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Archive for December, 2010

The Count of Monte Cristo

The Count of Monte Cristo   

25 January 2002 (USA)

Director: Kevin Reynolds

Writers: Alexandre Dumas père (novel), Jay Wolpert (screenplay) 

  
  
  
James Caviezel as Edmond Dantes (as Jim Caviezel)
  
  
Guy Pearce as Fernand Mondego
  
 
Richard Harris as J.F. Villefort 
  
Dagmara Dominczyk as Mercedès Iguanada 
 
Luis Guzmán as Jacopo
Story line:
In the turbulent days in which France was transitioning away from Napoleonic rule, Edmond Dantes (Caviezel) and his closest friend, Fernand Mondego (Pearce), aspire to gain the same two things: the next captaincy of a ship in Morel’s (Godfrey) Marseille-based shipping business and the hand of the lovely Mercedes Iguanada (Dominczyk).

Dantes and Mondego are diverted to Elba on a shipping mission because their captain requires medical attention. Assistance comes, unexpectedly, in the form of the personal physician of the exiled Napoleon (Norton). In return for the use of his doctor, Napoleon demands that Dantes deliver a letter for him and that the mission and the letter be kept a secret. Unknown to the illiterate Dantes, the letter will provide Bonapartists in Marseille information of pertinence to a possible rescue of Napoleon. Also unknown to him, Fernand has discovered and read the letter and has full knowledge of its contents.

On his return to France, Dantes’ fortunes peak as Morel names him captain of one of his ships and an improved station in life prompts Edmond to propose to Mercedes, who accepts the offer. In the process of being beaten out of the two things that matter most to him in life, the jealous Fernand knows that the letter Dantes is carrying can be used to falsely implicate him in an act that might be viewed by local authorities as treasonous. Fernand, and his confidant, shipping colleague Danglars (Woodington), betray Dantes by making the magistrate Villefort (Frain) aware of the letter.

Dantes is taken by local authorities in front of Villefort. Despite his determination that Dantes is innocent of any crime, he becomes edgy upon learning that the letter was addressed to Noirtier Villefort, a known Bonpartist, and, consequently, a politically inconvenient father for a young man aspiring to a prominent law career in post-Napoleonic France. To eliminate all evidence that his father was involved in plans for an escape attempt by Napoleon from Elba, Villefort burns the letter and has Dantes arrested and taken to the Chateau D’If, a maximum security prison, where Dantes rots for over a decade, with no prospects of getting out in the imaginable future.

Dantes befriends a fellow prisoner named Abbe Faria (Harris), who is a great scholar and who, very gradually, transforms the unworldly Dantes into a wise, learned and cultivated man. Faria is an old man, however, and when he comes to realize that he is fatally ill, he tells Dantes of a great treasure and where it is buried.

Secretly placing himself in Faria’s burial sack, which is to be thrown over the cliffs and into the river alongside the prison, Dantes manages to escape. After a dangerous ordeal in which he mingles with, but ultimately befriends, an enterprising, yet violent, group of smugglers led by Luigi Vampa (Blanc), he makes his way back to Marseille. Dantes now turns his attention to claiming the treasure Abbe Faria had referred to.

After locating the treasure, Dantes’ riches are suddenly boundless, but rather than retiring to a life of leisure, his new raison d’etre is vengeance, with the objects of his revenge being Fernand (now a count), Danglars (now a baron), and Villefort (now a chief prosecutor), all of whom live in Paris. As they are now members of Parisian high society, Dantes realizes that to gain access to them, he’ll need to reinvent himself, and uses some of his newfound riches to purchase a huge estate near Paris. He then proclaims himself to be the Count of Monte Cristo, and although nobody knows of him, his claim is very credible in view of his visibly substantial wealth.

The Count plans a party at his new estate and invites many members of Parisian high society, including all the objects of his vengeance. Now having considerable access to each of them, one at a time, he successfully sets them up for failure. Danglars is tricked into an act of embezzlement and Villefort is tricked into confessing to conspiracy to have his own father murdered within earshot of local authorities.

The Count gains close access to Fernand and Mercedes, who are now husband and wife, by paying the smuggler Luigi Vampa to pretend to kidnap their son, Albert. This enables the Count himself to save Albert. Having saved their son, the Count is now welcome in the home of Fernand and Mercedes.

Taking note of his mannerisms, Mercedes soon works out that the Count is actually Edmond Dantes, but the Count still has a bone to pick with her, as she married Fernand very shortly after his arrest and had Fernand’s son, Albert (Cavill), not long after that. This seemed a sign of her infidelity, but the Count ultimately learns that Villefort had announced that Dantes was dead shortly after the onset of his imprisonment. Fernand, it turns out, had bargained for this announcement, from which he hoped to gain the hand of Mercedes, by murdering, at Villefort’s request, Villefort’s father. Now understanding that Mercedes had believed him dead, the Count is less incensed by her marriage to Fernand, but still finds the very short period of time between his imprisonment and their marriage very unsettling.

The Count is about to turn his back completely on Mercedes. But then, Fernand’s financial ruin from compulsive gambling compels him to leave Paris to evade his debtors, against whom he has committed crimes. Unwilling to follow Fernand with their son, Mercedes, finally, tells the Count the truth —- she had married Fernand because she had, unknown to the Count, been impregnated by Dantes shortly before he was arrested. She wanted Albert to have a father. In truth, however, Albert’s biological father is the Count himself.

Finally willing to forgive her, the Count falls in love all over again with Mercedes, and, with those who had betrayed them out of the way, they resolve to live their lives, casting aside the dark and regrettable episodes which had robbed them of so many happy times with each other and with their son Albert.

Korma

Ingredients:
Mutton or chicken 1 kilo
Bari illaichi seeds 4
Small illaichi 8
Cloves 8
Whole black pepper 8
Dhuniya powder 1 1/2 tsp
Medium sized onions 5-6
Salt according to taste
Garlic paste 1 1/2 tbs
Ginger paste 1 tbs
Yogurt 4-5 tbs
Chili powder 1tsp
Oil 4 tbs
Jaifal (nutmeg) 1 pinch
A few drops of Khewera essence  

Method:

  • Slice the onion finely and fry in the oil on very low flame till they are golden-brown.
  • Remove the fried onion from the oil and keep aside.In the oil add all the spices (except the nutmeg) with a little water to prevent burning.
  • Mix well.Add the meat and mix well with the spices.
  • When the water of the meat has dried,add 2-3 glasses of water (1 glass enough for chicken).
  • By now the fried onion would have cooled and turned crisp.
  • Crush it and add it to the pot.
  • Cover and cook on low flame till the meat is tender.
  • When the meat has softened and the gravy has acquired the desires consistency,add a pinch of jaifal and a few drops of khewera essence and remove from heat.
  • Garnish with chopped ginger.
  • Serve hot with naan.

Mughlai Briyani Recipe….

Ingredients:1 1/2 kg chicken cut into small pieces
2 medium onions sliced
6 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp ginger, ground
1/2 cup yoghurt
1/4 kg tomatoes
10 green whole cardamom
4 black whole cardamom
2 tbsp black cumin seeds
10 cloves
2 tbsp black pepper
2-4 bay leaves
2 cinnamon stick
2 tsp coriander powder
3 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground mace
2 green chillies chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup oil
1 tbsp of saffron, dissolved in a cup of hot milk
5 cups rice

Method:

  • Heat oil in a pan and add onions.
  • Cook on medium-low heat until golden brown.
  • Remove onions and add chicken to the pan, stirring until brown.
  • Meanwhile, in a blender, add yoghurt and half of the cooked onion and garlic/ginger.
  • Blend and add to chicken.
  • Also add tomatoes, cloves, black pepper, black cumin, bay leaf, cardamoms and a stick of cinnamon.
  • Add coriander powder, salt and white pepper.
  • Cook for half an hour on medium heat.
  • Stir frequently.
  • When the water has dried up and the chicken is done, add nutmeg and mace.
  • Boil rice in eight cups of water with salt and the remaining spices.
  • Cook approximately for 10 minutes; drain the water leaving the whole spices with the rice.
  • In a pan, make alternate layers of rice and chicken.
  • Add half of the lemon juice, remaining onions and the chillies.
  • Pour 1/4-cup oil on the top along with the saffron/milk mixture.
  • Place in pre-heated oven (350 degrees) for one hour.

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