On 27th of February, 1815 the ship named “Pharaoh” returns from her long voyage. Captain LeClair, alas, didn’t make it back. He died of fever in the open sea. The command was taken by the nineteen-year-old officer Edmond Dantes. Fulfilling the wish of the captain he sails to the island of Elba where Edmond shall give the parcel with captain’s last will to Marshal Bertrand. But that delivery pulls Dantes to the dangerous chain of events. He meets with disgraced Emperor Napoleon himself and receives a letter that should be delivered to Paris to a man named Noirtier who, with other conspirators, plans to help Napoleon return his throne.
The owner of the “Pharaoh” a rich man named Morrel is delighted by the skill of young officer that allowed Dantes to deliver the ship back unscratched. He swiftly offers Dantes to become an official captain of the “Pharaoh”. Edmond is happy. The promotion gives him wealth and status needed to provide a happy life to his fiancée Mercedes and finally marry her. But not everyone is satisfied with this course of events.
The company accountant Danglars, obsessed with envy, decides to remove Dantes from the captain position and disgrace him. He finds a former soldier and now a mere fisherman named Fernand Mondego. Mondego is desperately in love with Mercedes, so he has his own scores to settle with Dantes. Another his rival is the tailor named Caderousse who knew Edmond’s father and now envies Dantes just because of the young man’s luck.
Danglars writes an anonymous letter to the prosecutor named monsieur de Villefort, accusing him of treason and of being a secret agent of Bonapartists. Danglars knows that Edmont was just fulfilling the will of the deceased captain and he didn’t know anything about the content of the letter, but, nevertheless, lies to frame the young man. Dantes is captured and interrogated by the authorities almost immediately, in the day of his wedding - it was an accusation of highest treason possible. But Edmond is honest and noble, telling everything as it is. De Villefort is touched by Dantes’ devotion to the deceased captain and is ready to release the prisoner, but, after reading the confiscated letter, he realizes that his own fate now depends on this political game: the mysterious Noirtier is his father!
De Villefort understands that he can’t just burn the letter and forget about everything. Now he has to get rid of Dantes, who, accidentally, could hear something about the whole story. If Dantes speaks, de Villefort will lose not only his job but also the hand of his fiancee (whose father doesn’t know de Villefort is the son of Noirtier) and maybe even his life. So, despite all the attempts of Mr. Morrel to save his captain, he condemns Dantes to the imprisonment in the castle of If, on island in the middle of nowhere, for the rest of his life. This prison is built specially for traitors and political opponents of the current government, so it is considered impossible to escape it. It was something of Alcatraz of its time.
Many years after that we see Dantes on the edge of the grave despair. He refuses to eat, willing to die from starvation rather than continue his miserable existence. Suddenly, one evening he hears a dull screeching sound behind the thick stone wall. Dantes understands he is not alone, someone is clearly trying to dig his way out, but seems to lose direction. Now the fellow prisoner is digging towards Edmond’s cell. Edmond starts to dig too. Many days of exhausting work are rewarded with the joy of meeting another living man. Abbe Faria - that was his name - was held there four years more than Dantes. He hoped to dig his way to the outer wall of the prison, then jump into the sea and swim as long as he can to either reach the land or die trying. Edmond consoles the sad priest: now they are together so they can dig twice as fast!
While they are digging, the priest teaches Dantes different things - philosophy, languages, math and history, making him a well-educated man in the process. But Faria is seriously ill and completely exhausted by the years of imprisonment. When both of them are almost free it becomes obvious that his illness became terminal. Before his death, Faria tells Dantes his secret - the place where Cardinal Spada hid his enormous treasures three hundreds years ago. This place is called the island of Monte Cristo.
Dantes moves the Faria’s body to his own cell and hides in a sack that was prepared to get rid of the dead priest. He is thrown into the sea - the prisoners of If never received a proper Christian burial. But this cruelty now helps Dantes to break free and swim away - exactly as his dead friend wanted.
Exhausted, Dantes is picked up by some smugglers. One of them named Jacopo becomes his faithful friend and helps him recover. In a few months Edmond finally reaches the island of Monte Cristo and finds the treasure that is indeed colossal. Now he is ready to return.
Lots of things have changed during the long years of his absence. Fernand Mondego was promoted to the rank of a general and now is called Count de Morcerf. Mercedes became his wife and now they have a san. Danglars became a rich banker, de Villefort rose to the rank of royal prosecutor. Caderousse was, perhaps, the one unsuccessful fellow from the whole bunch: he quitted tailoring and became an innkeeper, but his business isn’t going well.
Once, a strange guest enters Caderousse’s inn. He calls himself Abbe Busoni, an Italian priest who heard the last words of dying man named Edmond Dantes. Now Busoni travels here to fulfill his death wish. Dantes gave him a huge diamond and said that the priest should sell the diamond and give the equal sums of money to such people: Mercedes, Danglar, Fernand, Caderousse and old father of Dantes. Caderousse is blinded by such perspective. He tells to the “priest” that Dantes was framed by exactly the same people he wanted to give that money and that Mercedes did not remain faithful. It was only he, Caderousse, who tried to protect Dantes, but he couldn’t do anything. As for Dantes Sr. he didn’t have enough strength to endure such a grim fate of his son and soon died of grief (this is also lies, as blatant as previous one: Caderousse robbed Edmond’s father and he died of hunger and poverty, alone). So only he, Caderousse, deserves to get the money, all of them. The priest indeed gives him a diamond and disappears in the morning.
In the meanwhile, Lord Wilmore, the mayor of Marseilles, sends the six-digit bill to Mr. Morrel, demanding to pay his debt in three months. The only possible way for the ship company owner to pay it is to sell his “Pharaoh”, but she disappeared in a shipwreck. His company is on the verge of collapse. But suddenly, the daughter of Morrel receives a letter signed by Sindbad (yes, that one!) with the place marked on the map. She goes there and finds a purse with gold coins, exactly enough of them to cover her father’s debt! Also there was a diamond, slightly bigger than a walnut: a dowry to Mademoiselle Morrel.
It all looks enough like a fairy tale, but the biggest miracle happened when “Pharaoh” returned to the bay of Marseilles, and she is perfectly fine! The captain of it is Busoni, Sindbad, Count de Monte-Cristo a.k.a. Edmond Dantes. Dantes wishes happiness and prosperity to Morrel. He returned to Marseilles not only to help him but to collect the documents about himself and Faria. Now he has the papers and leaves Marseilles to have his revenge.
Later the young Parisian aristocrat named Franz who are going to the carnival in Rome, decide to visit the legendary Elbe. But suddenly they got lost and sail near the isle of Monte-Cristo where, according to the rumors, lives a man calling himself Sindbad. There is indeed an incredible rich palace in the island. Its luxury is comparable with the palaces of Eastern kings and its owner welcomes Franz offering him to stay in his palace for a while. Later in Rome Franz unexpectedly meets Count of Monte-Cristo. Franz’s friend, Albert de Morcerf (who is the son of Mercedes and Fernand) was abducted by the gang of bandits led by Luigi Vampa. The Count of Monte-Cristo saves Albert. He talks to Vampa asking to let Albert go and the gang leader says that the whole gang owes their lives to the Count so they abey. Albert, in his turn, gratefully invites the Count to visit Paris and be his guest.
In Paris Albert introduces him to all his friends including the son of Mr. Morrel Maximillian. This meeting excited the Count and Maximillian was no less excited to know that the company of his father is now saved. The Count rents several apartments in Paris and one house that is considered haunted. The landlord named Bertuccio says that it is reckless to move to this house, because the souls of innocent babies may be there, searching for revenge. Many years ago Bertuccio saw de Villefort who buried a newborn baby in the garden of that house - his illegitimate son from an unknown woman. Bertuccio digged the box out as soon as de Villefort left and saw that the baby was still alive. His daughter-in-law adopted the boy and gave him the name Benedetto. He also tells the Count that Caderousse (who he also knows) got himself in trouble because of the incredibly precious diamonds and now is condemned to labor.
The city is filled with rumors about the mysterious Count. He asks for “unlimited loan” in the bank of Danglars. Danglars refuses because he is sure that even the Count’s wealth isn’t unlimited. Count mocks Danglars that he has more money than all his bank, and, offended, Danglars allows him to have the credit.
The Count also gets close to de Villefort family. He wins the favour of Madame de Villefort and learns from her some more family secrets. Madame de Villefort is extremely unhappy with her marriage and she is sincerely thinking that without her husband alive the life can be much better. Also de Villefort has the daughter from his first marriage, named Valentine. Valentine is deeply in love with Maximillian and the feeling is mutual, but her parents are trying to force her to marry Franz.
The beautiful woman named Haydee, the daughter of Turkish Pasha is now often seen with the Count. It is rumored that they are lovers. Haydee is also a part of Count’s plan, she searches for a man who was a friend of her father, then betrayed him and sold her and her mother to slavery. Once in the Opera she hears from some strangers the name of the soldier who surrendered the fortress her father defended for two thousand gold purses. It was the exact date when she was sold (she was only twelve at the time). The name of the soldier is Fernand Mondego, now known as Count de Morcerf.
Haydee was bought by Count of Monte-Cristo from the Sultan before and he promised her to take revenge on her offenders. He freed her almost immediately, but Haydee decided to stay with him anyway. Now Dantes isn’t surprised that her offender is Mondego, he is sure that he became a God’s weapon of divine justice, so God will lead him to anyone guilty by the accident - or miracle.
The Count invites all the aristocrats for a dinner in his new house and suddenly tells them the story that he found a skeleton of an infant buried alive in the garden by the former owner. De Villefort pales: everyone knows who owned the house before Count de Monte-Cristo.
Then Danglars learns that while he was playing on the stock exchange he suffered losses that are more than one million francs - someone (who is obviously the Count through his agents) gave him a false insider information about Spanish economic crisis and Danglars hastened to get rid of all the shares of Madrid bank.
De Villefort whispers to Mrs. Danglars that the Count is probably talking about their illegitimate child: his mother was the wife of Danglars. She is shocked - she thought that de Villefort gave their child to some family for adoption. She curses de Villefort for such a horrible deed and is glad that he now will be publicly humiliated.
De Villefort tries to learn the truth about the Count by all means, but information provided by his agent Abbe Busoni (Dantes is indeed skillful in making disguises!) is very scarce and contradictory.
Later a young man (who is runaway convict Benedetto - the son of Mrs. Danglars and de Villefort, who took another name). Caderousse, who was also convicted for killing a jeweller he sold the diamond to, met Benedetto there and blackmailed him into obedience. Now after breaking free Benedetto decides to marry the daughter of Danglars, a girl with the rich dowry. But before that he decides to break into the house of Count of Monte-Cristo and rob it. Both of the criminals enter the house at night, but it isn’t Count but Busoni who meets Caderousse there. He forces Caderousse to write a letter to Danglars, explaining who, in fact, is his almost son-in-law and then he lets both of them go. Leaving the house, Benedetto kills Caderousse.
Something strange happens to de Villefort’s family. One after another his relatives die, then the old servant drinks lemonade in his father’s room and dies also. The doctor, invited to investigate the case, comes to the conclusion that all of the victims were poisoned and the murderer lives in the house. The case becomes public.
Later Noirtier forbids Franz to marry Valentina. Though everyone sees it as a whim of an old madman, it was him fulfilling the plea of his beloved granddaughter. Later it becomes known that Noirtier secretly killed Baron d’Epinay in the duel of honor for his refusal to join the Bonapartists. The live of de Villefort is disrupted.
Now it’s Fernand’s turn. All the Parisian newspapers publish an article about his treason during the siege of the fortress. When the court is investigating the case, Haydee enters and presents all the documents and evidence needed to confirm that Count de Morcerf bought his luxurious life and title with blood of her parents and her own dignity.
Albert de Morcerf demands a duel, he wants to avenge his father. But instead of a duel the Count reveals him his true identity as Edmond Dantes and tells the story of his life. Shocked and ashamed, Albert asks Dantes to forgive him. So does Madame de Morcerf - Mercedes - who still loves Dantes but there was nothing she could do so many years ago. The Count accepts the apologies and at the same day Albert and his mother leave Paris. Fernand later also demands a duel but after he learns that he is facing Dantes, the disgraced general shoots himself.
Danglars’ bank is on the verge of bankruptcy. He has to pay all the new bills from the Count. His last hope is to marry off his daughter to one of the confidants of Count of Monte-Cristo (or so he thinks), but suddenly he receives a letter from Caderousse saying that not only “Cavalcanti” is a runaway convict, but he is also a half-brother of his daughter! In the meanwhile Eugenie - the Danglars’ daughter - leaves Paris with her female companion running from her father and unhappy marriage (also with the aid of Count of Monte-Cristo). Cavalcanti-Benedetto runs away also and hopes to cross the border. He is caught by the border police and when put on trial says that his father is actually de Villefort.
The last and most painful blow for de Villefort is poisoning his daughter, Valentine. He has no more doubts, the murderer is his wife who decided to get rid of her husband and the only heiress of Noirtier’s wealth to have everything for herself and her son. De Villefort accuses the woman and the poor mad Madame de Villefort (who was taught to make poisons by the Count of Monte-Cristo, who slightly pushed her to her goal) drank her poison herself and also poisoned her son. De Villefort, seeing his all family dying, goes mad. He wanders across the Count’s garden digging new graves one by one.
Now the Edmond’s revenge is complete. De Villefort is insane, Caderousse and Fernand are dead, Danglars was captured by bandits and stripped of all his possessions left, now living a life of a beggar. The only innocent soul who was burnt with the hellish flame of revenge is poor deceased Valentina… or is she?
Valentina’s death was orchestrated by the Count. His plans were so thoroughly prepared that he knew that Madame de Villefort would poison the girl. The only person who knew about that was Noirtier who despised all his family except of her. So Dantes gave him the cure to heal Valentine and then hide her, allowing her to marry her beloved.
Returning to his isle, Edmond writes a warm letter for Maximillian and Valentina that sounds both as his own confession and the wish for them to be happy and to enjoy the gift of love they have. But Edmond himself calmed his soul and now looks at his faithful Haydee not only as at devoted friend and ally. He allows himself to open his heart again and also live happily with the woman he loves.