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  • Set in the 1794, the second year of the French republic formed after the execution of Louis XVI, this film portrays the power struggle between the revolutionary leaders Danton (Gerard Depardieu, at his finest) and Robespierre (a commanding performance by the Polish actor Wojciech Pszoniak). The moderate revolutionary Danton has returned to Paris from his country seat where he has been since being deposed as leader of the Committee of Public Safety in the previous year by Robespierre. He is opposed to "The Reign Of Terror" which has resulted in the executions of thousands of citizens, mainly by guillotine, who are thought to be opposed to the Revolution. Danton is confident of the support of the ordinary people and tries to persuade Robespierre to curb the bloodletting. But Robespierre and the Committee are afraid that the popularity of Danton will lead to them being overthrown, and put Danton and his supporters on trial for being traitors. This was the first French language film made by Andrzej Wajda after he had arrived in France from Poland. His Polish film company was closed down by the government due to his support for the Solidarity trade union, which had opposed the Polish government in the late seventies and early eighties. His previous film "Man Of Iron" (1981) had dealt with the Solidarity union and its leader Lech Walesa, and it is easy to draw comparisons between the relationship of Walesa and the Polish leader General Jaruselski, and that between Danton and Robespierre. Danton/Walesa are the voice of reason opposed to Robespierre/Jaruselski who continue dictatorial rule despite having lost the support of the people they claim to represent. The film is based on the Polish play "The Danton Affair" written by Stanislawa Przybyszewska in the 1930s, and on its release the film was criticised by some for being static and theatrical. But what the film does is to concentrate on the behind-the-scenes meetings of the Committees and the scenes in the National Assembly and the courtroom rather than the activities on the streets of Paris.
  • lavean13 December 2001
    This is one of the best movies on the French Revolution ever produced. Being a person well versed in the the period I was amazed at the level of detail. The costumes are spot on. Even the detailed little day to day items such as ink wells, serving plates etc are all perfect. As an American living in France who has access to the sites in the movie through his membership in various historical associations such as the Napoleonic Alliance I can not over state how impressed I was with the visual accuracy of the film.

    The dialogue where known is virtual quotations and the where not recorded is in character. I was extremely pleased with this movie and am disappointed that it is not out on DVD yet. This is how historical drama should be done. Must see....
  • its universal message about price of revolution, about power of a small group, about the way of good intentions, about people's interest as excuse for use the force for preserve the power . it is an amazing portrait of French Revolution. and Danton of Depardieu remains one of his greatest roles. but the axis is the vision of director. because the film is a parable in essence. because it is a film about Communism who represents just an ideological fruit of French Revolution. because Wajda knows the importance of testimony about the evil of a political system. because it is a honest work about illusion and ambition and need to control the power. in same measure, it is not only a manifesto but a beautiful movie who recreates more than atmosphere but the spirit of a fight for power. yes, France of Robespierre is Poland of Jaruzelski . but the science to transform a historical page in a contemporary event's reflection and the case of Poland in universal warning gives force and profound senses to this admirable film.
  • The last desperate days of Danton and the so-called Moderate faction of the French Revolution is given an excellent treatment by Polish director Andrzej Wajda. Wojciech Pszoniak is truly outstanding as the icily determined Robespierre and Gerard Depardieu brings the full-bodied Danton to life. The last scene in the film, when a child reads the "Rights of Man" proclamation to Robespierre, is an eerie omen for what will come next. For students of the Reign of Terror and anyone else interested in this volatile time in history, this movie is a must.
  • I have read the pro & con reviews and wonder too about the cold disparaging comments of Manicheus? Why not let your students watch a movie and choose for themselves? I felt this was a well presented, well acted and well scripted film that told the story about a confusing time in history. It was a time when Britain was sending its criminals to begin a colony in Australia and the Enlightenment had reached its height.

    The French Revolution was a pivotal time in Europe's history and I realized that as the film unfolded, I was learning about the emotions and its inner workings of these great names- Danton and Robespierre. Robespierre was as desperate and dedicated to the Republic as any Fascist was to Franco's bloody vision for Spain.

    Robespierre's character showed his dedication to his ideals while being torn by moral considerations of stopping Danton by sending him and his friends to the guillotine... and it was this sense of being treated like I was intelligent that held my attention.

    I have often wondered about the French Revolution and the vying of the factions, and the violence of the guillotine... but the Hollywood versions make it a mindless bloodbath while Wojciech & Depardieu have brought some humanity and reasoning to the whole period. I am only grateful that I could see it on the big screen at a free showing at my local Art Gallery in Sydney, Australia.
  • The film tells upon the title role , Danton (Gerard Depardieu) , confronting Robespierre ( Wojciech Pszoniak ) during French revolution . The film is based on real deeds , they are the following : Danton(1759-1794) as lawyer participated in overthrowing of king Louis XVI and the proclamation of the Republic , being Minister of Justice in the Convention (1792)and founder of Cordeliers club . He proposed creation revolutionary committees as the Public Salvation Committee which he presided but was substituted by Robespierre , starting a period of revolutionary dictatorship known as ¨the Terror¨(1793) . Besides , in the film appears other historic personages as Camille Desmoulins (Patrice Chereau , nowadays a famed filmmaker ) , Louis David (the prestigious painter) , Saint Just (a famous Jacobino) , Tallien...

    The picture especially narrates the happenings surrounding the facing off of the two main figures , one-time revolution partners , and their posterior fall and execution , though gives results a contemporary parable about the modern Poland , thus Danton is Lech Walesa , the leader of syndicate named Solidarity and Robespierre is Wojciech Jaruzelski who was the Prime Minister who imposed the martial law in Poland . Gerard Depardieu is excellent in the title character and magnificently portrayed , also in secondary roles turn up awesome actors as the recently deceased Jacques Villeret ( Dinner game,Crimen in paradise ) and Angela Winkler ( The tin drum ). The motion picture is well directed by Andrzej Wajda , justly considered the best Polish director . The flick will appeal to historical cinema buffs and Gerad Depardieu fans .
  • MarioB6 July 2000
    French cinema had always been very strong when comes the time to present historical subjects. 95 % of the time, they never make errors. This film is of one of the best of the genre, due to very very strong acting by Depardieu and Pszoniak. Wajda work, as the director, is truly a wonder. Everyone should see this great film.
  • Danton was a hero and one of the founders of the French Revolution of 1789. This movie is set five years later and the revolution has morphed into something ugly. While initially the revolution promised freedom, at this point the small committee running the country is extremely repressive and is a dictatorship. Danton and his friends were angry at how the country wasn't better off in 1794 than it was BEFORE they got rid of their king, so they begin criticizing the government. The movie begins as the printer who makes critical pamphlets concerning the government is beaten and his business is destroyed. So much for "liberty, equality and fraternity"! So, as a result of being silenced this way, Danton et al begin publicly criticizing the government. Eventually, Robespierre (the leader of the committee) and his cronies trump up charges, have a show trial and get rid of the dissent. Some have mentioned that the Polish director, Wajda, also intended this to be a criticism of his own nation--which, at the time, was Soviet-dominated and very repressive as well. This makes sense as you see the movie unfold--especially when the government destroys all dissent "in the name of the people".

    The acting is fine, the story compelling and I have no major criticism of the film. However, I really wish the ending had been handled differently. Especially because other than history lovers and French people, most probably have no idea that this execution helped to end the government. AFTER this purge of Danton in April 1794, Robespierre himself was executed in July 1794 because the country had just had enough--plus, those surviving Frenchmen knew that they, too, would face the guillotine sooner or later if this sick system remained in place. Some sort of an epilogue would have been nice--such as showing the soldiers coming for Robespierre. He responded by trying to kill himself first, but he only succeeded in blowing off part of his face--still alive, he was guillotined shortly afterward. This would have been a dandy little epilogue and could have been done in about five minutes. However, not showing a connection between Danton's death and the fall of the government is an odd thing to omit.
  • bkoganbing3 August 2010
    Warning: Spoilers
    Georges Danton is given a full blown and full blooded portrayal in the film Danton by Gerard Depardieu. Danton is a joint French/Polish production and it's interesting to see the French Revolution portrayed by someone other than in the English speaking world which is always so heavily influenced by the work of Thomas Carlyle and the Tale Of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.

    I don't want to write anything like a mini-Carlyle so I won't give you a whole history of the French Revolution. Let's say that as this film opens what is commonly referred to as the Terror is in full swing as the Revolution gorges itself on blood for real or imagined slights. The two guys responsible for bringing it to where it is in 1794 are Georges Danton and Maximilien Robespierre.

    Robespierre is at the height of his power now and like most tyrants in the making confuses his own political survival with the principles for which the cause he espouses was started. As his rivals and potential rivals keep being denounced and keep going to the guillotine, there is only one man whose voice can make a difference, Robespierre's former colleague Georges Danton.

    These guys are as opposite in character as you can get. Danton is a lusty and hard living man who takes his earthly pleasures in great quantity and that's how Gerard Depardieu plays him. Polish actor Wojcieck Pszoniak plays Robespierre one of the creepiest human beings to attain power in any country in history. Cold-blooded and aesthetic he's merciless in his drive for total control of France and sees himself on some divine mission. Kind of like Osama Bin Laden.

    Danton would be surprised at how the film shows him going almost Christlike to his eventual doom. I'm sure that's not how he saw himself, still Depardieu and Pszoniak are remarkable in their work.

    Danton the film if not accurate history is an interesting interpretation of some very important history.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    If there were two parts that the physically towering, ugly-charismatic actor Gérard Depardieu was born, as a Frenchman, to play, it must surely have been Cyrano de Bergerac and the orator Georges Danton. Here he dominates the film both through the breadth of his shoulders and the power of his voice; his charisma carries the part despite the fact that it is made clear that the character has as much blood on his hands as any of the rest of them. Danton feasts while the people of Paris starve... but he is the one man who can challenge the tyranny imposed by the dreaded Committee of Public Safety in the name of 'freedom', and he is presented as the hero of the film -- despite the fact that the source play practically idolises his opponent Robespierre!

    For those who know the characters from history, there is interest to be had in identifying the minor parts: the frog-faced Tallien, Couthon the cripple, Fouquier-Tinville the tribunal's prosecutor, the dashing fop St-Just, the epic painter David. But the script cuts little slack in this respect; names are often late in coming if minor characters are identified at all, and there is no Hollywood-style 'info-dump' to make sure that the audience can place events in their historical context. The film takes it for granted that you know what has gone before, and what will happen after -- sometimes it takes too much for granted, as when it relies on a close knowledge of dates to provide the sting to its tail in the fact that Robespierre followed Danton shortly to the scaffold.

    Considered as a film, it's not entirely satisfactory in that it ebbs away towards the end. The structure of the story leads up to some great confrontation between the protagonists in the courtroom or some dramatic climax to the trial, which, thanks to history, never actually happens. Things just fizzle out: there is no revolt, there is no overthrow of tyranny, there is no assumption of power by the victor, there is no triumph on either side. It may be historically accurate, but it's not entirely satisfying as the outcome of a screen scenario -- it seems an odd place to stop. As others have commented, it might have been more logical to take events up to the end of the Terror and show in apposition the fall of Robespierre.
  • geofille26 April 2003
    This is one of the most amazing movies... Anyone who says that Gerard Depardieu portrayed Georges Jacques Danton "wrongly", and who purports that Danton was "not" the huge, strong, charismatic, man of the people that Depardieu portrayed him as obviously has not done much research on the French Revolution. George Jacques Danton was like this exactly. The contrast between Robespierre's incessant paranoia and reservedness (conveyed perfectly by Wojciech Pszoniak...an EXCELLENT job) and Danton's relaxed approach towards the problems with which he was faced, extreme easiness and likeness among people, and the dynamic way with which he approached the mob of Paris' unemployed masses and people in general was spot on: the two men were complete opposites. This movie developed the characters of the French Revolution so well, it is unbelievable. It ENTRAPPED the personalities of all those great, complex, astounding men that gave this extraordinary period of time its distinct shape. Saint-Just, Desmoulins, Robespierre, Danton, all of them...they were painted so accurately. This movie truly brought these incredible men to life. I have to say, the score of this movie was incredible. It brought out all the proper emotions. Overall, an astonishing movie.
  • a parable. about dictatorship and its colors. about people as crumbs of a lunch. a manifesto for freedom from a Polish director for who a play is perfect instrument to discover a regime behind its masks. Danton is a beautiful movie but in great measure it is a profound analysis. French Revolution is not an excuse for present realities from Jaruzelski regime but way to remember the root of all Communism sins. Danton may be Trotski, prey of spider web who he build it. Robespierre - just piece of a huge machine. the fake image is only protection. the lies about people needs - only form to survive. so, the film is, in great measure, collection of symbols. the revolution - picture of a demon out of any measure. and, in this case, purpose is not to create an impressive work but to give the dimension of truth. history is only vehicle for ideas. because this revolution, ambiguous, cruel, chaotic, cynical, criminal is more than chapter of Modern time. it is shadow of each regime for who people are pieces on the chessboard. and subjects for experiments.
  • The bloody aftermath of the French Revolution is brought to vivid life in the confrontation between its two architects, Maximillian Robespierre and Georges Danton, progressive thinkers in a primitive age who became bitter adversaries when Robespierre elevated the good of the State over the good of the people. Rarely have such provocative ideas been expressed with such bold, physical vitality; director Andrzej Wajda captures the anarchy of the period with powerful immediacy, showing how absolute power corrupts even the most honorable intentions. Gerard Depardieu's angry, overt performance in the title role is worth singling out; the film might well have been named after the doomed statesman Robespierre, who holds center stage throughout, but his icy intellect is no match, at least theatrically, for Danton's oratory passion (and besides, Depardieu is a star). Neither character survives the conflict, and when Danton is finally executed the bloody guillotine becomes symbolic not only of the Reign of Terror, but of the Revolution's most noble ideas severed at their source.
  • 'They are a very intelligent people, the French'. So says author Boris Pasternak, in his novel, Dr. Zhivago. After watching this movie called " Danton " one would tend to agree. A study in French History will illustrate how closely this film comes to duplicating it. The story is taken from the first five years after the nightmarish 1589 revolution in France which consumed the lives of thousands of Aristocrates and their supporters. Danton (Gérard Depardieu) has returned from his countryside estate to meet with his old friend Robespierre (Wojciech Pszoniak). It seems word has reached Danton that the Committee system, or more precisely, the Safety committee, in Paris has become lethal to the very people it's suppose to protect. Despite, their long friendship, differences of political opinion soon make it apparent the deadly revolution with its connection to the Guliotine, will soon destroy their goals, promises and even their lives. The dramatic acting in the movie between the principal actors and their ardent followers, is superb. Indeed, the devious plots, counter plots and murderous intentions of all involved is designed to unearth history from deep within it's bloodiest pages.****
  • Dalton- by Andrzej Wajda 1982

    Wajda's `Dalton' is a superb movie in the great tradition and grand manner of a sweeping, dramatic historical epic.

    Danton, played with the perfect amount of bravura and zeal by Gerard Dieperdeu, is a one of the great pillars of the French revolution- he is fervently idolized, and as the leader of a huge publication, his power among the masses is immense and strong.

    He and his small band of intellectual fellow propagandists start criticizing the government- a fledgling one headed by Robiespierre (of the Revolutionary Committee) The latter cries foul, and is unwilling to slacken his desperate leash on the country through terror and force. The people are starving and scared, and faced with those who "have nothing to lose but their chains" (to quote appropriately from Marx), the Committee gets downright nasty.

    The film is a monumental narrative of the clash between these two mighty and principled men, culminating in the beheading of one of them. (of course you already know who the unlucky guy is if you know your world history). Underneath all the braggadocio and hedonism, Danton's indomitable will becomes awesome and meaningful. A less artistic director could have turned him into a caricature.

    Like Dostoevky, the director confronts the viewer with the tragic grandeur of humanity- but in this case, the tragedy of the "historical process" and necessity for revolution.

    Do we really attain true freedom, democracy and "liberty, fraternity, equality" when the people are starving and the leaders are using scare tactics? When do you justify a revolution and when do you call it mindless? Do revolutions and does great historical epochs happen by necessity or by the whims, caprices and action of A Few Good Men like Danton and Robiespierre, Bonaparte, etc. These are among the questions this urgently controlled movie bombarded me after firmly engaging my emotions and intellect.

    Indeed, the director pulls no punches but takes some well-aimed, unerring swipes at our old-fashioned ideas about politics. The story is set in the 1790s, but its message still boomerangs to this very day. Wajda presents us with a subject that could degenerate into propaganda but instead is shaped into great art- one that is done with great narrative force and in the heart's blood.
  • If you don't know who Georges Danton and Maximilien Robespierre are, you'll be enormously entertained and educated by the 1983 epic Danton. If you know this period of history well, you'll know how this movie ends, but you'll still be entertained. This movie is incredible, even more so when you remind yourself when it was made. It doesn't feel like a 1980s movie. If the time stamp was 1993 or 2003, I would absolutely believe it. It doesn't feel ultra-modern, since most movies nowadays over-use the handheld technique, even in period pieces when it feels jarring. This feels like director Andrzej Wajda snuck a camera into a time machine and travelled back in time to the 1700s. It's very realistic without any modern gadgets to remind viewers they're watching a movie rather than a documentary. Wajda's directing is incredible, making this movie a true classic that stands the test of time nearly forty years later.

    A very interesting choice of casting is the French vs. Polish aspect. All the "bad guys", headed by Wojciech Pszoniak as Robespierre, are Polish and speak Polish. All the "good guys", headed by Gérard Depardieu as Danton, are French and speak French. When the movie was released in Poland, the French actors were dubbed, and when the movie was released in France, the Polish actors were dubbed. Using a language barrier adds to the tension of the film; the two opposing sides literally aren't speaking the same language!

    The huge shift in Gérard Depardieu's career from the 1970s to the 1980s can be marked, of course, by his César win for Best Actor in The Last Metro. It was such a shock to see him in a serious movie! As the 1980s progressed, he was given a slew of serious dramas to show off his new acting chops, and if anyone had any doubt as to his talent, Danton made it clear: Gérard Depardieu is here to stay. Pick any one of the near-dozen epics he made in the decade and you'll find a fantastic performance. In this one, he's larger-than-life, boisterous, passionate, rebellious, and unafraid. He's magnetic and confident in his star power, telling the audience that he was just storing all this talent up in the previous decade, waiting for roles that were worthy of him.

    Wojciech Pszoniak also gives an incredible performance, fleshing out his character into a real person rather than a stereotypical villain. The lengthy courtroom scene is so great to watch, as both give their exhausting and passionate arguments. The only warning I have for this movie is the gore. If you have a sensitive stomach, like yours truly, you'll know when to look away, and I suggest you do so. I've seen still pictures and I'm extremely glad I closed my eyes.

    Kiddy Warning: Obviously, you have control over your own children. However, due to gory violence, I wouldn't let my kids watch it.
  • Incredibly detailed account of post-Revolution France. Gerard Depardieu is Georges Danton, an aristocrat whose actions and plots led to the king being dethroned. Robespierre led the government afterward with his infamous Reign of Terror. He distrusts Danton, whose lifestyle and ideas are contrary to his own, but he's afraid that if he executes the man, he will enrage the people of France, whom he believes he's serving. The film is mostly dialogue, but it's incredibly gripping. I've never felt one way or another about Gerard Depardieu - I can confidently say he's never ruined a film for me, but I can't remember particularly loving him in anything either. But, holy freaking cow, he is brilliant here. It's just an energetic, powerful performance. Wojciech Pszoniak is also great as Robespierre. He and his cronies are all played by Polish actors dubbed into French (which was noticeable even though I don't speak French). In fact, the entire cast is exquisite. Director Patrice Chereau and German actress Angela Winkler also have nice, big roles. I've never liked anything else I've seen from Wajda, but this is a near masterpiece. He evokes the period beautifully without being too obvious about it. To him, it's not about the costumes or sets, but the people inhabiting them.
  • I was very curious to see this Wajda-Depardieu outing, plus the time period is definitely fascinating. Being a Wajda fan, I was disappointed, and that may be an understatement. The film never really took cinematic flight -- there's no foundation for the animosity between Danton and Robespierre, etc.

    Basically, the script was weak (adapted from "The Danton Affair"). And yet, the direction was masterful...it's Wajda, afterall! Also, there were some amazing actors BUT they never really grab the audience's attention like they should. Depardieu comes off as a quasi-goofy, nonchalant Danton...not exactly the image we have in mind. Woijech Pzsoniak is incredible, as usual, but again the script puts up limits even actors of great talent can't break down. Andrzej Seweryn and Bogoslaw Linda pop up ... as Bourdon and Saint-Just...and if you're familiar with Wajda, then you'd know them.

    Overall, I was disappointed with this much-lauded film. Great cast, great director, but no quality foundation. Bad, undynamic script. We need to get in Danton (Walesa) and Robespierre's (General J) mindsets... what are their motivations? Eh...who knows? One likes women, the other powders himself? Riiight. Ok, so if you're looking for a great French Revolution movie I HIGHLY recommend "La Revolution Francaise"...it's in two parts and oh-so-great! Excellent performances, in-depth script, juicy tid bits...definitely a satisfying experience!! Klaus-Maria Brandauer is a much better Danton than Depardieu...the wonderful Andrzej Seweryn apparently took some notes from "Danton" and is BRILLIANT as Robespierre. SEE IT! NOW! As for Wajda fans -- you're better off with "Man of Iron/Marble", "Promised Land", and the like. Cheers!!
  • boarboy200113 April 2005
    This film is more than the story of Danton. It was a joint Polish French production filmed at the time of the beginning of the end of the Soviet system. It probably helped spur the Solidarity movement's union activity. It is more about Poland in the 20th century than the French Revolution. Solidarity began the end of the system. This film itself is historical by it's very existence....the rest is History.

    Robspiere, aka. totalitarian leaders. Danton, aka. Walensa. When one watches this film, one must remember the snowball which began in Poland.

    Actually, it could be useful for seeing the superpower struggle within the only superpower left.
  • This is a great movie to look at, since it so nicely directed by Andrzej Wajda but at the same time I wished the movie would had some more depth in it, in terms of its story. It's an historically relevant movie about the last days of the French revolution but yet the movie forgets to focus on the character's motivations making the movie perhaps a tad bit too shallow to consider this a brilliant and relevant movie to what.

    Somehow it doesn't make the movie any less great to watch though. It's made with passion and eye for detail. every aspect about the movie is good looking, such as its settings, costumes and camera-work.

    Also the story still works out as powerful, though at the same time it could had been so much better and more powerful with a just bit more character development and insight historical information. Guess if you're completely familiar with the French Revolution and the stories of Danton and Robespierre in particular, this movie will be a perfect one for you to watch.

    It's somewhat typical for a French movie to tell a story slowly and subtle, without ever stepping too much in detail. Often this works out charmingly but in this case the movie could had really done with a bit more depth. Other than that, this movie is still one fine example of French cinema, despite the fact that it's being directed by a Polish director and stars lots of Polish actors in it as well.

    Gérard Depardieu is great in his role, though the movie also decides to concentrate a lot on many other different characters. The movie perhaps has a bit too many characters but each and every performance is a great one, so this doesn't really ever become a big complaint, other than that it slows done the story a bit at certain points.

    A great movie that could had been brilliant.

    8/10

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  • I'll be the first to admit I am far from an expert on the French Revolution. While my minor in college was history and I read regularly on the subject, the dismaying period of upheaval and chaos doesn't fit into the narrative of clean-cut history defined by the reigns of Kings and the administrations of Presidents. What I do know about it are the basic causes, the main factions and the end result. I am familiar with the names Maximillian Robespierre, Jean-Paul Marat, Louis XVI and Jean-Jacques Rousseau but I have never heard the name of Georges Danton. If I were to take a class on the subject I'd probably fail.

    It is the year 1793; the second year of the Republic and the infamous days of terror are in full swing. Danton, who is portrayed in the film by French actor Gerard Depardieu, makes his way into Paris to take his seat in the fractured General Assembly. His possible political machinations frighten the Revolutionary Tribunal headed by the cautious Robespierre played by Polish actor Wojciech Pszoniak. They all want to place his head promptly on the chopping block but Robespierre demands an audience with Danton first.

    Directed by Polish auteur Andrzej Wajda, Danton (1983) is a crash course in Republicanism run amok. Robespierre looks to create consensus between Danton's rival faction and the Tribunal. He doesn't like Danton but he understands his value as a man of the people and therefore is hesitant to simply round up his allies and take them to the guillotine. Yet the clanking machine he and Danton helped create is forcing him to take severe action to provide order. At one point in the film Robespierre laments no matter what course he takes, the revolution is dead.

    Depardieu's Danton is a boisterous foil to Robespierre's uptight revolutionary zeal. When he speaks, the whole room listens and his public bloviating is tempered by a genuine need for good. Yet Danton isn't a blind idealist like he claims the Tribunal to be. "People want peace, stability and bread, they don't care where it comes from," he mutters. He trusts the people of France to deliver him from execution and holds on to that ideal until the bitter end.

    The film's depiction of the reign of terror was meant to mimic the Solidarity trade-union struggle in Poland happening around the same time as the film's release. Solidarity was the first non-party controlled trade union in the Soviet block and was instrumental in spearheading free and fair elections in Poland. The foibles of that struggle were better highlighted in Wajda's earlier film Man of Iron (1981). Yet that film was released on the cusp of the martial law crackdown while Danton was released on the tale end of said crackdown. During that time Wajda fled to France after his production company in Poland had been pushed into bankruptcy by the Communist party. He directed two films before returning, the first was Danton and the second was A Love in Germany (1983).

    Unfortunately while Wajda's passion and personal bias are prevalent in Danton, his technique seems less assured than Man of Iron or his other political works. Part of it may have to do with his habit of employing Polish cinematographers including the famed Edward Klosinski. Outside his element in France, his cinematographer Igor Luther (Who also worked on A Love in Germany) likely wasn't on his wavelength.

    What results is an interesting history lesson and a lively discussion on political theory but a film that feels static and overly talkative. It provides little action or intensity and apart from the gravitas of Depardieu and Pszoniak, there's nothing holding it together. Even if you were to settle for an old-school cloak and dagger flick, Danton only delivers on the bare necessities. There are political maneuverings, alliances forged then displaced, etc. But it's all C+ work put together by an A+ director. As for the subversive elements that define this political drama? Let's just say it needs improvement.

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  • I've read that Wajda made this flick as a metaphor of the Polish disctatorship May be it is but as a french historian i could not care less....what struck me is the complete lack of truth in this film....it is crystal clear that Wajda has never studied his subject (much complicated i must say) and repeats brillantley all the lies told about the leaders of the French Revolution No Danton was not a man of moderation...he was a blood-thirsty hard liner who endorsed the slaughter of the swiss gard in august 92 ...the month after he refused as minister of the Justice to stop the massacres in the french jails which made about 1500 victims including 200 proests He was also corrupted in the worst way possible receiving money from England ....It is when Robespierre prevented him of stealing army funds that he became his worst ennemy.....when he says in the movie "I am the people of France" it is just a big joke...he is the imperialist bourgeoisie representative pushing the war on in order to loot he victims and to get rid of the violent mob who never saw much of the benefits of the revolution Robespierre pictured as the bad guy was actually was vehemently attacked because of his probity for himself as well as for France (his nickname was and still is "the incorrptible")...because he wanted to end the slavery ...and the us of a ceiling price for the bread ....all those decisions infuriated of course the upper class who evetually killed him ithout a trial.....a superhighway was then opened up for the wholly corrupt Directoire and for...Napoleon Bonaparte Everything else in the film is first class....Ceratinly Depardieu best movie..
  • truemythmedia4 September 2019
    The film begins with a familiar scene, French men and women entering Paris and having their carts, carriages, and persons searched. Immediately the sense of dread is apparent. Even those waiting in bread-lines are afraid to speak too loudly of their frustrations lest they become acquainted with Madame Guillotine. We also get a very first glimpse of the people's love for Georges Danton, Hero of the Revolution, as they follow his carriage in Paparazzi-like fervor.

    This is then contrasted with, Maximillian Robespierre, ill and barely able to stand on his own, yet made up by the hairdressers and tailors to cut the regal figure he is. He is ordering the destruction of a printing press, owned by a friend of his and one of Danton's compatriots, for the distribution of subversive tracts.

    From this point forward, the film relates the conflict between these men's ideologies, the arrest of Danton, his inflammatory show trial, and fallout through scenes of long speeches, conversations, and rabble riots. For all the presence of death in this film, it is not an exciting film, with head chop after head chop. Instead, it is a political intrigue which turns, about halfway through, into a passion play of Danton's martyrdom.

    I'll confess that my viewing was very hampered by my lack of knowledge about the actual history of the French Revolution. After the film, I literally had to look up who Georges Danton was in order to place him historically. It made it a little difficult to figure out character allegiances early in the film but any patient viewer should be able to put t together as they go in an entirely satisfying way. In fact, if I was to try to pitch this movie to people, I might say it is a little like "Braveheart" if William Wallace had not been a warrior but a speaker.

    That may sound boring to many Americans but to me it was enthralling. Danton (Gerard Depardieu, "Cyrano de Bergerac") speaks with a power than blasts through your core about freedom, rights, the power of the people over the government, and the tyranny of the government over the people. Meanwhile, Wojciech Pszoniak's ("The Promised Land") Robespierre is the consummate dictator, ruling to maintain his own power, compromising every value which put him in that seat, and snidely lording it over everyone from his boardroom.

    I would go on about the acting, superb, or the production design, mind-bogglingly immersive, but I want to focus people on the powerful display of conviction that "Danton" contains. Danton is truly a man of principle. He may fail to live up to them at times, eating to excess, housing parties of gambling and debauchery, but his conviction that the people must be free and protected has kept him from the public seats of power precisely because he knows their corrupting influence and that the true power lies in the people and in nonviolent expression, even unto his own death, if need be.

    This film is needed today. In a country torn, where men, women, gay, straight, bi, trans, queer, black, white, Mexican, American, Puerto Rican, Christian, Jew, Muslim, are all being pitted against each other by the powerful and rich, there is something that unites us that we have forgotten. We are the People. We are free. When the government trades in fear, we ALL lose. We all live under a new Terror. The Terror of the other.
  • I think this film was designed specifically to snap my heartstrings one by one. The dialogue was fantastic, the figures of the Revolution captivatingly presented. There are a few factual errors and much is omitted due to the film's narrow focus, (for instance, the considerable role played by the East India Company scandal in the proceedings was hardly mentioned) but it remains an excellent piece of production. The viewer would benefit from prior knowledge of the Revolution, though it is not necessary to enjoy the drama of the story. If you are looking for total accuracy do not watch this film, but if you are only seeking a couple hours of fascinating historical drama, look no further.
  • I have a number of complaints about this film, chief among them the interpretation of Robespierre by the scriptwriter.

    Okay, so the bloke wore a wig, powdered his face and had a bit of a penchant for frilly shirts - but this was quite normal for European bourgeoise and aristocratic men of ALL sexual orientations at this period.

    Also, it was quite common in late 18th century Europe for both genders to find it easier to establish strong emotional bonds with another person of the same sex. Men, particularly if they had received the sort of education that Robespierre and many of the other male revolutionaries had, frequently subscribed to the Ancient Roman/Athenian theory of male friendships being somehow 'nobler' and 'purer' than those between men and women, which would probably involve sex on some level.

    Saint-Just did indeed write adoring letters to Robespierre – but, as far as I am aware, these missives all seem to refer to his 'brilliance' as a politician, rather than his lovely green eyes etc. Don't forget, Saint-Just held plenty of radical socio-political views of his own, so he was delighted to find out that his great hero and mentor Robespierre agreed with him on so many points. Plus the so-called 'Angel of Death' was ambitious and idealistic in his own right, as his subsequent career showed.

    For the record, many of today's queer historians do not think the evidence for the suggested Robespierre/St-Just 'affair' to be very strong, which means that this film may well be historically inaccurate in this key respect. However, this would not matter in the slightest, if only the script weren't so crudely and obviously homophobic and heterosexist.

    You often get the impression that Robespierre's paranoia and cruelty are the direct result of his ‘aberrant' sexuality. Saint-Just panders to him simply because he fancies him, not because he is ambitious or might actually believe the revolutionary ideology. And Desmoulins gets an appointment with the National Razor after refusing the Incorruptible's advances, rather than because he writes articles that would be considered dangerously subversive in the prevailing political climate.

    I also completely fail to understand why Danton is ‘supposed' to be such a ‘great' statesman when his main hobbies are drinking and chasing women. When does he ever get the time to do some proper work? And how the hell is he able to view the terrible problems of the nation with anything even approaching equananimity? Perhaps this is WHY he drinks and shags so much?

    Another thing that bugs me about this film is the prejudiced and historically inaccurate portrayal of many of the Jacobins and their sympathisers. It is implied that most of the members of the Committee of Public Safety are as spiritually and politically 'arid' and morally 'perverse' as Robespierre himself, Couthon and Verguid being two of the best examples here. Also, there are no historical records that I am aware of that show Eleanour Duplay beating her brother for any reason whatever.

    Finally, I understand that Pszoniak's voice was dubbed in by another actor. This is a common practice in European films, but it still disturbed me in this particular instance, creating the slightly unnerving impression that even Robespierre's voice wasn't human, but belonged to a dybbuk.

    Just for the record, my Polish friend tells me that she and all her classmates were taken to the cinema in Gdansk to see this film just after it had been released. She says that nothing whatsoever was said by their teachers about it being an allegory of Solidarity's fight against Jaruszelski, or Polish nationalism versus Stalinism. She can't remember very much about the film at all, apart from Danton drinking, Robespierre powdering his face and all the politicians talking as much fine-sounding rubbish as their counterparts do today.
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