Wow! I’ve been calling for this, on this blog (written about it a number of times), since I first read the novel over a year ago, and I’m glad that someone finally decided that it was time to maybe take a closer look at it as a potential film adaptation.
Alexandre Davy de la Pailleterie, aka Alexandre Dumas, aka “Black Devil“ by some of the armies he fought against (let’s just say he was good at his job), aka The Black Count, is the subject of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize-winning book from acclaimed author Tom Reiss, titled The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo.
It’s a riveting, well-written story that reads with all the thrills of a novel written by Dumas’ son, likely the most popular Dumas, also named Alexandre Dumas, author of literary classics like The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers.
Dumas, the father of the author, is the figure at the center of Reiss’ riveting The Black Count, and which is encouraged reading.
In short, his life is/was the stuff of legends, and became fodder for his son’s novels. The Count Of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers for example, were, in part, based on Dumas, the father’s real-life story; his ending just wasn’t as happy as it was for the fictional count in the 2002 film that most are probably familiar with, starring Jim Caviezel and Guy Pearce (there’ve been several film adaptations of the novel, however).
And now that novel is set to become a film, thanks to Sony Pictures, and John Legend’s Get Lifted film production company (Legend has been quite busy, setting up a number of projects for the screen – big and small – lately).
Cary Fukunaga is set to adapt and direct the film, according to Deadline.
Sony’s Josh Bratman, as well as Troy Carter will serve as executive producers.
“Cary’s exceptional talent as a writer/director will bring to life all of the action and drama that have made The Black Count such a compelling read,” Michael De Luca, who is overseeing the project for Sony said. “He’s got a great take on the material and we’re thrilled to be working with him, John, Thais, Troy and Mike.”
Dumas, the father, The Black Count, was born in Saint-Domingue (present-day Haiti) in 1762, the son of a black slave woman and a rebel French aristocrat. He was briefly sold into slavery but eventually made his way to Paris where he was schooled as a sword-fighting member of the French aristocracy. Enlisting as a private, through pure ability, skill and determination, he rose up through the ranks rather quickly, and would eventually command armies at the height of the French Revolution, in audacious campaigns across Europe and the Middle East.
He wasn’t only a great soldier, but also became the
highest-ranking black leader in a *modern* white society, at that time. By 32 years old, he was appointed commander-in-chief of the French
army, which is the equivalent of a four-star general here in the USA.
Initially praised and loved by Napoleon for his daring, heroic battlefield feats, the same Napoleon would eventually come to despise Dumas for, really, the same reasons he liked him in the first place – his independence and revolutionary ideals which dictated his approach to war, and earned him victories, as well as the respect of both his friends and enemies.
The last years of his life were unfortunately spent in captivity, before he would be released, all his accomplishments virtually forgotten, eventually dying of an incurable illness at just 43, in poverty, leaving a wife and 3 children – one of them being Alexandre Dumas, the son, who would go on to become the prolific and notable author.
While Dumas languished for two years in an enemy dungeon, Napoleon made himself dictator and destroyed the “post-racial” society that was France at the time, imposing cruel race laws, and re-instituting slavery in the colonies. Napoleon then went to extraordinary lengths to completely bury the memory of Alex Dumas, ensuring that he was all-but forgotten, until recent memory.
His story was ruthlessly suppressed by the country he practically gave his life to (France), and remained buried for some 200 or so years.
The book itself is
both a riveting true action/adventure story of this one man’s life, as
well as a peek into what was essentially the modern world’s first
multi-racial society. The author provides just enough crucial back-story, before diving into Dumas, the father’s own narrative. In fact, he doesn’t get to Dumas’ story until about 60 pages in – we first learn about his father, his mother, what the world, and specifically France and Haiti (the 2 key locations in which the novel unfolds) were like in that century (the 1700s primarily), and how the landscape changed over time.
In my last post on the potential for a film adaptation of the book, I said that I certainly wouldn’t hold my breath for a Hollywood studio to option the rights to the novel and produce a film based on it, even though they continue to milk stories from the novels written by his son – stories that are, in some cases, inspired by the father’s life and exploits. Allow me to eat those words right now, thanks to Sony’s decision to move on it.
If you’d like to read the book, click HERE to pick up a copy.