I really like the 2002 movie version of Alexandre Dumas’ 1844 French classic, “The Count of Monte Cristo”. It has wonderfully talented and admirable actors; the plot is sensational, filled with twists, revenge, sword fights, love, death, treasure, pirates and forgiveness. I highly recommend it!
On the other hand, after just finishing the book (translated and abridged by Lowell Bair) and I cannot really see how they compare. As usual (99.999% of the time) the book is far better than the movie. There is so much more to the book (more characters, more heartbreak, more justice). It is really a book of substance. It makes you smile, hold your breath at moments, gasp – because you did not anticipate that plot twist, and think. The thinking part makes it more enjoyable. This classic has become one of my favorite books.
The book deals mainly with right and wrong. Strong and timeless archetypes (a recurrent symbol or motif in literature, art, or mythology) are evident throughout the story; we see the benevolent guide, damsel in distress, scapegoat, an evil temptress, death and rebirth, light vs. dark, good vs. evil, educated stupidity vs. innate wisdom… This mixture provides a thrilling and thought provoking journey through 17th century France.
In the end, I highly recommend both the book, and the 2002 screen adaptation. They are both their own creatures; but they both, effectively, communicate the same ageless message.