Dumas’s enduringly popular novel, The Count of Monte Cristo, adapts well to cinema, having been created in a tradition of visual storytelling that developed in complexity as the cinematic medium evolved in parallel form. The picaresque adventures of the protagonist, Edmond Dantès provided narrative spectacle that was matched by advances in camerawork and editing in each decade of the cinematic century. As a time-based revelation of a latent image, the spectacle of Edmond Dantès develops in a series of identities or portraits by way of the alchemy of revenge in both text and cinema.
While he frequently locates political suspense narratives in family life, Costa-Gavras’s Conseil de Famille (1986) and La Petite Apocalypse (1993) show the comic side of the maxim that all politics are local and familial. The housebreaking duo in Conseil de Famille are blackmailed by the kids into adding them into the family business, while the haut-bourgeois couple in La Petite Apocalypse are burdened with a Marxist ex-spouse houseguest who won’t leave them and their pretensions alone. Few critics could conceive of Costa-Gavras as a humourist, and fewer still were able to see the comic potential of domestic stories about failed ideals.