If you read my blog, you know I don't watch much TV. Soccer games are about my only viewing vice. Last night, my internet was down (I know - the horror!). Instead of writing, I paced the hovel for a bit, and then collapsed onto the couch in a full funk. No one was in the room, but the TV was on. (I have yet to convince the SO that TVs have an Off switch.) After the ad, they promised to return to the movie The Count Of Monte Cristo.
Dumas is one of my favorite writers. You can tell that he was a soldier. While any other writer of his era would have lavished page upon page describing every last second that Edmund Dantes spent in prison, Dumas cuts to the chase. I think it's chapter three that begins something like, "Eleven years passed." Oh, how I loved that man at that moment.
So, thinking that I was going to see the Count of Monte Cristo, I decided to watch TV.
Oh sure, the movie was titled The Count of Monte Cristo, but half an hour into it, I turned to my cat and asked, "Who the hell are these people?" (I did the same thing half an hour into Last of the Mohicans. Then I realized that they were ripping off the original movie of that title, not the book, and that the original movie actually stole more material from Drums Along the Mohawk than Last of the Mohicans, but I was probably one of two people in the state who have actually read both of those books, so no one else was as outraged as I was. BTW - should you ever be tempted to pick up Drums Along the Mohawk, just remember that it makes a Thomas Hardy plot look like a light comedy.)
So I have to ask - why oh why oh why do script writers think they can improve on a classic? I won't argue the quality of Dumas' stories. I know they aren't great, but they're good, and they resonate with readers enough that they're still in print. I suppose that movie execs think (rightly) that few people would know the difference. But I do. And since my opinion matters very much to me, I have some advice for the screenwriters of this world:
If you're going to rewrite an entire story, don't use the title. Call it something else, like "Monte Cristo Sandwich - all the cheese, twice the ham." That way, I don't lose an hour of my life.