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Forever (Version française)

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A poignant tour of the importance of art in the lives of visitors to the Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris, the final resting place for legendary writers, composers, painters and other artists from around the world.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 19 reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
the next best thing to being there Dec 20 2009
By Steve Peters - Published on
Format: DVD
A lovely and moving portrait of the famous Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris, final resting place of many great artists and other historical figures, who are buried alongside countless "unknown" people with equally fascinating life stories. It's a beautiful, quiet place, and the film takes its cue from this, leaving plenty of room for silence and reflection.

There is no attempt to give a history of the cemetery, nor to comprehensively show all of the graves of dead celebrities, or to even tell their life stories (it is assumed that we know who these people are). Instead, we are invited to wait patiently at a few graves to see who shows up to visit them, or to witness the occasional chance encounter. The interviews that result are never intrusive. Director Heddy Honigmann respects the people she meets, and knows when to stay quiet, letting them tell their stories in their own time: a young Japanese pianist who has devoted herself to playing Chopin in honor of her dead father; an artist making a graphic novel of Proust's "Remembrance of Things Past"; a mortician inspired in his own work by the portraits of Modigliani; a man who leads tours, with a special fondness for the graves of certain unknown or forgotten people; a dignified Iranian immigrant taxi driver who also sings Persian classical music; a woman who tends the graves of famous writers and recites their poems; and various other family members who come to visit their loved ones, all of whom have their own interesting stories. In a way, these people are as much "residents" of the cemetery as those who are buried there; it's a place for the living as much as it is for the dead, a place of remembrance, contemplation, and deep feeling.

However, there are a few scenes that seem out of place. In one, the film cuts from a shot of Simone Signoret's grave to some blind people who "watch" (listen) and comment on a film of hers shown on TV. It goes on for a long time, but we never know anything else about them or even see them in the cemetery. Another scene cuts from a shot of the artist Ingres' grave to a woman looking at his paintings in the Louvre; I love what she has to say, but again, we don't know who she is or why we are watching her. And one scene cuts from the grave of French jazz pianist Michel Petrucciani to some (stock?) concert footage of him, with no other discussion or context. For me, these scenes interrupt the flow of the film, and I wish they would have been fleshed out more, or included as extra features.

But this is a small complaint about an otherwise wonderful, poetic film that, in its own quiet way, addresses larger themes of life, death, love, devotion, memory, and inspiration without ever getting morbid or dreary. If you've ever been to Père Lachaise, you will remember why you loved it so much. And if you've never been, it will make you want to go.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
For Love is as Strong as Death June 14 2009
By Gerard D. Launay - Published on
Format: DVD
Those words come from the Song of Solomon in scripture. And I can think of no film that more completely captures the spirit of that line than this magnificent documentary. The setting, of course, is the famous cemetery in Paris known as Pere-Lachaise.

The filmmaker succeeds in showing the impact that the departed have on the hearts of the living...a young Japanese woman who was moved by her father's love of music to become a concert pianist; she pays homage to Chopin - a taxi cab driver who dreams of becoming a singer of Middle Eastern poetry regularly visits and tends to the tomb of Persian writer Sadegh Hedayat - a Spanish woman who is paying respects to her lost husband talks about the impact of the Spanish civil war on her family.

There is a scene in "Rebel Without A Cause" where the planetarium director lectures to the high school students that in the grand scheme of the universe, each human life is insignificant.This film shows us he is wrong! The lives of others can often touch, move, uplift, inspire persons far beyond their imaginings.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Finally. March 12 2009
By David Terrenoire - Published on
Format: DVD
I saw this at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in 2006 and I can't remember ever being so moved by a documentary. It was a surprise, just one of the many films I saw that week, but its look at art, beauty and a devotion that reaches beyond death, is a profound work. Finally, it's available for more people to see.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A Missed Opportunity Oct. 29 2011
By Norma Desmond - Published on
Format: DVD
How could a documentary about the beautiful Pere Lachaise cemetery ever go wrong? This filmmaker manages to make a botch of something that could have been quite stunning. She inexplicably spends most of the film on Marcel Proust and Frederic Chopin, and mostly ignores the other famous residents of this cemetery. There are some fine moments with everyday people as they tend the graves of their beloved family members--I wish the filmmaker had done more of this. I was really looking forward to this movie, but was extremely disappointed. Perhaps Ms.Honigmann should have entitled her film "Marcel Proust's Grave."
A reflection on the fact that death is a part of life Jan. 8 2014
By Sharon A. - Published on
Verified Purchase
I had once visited the cemetary Pere Lachaise in Paris once, so that initially sparked my interest in this film, but while I thought that it might be some sort of travelogue, it was so much more. There's no narration in this documentary; rather, the filmmaker asks questions of visitors to personal or public gravesites in Pere Lachaise. While seemingly selected at random, those visitors share with the filmmaker some incredible stories. There are those who are visiting the resting places of loved ones, and those who have come to pay respects to a public figure - Wilde, Chopin, Balzac, Proust. The insights of the visitors are striking in the way that they are very personal but also universal. To use the words of one of the participants in the film, I had some facts about Pere Lachaise, but what I hadn't experienced before was the emotion. The film very gently allows the emotion reveal itself through the cemetary's visitors. Clearly coming through is the idea that all of us have a relationship with death, and it can be filled with love.