Tuesday, October 07, 2008

I just finished reading The Count of Monte Cristo for the second time, and enjoyed it perhaps even more than the first time around. There are the little bits you miss on the first time through a book to glean on a second reading, you take a little more time to savour rather than devour and it's a generally pleasant experience.

And what's not to enjoy about The Count of Monte Cristo? It's a rollicking tale of love, loss and revenge with lashings of intrigue, plus some sprinklings of drug use, affairs and sapphic affection. And some murders, bandits and moments of deep generousity and caring.

The officemate, knowing my love of the book, has lent me the serialised production of it starring Gérard Depardieu. In return, I shall lend him the book, and I imagine it will take him a touch longer to get through that than it will for me to finish the DVDs.

I like Gérard Depardieu.


Why on earth do they have to alter things so much when they create these productions? It's well done - and so far more akin to the book than the film with Jim Caviezel and Guy Pearce, which is literally a whole different story - but it's not really like the book at all either in its own way. And some of the alterations are rather grating.

In short, this is not what I imagine the scenes to be (and some of the dubbing is woeful).

I do understand that things are different for books and tv and what works for one may not necessarily work for another, but at times it can and I think the story as it unfurls in the book is enough to grab people's attention and engage them. These stories have survived the decades or centuries with great success, so why the need to alter them now?

Productions can run along very closely to the books that inspire them - the BBC versions of Jane Eyre, starring Timothy Dalton and Zelah Clarke, and Pride and Prejudice, with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, are just some of the ones that have remained quite loyal to the books. Actually, the BBC's been great with Charles Dickens and Elizabeth Gaskell, too.

But this isn't BBC and I'm only 57 minutes in and I've already loudly exclaimed, "WHAT?!?!?!" a number of times about changes that have been made. Oh well. Shall just sit back and see it purely for entertainment, great sets and interesting outfits.

Okay, enough grumbling...

I obviously feel too passionately about books I love.

Update: Maybe not enough grumbling! They've changed vital elements of the Count's character and added the whole thing of defying God rather than seeing himself as someone who's been blessed by chance/fate to do God's work, etc. Perhaps I won't finish this before the officemate finishes the book. Nyargh *shudder*

And what is this following the pardon of Peppino? Imagine the outfits Colin Firth wore for Pride and Prejudice, but baggier and in shiny black leather. Looks more like he's about to become The Mount of Monte Sadisto.

I am excessively diverted!


SugarPuff said...

Le Comte is one of my all time favourite books, and my favourite Dumas work (closely, very closely, followed by the black tulip. I mean, how many books have chapter titles like "How a Gardener May Get Rid of the Dormice That Eat His Peaches"?

Most adaptions of it are rather irritating. I saw the Guy Pierce/Jim Caveziel movie before I read it, and really enjoyed the movie at the time, but after reading the book grew really annoyed at the idea that "God has given me justice".
And WHAT are you doing watching a dubbed version of the French mini-series?? You should be watching it with Sub titles!!

Years ago, we found a DVD of the Richard Chamberlain version of The Count which had as its blurb something along the lines of "Imprisoned in the hellish island fortress of monte cristo......" we bought it just because it seemed SO WRONG. It was actually OK, loosing a lot of plot elements (as it was a 2 hour movie) but keeping a lot of the important ones. You should watch it sometime, just for kicks :)

Ahh, must go and read it again.

The reason I grow so annoyed at the "God has given me justice" bent that the adaptions often take (or alternatively "revenge against God") is the letter he writes to Maximillion in the final chapter "Tell the angel who will watch over your future destiny, Morrel, to pray sometimes for a man, who like Satan thought himself for an instant equal to God, but who now acknowledges with Christian humility that God alone possesses supreme power and infinite wisdom. Perhaps those prayers may soften the remorse he feels in his heart."

Those are not the words of a man who believes he has done the right thing!!

Perseus said...

One of my favourite books is The Old Man And The Sea by Hemingway. I had heard the film was awful so never bothered to watch it.

A while back, it came on telly, and I saw the ad for it. The voiceover guy said, "It's the story of an old man..." and I said to myself, "It sure is." He then said, "...a young boy," and I said to myself, "Well, the young boy had a couple of lines in the book, but, whatever," and then the voiceover guy said, "...and the woman in both their lives," to which I replied, out loud, so the neighbours could hear, "WOMAN? WHAT WOMAN? THERE ARE NO WOMEN IN THE BOOK! THERE IS NOT A WOMAN IN THE BOOK! THERE'S THE OLD MAN, AND A FISH! WOMAN? JESUS!"

Della said...

Sugarpuff: first off re: the dubbing thing, it is in French. Just very badly edited with mouth movement to sound. And it's made worse by the subtitles being somewhat close to the characters' mouths. Argh. It seems to be particularly bad with Bertuccio, who often will be speaking without moving his mouth. Or moving his mouth and not speaking. Perhaps he's a ventriloquist.

Anyway. I saw the Guy Pearce version of The Count before I read the book as well. In spite of everything, I still actually quite like it. As for the Richard Chamberlain one... Sounds interesting!

I think with the "God has given me justice" thing, it's because he seems to feel when he's starting out on his revenge work that he's been given a chance to do so by God. He says God has taken him from nothing to make him what he is. It's more like he sees himself as an agent of providence or something, and is generally pretty disconnected from human community. But by the end, realises how wrong he's been when he sees the impact he's had on innocents ("[H]e felt he had passed beyond the bounds of vengeance, and that he could no longer say, 'God is for and with me.'") and that revenge isn't really so nice as a dish, even if it's served very cold.

Perseus: Hopefully it helped the neighbours steer clear of watching it...

SugarPuff said...

for entertainment value, yes, the guy pierce one is rather enjoyable.

Gah, today I feel like watching movies all day long...

Sorry for the epic long post btw

Della said...

Movies all day would be great.

I'm really in the mood to watch Robin Hood, Men in Tights for some reason.

Epic comments are great, so don't worry! :)