The Count of Monte Cristo is not a film, but rather a mini series consisting of four episodes. It was directed by Josée Dayan, and stars Gérard Depardieu. I watched it in its original version, that is, french. Since I have not had the pleasure, I assume, of reading the book by Alexandre Dumas, I will only review the series itself.
The story's plotline is about Edmond Dantes, whom we first meet in a prison. Over the course of the beginning, we learn that he was falsely imprisoned for having been the messenger of a letter from Napoléon to a Bonapartist in France. He befriends an old man in an adjoining cell by a tunnel that was built in between the two. As the old man dies, Dantes switches himself with the body and escapes. He recovers a treasure the old man had hidden on Monte Cristo, a tiny island of rock on the coast of Italy. Using his newfound wealth, he assumes the name of Count of Monte Cristo and goes about to punish those that betrayed him, and the judge that falsely (and willingly) condemned him without trial. Revenge is best served frozen and meticulous.
The tale itself is rife with moral implications. Should he take revenge, do they deserve it, don't they, should their families also be hurt, what does betrayal mean anyway, etc. It makes you think about all that issue of revenge versus justice. Alternatively, you can skip out on the moral trip and just follow the story, with the Count as the Good Guy and the others are the Bad Guys.
The filming is smooth and unnoticeable. This is both good and bad. It's good because it lets us concentrate on the story, without noticing any fancy camera work, but it's also bad because it's all very banal. The character's all play their parts well. Those that are meant to be silly or unlikable are silly and unlikable, while the other characters play their problems well, moving you to pity.
I personally found the women characters to be flimsy and weak, but that might be in accordance with the novel, which was written in 1844.
Another thing I found to be unlikely and not very realistic, was that no one recognised the Count when in one of his disguises. He disguised himself as a priest, or a lord, to complete certain aspects of his revenge, in addition to the full time disguise of the Count of Monte Cristo. It really boggles me that no one would recognise him while doning a fake nose and wig.
But anyway, intricacies aside, the story is great, and the mini series is enjoyable. Not oscar material, of course, but a good watch, and nice for when looking for a watch to relax to.