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Children of Century [DVD] [2000] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

Juliette Binoche , Benoît Magimel , Diane Kurys    DVD
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Actors: Juliette Binoche, Benoît Magimel, Stefano Dionisi, Robin Renucci, Karin Viard
  • Directors: Diane Kurys
  • Writers: Diane Kurys, François-Olivier Rousseau, Murray Head
  • Producers: Diane Kurys, Alain Sarde, Christine Gozlan, Robert Benmussa
  • Format: Colour, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Unrated (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Koch Lorber Films
  • DVD Release Date: 20 Jan 2004
  • Run Time: 135 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000V476M
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 160,128 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
3.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars free, free, set them free 26 May 2009
Much has been written about the love story tying the two personalities together in this French period drama. Admittedly, this is the focus of the movie, but what makes the film interesting is the historical backdrop against which the story is set.

It takes a considerable amount of imagination to place oneself in the France of the 19th Century, where women had few freedoms and where the Enlightenment was pushing aside the deference to religion.

In this respect the film devotes less time to the history than to the romance but the two are inextricably intertwined.

Here we have a strong, independently minded woman, of aristocratic background who leaves her husband, and, taking her children with her, moves to Paris. This in itself would be scandalous behaviour given that women were considered to be mere chattels of their husbands.

Her behaviour was perceived to be even more extreme when she donned men's clothing, which she claimed were cheaper and more durable than women's, and sin of sins she began smoking in public. Controversy was never far away from her. Later in the film we see her in attendance at a social function where the waltz was being played, which at the time was considered too wicked for ladies to dance but which quickly became the rage across Europe.

What is evident is Sands being involved in the salons which were the pretorian guard of the dissemination of intellectual ideas in French society. Although often organised by women, the salons provided a social background where arts and sciences could mix and where debate flourished although the protagonists were male for the most part.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Foils for love 15 April 2011
What did George Sand do to make her name famous? What did one of her lovers Alfred de Musset do? Look it up on the internet. You won't find the answer in this film which focuses solely on the turbulence of their affair.

What other kind of affair would you expect for two artistes? Especially, if it's gonna be made into a movie. It had to have had ups and downs and mighty upheavals -- all accompanied by heavy handed background music.

If you don't like depressing, dueling foils for love, try another DVD.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An unromantic look at the romantics 21 Nov 2003
This movie was surprisingly unlikeable, in spite of so many factors that could have made it unforgettable.
First of all, there's Julliette Binoche, the incredibly involving, charming and beautiful actress. She plays the French novelist George Sand.
Then there is the wonderful romantic period and characters. Sand was, of course, the lover of Frederick Chopin during the last part of his miserably short life. In one scene of the film they show the viruoso Liszt playing in a French salon. This seems to be a wonderful premise for an involing plot.
But this was not to be. Sand becomes the lover of the womanizing (and daily prostitute frequenting) Alfred de Musset. He is a great source of irretation in this movies. At first he supposedly loves Sand but then returns to his old hedonistic lifestyle when she becomes sick on a love-trip to Venice. His infidelity, it seems, is fatalisticly unstoppable. This probably accounts for the title: they are "children" of the romantic fatalistic ideal.
I don't know if many other viewers enjoyed (or would enjoy) this movie. It is a sad chapter in a romantic literary geniuss's life - and I wished they picked a different chaper to tell.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.4 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Children Always Grow Up....Even These Two 15 Sep 2004
By V. Marshall - Published on
This French film is a depiction of infamous lovers, 19th century writers George Sand and Alfred de Musset.

The storyline for this movie is based on a memoir written by Alfred de Musset after his notoriously bitter breakup with George Sand. Musset bordered on crazy and his passions became ignited by the independence of Sand, never one to cower before a man. Sand admits her passionate frustration toward Musset in her own memoirs written years later. They are the essence of the perfect couple until they drive one another insane; Musset with his arrogant talented laziness and ever roaming eye for sexual escapades and other outlets and Sand for her feminine machismo that defies the strongest of men during her era.

I was disappointed with the casting of Juliette Binoche as George Sand in this movie because Sand was far from beautiful and even very often described as ugly, so why cast the exquisitely delicate and beautiful Binoche in this role? Binoche is perfect as the actress in this part she just doesn't capture the essence of George Sand. But if Sand is just another 19th century woman to you then you will never notice the difference and not be harmed by this miscasted role. Benoit Magimel, however, is the perfect actor to play the wildly mad Alfred de Musset. Magimel is the essence of childishness in this role, arrogant, spoiled by his talent and open to anything even to what will ultimately doom him in the end. Together Binoche and Magimel portray lovers with too much passion, that crazy kind that never works but always stays around to haunt you.

I recommend reading about the controversial lives of these people, George Sand and Alfred de Musset, after watching this film for a better perspective on how they each affected one another's lives. Both figures were notorious in their day yet they contributed great works of art to our world and deserve their notoriety. As with all irresponsible behaviors and relationships they eventually move on to dust blown away in the wind. This movie is better than dust but the lives of Sand and Musset held better value once they were apart and as a historical record there are other avenues to pursue. As a film however this one is beautiful and sadly tragic at the same time well worth the childish behaviors.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars art above all else 19 July 2006
By Doug Anderson - Published on
The first time we see Alfred de Musset he is making bawdy sketches in a posh bohemian salon-bordello. And this is the atmosphere that he prefers to all others: one of opulent languor. But strangely enough this great poet still lives at home with his mother, sister, and older brother, Paul. As the second son of a wealthy but eccentric family Alfred de Musset must constantly bicker with his older brother, Paul, who also is a literary figure of the day. The two have a love and hate relationship. In one moment Alfred stabs his brother Paul's hand with a fork and in another moment Paul is handing off a family heirloom to Alfred and bidding him a fond farewell as he embarks on a European tour. The film throws a lot of detail at us but we are never certain what to do with it. Its like we are given external data but we never know how to translate that into something like psychological richness or complexity. The latter is hinted at, but the film never succeeds in actually delivering it.

What this period film does well is present us with lavishly costumed literary figures in their creative milieus but what it fails to do is delve very deeply into their psyches. We understand that Alfred de Musset is one of the most gifted poets of his day but all we ever see him do is visit bordellos and throw temper tantrums when he doesn't like the way things are unfolding. This would be a portrait of an artist who as a gifted child was indulged early and often and who has learned that the way to the literary world's heart and to women's hearts is by misbehaving. Alfred de Musset indulges in women, drink, opium, and other vices. We assume that the film is saying that this is the stuff of his literature and that its his own self-destructiveness and selfishness that allows him to understand the temper of his equally tempestuous characters and the romantic age that they live in but the film never really gives us an Alfred de Musset who is strong enough to really do much psychic exploration. He seems a figure that is comfortable living on the surface of life; not one that exists to sound its depths.

As filmgoers we can understand why reckless women might be drawn to Musset's compulsive misbehaving and good looks but George Sand is not a reckless woman and we never really understand why the much more mature and thoughtful Sand is attracted to and tolerates the gambling and drinking and whoring Musset.

Juliette Binoche has played so many great characters but she seems at a loss as to how she is supposed to play George Sand. First of all she is much too feminine to actually have a chance of capturing Sand's affected "masculine" mannerisms. The actual Sand could pass for a man when dressed as one but Binoche always looks like a woman play acting (even when smoking a cigar in a three piece suit). Its in this apparel that she delivers her tracts on women's right to self-determination and, more provactively, to pleasure but she seems too soft and pretty to be a soldier on the frontlines of gender warfare. So its hard to accept Binoche's "George Sand" because its not good looks and vulnerablilty (Binoche's natural qualities) that gain George Sand her reputation but her thoughts on controversial topics that make her the scandal of the decade in the French literary salons. We never believe for one moment that Juliette Binoche is George Sand.

The film attempts to show us a complex George Sand who arrives from the country, freshly divorced and liberated from an opressive husband, with her sites set on conquering the ultra-sophisticated Parisian literary world with her views on marriage and sex. But that part of the George Sand story that is most alluring --her androgynous persona--is barely even mentioned. We are told that the name was chosen so that potential readers and critics would just think of her as a writer and not as a "woman who writes". But we are never really told if the androgyny she became so famous for was something she practiced since childhood and whether it was a result of growing up in the country or whether at some point being dissatisfied with women's roles or roles women were expected to play she decided to invent a new kind of genderless character. And we are never told just exactly how her attitudes toward gender and sexual identity affect her fiction. We often see her at her writer's table and we know that (unlike Alfred de Musset) she is a diligent worker, but we never are given any insight as to just what it is that she does on the page that is so original and that makes her a literary celebrity in France, Italy and the rest of Europe. [Maybe the filmmakers just assume that we already know. I, for one, don't really know.]

The other thing the film doesn't explain (or at least not very well) is the nature of the attraction between Alfred de Musset and George Sand. Its possible to view this film and come to the conclusion that Alfred de Musset was really not physically attracted to George Sand but rather was attracted to her imagination and her very original talent (even though we don't know exactly what that talent consists of) because the entire time that they are together Alfred de Musset never stops going to posh bordellos while George Sand stays in to write. From the beginning of the relationship George Sand is forced to play the neglected, abused, and forgiving girlfriend to Alfred de Musset's bad boy libertine. Not a very "romantic" or even a very original role and certainly not a role that we would expect a proto-feminist to willingly accept. The reality of the relationship is really never that romantic; what's romantic is how imperfect reality fires the imagination and inspires the artist to transform imperfect life into art. This is fine and interesting as a theme for a film about artists but the problem is that what we see on film is just a bad relationship between two incompatible people(and all of George Sand's and Alfred de Musset's friends and family see it as a bad relationship as well). The film fails to dramatise what really interests these two (their own writing) and as result we are left in the dark most of the time as to what draws them toward one another. What we can see is that each artist seems to be oblivious to the other artists reality and prefers their own romantic notions of the other (thus when it comes time to publishing their accounts of the relationship each writes a very different version of what really happened). Both artists come off as self-involved. And we viewers are entertained only by the irony of the situation -- the further they are apart the more beautifully they seem to get along.

I think the film will leave a lot of viewers disappointed because it promises to be a love story but its ultimately pretty pathetic as a love story. Both creative artists prefer their own fictions to anything in reality and so the story is really an examination of how these two creative artists are more intent on avoiding each other than in being together. If that interests you then this film may prove to be a more satisfying experience for you than it was for me.

If romanticism seems more distant to us than any other literary period or aesthetic its perhaps because we no longer elevate and privilege art above life, or valorize feeling as if it were a religion. I think an interesting film to view along with this one might be Patrice Leconte's Widow of Saint-Pierre, a film that really delves into a side of romanticism that does still exert a strong appeal ( the characters in the Leconte film, played by Juliette Binoche and Daniel Auteil, are wayward and fiercely independent and they believe in a higher and more inspired kind of life and justice than mundane reality dictates and allows).

Children of the Century suggests that romantic artists put art above all else; Widow of Saint-Pierre suggests that romantic spirits put life above all else.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When Passion and Pride Collide... 5 Nov 2003
By D. O. Hanlon - Published on
Diane Kury's sumptuous epic tells the true story of French author George Sand's passionate but brutal affair with poet and dandy Alfred de Musset.
An incredibly romantic and sesual film, Children of the Century follows the pairs relationship more than their lives as authors. Their relationship is presented as a constant stryggle between two behmoths. Binoche Sand is graceful and wise, while Magimel's Musset is possessed with an incredible energy (there might be something to all those Sean Penn comparisons after all). The film follows the lovers to Venice where violence, infidelity and selfishness destroy their relationship.
Kury's film is not particularly interested in the pair as writers, or in the larger literary scene of the time. Instead she recounts a marvellously messy affair in all its glory. Both are seen as selfish, kind and above all proud. The sexual element of their relationship is not shied away from, as Kurys explores how a proto-feminist such as Sand fits into a conventional relationship... Binoche in particular develops Sand with a fine finesse and a calm serenity.
Children of the Century is a fine example of French costume drama and sits well alongside Queen Margot and the Horseman on the Roof, although it's story is not as rousing as those two. However it does not meet to the haunting standard of two heritage classics... Cyrano de Bergerac and Binoche's own Widow of Saint-Pierre...
As a tale of mad, passionate, all consuming amour you cannot miss this movie...
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Costumes, Designs OK - but the story is not quite accurate. 4 April 2004
By S. Costa - Published on
The Alfred de Musset that is portayed here is quite different than the one I know. I think George Sand's relationship with Chopin was much more tumultuous and far more interesting, especially when we would factor in the fact that Sand's son took her side and her daughter took Chopin's side. I think there would be interesting dynamics there.
I have one major problem with this story line. We know Sand met Musset in the 1830s and that Musset died in 1857, which happens in the movie. But Chopin died in 1849 - and he is never mentioned!! There is a reference to Liszt being a priest im the mid-1850s. That was a bit early. That came around 1860 as I recollected. If the script intended to relay the idea that everytime Sand and Musset fought that they didn't see each other for a number of years at a time, then it was not effective. For one thing, Sand never looked any older and neither did Musset - at all.
Conclusion: George Sand is one of the most interesting women in history. This movie doesn't quite get her right. Neither did it get her right in the movie Impromptu, where we have a completely different Musset. But, in all fairness to the directors and the producers, portraying these "children of the century" along which I would include Chopin, Delacroix, Balzac, Hugo, Liszt, D'Agoult, Berlioz, Gautier, Saint-Beuve, Flaubert (who knew Sand very well), among others, in a movie, would not be an easy feat. So I congratulate them for a good job - half done.
2.0 out of 5 stars Not what I hoped for 24 Jun 2009
By Desert Artist - Published on
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Despite the fact that the history has some errors, it could have won me over with some sort of depth but I got so tired of watching all the melodrama and shallow emotion that it all became predidctable and there was not a lot of depth to any of the characters. Binoche was not at her best and I thought it would never end. When you really dont care what happens to the main characters you dont have a winner.
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