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.
Outcome of this anti-sacramental Confirmation in blood of the Age of Reason,and Republic of Liberte,Egalite & Fraternite; would be the Dictator, "The Son of the Enlightenment": Napoleon who...as Man of Destiny,in limitless ambition and will to power...would declare himself emperor and launch a generational war of world conquest...that does not end--for two decades--until 1815.
Polish Director Wajda was said to fear such an outcome in the SOLIDARITY revolt against Communism. Having lived under Totalitarism, he was well aware of what occurs when "men of destiny" challenge criminals and(often) become what they behold. Poland was finally spared. DANTON, however,is an artistic triumph about ironic horrors and incalcuable violence of wars fought for political mastery without limits, or God's Law.
For anyone who wants to see how idealism can pervert justice, this film is for you.