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Danton (The Criterion Collection)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Gérard Depardieu, Wojciech Pszoniak, Anne Alvaro, Roland Blanche, Patrice Chéreau
  • Directors: Andrzej Wajda
  • Writers: Andrzej Wajda, Agnieszka Holland, Boleslaw Michalek, Jacek Gasiorowski, Jean-Claude Carrière
  • Producers: Barbara Pec-Slesicka
  • Format: Color, DVD-Video, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Criterion
  • Release Date: March 31 2009
  • Run Time: 136 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • ASIN: B001O549FW
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #40,809 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

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 By Govindan Nair on 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 By Arthur F. McVarish on 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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Seth M. Gunar on 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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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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 25 reviews
81 of 84 people found the following review helpful
Both Art and Essay Feb. 14 2000
By Deron J Dorna - Published on
Format: VHS Tape
Danton deeply affected me. I have seen it many times now, and each time is as powerful as the first. It is one of those rarest of creatures: a film that succeeds simultaneously as a work of art and a political essay. There is nothing ponderous or pedantic about it, as with many political films (the recently released Cradle Will Rock comes to mind), nor is it shallow as with most artistic works that try to make political statements. It poses very immediate questions about freedom and democracy, while painting very vivid portraits of Danton and Robespierre, both of whom are brilliantly acted and perfectly cast. Not that Danton is an historical documentary. Far from it, it is not really trying to portray history at all. It is not so much about the Revolution as it is about revolution, or about Danton and Robespierre as it is about how leaders, no matter how brilliant or well-meaning, are eminently human, flawed, and powerless against the hard limitations of human society. Robespierre is portrayed as the elevated idealist, trapped in a hopeless dilemma, and ultimately becoming the very thing he most despised. Danton is the down-to-earth realist, the man of the people, yet he grossly overestimates his influence and the power of the people and ends up paying for it with his life. One reviewer complained that Danton is ahistorical, that it reflects more of the director's own experience in Poland than historical research. This is quite so, and quite intentionally so. There is no doubt that we are meant to draw immediate parallels between France and modern day Easter Europe (the Communists have studied the French Revolution avidly for years), which is precisely why it was banned there. It is art, not a documentary - the director is speaking to the soul as well as the intellect.
50 of 50 people found the following review helpful
When will this be on DVD Dec 13 2001
By M. La Vean - Published on
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 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 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.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Great Movie! Sept. 19 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: VHS Tape
This movie is really outstanding. From beginning to end, it expresses the tension of the French "Reign of Terror" very well. The music, visual style and characterizations blend together excellently to create a mood and to tell the story of the conflict between Danton and Robespierre, and their supporters.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
A Lesson In Movie Making July 28 2005
By Vlad - Published on
Format: VHS Tape
It is a really fantastic movie. One of Wajda's best and one of Depardieu's best. The movie is set in post-Revolution France, in which two groups, one headed by Danton (Depardieu) and one by Robespierre (Wodjciech Pszoniak) who also give a great performance.

The movie is a metaphor for how the persuit of power can make a once idealistic movement into the same dictatorship it has overthrown. It is something that has been repeated all throughout history.

Robespierre, one of the leaders of the revolution has become the leader of France once the Revolution has ended. Danton, another of the Revolution's leaders, still, is a very popular figure and has a lot of power.

Robespierre has started to round up and execute any opposition. Danton decides to return to the public spectrum to challenge Robespierre's tyrannical rule and bring rights to the people.

Danton makes a moving argument, but in the end he, himself, is captured and executed. The movie ends with Robespierre being named dictator for life.

The acting in superb, especially from Depardieu who gives a powerhouse performance as the extremely charismatic Danton, courageous until the end.

The movie is a story of a great tragedy. It is one of the greatest historical movies of all time, in my opinion.

It is a crime that it hasn't been released on DVD.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
The history's off but oh well it's brilliant just the same Sept. 8 1999
By - Published on
Format: VHS Tape
Wajda's Danton is based on Stanislawa Przybyszewska's The Danton Case though the poor woman would be rolling over in her very cold and miserable grave to see what Wajda has done to her brilliant Robespierrist drama. Dantonist though it is, and sometimes glaringly anachronistic in its parallels between Walesa's Poland and Danton's France, Wajda's film is edgy, vibrant and memorable. It captures the surreal and nightmarish quality of Paris in the spring of 1794. The tragedy of radical social change is poignantly portrayed. The acting, especially that of Depardieu--who doesn't precisely suit the role, and Pszoniak, who does marvellously,--- is altogether very good. Try saying to yourself, Robespierre is *not* Stalin or Jaruzelski.