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THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO

About The Location
The primary location for "The Count of Monte Cristo" was Ireland. Here Ardmore Studios became home to elaborate construction including the Chateau D'If staircase, the interior of Mondego's lavish townhouse and the forbidding innards of Chateau D'If. The other major location was Malta, chosen primarily for the island's architectural heritage. "We wanted to get an authentic feel while being fiscally prudent," Gary Barber says of the locations. "Ireland gave us both of those elements in a location where we got great support from the local people. Malta was chosen for the look and the location -- it gave us a great panoramic shot of the harbor and it was also cost effective."

Finding that harbor shot was an initial problem, and it was only after trawling through Italy and France that Kevin Reynolds and production designer Mark Geraghty discovered their 1814 Marseilles port in Malta's historic Dockyard Creek. "Whereas most of the rest of Europe has been taken over by modern architecture, Malta still retains a very unique look with all the old forts that are made out of huge stone blocks," Kevin Reynolds explains. "As a consequence it is very unique, and I can't think of another place where we could have found anything that would have looked like a Mediterranean port circa 1815. We were extraordinarily lucky."

"The architecture is almost perfect," Geraghty adds. "It has the deep harbor that we can bring the tall ships into, and there are very few harbors in the world that can do that. So once the dock site worked we planned everything else around it."

From newspaper cuttings to internet sources, from period books on Rome, Paris and Marseilles to previous "Monte Cristo" movies, the production design crew soaked up the details and assimilated all the information before wiping the slate clean and creating a new look of "The Count of Monte Cristo."

"We looked at artists like Turner and Canaletto," says Mark Geraghty. "It is really to get the contrast in lifestyles that is so important, between Edmond before his prison sentence with his so-called best friend Fernand and then after him spending 13 years in a cell. We contrast that with the total opulence outside."

The island of Comino off Malta provided the perfect setting for the infamous Chateau D'If as it boasts a castle perched on top of vertiginous cliffs. At the base of the cliff, one hundred and sixty feet below, there is a cave, which serves as the entrance to the prison. "That was incredible," Geraghty recalls. "We actually changed the script after we found this place. We went to Comino primarily for the island of Monte Cristo, for the scene where they are searching for the treasure, and that's when we came across this place. We went ‘wow!' and I nearly jumped into the water. If you designed it, it couldn't look better. So we set the whole prison around that location. Rather than throwing the bodies off the battlements of the castle prison, as it had been originally written, we had them come to the cliff edge and throw the bodies from there. It is much more dramatic."

Apart from the Chateau D'If staircase, the other major set design was Mondego's opulent town house, a lavish and painstakingly detailed recreation of a period house in Paris. "Early on in production, I took the designer Mark Geraghty to Malta," Kevin Reynolds recalls. "On the way back, we went through Paris and I showed him a place I had seen a couple of years earlier and asked him to duplicate that for the interior of the Mondego town house. Mark did a fantastic job. It is quite opulent and one of the most beautiful sets I have ever shot on."

Mark Geraghty recalls the search for Mondego's town house. "When we decided on using Malta, Kevin said to me I have a vag

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