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A news-reel like movie about early part of the French Revolution, shown from the eyes of individual people, citizens of Marseille, counts in German exile and, of course the king Louis XVI, showing their own small problems.Written by
Stephan Eichenberg <email@example.com>
La Marseillaise takes place during the phase of the French revolution that was the most optimistic and the least bloody. Director Jean Renoir is concerned with how this moment is viewed by both the monarchy in Paris and the everyday people of Marseillaise who march to Paris singing their song (Battle Hymn of the Rhine Army). His presentation is realistic and probably more accurate than most films that have dealt with the subject.
La Marseillaise has been proclaimed as a masterpiece but, while I liked the film, I cannot share in that acclaim. Jean Renoir is considered one of the (if not THE) greatest French directors in film history. I love The Rules of the Game, but have found many of Renoir's other films slow going. This is true of parts of La Marseillaise as well. The running time is 132 minutes; there is (intentionally) no main protagonist; an assumption is made that the audience knows more about the historical events than some viewers (like me) may.
Despite some restlessness on my part, La Marseillaise remains a worthwhile film. Every Jean Renoir film has wonderful moments, La Marseillaise especially. My favorite is Louis XVI's long walk with his family to Parilament. Renoir uses a crane shot to view the pedestrians. The dejected look on the King's face is powerful. He and his son share a reflexive moment over fallen leaves. This scene powerfully contrasts with the buffoonish way Louis was portrayed at the beginning of the film. This is a perfectly made scene. The film has other great scenes as well.
Although it did not affect me as deeply as it has others, I would recommend La Marseillaise, especially to French film admirers, students of Jean Renoir, and history buffs.
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