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Very Long Engagement [DVD] [2005] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

4.5 out of 5 stars 100 customer reviews

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Only 14 left in stock.
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Product details

  • Language: French, German
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Classification: R (Restricted) (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007Z0NYQ
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 317,901 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Foster/Karyo/Tautou ~ Very Long Engagement

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 1 Mar. 2006
Format: DVD
Sure, the name is an open target for dumb jokes. But Sébastien Japrisot's haunting romance "A Very Long Engagement" translates well onto the big screen, with a bit of help from "Amelie" director Jean-Pierre Jeunet and the wonderful Audrey Tautou.
Mathilde (Audrey Tautou) is a pretty young girl who was left crippled by polio, and is being raised by her uncle and aunt. Before World War I, she fell in love with a boy called Manech (Gaspard Ulliel), but he was sent to the war and killed. Three years later, Mathilde gets a mysterious letter with shocking news: Manech was not killed in action, but condemned to death by being sent unarmed to the front lines -- and miraculously, he might still be alive.
Mathilde is determined to find her lover -- dead or alive -- and learn what really happened on that day three years ago. So she puts out ads in the papers, gathers accounts, and hires a detective to follow the cold trail. And slowly the gaps in the stories emerge, giving Mathilde clues to whether Manech died... and where he might be now.
"A Very Long Engagement" (French title: "Un Long Dimanche de Fiançailles") diddles a few details from the novel, but is faithful to it in the ways that matter -- the "MMM" inscriptions, the non-linear storytelling, the horrors of World War I. In some ways, it seems almost impossible to transfer onto film without creating a pretentious mess -- but it wasn't.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet proves that "Amelie" was no fluke, but this time he relies mostly on visual artistry, rather than in magical realism. He also reminds us, by displaying the French countryside along with flashbacks of the front lines, that war is stupid and wasteful. But it's not an obvious, slam-in-your-face reminder. Like the romance, it's delicate and wistful.
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Five soldiers deliberately injure themselves to escape the trenches. All five are sentenced to death - not by firing squad, but by the simple expedient of being driven out into no-man's-land, there to be killed by German fire.
The execution or judicial murder of troops in the First World War is not a theme which has been extensively developed in France. Stanley Kubrick's 1957 film, "Paths of Glory", explored the subject in detail, but was denied a French showing for nearly twenty years! The French response to 1914-18 has too often been to celebrate 'gloire' and extol the stoic virtues of the poilus who fought and were slaughtered at Verdun. National angst at executions has rarely been on the menu.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet's film, "A Very Long Engagement", makes prominent the responsibility of the French State for the deaths of exhausted, burned out, and scared Frenchmen. It is a central theme. For every man executed at the Front, there were women and families back home, praying for a reprieve, praying for a miracle.
Audrey Tautou plays a symbolic role ... or perhaps a role she has come to symbolise. Even the French media hailed the film as "Amelie goes to War!" Comparisons have refused to go away. Tautou has a childlike quality which the film exploits: her character, Mathilde, refuses to believe that her lover has died - with so many thousands missing, only the truly innocent would search for one lost soldier. But then, every missing man was important to someone. How many people lived out their lives in the hope that a husband or son or father or lover might still be alive, somewhere?
It's a love story, it's a war film, it's a detective roman ... with comedy and tragedy and drama aplenty.
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By Nicholas Casley TOP 500 REVIEWER on 4 July 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I rarely give five stars, but I feel that this film deserves it for a number of reasons.

It is both a fantastic spectacle, and at the same time very moving. In essence it is a love story set against the background of trench warfare on the western front in 1917. After the war, Matilda (played by the beautiful Audrey Tautou), a young woman from rural Brittany seeks to prove that her lover Manech (played by the equally beautiful Gaspard Ulliel) is not dead. Ulliel is a superb actor, who I first noticed when he seduced/was seduced by Charlotte Rampling in the comedy "Summer Things". His naive charm in this film moved this reviewer to tears.

Other reviewers have commented on how the first viewings can be confusing as you try to juggle the lives and subsequent histories of Ulliel's companions in the trench to find out if and how he survived. In this respect the central filling of this film's sandwich is not unlike an Agatha Christie murder mystery. But the beauty of this film is that repeated viewings enhance the experience, for it is shot in a beautiful autumn shimmer, with marvellous views of the Breton countryside and seascapes. The recreation of 1920s Parisian landmarks is a triumph of artistry and just goes to show how CGI can now enhance film.

One word about the editions. I would recommend the two-disc special edition. The extras are definitely worth it, showing how clever the production team has been in creating the brilliant effects both on the battlefield and off.

Some have complained about the apparent frivolousness of an Amelie-approach to World War One.
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