Poland / France
Gérard Depardieu and Wojciech Pszoniak star in Andrzej Wajda’s 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.
Gerard Depardieu gives an eccentric and appealing performance as the French revolutionary leader, but his inventive surface effects aren't enough to overcome the crushing banality of the scenario, with its artificial emotion/intellect opposition erected between Danton and Robespierre (Polish actor Wojciech Pszoniak, vampirish in his bloodlessness and eerily dubbed voice). Made in France by Polish filmmaker Andrzej Wajda (Man of Marble), the film is full of obvious parallels to the Solidarity crisis, though all they bring to the project is another awkward level of schematization. Wajda, working with cinematographer Igor Luther, has provided a somewhat more painstaking visual plan than is usual with him, but his pacing remains a matter of slack exposition punctuated by two-ton climaxes.
Theatrical Release: January 12th, 1983
DVD Review: Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC
|DVD Box Cover||
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|Distribution||Criterion Collection - Spine # 464 - Region 1 - NTSC|
Average Bitrate: 7.14 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.
|Audio||French (Dolby Digital 1.0)|
• Original theatrical trailer (16x9 - 2:55)
interviews with director Andrzej Wajda, screenwriter Jean-Claude
Carrière (14:26), and Polish film critic Jerzy Plazewski (17:00)
I don't own the Metrodome R2 UK 1.78, bare-bones DVD of the same film - from 2006 - available HERE but strongly suspect it is a vastly inferior package. With mostly a subdued palette this Criterion image still looks to have some impressive moments. While it exhibits decent grain there are a few moments in close up where detail reaches advanced levels for SD. Generally the image seems consistent and supports the film extremely well. It is fairly clean with no extensive blemishes and even shows some minor depth at times.
Audio is likewise consistent (minor hiss at times) in original French and offers optional English subtitles as per Criterion standard.
The package offers a second disc (single-layered) with supplements beyond the dual-layered first which has a 3-minute theatrical trailer. There are video interviews with director Andrzej Wajda, one with screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière (14:26), and Polish film critic Jerzy Plazewski (17:00). In the latter Wajda discusses critical reaction and the film as a corollary to Polish politics and the Solidarity movement. Wajda’s “Danton,” is a 1983 documentary by Tomasz Pobog-Malinowskia 42-minute behind-the-scenes piece on the making of the film showing Wajda's meticulous, intensive approach to filmmaking and features interviews with the cast and crew. There is also a 16-page liner notes booklet with a new essay by film scholar Leonard Quart.
Despite initial critical uproar over historical inaccuracies 'Danton' tells a passionate tale of the evolving revolution, it's active participants and the formation of its rooted growth. This is an excellent title to 'go Criterion' and the package, and film, don't disappoint. Strongly recommended!