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THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO

Introduction
"Classic tales such as ‘The Count of Monte Cristo' capture the imagination of audiences around the world," says producer Roger Birnbaum. "This movie takes all the winning elements of the classic swashbuckling movie and reworks it for a contemporary audience. This is the first true swashbuckler in some time that combines realism, action and intrigue. It also features a top-notch cast, a first class director in Kevin Reynolds, and a number of spectacular locations and dramatic adventure sequences."

"'The Count of Monte Cristo' is different from previous versions," says producer Gary Barber. "It's different because we follow some of the events in the book more closely than some previous films, which have taken creative license. We have given the story its own distinctive feel. The characters have more depth and follow quite closely the ending of the book."

"Storytelling is not simply about action, but also about character," writer Jay Wolpert adds. "We have a ‘Count of Monte Cristo' which has all the infrastructure, all the motivation and all the character of the Robert Donat ‘Count of Monte Cristo,' but it also has the action that today's audiences are used to."

First-class action director Kevin Reynolds helms the project with an emphasis on realism, action and strong character development. Producer Gary Barber, who had previously worked as an executive producer on "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves," was familiar with the director's work. "I think Kevin is a great filmmaker," he says. "He has demonstrated it in all his pictures and ‘Robin Hood' was a superb action film filled with absorbing characters."

For Reynolds, working on an epic tale like "The Count of Monte Cristo" was an offer he couldn't refuse. "The title is well-known throughout the world, which gives it an automatic audience," he says. "It has all the elements of a riveting story: friendship and betrayal, love and heartbreak, action and adventure.

"I thought it would be rewarding to do something with such a famous classic novel," Reynolds continues. "Then I sat down and read the book, found out what it was really about and found that the task was going to be much more difficult than I thought because the book is quite dense. We had to set about a way of making it more cinematic."

Barber agrees. "I think it's one of those great tales. It also has romance and a bit of comedy, and the themes of revenge and betrayal all add up to a compelling entertainment. The book has withstood the test of time, and we thought that the timing would be right because there hasn't been a theatrical feature of ‘The Count of Monte Cristo' made in a long time."

"A lot of people ask me, ‘what are your films about?'" remarks Kevin Reynolds. "I think it is an obsession with a loss of innocence. I think there is an element of that in all the pictures I have done. Maybe that is what there is for me in ‘The Count of Monte Cristo.' There is this young, innocent, well-intentioned guy who gets run over by a bunch of ruthless people. He goes back and tries to seek revenge which he thinks will fulfill him and make him whole again.  But is revenge satisfying? As the Richard Harris character says: ‘It's a meal endlessly cooked and seldom eaten.' So that's what this film is, an exploration of one man's quest for revenge."

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