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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: #9,520 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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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 Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 9 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
From Idealism to Dictatorship March 2 2009
By Gerard D. Launay - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
Arguably, this is one of Gerard Depardieu's best performances - and this time he is "Danton" - a big, earthy, popular voice of the French revolution. The film is about his conflicts with the intellectual and unemotional Robespierre, who is unrelenting in continuing the Reign of Terror against anyone believed to be opposing his dictatorship of the revolution. Eventually, someone as popular as Danton is driven under the wheels of the chaotic forces which he helped unleash.

What makes this film for me is Depardieu - I simply can't take my eyes away from the force he projects on the screen. And perhaps that tells us something about Danton himself. The movie was intended as an allegory of so many revolutionary movements that started for good causes but degenerated into messy power struggles and murder as ugly as the kings and czars the people wanted to replace.

Intellectually satisfying and dramatically compelling, this is - without doubt - one of the best films about the political currents behind the French revolution of the 1790's.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Political drama of the highest caliber June 26 2009
By Christopher Langford - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
Georges Danton was the great orator who played an integral part in French Revolution and the last few months of his life are wonderfully portrayed in this film by Gerard Depardieu. While historians still argue his true character, Danton had the trust and support of the people - which posed a serious problem for the Republic, as they saw him as a conspirator and a threat to their newly formed government. Maximilien Robespierre, a dominant force in the Republic's "Reign of Terror", is also featured in this film and superbly played by Wojciech Pszoniak.

Director Andrzej Wajda takes the story of Danton and creates a historical film that is both powerful and objective. The production is on a large scale, yet this look back in history remains centered around the lives of Danton and Robespierre with great intelligence. Danton provides excellent insight not only to those two characters, but also to the Republic's judicial system. A political drama of the highest caliber.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Exceptional political drama Oct. 7 2009
By C. Collins - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
The characters of Danton and Robespierre are almost archetypical in their approach to power, leadership, and governance. This film does a good job of capturing the radically different philosophies and characters of these two men and their struggle for power. I enjoyed reading Hilary Mantel's excellent A Place of Greater Safety several years ago, a book that goes into great depth on this phase of French history. I found that this film covers the final confrontations between Danton and Robespierre, an extremely dramatic time in the history of France.

Danton was a populist and hero of the revolution. He is brave, masculine, womanizing, a heavy drinker and a man who could appeal to the man-on-the-street. In some ways he was a Lyndon Johnson or Bill Clinton type of personality. His personality over-boils in public, capturing the attention and admiration of the masses. Yet, this heroic populist may be a threat to the democratic process, for the masses are often all to willing to surrender power and decision making to a popular figure that appears to show great charisma, humor, communication skills, and personal courage. Robespierre is everything that Danton is not. Robespierre is a purist, and ideologist, a player in the grand game of power, and most importantly the repository of a philosophical contradiction on the nature of governance. Robespierre in an effort to strengthen the new French republic was on the lookout for those skillful populists that may take the reigns of power from the people and create another totalitarian and authoritarian state. Thus Robespierre saw Danton as a threat to the advances made by the revolution and thus Robespierre eventually became intent on the destruction of Danton. But to destroy Danton, Robespierre had to twist the legal processes and thus Robespierre becomes the very thing he wishes to destroy in Danton. Needless to say this makes for incredible political drama and in this film it is displayed with perfection.

Danton, like many populists, over estimates his oratorical and persuasive skills and also over estimates the loyalty of the crowd. Robespierre, to his credit, tries multiple ways to incorporate Danton into the ruling elite, but Danton backs away several times, thinking that he had the support of the common people. But the common people in a newly created state may not have the political infrastructure to assert their wishes other than through mob violence. As long was Robespierre was able to quickly bring Danton to trial and execution, he could avoid having to deal with the anger of the mob. Danton is simply out maneuvered by Robespierre, and thus his fate is sealed.

Robespierre is a fascinating character for all times and ages. He is the protector of a new fragile state and would violate the laws of that state to protect the state in its fragile infancy. This dilemma is universal and the United States faces this with fragile central authorities in Iraq and Afghanistan. The conflict between Danton and Robespierre is universal. The ideological purist attempts to protect the fragile state from a populist who shows signs of totalitarianism but to destroy the populist, the purist must become the very totalitarian from which he wishes to protect the state.

This film does an incredible job of painting this conflict, this contradiction, this struggle.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Danton - a hero for all times June 15 2009
A Kid's Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
Danton, an inspiring leader who was willing to sacrifice his iife for his principles.
He was one of the leaders of the French Revolution and witnessed the new leadership
turn into what he despised in the old regime. A brilliant orator who had substance
behind his words, not just nice sounding empty rhetoric.

Danton should be quoted throughout the world as someone who spoke truth to power
even if he had to give up his life to do it. There are not many people like him on the planet today
and I sure wish there were!

An inspiring true story that stands the test of time.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Tough Times Dec 8 2012
By Tony Marquise Jr. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This film shows the last part of the French Revolution and the last days of Danton's life. Danton was one of the leadindg lights of this revolution and his execution was near the end of it. However the filmaker took a lot of liberities with history. Still, I found this film shows a time in history that keeps repeating itself in different places and times until now, Recommended.