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Series / The Count of Monte Cristo (1998)

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The Count of Monte Cristo (Le Comte de Monte Cristo) is a 4-parts French Mini Series 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, a young sailor who was falsely accused of Bonapartismnote  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.

While imprisoned, Edmond meets 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 only he knows the location. After many years in prison, the old Faria dies, Edmond escapes by taking Faria's dead body's place in a bag and finds the treasure.

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Edmond then starts using his newfound wealth to patiently and methodically plot revenge on those who have sent him to die in prison and takes an alias, the Count of Monte Cristo.

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.


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Tropes specific to this version of the story include:

  • Adapted Out:
    • Napoleon Bonaparte and King Louis XVIII don't appear at any point. They do 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.
  • 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: 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.
  • Ascended Extra: Bertuccio has a much more prominent role in this version.
  • 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. Although this might be a case of avoiding Values 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.
    • 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 showcase 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Edmond/Monte Cristo's disguises often involve no more than a larger nose than Gérard Depardieu's normal one. 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 over 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.
  • 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.

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