Follow TV Tropes


Series / The Count of Monte Cristo (1998)

Go To

"Do you think I like being the Count of Monte Cristo? He's a terrifying man - ruthless and cold. I didn't want to become that man. I was happy just being Edmond Dantès, I expected nothing more from life. But they ruined it... Villefort, Morcerf, Danglars and even that worm Caderousse, who knew all but said nothing. By killing the sailor who asked for nothing they created the avenger who's back for his dues. Too bad for them."

The Count of Monte Cristo (French: Le Comte de Monte Cristo) is a 4-parts French miniseries adapting the Alexandre Dumas novel of the same name, directed by Josée Dayan with a screenplay by Didier Decoin and produced by (and first broadcast on) the TF1 channel in 1998.

It stars Gérard Depardieu as Edmond Dantès, once a young French sailor who was about to marry his beloved Mercedes and ended up falsely accused of conspiring to put Napoléon Bonaparte back on the thronenote  and sentenced to spend the rest of his life imprisoned in the dreaded Château d'If, an island fortress off the coast of Marseille and from which no prisoner has ever escaped.

Edmond spends 18 years imprisoned in the fortress and befriends the abbot Faria, a fellow inmate who tells him of a fantastic treasure hidden away on a small rocky island, the Isle of Monte Cristo and gives him the treasure's location. The old Faria dies, Edmond escapes by taking the place of Faria's dead body in a bag and finds the treasure. Edmond then takes the alias of the Count of Monte Cristo and, with the help of his newfound servant Bertuccio, goes back to France and settles in Paris. He then starts using his newfound wealth to patiently and methodically plot revenge on those who have sent him to the Château d'If.

The cast includes, among others, Ornella Muti as Mercedes Igualada, Sergio Rubini as Bertuccio, Pierre Arditi as Gérard de Villefort, Jean Rochefort as Fernand de Morcerf, Michel Aumont as Baron Danglars, Florence Darel as Camille de La Richardais and Julie Depardieu as Valentine de Villefort.

The same leading actor-director-screenwriter posse went on to make several more miniseries, including a biopic of Honoré de Balzac in 1999 and Les Misérables in 2000.

Tropes specific to this version of the story include:

  • Adaptation Name Change: The surname of Mercedes is "Igualada" in the miniseries, whereas it is "Herrera" is the novel.
  • Adaptation Deviation:
    • In the novel, Edmond Dantès remains single while plotting his revenge. This version has him seducing a beautiful (and broke) widow, Camille de La Richardais, to reduce the chances of being suspected by his revenge's targets and enjoy a woman's company.
    • Valentine Villefort has no Acquired Poison Immunity in this version. Edmond prepares an antidote for her and Bertuccio brings it to her just in time to save her life, as she has already ingested the poison.
    • Edmond/Monte Cristo doesn't consume hashish.
  • Adaptational Alternate Ending:
    • Villefort goes crazy after all the woes happening upon his family in the novel. Here, he's last seen broken but seemingly still sane.
    • Edmond reunites with Mercedes and they live happily from then on, instead of Mercedes going to a convent and Edmond leaving France with Haydee. Haydee's role in the miniseries is smaller than in the novel, since she ends up with Franz d'Espinay and Canon Foreigner Camille de la Richardais takes up part of Haydee's role.
  • Adaptational Nationality: Bertuccio is from Italy here, whereas he's French (Corsican) in the novel.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: Bertuccio is not Hot-Blooded here, not having a score to settle with Villefort. Instead he's something of The Conscience to balance Edmond's ruthlessness.
  • Adapted Out:
    • King Louis XVIII doesn't appear at any point. He does in the novel.
    • Villefort seemingly has no legitimate son in this version.
    • Eugenie Danglars and Julie Morrell are cut out.
    • Ali seems to be replaced by a whole squadron of Turkish mercenaries, acting as Monte-Cristo's bodyguards.
  • Ascended Extra: Bertuccio has a much more prominent role in this version, becoming Edmond's Number Two.
  • Cadre of Foreign Bodyguards: Edmond/Monte Cristo employs Ottoman mercenaries as bodyguards.
  • Canon Foreigner:
    • Camille de La Richardais doesn't exist in the novel, she was invented by screenwriter Didier Decoin. This might be a case of avoiding invokedValues Dissonance and Wife Husbandry present in the original novel, where rumors fly that Haydee is the Count's mistress instead of Camille and she ends up with him in the end.
    • Captain Coclès, the old sailor Dantès/Monte Cristo sends to Janina to bring Haydee to France, doesn't exist in the novel. However, his named is borrowed from an employee of the Morrel shipowner family, Horace Coclès, who appears in the book but not in this miniseries.
    • Gervaise Rebuffet, the woman Villefort condemns to death for illegally practicing abortions, doesn't exist in the novel either. Although here she's little more than an extra and solely exists to show Villefort's ruthlessness as a prosecutor.
  • Compressed Adaptation:
    • Most of Edmond's time in prison in the novel has been skipped.
    • Bertuccio has no personal vendetta against Villefort.
    • Danglars' imprisonment by Luigi Vampa is also considerably shortened.
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • Italian crime boss Luigi Vampa has a much less prominent role here than he has in the novel.
    • Haydee's role has been considerably reduced.
  • Dull Surprise: Albert de Morcerf hardly changes his facial expression, whether he's supposed to be pleased, angry, grateful or whatnot.
  • Food Porn: Bertuccio is a Supreme Chef and some of his dishes get loving descriptions and closeups. Not to mention the fancy foods Edmond serves to Camille.
  • Historical Domain Character: King Louis-Philippe I is the only historical figure to show up in the mini-series. Napoleon Bonaparte and King Louis XVIII were Adapted Out, although they're still mentioned.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Camille eventually breaks it off with Edmond—she loves him but knows he still loves Mercedes. He tries to offer his fortune as a parting gift, but she turns it down, instead asking him to learn forgiveness.
  • Impoverished Patrician: Camille de la Richardais, following the death of her husband. Her financial situation is so dire that she can't repair her house's roof and has to eat substitutes. Cue the Count of Monte Cristo showing up at her house with caviar and other delicious and pricey things.
  • Majority-Share Dictator: Edmond/Monte Cristo buys fifty-one percent of Danglars's bank's shares so he can issue himself infinite letters of credit, and ruin the bank and thus Danglars.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Edmond/Monte Cristo's disguises often involve no more than a larger nose than Gérard Depardieu's normal one and a wig. Justified, since most of the people he disguises himself to fool were old friends/enemies of Edmond Dantès who would not have seen him for more or less twenty years and would have every reason to believe he was dead.
  • Remake Cameo: Captain Coclès is played by Roger Dumas (no relation to Alexandre), who played Danglars in the 1979 French TV adaptation of the novel.
  • Romancing the Widow:
    • Edmond/Monte Cristo seduces the young and beautiful widow Camille de la Richardais for several reasons: to become the talk of the town in the French high society in order to get closer to his revenge's targets, to enjoy a relationship with a woman once more (even though it's all platonic), and because her beauty is more "Northerner" and doesn't remind him one bit of the Mediterranean beauty of Mercedes.
    • Edmond does it again with Mercedes, after Fernand's death.
  • Sinister Shiv: The abbot Faria turned a crucifix of his into a knife and gave it to Edmond before dying. Edmond ends up using it to break free of the jute body bag when he's thrown at sea impersonating a dead Faria.
  • Smug Snake: Fernand during most his hearing. Haydee's arrival and testimony wipes that smugness off his face.
  • Timeshifted Actor: In the first part of the story, showing the young Edmond being framed and consigned to prison, Edmond is played by Guillaume Depardieu, Gérard's son.
  • Too Hungry to Be Polite: Upon returning to Europe with Bertuccio, Edmond/Monte Cristo serves himself wine and eats like a commoner. Bertuccio is quick to teach him some table etiquette, to improve his nobility act.