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Colonel Chabert (1994)

Le colonel Chabert (original title)
Colonel Chabert has been severely wounded in the French-Russian Napoleonic war to the point that the medical examiner has signed his death certificate. When he regains his health and memory... See full summary »


2 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Daniel Prévost ...
Olivier Saladin ...
Maxime Leroux ...
Guillaume Romain ...
Patrick Bordier ...
Jean Cosmos ...
Jacky Nercessian ...
Marc Maidenberg ...


Colonel Chabert has been severely wounded in the French-Russian Napoleonic war to the point that the medical examiner has signed his death certificate. When he regains his health and memory, he goes back to Paris, where his "widow", Anne has married the Count Ferraud and is financing his rise to power using Chabert's money. Chabert hires a lawyer to help him get back his money and his honor. Written by Dragomir R. Radev <radev@cs.columbia.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | History | Romance | War


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Release Date:

21 September 1994 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Colonel Chabert  »

Box Office


$734,406 (USA)

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


A reunion for Fanny Ardant and Gérard Depardieu who had previously worked together in 1981 in 'Francois Truffaut''s The Woman Next Door (1981). See more »


Version of Le colonel Chabert (1911) See more »

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User Reviews

Eerie and Brilliant
11 April 1999 | by See all my reviews

This film will be variously be described in critical summaries as either a historical drama or dramatic tragedy. It is neither. It is a profoundly unsettling ghost story, as luridly horrifying as any classic film of the supernatural. It left me contemplating the permanence of loss that fate can decree for an individual as well as with an image of death more chillingly authentic than anything I have ever experienced in film or print.

Our "ghost" is one Colonel Chabert, a seedy and unpleasant vagrant who materializes in the streets of post Napoleonic Paris to solicit the services of a deliciously clever lawyer to legally prove his identity and therefore claim the legacy of his once considerable estate. 9 years previously, the Colonel had been mistaken for dead after the bitter winter battle of Eylau in 1807. Stripped naked and buried in a mass grave with hundreds of others, Chabert managed to claw his way out of the grave and recovers with the aid of local villagers. Now, after nine years of poverty and semi lucidity {brought about at least partly by the grievous head wound he received which has never fully healed} he has returned to find his wife remarried and his fortune being used to keep her in comfort as well as financing her new husband's political ambitions. It is this bleak situation that has him seeking out a smoothly Machiavellian lawyer who also happens to be his wife's attorney. The brilliant machinations of this lawyer will put the long suffering Chabert within reach of his goal, yet will also raise in his mind and ours a disturbing question: Did Chabert cheat deaths physical grip, only to realize ultimately that it had swallowed his soul, his very being, everything that made Chabert Chabert, and leave him with ethereal memories and an empty husk of a body? I will let the viewers of this film come to their own conclusions about that question.

To make such an emotional impact, most everything about a film must click in just right and this is no exception. The performances are no less than brilliant. Fanny Ardent hits all the marks as Chaberts scheming yet all too human wife. Fabrice Luchini almost steals the show with his searingly precise depiction of the masterly lawyer Derville. As for Chabert, Gerard Depardieu's is a pure manifestation of brilliance. An acting coach could probably break down his performance into instructive segments illustrating how to truly engender character thru subtle juxtapositions of gesture and voice. As an audience though, you never once think about what a great job Depardieu is doing, you are too interested in where he is going to take you next. A strong cry of "Auter!" also to Writer Director Yves Angelo for his sure handed story telling and a "Bravo!" to the exquisitely rich lensing of Bernard Autic.

If you start watching this film and feel my term of "Ghost story" is inaccurate, be patient and wait for the late night first interview between Chabert and Derville. Listen to Chabert describe the sensations of death. And then try to sleep well that night...

17 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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