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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)
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Product Description

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 HIstory and Art collide and combine Dec 1 2011
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
There are few films about the French Revolution that do not speak to the 20th -- and 21st Century. This film, made during the Polish Government's attempt to suppress the Solidarity movement (forcing the film production crew, director and actors to decamp to France), quivers with the rage and fear caused by both Terrors. Naive and cynical characters, those who see themselves as pure (Robespierre) and those who flaunt their flawed morality and broken idealism (Danton), are equally arrogant, but only one has the Guillotine available and is willing to use it. He is so driven to manufacture a Republic of Virtue that, Stalinlike, he has the artist David paint out participants in the Tennis Court Oath, and David complies only after a mild protest. Finally, he intimidates the Tribunal into condemning Danton any way they can, making himself the supreme judge and jury. In the film Robespierre only realizes that in all revolutions, power - even Terror - and idealism cannot make men virtuous when Danton is dead, and the viewer knows that Robespierre, too, will be guillotined in a few months. As a survivor of the 1980s, I am grateful for this film, which demonstrates the deadly nature of ideaologies and the cyclical phenomenon of Revolution. It also reveals how history on film benefits from the power of contemporary events to charge, even over-charge, the artists, directors, and the viewers. Perhaps this is where history teaching should start, after all, with the fear and rage and despair of art, before the rational analysis begins.
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