Danton (1921) Poster

(1921)

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5/10
Film synopsis and review, contains spoilers
togemon8 May 2004
Warning: Spoilers
This silent German film, which depicts events leading up to Danton's execution, is interesting in that all the characters get fair treatment-- NONE of them are likable. It focuses mostly on Danton, Camille Desmoulins, and Hérault-Séchelles, and the three women with whom they become involved. This leads to a few historical inaccuracies. Lucille is an aristocratic girl Camille happens to "find," and he marries her to protect her from the Revolution. She then promptly cheats on him with Danton, who is in love with her, much to the ire of his own wife, a mysterious "Julia." (His wife at the time was actually named Louise.) Meanwhile, Hérault-Séchelles has adopted a poor girl named Babette and made her over into an aristocrat. (There is a bath scene that rivals that of My Fair Lady. . . .) After his arrest, her old friends raid his house and find her. She promptly tears off her fancy dress and puts on her old clothes to be carried away victoriously by the people. Her only remorse seems to be leaving her shoes. And those six are the heroes. The villains are, of course, Robespierre, Saint-Just, and Fouquier-Tinville, the public prosecutor. Robespierre resembles nothing so much as a turtle and denounces Danton mostly for his involvement with low-class women. Saint-Just mostly does Robespierre's dirty work, such as dealing with Westermann when he comes to plead Danton's case. The rest of the time, he skulks about looking morose. He also is the one who convinces Robespierre to arrest Camille as well, despite a touching flash back of him and Camille as kids. Overall, the movie is fun to watch, though of little historical value.
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4/10
Empty
Cineanalyst27 October 2005
This adaptation of Büchner's play, which fictionalizes the French Revolutionary power struggle between Danton and Robespierre, is competently made, but is empty. The film isn't particularly interesting, nor did it involve me deeply. I feel rather indifferent towards the entire production, which I think odd considering the film's source and that it's star driven, featuring Emil Jannings and Werner Krauss in the main roles. Director Dimitri Buchowetzki gives it a quick pacing, but that's noticeable rather than salient. The following year, Buchowetzki adapted "Othello" with the same two stars, and in that film, they shine. "Danton", an empty film, may be seen as a trial run in this respect.
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