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The Last Metro (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]

Catherine Deneuve , Gérard Depardieu , François Truffaut    Unrated   Blu-ray
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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François Truffaut again tackles the elusive nature of creativity and the elusive creation in this thoughtful, sumptuous, 1980 film. Nominated for the Best Foreign Language film Oscar, and a winner of various Césars, The Last Metro is a tale of the theater in occupied France during World War II. Marion Steiner (Catherine Deneuve) manages the Theatre Montmarte in the stead of her Jewish husband, director Lucas Steiner (Heinz Bennent). He has purportedly fled France but is really hiding out in the basement of the theater. The one hope to save the Montmarte is a new play starring the dashing Bernard Granger (Gérard Depardieu). The attraction between Marion and Bernard is palpable, and as usual Truffaut creates tension and drama from even the most casual of occurrences. The theme of the director locked away while his lover and his creation are appropriated by others makes for interesting Truffaut study, but first and foremost this is a well-spun romance. --Keith Simanton

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
7 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Warning: subtitles cannot be turned off April 29 2002
By A Customer
Zone 1 Francophones beware: the english subtitles are on
the video layer and cannot be turned off. I suppose this
might save the production cost of redoing subtitles for
DVD, but it would be nice if this fact were mentioned in
the technical info. Completely unacceptable, hence the
automatic one-star rating.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Truffaut follows in the tradition of Jean-Pierre Melville by adapting a popular genre as a serious allegory for the darkest period in French history: the Nazi Occupation. Just as Melville used the gangster film to examine notions of legality, legitimacy, authority and criminality in a period when the Resistance were outlaws and the police were rounding up Jews for the death camps, so Truffaut takes the beloved putting-on-a-show warhorse, and uses it as a metaphor for the conditions of life in Occupied France: the need to act, adapt and continually discard roles. When Depardieu's character leaves to fight for the Resistance, he puns about exchanging his make-up (maquillage) for the maquis. What Truffaut is most interested in, as in all his films, is the effect this need for constant dissembling has on individual identity and relationships.
This wonderful romantic comedy plays like a mature update of 'Casablanca', richly stylised, bravely open-ended, with Truffaut's moving camera wrenching spirit from claustrophobic confines.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truffaut at his best July 9 2001
I was first drawn to this film when I read a news article that this film had been considered by many French critics to be the best French film of the 80's. I couldn't have agreed more with that judgment when I saw it. Truffaut goes beyond telling a story of love and tragedy in Nazi-occupied France, it shows how intensely he feels about art and theater and how inseparable they are from human life. Theater is a big part in the lives of the central characters and hence a key ingredient of this film as well. Truffaut uses that fictional theater and interweaves that with real lives so seamlessly that it sometimes blows your mind away. I think in many ways it is an extension of 'Day for Night'. A terrific achievement, to say the least.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grace and Elegance May 26 2003
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
If films were planes, Francois Truffaut's "The Last Metro" would be a glider, cutting gently through the winds of occupied Paris, and moving gracefully through the lives of a theatrical troup attempting to mount a production during wartime. As Marion Steiner, Catherine Deneuve brings elegance and beauty to the subtle intrigue and fluctuating emotions of day-to-day life under Nazi occupation in 1942. Like Truffaut's film, her performance is one of nuance and subtlety, and garnered her the award for best actress in France.
Marion Steiner leads two lives, separated only by a stairway. Below the theatre, in the cellar, she shares a love with her husband Lucas (Heinz Bennet), a Jewish theatrical director who must live in hiding, coming to life only when Marion's footsteps bring her into his claustrophobic world.
Their love is real, but is slowly threatened by the distance and contrast of the living going on up above and the stagnation and frustration below. The internal strain becomes greater when Marion falls under the spell of her leading man, Gerard Depardieu, Truffaut's camera capturing the fleeting glances and icy demeanor that is our window into Marion's heart. Depardieu's passion for French resistance, however, may prove greater than his passion for the theatre, and Marion must also contend with a pro-Nazi theatre critic who could sink the production before it begins.
Only after Truffaut has used his camera to show us this elegantly detailed world of the French theatre during wartime does his screenplay suprise us, and remind us in an uplifting way that life itself is but a play, and we are all part of the cast.
This is definitely a masterpiece, but if you have not ventured into foreign films yet, I would not suggest this be your maiden voyage. One must ride the 747 first to appreciate the grace of Truffaut's glider, turning ever so quietly, without a sound, into the winds of the human heart.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truffault can be a lot of fun Oct. 10 2003
Format:VHS Tape
Francois Truffault, who has always terrified me as a true "art" director, comes across in this film with warmth and humor; not only that, one get to learn a little about Paris under the Nazis and how people "coped." Catherine Deneuve, wife of the director and lead lady, is gorgeous as she balances the needs of her cranky Jewish husband in hiding (Heinz Bennent; he's continuing to direct by listening in to rehearsals through the pipes) and those of her handsome leading man (Gerard Depardieu), whose only way of coming on seems to be to grasp a pretty woman by the hand, gaze into it and murmur, "I seem to see two women here." For a movie about a sad and terrible time, there is a lot of strength, here, and I found Truffault, for some bizarre reason, easy to understand.
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