While he only contributed two works to film, The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas’ creations have been filmed over and over. The Man in the Iron Mask is also his but is an extension of The Three Musketeers.
There have been dozens of filmed versions from 1908 to 2002 but the only two versions of The Count of Monte Cristo that are currently available on instant Netflix are TV series.
The Count of Monte Cristo (1998) – Not rated
“Gérard Depardieu stars as the French sailor Edmond Dantes in this faithful adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’s classic adventure tale. Wrongly imprisoned in the formidable Château d’If for 18 years, Dantes learns of buried treasure from a fellow inmate.”
This 1998 French television production adapts Dumas’ classic work over a six hour period yet fails to understand what made the novel work. While I don’t typically discuss spoilers, this series does not stay with the book ending thus undermining quite a bit of the story.
Revenge (2011-2) – Rated TV-PG
“Inspired by Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, this modern-day drama follows a lovely young woman who moves to the Hamptons and charms the pants off her new neighbors — while plotting their downfall for sins committed against her family.”
Revenge absolutely begins with a Monte Cristo template, albeit one where the daughter of the wrongfully imprisoned man inherits wealth beyond imagining and plots revenge. The first half of the first season is brilliant. This being a television series, the writers have set up far more people compliant in the wrongful imprisoning, i.e. villains/victims, than were in The Count of Monte Cristo.
The show has an excellent focus but loses its way halfway into the first season. It recovers well by the end of season but the second season just adds contrivance after contrivance and it is no longer a story of revenge but a soap opera. Performances are interesting and Madeleine Stowe is fabulous.