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Danton (The Criterion Collection)

Gérard Depardieu , Wojciech Pszoniak , Andrzej Wajda    Unrated   DVD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 42.99 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Gérard Depardieu and Wojciech Pszoniak star in Andrzej Wajdas powerful, intimate depiction of the ideological clash between the earthy, man-of-the-people Georges Danton and icy Jacobin extemist Maximilien Robespierre, both key figures of the French Revolution. By drawing parallels to Polish solidarity, a movement that was being quashed by the government as the film went into production, Wajda drags history into the present. Meticulous and fiery, Danton has been hailed as one of the greatest films ever made about the Terror.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Revolution is no dinner party! Sept. 18 2003
Format:VHS Tape
A powerful drama of the French Revolution depicting how high-minded ideals become the victims of the flawed human beings who espouse them, only to subvert them. The movie gives you a strong sense of the squalor of the French masses in this Revolutionary era and is magnificently filmed. The dialogue (in French) is full of high-minded rhetoric and good intentions coupled with prescience of the limits of these ideals. The setting is around 1794, just after revolutionaries have executed Louis VXI and established the First Republic in France. In his characteristic larger-than-life manner, Gerard Depardieu masterfully portrays the namesake of this movie as a sympathetic, if somewhat eccentric, hero of the French Revolutionary, next to the severe performance by Polish actor Wojciech Pszoniak who plays Robespierre. Robespierre heads the Committee of Public Safety which pursues opponents to the Revolution with increasing vigor. Danton appeals to Robespierre to check the bloody Reign of Terror which follows the Revolution, only to find himself at the guillotine, ostensibly for treason. The encounter between these two lead characters over a dinner to which Robespierre is invited by Danton is one of the most splendid parts of the movie, bringing out the tremendous force of character as well as political clumsiness of Danton. In the prophetic words soulfully delivered by Depardieu, Danton declares that the Revolution is devouring its own children. The almost identical scenes at the beginning and at the end of the movie in which Robespierre's son is reciting the articles of the post-Revolution constitution of the First Republic are haunting. Some commentators have said that this is Polish director Andrzej Wadja's metaphor for the events of his native Poland where the Solidarity crisis was in full force when he made this film. This is a first-rate dramatic performance.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful political horror film... March 6 2004
Format:VHS Tape
Polish Director Andrzej Wajda presents this masterful, cinematic rendering of The French Reign of Terror as political horror parable. DANTON,superbly played by Gerard Depardieu,is Jacobin Revolutionary Party leader who killed King Louis XVI and forever altered Western history. Wojceich Pszoniak is Robespierre,his "Man of the Mountain" partner of the perversely named Committee of Public Saftey(today's PC police/ideological bretheren might even shudder at this irony). The PARTNERSHIP soon drowns in blood as the Revolutionaries conspire against each other, and "devour" themselves in the maw of Mme.La Guillotine.
The pace of the film is relentless. Its thematic force "illuminates" what Arthur Koestler called, DARKNESS at NOON(re: Stalin's Purge of Communist heroes and revolutionaries in the 30's). Danton reveals himself to have been an heroic fool who imagined he might stir mobs to democratic parliamentary Republicanism after he had sicked them on the taste of Aristocratic blood. The icy, more ruthess,Robepierre knows what must be done(total blood bath of not only the Aristocracy and its Royalist sympathizers; but Counter Revolutionaries opposed to the "lawless" massacre NECESSITY dictates.
Two outstanding actors in this fearsome drama are Patrice Chereau,as Camille Demoulins: idealist,revolutionary philospopher and propagandist(who believes his own "democratic" press even as Robespierre's thugs--under archetypal fascist,Fouquier Tinville (played by Roger Planchon)-- torch it, and warn the "citizen editor" of his impending arrest for treason. The most sinister character in this "Tale of One City" is essayed by Boguslaw Linda as fanatical, Angel of Death,St.Just. Reveling in political bloodlust, St.Just exalts in his role as merciless advocate of unrelentant,mass murder.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Articulate Indictment of Political Extremism Aug. 26 1999
Format:VHS Tape
This is a truly great movie. It portrays the beginning of the end of Robespierre's "Reign of Terror" during the French Revolution. It ranks up there with "A Man For All Seasons" in the way it effectively exposes and condemns "ends justify the means" politics.
For anyone who wants to see how idealism can pervert justice, this film is for you.
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5.0 out of 5 stars When will this be on DVD Dec 13 2001
Format:VHS Tape
This is the best drama of the French Revolution currently available. (it is on par with the 5 hour epic on the French Revolution which is still in copyright dispute in France...the one with Jane Seymour as Marie Antoinette and Peter Ustinov as Mirabeau...if you ever see this grab it because the dont even show it on French TV anymore)
This is an account of the last week of life of Danton. The filming, the costumes and the small parphenalia of everyday life that can be seen in the movie are all rich in authentic detail.
The dialogue were it is historically known is virtual quotation. Where it is not known it is in character. Knowing a fair amount about this time period I could find nothing really to quibble with as far as the accuracy of anything portrayed...in fact I was constantly surprized at the attention to every little detail (and I mean down to the accuracy of the price of bread posted on a placard visible behind the crowd scene.)
This movie is a must have for anyone interested in the politics of the time period...I also recommend La Nuit de Varrene which does not seem to be available with Harvey Keitel as Thomas Paine...it is fictional and the premise is a public coach on the sam route and behind Louis XVI as he is fleeing Paris. The coach has a cross section of people. Retif de La Bretonne, a Lady in Waiting, a rich Industrialist, young Jocobin, etc...who debate the revolution in the carriage. It is excellent for understanding the revolution as seen from a variety of points of view...I dont undertstand why these excellent movies are not put on DVD and made more widely available.
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