Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Friday, July 07, 2006

The Count of Monte Cristo

We just watched The Count of Monte Cristo. It shows how much we get out that we're only getting around to watching something that was released four years ago. Some thoughts:
  • I have to wonder now how much of The Shawshank Redemption Steven King had borrowed from the Monte Cristo novel. You have a lot of the same elements: a falsely accused prisoner, with a close friendship in the prison, digs a tunnel for over a decade in his efforts to escape, and eventually recovers a hidden fortune and visits revenge on his captors. Hmmmm . . .
  • For that matter, there was a plot device in The Silence of the Lambs that seemed rather similar to what happens in Monte Cristo. In both films, a prison successfully escapes by disguising himself as an injured/dead person and is carried out of prison by his own captors. Double hmmmmmm . . .
  • I can feel the roots of the American revolution in the French populist sentiments of Dumas. The story goes out of its way to paint the hero, Edmond Dant├Ęs, as an self-made man, the commoner who rises by his native ability, while the villains are pointedly snobbish aristocrats who believe their high births justify all kinds of . . . well, villainy. That tension finds its way into all kinds of stories, I guess -- the resourceful poor boy who marries the princess is a stock character in Grimm fairy-tales. And yet, the emphasis on one's birth and blood are still present with the hero: the story takes pains to show that Edmond's son Albert has all the nobleness of his true father and none of the scurrilous behavior of his presumed father. As much as we celebrate the "little guy" and deride the aristocracy, we too believe that one's parentage is important.
  • One of the best lines of the movie comes from the Priest, who says, "I'm a priest, not a saint." The line is echoed later by Edmond: "I'm a count, not a saint." For what it's worth, I seem to be coming across this sentiment more and more in popular culture and advertising. I call it the "Han Solo complex": everyone wants to be one of the good guys, but no one wants to be that good. The cinematic hero is always part anti-hero, with darkness in his soul . . . or, as Angel would say, "the big flappy coat king-of-pain type." I sometimes wish the movies could celebrate real sainthood without having to apologize for it.

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