Monday, January 21, 2008

Monte Cristos - but not the sandwich

The Sherbs and I have now seen at least two hours of every version of Dumas pere's The Count of Monte Cristo available from Netflix. As such, we can now provide a chart of these films for your edification and amusement:

1) Movies watched -
  • the 1998 French Comte de Monte Cristo;
  • the 2002 American Count of Monte Cristo;
  • the 2004 Japanese animated series Gankutsuo.

2) Easiest way to describe the way Edmond Dantes/the Count of Monte Cristo is portrayed -

Gerard Depardieu (1998) - fat French Batman.

Jim Caviezel (2002) - Jesus is back, and this time for blood!

Japanese animation (2004) - blue space vampire.

3) The character of Bertuccio, the Count's valet and most loyal servant is portrayed -

1998 French version - actually Italian, a great cook and all-around awesome, and rocking a mullet.

2002 American version - called "Jacobo" or "Jacopo," and played by Luis Guzman as one of the NYC Latin gangbangers that Mr. Guzman is often typecast as. The producers sailed fifteen wooden ships to Malta for this movie. They couldn't afford a dialogue coach for Mr. Guzman?

2004 Japanese animation - Isaac Hayes circa 1974 (open jacket, no shirt!), with more butt-kicking.

4) Most irritating moment -

1998 French version - Gerard Depardieu, in his Monte Cristo-cave (no, really; I told you he was Batman) keeps playing with a hibernating frog to see if his potion works.

2002 American version - Luis Guzman says (and it's funnier if you imagine this in a stereotypical New York accent), "Okay, I go to Paris, and I kill them, bam - bam - bam - bam - bam, then we go and spend the money."

2004 Japanese animation - Very heavily stylized; clothing patterns do not move with clothing - on purpose.

5) Longest-seeming opening -

Well, if you added up all 26 episodes of Gankutsuo, that droning two-minute song at the beginning would definitely win. But Comte de Monte Cristo has, for each of its four 100-minute episodes, a four-to-five minute intro which seems to state the names of the entire cast and all of the production crew save the caterers and the best boy.

6) Least plausible plot element -

1998 French version - that young Edmond Dantes, played by 150 lb. Guillaume Depardieu, could become the easily 250 lb. Gerard Depardieu, who is built like a freaking ox, after eighteen years of gruel and privation in the Chateau d'If.

2002 American version - that Edmond Dantes, the son of a clerk and a second mate on board a ship in the early nineteenth century, can't read. If I remember my Hornblower/Ramage/etc., to be a shipboard officer in the nineteenth century, you had to be able to do some basic navigation and keep the ship's books, both of which required functional literacy and numeracy.

2004 Japanese animation - well, if you accept that Edmond Dantes came back from the prison space station Chateau d'If as a blue vampire with magic powers, then the fact that Franz d'Epinay is gay for Albert Morcef and Maximillien Morrel is a cyborg super-soldier are pretty easy to swallow.

7) In sum:

1998 French version - I am the bat!

2002 American version - Bam bam bam bam bam!

2004 Japanese animation - Gaaaaaaaaaay.

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