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La Tete Contre Les Murs [Masters of Cinema] [DVD] [1959]

Pierre Brasseur , Anouk Aimée , Georges Franju    Parental Guidance   DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
Price: £11.39 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Frequently Bought Together

La Tete Contre Les Murs [Masters of Cinema] [DVD] [1959] + Judex/Nuits Rouges [Masters of Cinema] [DVD] [1963]
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Product details

  • Actors: Pierre Brasseur, Anouk Aimée, Charles Aznavour, Paul Meurisse, Jean-Pierre Mocky
  • Directors: Georges Franju
  • Format: Dolby, PAL
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Eureka Entertainment LTD
  • DVD Release Date: 21 Sep 2009
  • Run Time: 93 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002I9G46K
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 74,202 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


An intense study of the clash between medical ideals, the first full-length work from Georges Franju (Les yeux sans visage, Judex) is a gripping examination of postwar psychiatric care, boasting a memorable cast including Pierre Brasseur, Anouk Aimée, Charles Aznavour, Paul Meurisse, and Jean-Pierre Mocky. Mocky plays François Gérane, an aimless young man whose delinquent tendencies cause his father to have him committed to a psychiatric ward. There, under the cold command of Dr. Varmont (Brasseur), he finds himself fighting for his dignity, sanity, and freedom, barely holding on through the new-found love of his girlfriend Stephanie (Aimée) and the promise of rival Dr. Emery's (Meurisse) more humane techniques. Compassionate yet unflinching, La Tête contre les murs is a bold precursor to the likes of Samuel Fuller's Shock Corridor and Milos Forman's One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, revealing Franju's poetic gift for creating images both concrete and evocative, and an ominous hint of the clinical horrors yet to come in Les yeux sans visage. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present the debut feature of a late-flowering, great filmmaker. ****SPECIAL FEATURES *New high-definition transfer from pristine restored materials *Newly translated optional English subtitles *Original French theatrical trailer *A new video interview with Jean-Pierre Mocky filmed in 2008 *A new video interview with Charles Aznavour filmed in 2008 *48-page booklet containing writing by Jean-Luc Godard, Georges Franju, and Raymond Durgnat.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By The CinemaScope Cat TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
An emotionally disturbed young man (Jean Pierre Mocky) is institutionalized against his will at a mental asylum by his spiteful father (Jean Galland). There, two doctors with decidedly different methods in treating their patients attempt to cure their patients. One (Pierre Brasseur) is more traditional and disciplinary and by the book and also a bit of a hypocrite (he chastises an intern for using the word lunatic to describe a patient but in private with another doctor, he does the exact same thing). The other (Paul Meurisse) is less authoritative and allows more freedom. The same year he directed the elegant horror film LES YEUX SANS VISAGE, Georges Franju directed this less known but insightful look into mental asylums and its treatment of patients. It's far more restrained and matter of fact than the overheated melodrama of its American counterparts like THE SNAKE PIT or ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST and therefore by default, more disturbing. The similarities to Ken Kesey's CUCKOO'S NEST are evident and one wonders if Kesey had seen it as the film came out in 1959 and Kesey's novel published in 1962. With Anouk Aimee and Charles Aznavour, who would probably have gotten an Oscar nomination if this had been an American film.

The Eureka DVD (from Great Britain) is an excelletn B&W transfer in a 1.33 aspect ratio.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars But dreaming is a lie. 4 Mar 2014
By Spike Owen TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
La tête contre les murs (AKA: The Keepers/Head Against the Wall) is directed by Georges Franju and adapted to screenplay by Jean-Pierre Mocky from the book written by Herve Bazin. It stars Mocky, Pierre Brasseur, Paul Meurisse, Anouk Aimée, Charles Aznavour and Jean Galland. Music is by Maurice Jarre and cinematography by Eugen Schüfftan.

François Gérane (Mocky) is seen as a loose cannon by his father and finds himself committed to a mental asylum. Within the walls he finds two doctors who have very different ideas on how to administer psychiatric care. Struggling to keep hold of his sanity, François finds solace in a friendship with fellow patient Heurtevent (Aznavour) and the visits he receives from Stéphanie (Aimée). But will François ever get out? And if so will his sanity be intact?

Jean-Pierre Mocky had initially planned to direct the film himself, but Franju was brought in and it proved to be a superb meeting of minds. Mocky's youthful zest and grasp of the Gérane character's predicament marries up beautifully with Franju's hauntingly poetic leanings.

In core essence the narrative is about the inadequacies of psychiatric care at that period in time, with a clash of ideals between two doctors acting as the axis. The story is actually based on fact, the author of the novel, Herve Bazin, really having been sectioned by his own family. This adds a harrowing air of realism to proceedings, and with Franju firmly cloaking the film with a disquiet atmosphere, the results often feel like being part of some feverish nightmare.

This is what it sounds like when doves fly!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unsettling film. 18 Sep 2011
By Peter
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Considering that the practise of having someone sectioned in a psychiatric hospital, as a method of personal power and control, was wide spread less than 50 years ago, this film is quite disturbing. I suppose it raises other questions about how much individuality we really have; about how much our community will accept behaviour that strays beyond the boundaries of 'normal'.

The DVD came with a high quality 48 page booklet with info about the film and Franju.
Here is some info from the back of the dvd you may find helpful.

. New high definition transfer
. New and improved optional English subtitles
. Original French theatrical trailer
. A new video interview with Jean Pierre Mocky filmed in 2008
. A new video interview with Charles Aznavour filmed in 2008

I really like everything about this 'Masters of Cinema' release. Someone has actually given some thought to this and it shows. Even the poster artwork is really thoughtful.
I hope this film unsettles you as much as it did me ;-)
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Being committed 1 Nov 2009
Being committed to a psychiatric ward is also called "colocation" . The film shows us how a son's behaviour doesn't suit his father, with the help of the family doctor he has his son colocated. One could think that this only could happen a while ago, here for the movie one talks about "post war" psychiatry, while in reality it still was done in 1970! And then too, it was not hard to have someone committed who was standing in your way! Fathers indeed "loved" his son or daughter so much that they found there was need for "a cure" to break the will and change the caracter of their child. It mostly happened around the ages of 17 or 18 when puberty had its effect on behaviour, way of thinking and of course rebellion against authority. It is only quite recent that psychiatry has taken another point of view and colocation nowadays only happens under the authority of the law, for instance when crime is committed or when the person is a danger to him or herself, for instance by failure of suicide! The story we see in the movie really happened to the author of the book of the same title. LA TETE CONTRE LES MURS is the following story of LE NOEUD THE VIPERES and tells us mostly about the relationship with his mother. I personaly have known 2 people who had the misadventure of collocation thanks to their father. One was a boy of 19 and the other a woman who had spend 20 years in collocation and only got out at the age of 41 after her father died!! The misery of it, the nightmare that goes on and on is well elaborated in this film and one cannot do else than to feel anger towards the parent and the shrink and deep compassion towards the "victim" Indeed, in that predicament one runs with the head against a concrete wall and cannot break it down, whatever one tries!
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