When I saw this, I thought "hmm, another French film with Gérard Dépardieu, is there a French production that DOESN'T involve him in some way?" But I have to say that he is perfect for this part. After 18 years in jail, the innocent Edmond Dantès styles himself as the Count of Monte Cristo, in order to seek revenge against the so-called friends who betrayed him years before, using his vast wealth, a number of disguises and remarkable ingenuity to mastermind their spectacular downfalls. Brooding, vengeful and frightening with his enemies, loyal and gentle to his friends, Dépardieu as the Count is central to this production. But this is by no means a one man show.
There is a whole kaleidoscope of characters as the story unfolds, some comic, like the scrounging Caderousse, others scheming and suave, such as the dastardly Villefort, and a host of others. If you like costume drama, this will not disappoint, as the women flounce in beautiful dresses around huge and ornate houses, the men strut in their impeccable waistcoats and top hats, and in the background, horse-drawn carriages ferry the rich and privileged past the hungry, dirty peasants. There is mystery, betrayal, suffering, trickery, clandestine romance, scheming, exotic locations, murder, kidnapping, regret, love, execution, financial skulduggery, redemption - you name it, it appears in Dumas's classic tale. Even the subtitles are good, in the unenviable task of conveying the complexity of the story, and it is certainly more atmospheric to hear the words in French - I can't imagine Dépardieu or any of this production dubbed into English!
I can't recommend this video highly enough if you feel like a few hours of Napoleonic intrigue and escapism, all set to a beautifully haunting and dramatic score.