This is such an intriguing story. A young man with a promising future is betrayed by friends with false accusations of being a #spy. After being imprisoned for years, he manages to get hold of a large fortune, changes his identity, and starts planning his revenge on those who took his life from him.
But what if I told you there was a real "Count of Monte Cristo"?
Before I get to that, I'll give a quick overview in case you haven't seen the movie. In the movie, Edmond Dantes is a sailor (a man of humble means). His best friend, Fernand Mondego, is the son of a count but is super jealous of Edmond. They are together on a boat for work when the captain of the ship is ill. They stop at the Isle of Elba for help. The only problem is that Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled to Elba Isle, and the British (being afraid that people would help him escape) shot everyone who approached the Island. Luckily, after a short bit of trouble, the sailors are able to explain their reason for being there.
While there, Napoleon passes Edmond a secret letter asking him to give it to his old friend promising that it is nothing political. Edmond who is good hearted, too trusting, and illiterate, takes the letter and promises to keep the letter secret and deliver it to the old friend. Edmond and his friend Fernand leave that island and travel back home where Edmond is rewarded for his efforts to help the now deceased sea captain and is given the rank of captain (skipping over the 1st mate who did not help the original captain). Fernand who was aware of the secret letter, sees how everything in life is going well for Edmond and is super jealous. He works with the angry 1st mate of the ship and turns Edmond in, accusing him of being a spy trying to help Napoleon escape. The magistrate questions him and learns that the man who Edmond was supposed to give the letter was his father (a Napoleon supporter who was wanting to help him escape). Not wanting word to get out that his father is a supporter of Napoleon, the magistrate sends Edmond to the worst of the worst prison island, Chateau D'If, where he is tortured and neglected for 13 years despite his innocence. A month after his imprisonment, his fiancé marries his best friend, Fernand.
During his time in prison he becomes friends with an old priest who teaches him how to read and write, and how to sword fight. Before the priest's death, he tells Edmond where he hid a huge treasure. Edmond is able to escape, finds the treasure, changes his identity to the Count of Monte Cristo (Monte Cristo being the name of the island where he found the treasure), and gets busy planning his revenge. By the end of the movie, he basically gets everything he wants: his revenge, his fiancé, a son, a faithful friend, and more money than he could ever need.
The Real Count of Monte Cristo...
Pierre Picaud is believed to be one of the men who may have inspired the story of the Count of Monte Cristo. Although some say he isn't the one who inspired this now famous story, his life sure does have quite a bit in common with it.
He was a 19th century shoemaker (a man of humble means much like Edmond Dantes). His three friends were jealous of his marrying a wealthy woman and conspired to falsely accuse him of being a spy. A fourth friend who knew of this conspiracy and failed to report it. Pierre was sent to prison at Fenestelle Fortress for 7 years. While he was in prison, his former fiancé married one of his friends who had accused him of being a spy. Unlike Edmond's fiancé who waited only a month, Pierre's fiancé waited two years to marry his friend. After his time in prison he acquired a large fortune and spent the next ten years plotting his revenge. Pierre not only sought to punish his friends who betrayed him, he also punished their children. He had his friends and their children either killed or framed for crimes they didn't commit.
Unlike Edmond's happy ending, Pierre never had the peace to be able to move on in life. His fourth friend who knew of the conspiracy, but hadn't reported it abducted and killed him. This friend confessed this whole story on his death bed and is the official French police record for this strange turn of events.
I enjoyed this movie for the storyline. I have to admit, I don't have much of a tolerance for taking in violent/intense scenes during movies so there was plenty of cringe worthy moments for me. If you don't want to watch scenes involving death by sword, beatings in prison, or water fights...this movie probably isn't one you want to watch, and definately isn't for young children.
Historically speaking, this movie was loosely based off real events. Pierre Picaud's life being the main example of this. But also the politics of Napoleon Bonaparte. He really was exiled to the Elba Isle, and he really did escape back to Paris. Hot air balloons really would have been a super impressive sight for people back then; because, they hadn't been invented much earlier. At that time, a woman in the company of a man by herself really would have been risking her reputation. Chateau D'If is a real fortress on an island just off the coast of the old Port of Marsailles that was basically impossible to escape from. It really was used as a place to detain political prisoners. The island of Monte Cristo really is an Italian island. The treasure of Sparta (of ridiculous monetary value) really would have been something of legends back then before real amature archeologist, Heinrich Schliemann, found it in 1870's.
In other words, this movie might be fictional and filled with the "excitement" and "happy ever after" of Hollywood, but it's certainly filled with enough real historical pieces to make it incredibly interesting. The fact that it is such a popular movie just goes to show...in general people do actually find history interesting. It's just a matter of story telling. Interested in watching it? For you convenience you can click here!*
*Disclaimer: This is an affiliate link which means I make a small commission off any purchases through that link.