Guest Author - Lisa Shea
I'm a big fan of Alexandre Dumas. The movie version of the Count of Monte Cristo has some vivid bird imagery in it!
The core of the movie is his imprisonment, which is where he learns to read, to fence, and to become a stronger person in general. In this movie version, Richard Harris is his "tutor" that helps him make this change.
I was watching this movie expecting to see lots of seagulls in it, since much of it takes place on an island, on a ship, and in the coastal port of Marseilles. However, there really are only two bird images in the movie - but both are key.
First is when Dantes is put into his small stone cell with one small window. He looks around it in dismay. Suddenly there's a bright yellow bird in the barred window! It flies in a bit, then perches on the bars and sings down to him. My friend and I burst out laughing - this is EXACTLY the scene that happened in Charlies Angles with the infamous Pygmy Nuthatch. In Charlies Angels, Bosley transmits the song of this bird to the Angels, and they are able to find him based on erroneous information about it. In fact, Bosley is imprisoned in a stone cell by the water, too.
Of course, Dantes has no radio transmitter hidden in his tooth, and no Angels race in to rescue him from his watery cell. The bird appears to be a yellow Tanager, and is more a symbol of the life of freedom and ease that Dantes had before trapped in this cell - like a bird in a cage.
The second bird symbol comes near the end, where Dante's betrayer, Fernand, is riding to grab his gold and run off. As Fernand comes thundering across the fields, he nearly runs down a small family of Quail, who flee in front of him. Fernand did this same thing to many innocents in the course of the story - running them down and harming them just because they were in his way, or sometimes just for fun.
The quails are a final, very visual demonstration of the Fernand's callous disregard for quiet, peace-loving life. It's shortly after this that the final revenge is taken on Fernand.
Buy the Count of Monte Cristo from Amazon.com