan Disservice: Edmond's bare scar-riddled back while imprisoned in the Chateau d'If. Abbé Faria's age similarly makes his bare torso this.
  • Finger in the Mail: Albert's kidnappers muse on doing this with his family's ring with a finger still attached to show they're not kidding about having him hostage if they sent a ransom note to Paris. Of course, as it's actually Luigi and his crew, it's clear he's just really getting into his role.
  • Flynning: Played With. Most of the sword fighting in the movie is straight-forward Flynning, but the climactic duel between Edmond and Fernand shows Edmond using some legitimate unarmed defenses, like batting away Fernand's sword with his gloved hands, and blocking a strike with his arm (which shows, accurately, how useless rapiers are for slashing).
  • Foil: Jacopo and Fernand could not be more different from one another. While Fernand is the son of a count, Jacopo is a lowly smuggler. Also while Fernand's friendship with Edmond turns out to be just a facade to hide his envy of Edmond and Fernand betrays and frames him for his own personal gain, Jacopo's friendship with Edmond is completely genuine and he stays completely loyal to him, even helping him get back his wife and son.
  • Food Porn: The breakfast of fruits and confections that the Count serves for Albert's visit. Albert's birthday cake also looks nice.
  • Foreshadowing: In place of Albert's absent, jerkass father, the Count delivers the toast at Albert's birthday party, acting as a father even before the The Reveal of Albert's true parentage.
  • Give the Baby a Father: It turns out that the only reason why Mercedes agreed to marry Fernand so quickly after Edmond's arrest was that she was pregnant with Edmond's child, in a time and place where women who gave birth out of wedlock and their children weren't treated kindly.
  • Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: Good Adultery: Mercedes sleeps with Edmond, who was her original love (and the true father of her son), and who she still loved for years after his apparent death, despite being married to Fernand. Bad Adultery: Fernand has slept with at least four different other women while married to Mercedes, some of whom were already married, and on at least one occasion killed the lady's husband in a duel when he objected.
  • Good Shepherd: Abbé Faria is always kind and keeps up Dantes' spirits when they're in prison. In spite of being unjustly kept there, he unfailingly thanks the jailers each time they bring food. His not thanking one alerts the jailer that he died, since it's the first time he'd failed in doing so.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Napoleon Bonaparte, despite lending aid to Dantes at the start of the film, is the indirect cause of Dantes' downfall; by giving Dantes the letter for "Monsieur Clarion", Bonaparte gave Mondego and Danglars the perfect ammunition to use to spite Dantes, and the unfortunate coincidence that Clarion is Villefort's father is what leads to Dantes' false conviction for treason and his years languishing in Chateau d'If. None of Dantes miseries would have happened without Napoleon, but he makes no further appearances after Dantes and Mondego leave Elba, and Napoleon's historical death in 1821 occurs eight years before Dantes escapes from prison.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Fernand is the textbook example of "Envy". This is at the core of why he resents Edmond, despite being his long-time friend. As established by Mercedes, she recalls a time when he and Edmond were boys and each got something for their birthday, a pony for Fernand (being the son of a Count) and a whistle for Edmond (what with being poor and all). Yet, Edmond was so happy with the simple joy of having a whistle, it crept into Fernand to want the whistle more than his expensive pony, thus exemplifying what drives envy: a simple hatred for those happier than you, to the point of wanting to take away that happiness (just as he takes away Edmond's chance at marriage and family). Later, when demanding a duel from the hero, Fernand angrily bemoans how he can't stand to live in a world where he (the formerly rich son of a count) has nothing while Edmond (a former poor boy) has everything now.
    Fernand: (responding to Edmond's despairing plea of "Why?") Because you're the son of a clerk! And I'm not supposed to want to be you.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: The tunnel plan only works because the guards only interact with the prisoners twice a day - to deliver food and take away nightsoil. So long as the bucket is left by the door in the morning and the bowl is left by the door in the evening, the guards can't be bothered to go into the cells to realise what's going on in there. They also don't notice how heavy the nightsoil buckets are (they're used to get rid of the dirt) despite the prisoners only being fed one or two ladles of soup a day.
    Edmond: (reading a passage during a reading lesson from Faria) Thus neglect becomes our ally.
  • Hate Sink:
    • Fernand Mondego is portrayed as a vicious, envious little snake who frames Edmond Dantes, his best friend, for treason out of jealousy and a lust for Edmond's beloved, Mercedes. Even after marrying Mercedes, Mondego shamelessly cheats on her and neglects their son Albert, as well as showing himself to be a cruel and bloodthirsty man who slays the husband of one of his mistresses in a duel when the man dares to object to Mondego's affair with his wife. Once Albert is revealed to Edmond's son, Mondego callously writes both him and Mercedes off, manipulates Albert into fighting his real father to save his own skin, and, even when Dantes decides to show mercy and let him go, Mondego opts to spite Edmond by trying to kill Mercedes.
    • Philippe Danglars is a petty and ambitious sailor who, after his captain is injured, orders Edmond not to seek help for him, then tries to have Edmond punished for disobeying this order. After being rightfully told off for his callousness and passed over for promotion in favour of Dantes, Danglars spitefully colludes with Mondego to have Edmund framed for treason. After becoming a partner to his former employer, Morrell, Danglars goes on to steal Morrell's business out from under him, further showing him to be a man who shamelessly steps on more decent men to get ahead in life.
    • Armand Dorleac is the sadistic warden of Chateau d'If. Despite being aware that the prisoners in his charge are largely innocent, Dorleac happily tortures them on each anniversary of their imprisonment, actively mocking the religious Edmond by promising to end his torture when God shows up and stops him. In a further sign of his total Lack of Empathy, Dorleac keeps up the torture even years after he's forgotten Dantes' name.
  • Heel Realisation: For the better part of Act 2, Dantes is salty towards Mercedes for marrying Fernand only a month after his imprisonment. But then he spots the impromptu wedding ring Mercedes fashioned and realises he may have been harsh to assume she'd ever love anyone but him, even after his supposed death. He also learns she only married Fernand as she'd been pregnant from Dantes, and wanted to avoid the life of an unwed mother, which was very hard then.
  • Hellhole Prison: Château d'If. All the prisoners are innocent, put there for political reasons with no hope of release (Abbé Faria was originally sentenced for having fallen afoul of Napoleon and remains imprisoned despite Napoleon having been removed from power and exiled). Prisoners are largely neglected and ignored, except for a yearly beating on the anniversary of their imprisonment.
  • Heroic BSoD: Dantes temporarily breaks down when, after revealing that he had counted the tens of thousands of stones of his cell many times, Faria tells him that his boredom will eventually lead him to name the stones. However, he soon snaps out of it as they formulate a plan for escape.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Abbé Faria warns Edmond of this. At first Edmond doesn't listen, and like in the novel, comes dangerously close to becoming like his enemies.
    Faria: Here is your final lesson — do not commit the crime for which you now serve the sentence.
  • Hidden Disdain Reveal: When Mercedes reveals that Albert is not his son, but rather Edmond's, Fernand's response is "So he's the bastard son of a dead traitor. He was always disappointing." Still, one can interpret it as a case of Sour Grapes Syndrome in order for him to ease the blow that a legacy is one more thing Edmond has that he doesn't.
  • Historical Domain Character: There's a cameo appearance by Napoléon Bonaparte.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Dantes loses his faith on account of his unjust imprisonment (and then regains it at the end of the film). This is a contrast to the novel, in which Dantes is still religious as the Count — he just worships a very vengeful God.
  • Hollywood Density: The treasure is stashed in very large trunks filled to the brim with gold coins. Large enough that two men being able to lift one seems highly implausible. It would also possibly founder their skiff when they load a dozen chests into it.
  • Hope Spot: Villefort realises Edmond is innocent and is actually about to release him. Then he finds out that the intended recipient of Napoleon's letter was his own father.
  • Human Ladder: The priest asks to stand on Edmond's shoulders to see out a window for the first time in decades.
  • Hypocrite: Fernand Mondego is a massive one; he looks down on his supposed friend Edmond Dantes despite deeply envying him, loathes the idea of Edmond keeping secrets from him despite propositioning his beloved behind Edmond's back, and denounces Mercedes as a whore for becoming pregnant by Edmond before she married Fernand, despite cheating on her repeatedly after their marriage.
  • I Never Told You My Name: "Edmond Dantes is dead." Mercedes hadn't mentioned Edmond's last name to "the Count". Whoops.
  • I Owe You My Life: Jacopo swears upon all his dead relatives, "even the ones who aren't feeling too good," that he is Edmond's man forever when Edmond spares him and convinces Luigi Vampa to let them both live in the crew. He's as good as his word.
  • In the Local Tongue: Edmond's smuggler nickname:
    Luigi: We shall call him... Zatarra.
    Edmond: Sounds fearsome.
    Luigi: It means "driftwood".
    (the crew laughs)
  • Irony:
    • There's something to be said for how Jacapo, a pirate, is far less malicious and treacherous towards Edmond than the nobleman Fernand ever was to him.
    • Towards the climax, Fernand accuses Edmond of trying to put a wedge between the former and Albert and turn father and son against each other... while actively putting a wedge between Albert and his rightful father by trying to manipulate them into killing each other.
  • Ironic Echo: Early in the film, Edmond and Fernand are shown to have a tradition of passing a chess king back and forth whenever one of them has come into good fortune, the winner being "king of the moment" and quipping "king's to me". At the climax, when Fernand's life has been thoroughly destroyed by a vengeful Edmond, he finds a chess king his former friend left for him, and Edmond reveals himself as the Count of Monte Cristo, darkly remarking "king's to you, Fernand".
  • It's All About Me:
    • Fernand's reason for betraying Edmond is summed up in his quote before dueling Edmond in the climax.
      "Now I couldn't live in a world where you have everything and I have nothing."
    • Danglars tempts Fernand into betrayal all because he's still sore over the Passed-Over Promotion.
    • Villefort condemns an innocent manipulated victim to a Hellhole Prison and has his own father murdered all to preserve his own reputation.
  • Karma Houdini: Subverted with Napoleon; despite his actions setting off Edmond's misfortunes, he never faces any onscreen consequences, but, historically, his escape and return to power lasted only a few months, after which he was exiled again and died a few years later.
  • Karmic Death:
    • Monsieur Armand Dorleac spends years torturing Edmond and the other prisoners of the Chateau D'If. Edmond manages to send them both off a cliff into the sea and brutally wrings his neck for it.
    • Fernand is brutally defeated and impaled by his former best friend after metaphorically stabbing him in the back, and exhausting all chances for mercy. Even more karmic, he's killed by his own sword in the same manner he had heartlessly dispatched the viscount he had cuckolded.
  • Large Ham: A gleefully sneering Guy Pearce as Fernand.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Villefort is exposed as a murderer and fraud, with a coach waiting for him to take him to prison along with a pistol as a 'courtesy for a gentleman.' He puts it in his mouth and pulls the trigger, only to find it empty. Edmond then asks if Villefort truly thought Edmond would make it so easy for him and leaves him to the hell of prison.
  • Leave Behind a Pistol: Dantes leaves Villefort a pistol as "a courtesy for a gentleman". But it isn't loaded.
  • Liar Revealed: Albert is not pleased to learn that the Count of Monte Cristo staged his rescue at the hands of the "muggers" (really Luigi and his pirates), nor does it help Dantes' case when Fernand further turns Albert against him by pointing out it was (technically) his plan to woo Mercedes and put a wedge between them.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Foreshadowed in Edmond's speech at Albert's birthday. He indirectly compares Albert's defiance towards the muggers in Rome to his own determination when he was in prison, perfectly framing how Albert was brave like Edmond because he is Edmond's son.
  • Looks Like Jesus: Dantes in prison, eventually.
  • Look What I Can Do Now!: In their final interaction before Edmond is arrested, Fernand revealed his true intentions and thrashes Edmond easily in a sword fight. When he is finally confronted by "the Count's" true identity, Edmond instantly disarms him, leading a very nervous Fernand to note how much better he has gotten with a sword.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Dantes to Albert. Neither of them are aware until Mercedes does The Reveal.
  • Mathematician's Answer:
    Mondego: How...?
    Dantes: How did I escape? With difficulty. How did I plan this moment? With pleasure.
  • Meaningful Echo: "I'm a count, not a saint."
  • Meaningful Name: Abbé Faria ("The Mad Priest"). Notable in that since he hasn't had a conversation during the length of his entire sentence in the prison, he must have given this name to himself.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Faria dies in prison after years of helping Edmond dig a tunnel and educating him in the arts and in combat. But his death provides Edmond with a quicker means of escape by taking the place of his wrapped-up corpse.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: Mercedes gets one. Justified in that she's concealing her naked body from the manservant of her lover, and not her lover himself. Averted in that once said manservant gives her favorable news, she suddenly cares not at all for preserving her modesty.
  • Moral Myopia: Mondego has the gall to ask Edmond why he's destroyed Mondego's finances and ruined his reputation. Putting aside that Mondego's own gambling and poor business skills were already ruining him, and his reputation is spoiled when he's revealed as a thief and a murderer (charges he admits are true), Mondego betrayed Edmond and left him to rot in prison for years and married the woman Edmond loved, yet is still shocked that Edmond would seek to avenge himself upon him.
  • The Mourning After: While Mercedes confronts his true identity, Dantes presses her on why she married Fernand so quickly after his alleged death. It's only then that he recognizes the make-shift engagement ring on Mercedes' hand that she crafted the night before his arrest many years ago. According to her, she never took it off for one day, representing that although she married Fernand, it was always Edmond she loved.
  • Never Learned to Read: At the start of the film, Dantes is illiterate (a change from the book, where he could read). One of the first things he wants to learn from Faria is how to read and write.
  • Nice Guy:
    • Albert is an idealistic young boy with none of the treachery of his father, making one marvel that he is Fernand's son. As it turns out, he's not.
    • Edmond at the beginning. After prison, on the other hand...
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Had Fernand not off-handedly permitted Albert to go to Rome basically unsupervised, it wouldn't have given Dantes the perfect opportunity to engineer the boy's kidnapping and rescue, earning Albert's trust. What's more, if Fernand hadn't been a neglectful father in the first place and attended his son's birthday like he should've, then Dantes wouldn't have further endeared himself to Albert with his speech.
  • No Doubt the Years Have Changed Me: Besides having an entirely different body build and almost certainly having somewhat changed the shape of his face (losing pretty much all of your body fat will do that, and the beard would also hide the shape somewhat), the dark, dangerous, and self-assured Count also doesn't speak, move, or act anything like gentle, sweet, nervous Edmond Dantes.
  • Not Actually His Child: Albert doesn't look much like his father Fernand, having jet black hair and striking blue eyes like his mother. But as Dantes' revenge plan falls into place and Fernand's life is falling apart, Mercedes reveals that Albert actually does take after his father... Edmond Dantes. Mercedes only married Fernand because the unwed, pregnant lover of a condemned traitor had very few other options in the early 1800s.
    Fernand: Now go and find my son.
    Mercedes: He's not your son.
    Fernand: I beg your pardon?
    Mercedes: Albert Mondego is the son of Edmond Dantes. Why did you think I rushed off to marry you so quickly after Edmond was taken away?
  • Nothing Up My Sleeve: Jacopo keeps a knife in his sleeve, which he uses to temporarily incapacitate Fernand.
  • Not His Sled: The aforementioned Luke, I Am Your Father moment. In the original, Albert is indeed Fernand's son, not Edmond's.
  • Not Me This Time: From Napoleon when Edmond and Fernand land on his island and are cornered by his "guards".
    Napoleon: Lieutenant Graypool, if your thirst for gore demands the death of these poor fools, then by all means shoot them. But do so with the knowledge they are no agents of mine.
  • Offended by an Inferior's Success: Fernand turns in his lower-class best friend Edmond for carrying a note for the exiled Napoleon, because Fernand is jealous that his friend was just promoted and has a beautiful fiancée.
    Edmond: Why?! In God's Name, why?!
    Fernand: Because you’re the son of clerk! And I shouldn’t want to be you!
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Danglars has his big moment when he demands to know who the Count really is, only to go pale when he bluntly tells him "my friends call me Edmond Dantes". Danglars can only whisper out "Dantes?" in shock before Edmond pushes him and lets him choke on the rope wrapped around his throat, only spared because Dantes tells the constables to cut him down before he can't talk.
    • Villefort and the Count's meeting in the sauna is one of these after the other for the former, but especially when the gendarmes reveal themselves (having overheard Villefort admit to his crimes), and when he realises that the Count is Dantes.
    • Mondego can only gape in shock when the Count reveals his true identity.
  • Out-Gambitted: Regularly with the Count. In one particularly efficient example, Villefort and Mondego conspire to steal some of the treasure of Sparda, while Danglars further attempts to steal from both, but Danglars just so happens to be using Luigi Vampa and his men to perform the smuggling (ensuring his "cut" goes right back to Dantes as intended) while the Count brings the French police to investigate the smuggling in general, thwarting Villefort and Mondego.
  • Passed-Over Promotion: Danglar's motive for his part in the betrayal - the ship's owner promoted Dante for trying to help the dying captain, giving him the choice of serving under a younger man or leaving his job to find another ship. So he helped to remove Dantes to free up the captain's slot again.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: The Count utterly ravages the lives of his betrayers, but they're all loathsome people even apart from engineering Dantes' false conviction.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • After meeting with Morrell (who confirms that Dantes' father killed himself and that Mercedes married Mondego), Dantes leaves him with the money he earned from serving in Vampa's crew.
    • Despite manipulating Albert and writing him off as "a means to an end", the Count takes the time to deliver a toast at Albert's birthday party when the boy's father doesn't bother to.
  • Physical Scars, Psychological Scars: The scars on Edmond's back that he received from being repeatedly lashed in the Chateau D'If represent how his time in prison embittered him.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Even by the standards of the time, Fernand is viciously misogynistic, denouncing Mercedes as a whore for sleeping with Edmond in her youth (despite also begging her to sleep with him at that time). He, meanwhile, repeatedly cheats on her throughout their marriage. He's also classist, looking down on his supposed friend Dantes for his humble birth while deeply resenting him.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Many aspects, including the relationships between major characters and the ending, have been changed, simplified, or removed; and action scenes have been added. The main themes of the story are intact. Given that this is an adaptation of a 440,000+ word novel, this is probably for the better.
  • Prefers Rocks to Pillows: Dantes' time suffering in the Chateau d'If has left him unwilling to sleep in his luxurious bed upon his rise to Count, instead sleeping on his bedroom floor. Though by voluntarily doing so, he also keeps the pain of his whip scars flaring up from the discomfort, fueling his revenge plot.
  • Prisons Are Gymnasiums: In the book, the priest's lessons were purely academic. In the film, he also teaches Dantes fencing... well enough to win two fights during his escape.
  • Rags to Riches: Dantes, who progresses from poor second mate of a trading ship to the wealthy Count of Monte Cristo.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: A small one. When Mercedes confronts Fernand with the truth about how Albert is not his son, Fernand brushes her off, saying he shall abandon the both of them. In a backhanded act of Pet the Dog, he says Mercedes "pleased [him] some of the time". As he leaves, Mercedes quietly and disappointedly says to herself "You never pleased me."
  • Redemption Rejection: Dantes repeatedly refuses to forsake his quest for vengeance, or even to go a simpler, less cold-blooded route. It's only when he finds out about his and Mercedes' son that he backs down, but by then, the only part of his revenge that isn't complete is that Mondego is still alive.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The movie is adapted from the Trope Codifier.
  • Rule of Symbolism:
    • Dantes continually keeps the words carved in the wall "God will give me justice" tidy, representing his faith in God and how it keeps him going. Seven years later, the carved words are worn away and neglected, which Dantes notes aptly represents his cynicism. In the end, after Dantes visits the prison one last time to make peace with the Priest, the carved words are tidied once more.
    • In one scene, Jacopo finds Dantes sleeping on the floor, claiming he's spent so long sleeping on stone, he feels less comfortable on a bed than the floor. This is meant to frame how badly he's holding onto his grudge, distancing himself from any comfort so he never forgets what he's been through. Later, when he sleeps with Mercedes for the first time in 15 years, he's sleeping in a bed, showing his resolve for revenge thankfully waning (if not entirely).
    • As Fernand rides away to his freedom, he slows his horse down as he realises he has nothing left to his name. As though making a point of how uncertain his future is, Fernand faces an endless field of tall grass, representing the great unknown that is his fate as a poor man and fugitive, and has a burnt-out and ruined villa behind him, representing the wreck that became of his old life and family.
  • Sarcastic Clapping: Abbé Faria does this when Dantes pieces together why Villefort burned the incriminating letter and imprisoned him right after clearing him of the charges.
  • Sauna of Death: A scene with Villefort and the Count takes place in one of these. The location is deliberate on Dantes' part, as it allows him to hide the authorities nearby within the steam cover as he literally Perp Sweats Villefort into an Engineered Public Confession.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Downplayed, if only because as Fernand tells Clarion before finishing him off, "[Villefort] lacked the courage" to do it himself.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Subverted. The tunnel that the Priest and Dantes dig to escape caves in at the last moment, destroying eight years of hard work. At first, it seems that at best, Dante's work has been set back a couple weeks or even months. But thankfully, the cave in does set off a chain of events that leads to Dantes' impromptu (and more successful) escape plan of hiding in the body bag in the Priest's place. So digging the tunnel did serve a purpose in the grand scheme.
  • Sherlock Scan: Luigi does this to Edmond when they first meet after the latter's escape from prison.
    Luigi: I would ask who you are but in view of your shredded clothes and the fact that the Chateau d'If is two miles away, what's the point?
  • Something Only They Would Say: Fernand is confronted by the Count immediately after finding the king chess piece he gave to Edmond sixteen years ago, but doesn't make the connection until the Count reminds him of their old game.
    Fernand: Monte Cristo.
    Edmond: King's to you, Fernand.
    Fernand: (drops the chess piece in shock) Edmond?
  • Spiteful Spit: Fernand does one to Edmond as he goads him to finish him.
  • Spotting the Thread:
    • Faria realises (and helps Edmond realise it too by pointing it out) why Villefort imprisoned Edmond despite originally clearing him of charges by noting that not only did he burn the letter (a red flag since as a magistrate holding obvious evidence of treason he should have been brought it straight to the government), he did so after hearing the name "Clarion".
    • Mercedes realises The Count is Edmond when he twirls his hair the same way he used to.
  • Stating the Simple Solution: Jacopo's response upon hearing Dantes' elaborate plans for revenge.
    Jacopo: Why not just kill them? I'll do it! I'll run up to Paris — bam, bam, bam, bam — I'm back before week's end. We spend the treasure. How is this a bad plan?
  • Stealth Insult:
    • When meeting Mercedes again as the Count of Monte Cristo, Dantes tells Mercedes that although she may recognize his face, she may sooner forget his name in less than a month. It's clearly a subtle jab at how quickly Mercedes married Fernand after Dantes' alleged death.
    • Later, when revealing to Fernand that Albert is not his biological son, Mercedes coldly asks "Why do you think I married you so quickly after Edmond's death?" It's as though she's making a point to say, "I never married you because I liked you."
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Albert, with his blue-gray eyes and wavy black hair, takes after his mother, Mercedes, or so it seems, until it's revealed that the similarly blue-eyed, black-haired Edmond Dantes is his biological father.
  • Sudden Principled Stand: Jacopo is initially on board with Edmond's revenge, but after Albert's birthday party, he tries to tell Edmond to give it up and live Happily Ever After with Mercedes and his fortune.
  • Swashbuckler: The book was written by the Trope Codifier author, after all.
  • Sweet and Sour Grapes: Dantes ultimately foregoes his revenge and spares Fernand, letting him escape while choosing to attend to Mercedes and his newfound son. However, Dantes' second chance at revenge comes trotting back on horseback like a Christmas present, on the principle that Fernand has nothing left to lose and wants to duel it out.
  • Take a Third Option:
    • Dantes' appearance on the beach after escaping Chateau D'If provides the smuggling captain Luigi one such option. As he explains to Dantes, he and his crew originally landed to give Jacopo a taste of being Buried Alive for trying to sneak some treasure for himself on the side of jobs. However, Luigi found himself asked by some of Jacopo's comrades to spare him, which he notes he can't do without losing respect of his crew and risking a mutiny. Thus, his solution is to have Dantes fight Jacopo to the death: if Jacopo wins, he comes back and all is forgiven. If Dantes wins, Luigi gave Jacopo a chance for mercy and the crew has a replacement. And if Dantes refuses they'll just slit his throat.
    • When Dantes wins the resulting duel, he offers Luigi a fourth option, in that Jacopo gets to live but Dantes joins the crew anyways, having shown off his fighting skills to prove his worth. Luigi agrees, and Jacopo gives Dantes the I Owe You My Life speech.
  • Teach Me How To Fight
    Edmond: You were a soldier in Napoleon's army. Teach me the sword.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • In the beginning of the story, Mercedes tells Fernand she will never marry him, because she doesn't want to be his "whistle"note  to covet. Skip ahead over fifteen years later, and Mercedes has become Fernande's trophy wife to cast aside for his lovers, ergo his "whistle".
    • Not long after, Edmond's father is about to toast that the three of them (him, his son and Mercedes) will know happiness from this moment on. But before he can toast, Edmond is arrested, setting off a chain of events that would leave Edmond Dantes a jaded, revenge-driven anti-hero, Mercedes an unhappy Trophy Wife to Fernand, and Edmond's father dead.
  • That Man Is Dead: Edmond states this once he learns that Mercedes married Fernand. Unusual in that the person to whom he says it is unaware of his true identity at that time.
  • This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: In the Final Battle, Albert is kept from intervening by Jacopo. Jacopo himself also refrains from intervening, even though he is a very capable fighter, because this is Dantes' fight.
  • Tired of Running: After Fernand shoots Mercedes, he turns tail to run, mounts his horse and escapes at full gallop. However, after less than a minute, he pulls up and takes a moment to stare at the horizon, remembers his station, turns around, draws his sword, and shouts his challenge.
    Fernand: I couldn't live in a world where you have everything and I have nothing.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Edmond is a hapless, uneducated merchant sailor when he is arrested; he returns to Marseille as an educated, erudite, swashbuckling nobleman.
  • Trapped by Gambling Debts: Dantes learns that Fernand has gambled away his fortune and accrued debts soon to be foreclosed. This desperation for money plays into Dantes' scheme, and he exacerbates it by ordering Jacopo to buy out the banks Fernand is trying to get loans from to put the squeeze on further by rejecting him.
  • Undying Loyalty: When Jacopo swears he's Edmond's man for saving his life, he means it. Ruthless smuggler he may be, but he devotes himself to the Count and his loyalty is unshakeable.
  • Vengeance Feels Empty: Played with. On one hand, Edmond's pursuit of revenge did set off the chain events where he made a loyal friend, found untold riches, reunited with his love, and met their son. On the other hand, when he visits the resting place of Abbé Faria, he admits that he was right in that vengeance was never going to heal him.
  • Wanting Is Better Than Having: One of the wonderful facets of Fernand. The only reason he wants anything is for the petty reason that it's not his. One example being that, as a child, he wanted the whistle Edmond was so happy to get for his birthday, despite that he himself got a pony for his own birthday. Later in life, Fernand covets Mercedes for being Edmond's fiance, and goes as far as to falsely accuse his friend of treason just to have her. Yet, once a distraught Mercedes marries him a month after Edmond's imprisonment, Fernand proceeds to essentially toss his Trophy Wife to the side while he cheats with four different women in the span of 15 years (again, because those women belonged to someone else). All in all, Fernand is the type to only want something if he can't have it.
  • Wardens Are Evil: The warden of Château d'If knows that his prisoners are innocent; that doesn't stop him from keeping them locked away and neglecting them apart from their annual beatings.
  • Wham Line:
    Dantes: There are 72,519 stones in my walls. I have counted them many times.
    Faria: But have you named them yet?
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Madame Villefort is only mentioned once after her husband's arrest, with no word on her whereabouts or fate after all is said and done. If anything, considering she had a hand in ratting out Edmond to Albert to avenge her husband, the movie doesn't even touch upon whether she'll either pursue revenge on Villfort's behalf, or simply live and let live.
  • What You Are in the Dark: When captured by muggers (unaware they are Vampa and his fellow pirates hired by Dantes), Albert is faced with the possibility his captors may cut off his fingers and send them to his family as proof they have him hostage. What is a boy barely 16 years of age to do when he's been captured in a foreign country? Weep? Beg? No. Instead, he fearlessly declares "Do your worst!" This is what leads to Dantes (who witnessed this display of courage) warming up to the boy.
  • When You Snatch the Pebble: During his fencing lessons, Edmond is challenged by the old priest to move his hand through dripping water without getting wet.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: After Edmond and Jacopo find the Spada treasure and Edmond reveals his plans for revenge, Jacopo proposes a simpler solution than the whole Count routine. It boils down to, "I ride to Paris. I shoot them. Bang, bang, bang. I ride back. We spend the money." Edmond counters that killing his betrayers isn't enough; he needs them to suffer.
  • With Friends Like These...: Well, in Edmond's case, "With a friend like this". Edmond is nice enough to him, but Fernand is miserably envious of him and throws him under the bus the first chance he gets to have Mercedes all to himself. And when the Count of Monte Cristo reveals himself as Dantes, Fernand taunts him for his peasant background and spits in his face. By and by, the real mystery is how Fernand and Edmond ever became friends in the first place.
  • Would Hit a Girl: By the final confrontation, Fernand has no problem with trying to shoot Mercedes with a gun.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are:
    • When on his death bed, the Priest tells Edmond to trust God as long as he uses his wealth for good. Edmond, who literally had the faith whipped out of him, resentfully says he doesn't believe in God. The Priest responds by saying "God believes in you."
    • In the wake of Fernand not attending Albert's birthday to toast his own son, Dantes steps up to the plate to give such a speech to Albert. He praises the boy's courage, which he himself witnessed when captured by muggers. Despite that his father may not have bothered to show, Dantes is the first to let Albert know that his worth goes beyond Fernand's approval.
      "Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man, is what you do when that storm comes. You must look into that storm, and shout as you did in Rome: "Do your worst! For I will do mine." Then the fates will know you as we know you. As Albert Mondego, the Man."
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: When Villefort senior is accused by his son of treason for receiving a letter from Napoleon to help him escape his exile, he retorts that it's just a matter of dates: "When the Emperor returns, perhaps it is you they will call traitor."