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La Ronde (The Criterion Collection)


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Product Details

  • Actors: Anton Walbrook, Simone Signoret, Serge Reggiani, Simone Simon, Daniel Gélin
  • Directors: Max Ophüls
  • Writers: Max Ophüls, Arthur Schnitzler, Jacques Natanson
  • Producers: Ralph Baum, Sacha Gordine
  • Format: Anamorphic, Black & White, Dolby, DVD-Video, Full Screen, HiFi Sound, NTSC, PAL, Subtitled, Surround Sound, THX, 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: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Criterion
  • Release Date: Sept. 16 2008
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • ASIN: B001BEK8BK
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #54,330 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)


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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Le produit m'a été livré dans le délai prévu. La qualité mentionnée était exacte. Je suis très satisfait et je recommande fortement ce vendeur. Excellent sur toute la ligne !
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 18 reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
A feast for the eyes April 2 2001
By David Juneau - Published on Amazon.com
Format: VHS Tape
"La Ronde" succeeds on many levels. The screenplay, adapted from the play by Arthur Schnitzler, is witty and provocative. It has a lightness of touch and delicate irony that is peculiar to the French. The performances are excellent-especially Danielle Darrieux's portrayal of an adulterous wife. However, the real distinction of this movie is it's visual style. The black and white cinematography is anything but flat. There are layers and textures in this film that are a feast for the eyes. The sumptuous set decorations are beautifully ornate-almost baroque. "La Ronde" is replete with camera angles reminiscent of "Citizen Kane." There is a fantastic overhead shot of a young courtesan whose head is in the center of hanging light fixture-or chandelier. This aspect is that of a poet who is idealizing her. It is an absolutely brilliant moment. Ophuls has a wonderful sense of movement. The long tracking shots and circular motion complement, instead of detract from, the action and emotion of the story. Particularly dazzling are the carousel scenes where circles run counter to one another. One might say that the omnipresent narrator is rather intrusive, but he grows on you. He's French, after all......
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
A movie once seen you'll never forget it Jan. 11 2006
By Bomojaz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: VHS Tape
A classic "round" of vignettes, each about love, each vignette blending into the next by means of a single character, like passing a baton in a foot race, until we're back at the beginning again. It begins with a young prostitute (played by Simone Signoret) meeting a soldier (Serge Reggiani) and ends, after about six vignettes, with a different soldier (Gerard Philipe) paying a visit to Signoret. All of it is held together by a raconteur, played superbly with just the right amount of sardonic wit by Anton Walbrook, who steals the picture.

Max Ophuls's production is very stylized, with rococo turn-of-the-century sets. It's light and witty, but insightful, too, with the emphasis on the fleeting aspects of love and the vanity and double standards held to by the male of the species. The movie has everything going for it: a brilliant idea, a wonderful script, great acting, and terrific camerawork. Movie-making at its finest. [It was banned in America for four years on obscenity charges: the women enjoy their illicit love affairs a little too much for the censors' tastes at the time. Finally they came to their senses - the censors, I mean.]
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Still entrancing over 50 years later Dec 15 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: VHS Tape
My high school French teacher took the whole class to see this picture and I found it charming and fell in love with Danielle Darrieux. I enjoyed it even more a half century later, I was impressed with the excellent picture quality. All the actors spoke beautiful French,clear enough to make it an excellent teaching lesson. I admire the courage of my French teacher given some controversy at the time. The music in the VCR soundtrack seems rather poorly preserved, perhaps a DVD recording at some time could help improve the music quality.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
An Alltime Favorite On DVD At Last. Oct. 11 2008
By Chip Kaufmann - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This 1950 film was considered quite scandalous in its day especially in America. The essential premise of characters having sex without marriage shocked conservative moviegoers even though it was done with wit and style and doesn't show you anything improper. It was based on an 1897 play by Viennese doctor turned playwright Arthur Schnitzler called REIGEN which created even more of an uproar back then. Adolf Hitler considered it absolute filth.

I first saw this film back during my college days and dreamed of playing on stage the narrator who is interactive throughout the story. Imagine my surprise when I obtained an English copy of the play and discovered there was no narrator in it! The filmmaker had created the character to enhance the film and indeed he does. As played by Anton Walbrook (the impresario of THE RED SHOES), he is the epitome of Old World grace and charm and has the best lines as well. No wonder as he is supposed to be the alter ego of the director himself.

The title REIGEN (ring or circular movement) refers to the nature of the play where one character has sex with another who then has sex with someone else and so on until, coming full circle, it ends with a final character having sex with the first one. All of the encounters take place off camera and there are even amusing attempts by the narrator (who introduces each character) to occasionally censor the action. The symbol of this "circle of love" which occurs throughout the film is a carousel or merry-go-round.

The film was made by Max Ophuls, a German filmmaker who wound up in France by way of the United States. His films are famous for his continually moving camera and interesting visual compositions. He was reportedly Stanley Kubrick's favorite director. Aside from the Austrian born Walbrook, the film features the top French acting talent of the day including Danielle Darrieux, Jean-Louis Barrault, and just starting her career, Simone Signoret. The celebrated music, including the LA RONDE theme, was composed by Oscar Straus (no relation to Johann).

I could go on and on about this film but I'll restrain myself. The simplest thing for you to do is to go out and rent it to see for yourselves and I wouldn't be surprised if you wind up buying it. Of course it is "old-fashioned' filmmaking. It's in black and white, has elegant tracking shots, and is full of characters who have something to say (even if it's in French) which means its appeal will unfortunately be limited to those who prefer more "upscale" fare. Yet if you take the time to sit back and take it in (and that's important), then you'll be amply rewarded. It's a film you may find yourself returning to again and again. This Criterion edition is beyond reproach.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
La Ronde is an absolute delight. Oct. 16 2009
By Grant - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
LA RONDE (1950) Starring Anton Wallbrook, Simone Signoret, Simone Simon (from Cat People) Fernand Gravey and Danielle Darrieux. Directed by Max Ophuls.

Well, this was quite the film. There is much here to enjoy. Beautiful, poetic, witty dialogue. Breaking down of the fourth wall. Strong female characters that revel in their sexuality and the power it has over the men in their lives. Scenes of passion that build slowly, almost in a suspenseful manner. Lots of thoughts by the characters about the nature of love and casual sex, marriage, infidelity, and even women who, while not using the "contemporary term" indulging in a "friends with benefits" situation with other men. This is definitely a dialogue driven film, but it is beautifully delicious, witty, thoughtful and passionate dialogue.

The film starts with our mysterious puppet master/raconteur played by Anton Wallbrook. His entrance is terrific. Walking the foggy streets of Vienna, he engages the audience immediately by asking us what part he plays:

"What part do I play in this story? Author? Accomplice? Passer by?" As he soon reveals..."I am you...I am the personification of your desire to know everything"

His clothes are contemporary, but he slowly starts to change his clothes to become more "period friendly". As he starts to blend in to his surroundings in almost a chameleon like fashion (which he does periodically throughout the film) he asks the audience...

"But just where are we? On a stage? A film set? One doesn't know any more."

It's dialogue like this that slowly transports us to an almost magical place that seems both real, and not real. This gives the film a wonderful element of fantasy.

As it turns out, we have been transported to 1900 Vienna. As our Raconteur happily conveys..."Ahh, the past. I adore the past. It's so much more peaceful than the present and so much more certain than the future"

It's dialogue like that that drew me into this film immediately.

Soon, the mysterious puppet master takes us to a rather magical merry go round which is the engine of the film. It travels in a circle, or "La Ronde" as does the films plot. Connecting all the vignettes of stories of love and affairs. As the narrator turns the merry go round, a prostitute mysteriously appears. Wallbrook leads her off of the magical carrousel and tells her that she will meet a soldier which she does. They make love in a dark alley. He must leave her to return to his barracks on time or else he forfeits his weekend leave. This is the beginning of the first segment of the film "The Soldier and The Girl". After their tryst, we go to the next segment in the series of tales...The Chambermaid and The Young Man. In this segment, the soldier meets a girl at a dance. As he leaves for war, they continue to write. Meanwhile she gets a job as a chambermaid for a rich couple and their very attractive son. This scene is very steamy indeed.

Each segment features one person from the previous story having an affair with the next person and so on and so on until the story returns to the first character. At the end of each characters "coupling", the Raconteur's marry go round starts turning to lead us to the next story. While we don't see any actual sex, we see characters entering bedrooms, and many scenes of blissful, post coital conversations that are very funny and full of wit. Simone Simon is wonderful as the seemingly innocent maid who under the surface is boiling with passion. However, the scenes with Darrieux is the real attraction in this film.

It is unabashedly sexy, scandalous, romantic and just plain fun. Walbrook doesn't just tell the story, he sings it. He manipulates the characters, leading them to their respective trysts, as well as running interference to protect those trysts and to champion the illicit love that permeates the film. While it seems very adult in its subject matter, it is filled with a delightful mood and playfulness. It's almost disney'esque with its light hearted, playful tone and in its very esoteric storytelling.

From the opening credits when we hear the music, it sets a tone of fun. The music by Oscar Straus is also very exceptional in how he captures the mood of playfulness of the characters and actually is able to augment the suspense we feel when we wonder "will they or won't they". The cinematography is top notch by Christian Matras. The film is so fluid and surreal in its transitions from scene to scene. Each segment starts with a level of slight uncomfortability which then melts into a passion that both parties are more than willing...no..desperate to engage in. It's a beautiful film visually, full of the cream of the crop of beautiful French actresses who are extremely talented and fascinating to watch. I couldn't take my eyes off of this film and enjoyed it just as much on second viewing. This film is about a wonderful love of life, passion and sex. With wonderfully fleshed out women who aren't clichés or "sleazy" but simply looking to escape the mundane and to seek, voraciously, all that love, life and passion has to offer them. It's sexy, witty and just plain fun. Everyone in the film turns in a great performance.

Some of the segments move faster than others to be sure. Very slickly produced and very enjoyable. I've never seen anything like it. However...I can see how the people who enforced the code at the time made it difficult for the film to get any sort of wide release in the US. Highly recommended.

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