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Jean Renoir - La Bete Humaine, La Grande Illusion, Le Crime De Monsieur Lange [1938] [DVD]

4.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Jean Renoir, Françoise Arnoul, Maurice Baquet, Bernardo Bertolucci, Peter Bogdanovich
  • Directors: David Thompson
  • Producers: Roger Thompson, Sarah Mortimer
  • Format: Box set, 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: 3
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Warner
  • DVD Release Date: 6 Sept. 2004
  • Run Time: 286 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002GZ9SU
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 109,757 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Three defining films from France's most celebrated film director, Jean Renoir. 'La Grande Illusion' (1937) is an archetypal prison escape movie, generally regarded as Renoir's most popular film of the 1930s and one which, although often seen as a humane and pacifist indictment of war, offers an ambiguous perspective on class differences. Set in a WWI German prisoner-of-war camp, three French soldiers, the working-class Marechal (Jean Gabin), the middle-class Jew Rosenthal (Marcel Dalio) and the aristocrat senior officer Boieldieu (Pierre Fresnay), are held prisoner by Commandant Von Rauffenstein (Erich von Stroheim). The film shows how a bond of sympathy exists more between the German Commandant and the senior French officer than between the three Frenchmen of different classes. Even though Boieldieu sacrifices himself for the two others to escape, the film makes no attempt to conceal what they are returning to once their role as war-heroes is over. In 'La Bête Humaine' (1938), an adaptation of the novel by Emile Zola, is a tense love triangle starring Jean Gabin as a train driver who falls in love with his colleague's wife, Séverine (Simone Simon). Gabin is treading on very dangerous ground: Séverine's husband Robaud (Fernand Ledoux) has already been driven by his violent jealousy to murder his wife's former lover. Whilst 'Le Crime de Monsieur Lange' (1935) is Renoir's tribute to the co-operative spirit of the Popular Front. The film begins with its eponymous hero, Amédée Lange (René Lefevre), arriving at a cafe-hotel on the Belgian border. The customers recognise him as the man wanted for the murder of his boss, Batala (Jules Berry), in Paris. His female companion, Valentine (Odette Florelle), then proceeds to explain the whole story: when the corrupt Batala had been forced to abscond from his printing press to avoid his creditors, his workers had taken over the business themselves. Running the company as a freewheeling collective, their success was threatened by Batala's sudden return.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
I have only seen La Grande Illusion from this 3 box, but I was disappointed to find that it is not a full print. I have seen an earlier vhs copy that is fuller. Some key scenes have been dropped eg the introduction of Rosenthal that makes clear how much the other prisoners owe to him - as a rich man he gets exotic food parcels. Another loss is the scene that shows that the Jean Gabin character goes to bed with the German widow who shelters the fugitives. My wife is currently reading a biography of von Stroheim and this suggests that the cuts were demanded by french interests when the film was re-released after the war - probably anti-semitism in the case of the cut involving Rosenthal.

I would rate the full version at 5 stars - it's a masterpiece - but the cut version leaves one without an understanding of some of the motivations of the characters.
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By Trevor Willsmer HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 24 July 2006
Format: DVD
...despite boasting decent transfers, the lack of the extras from the R1 NTSC Criterion discs or the French StudioCanal releases lets the set down badly.

La Bete Humaine is my favorite Renoir and one which tends to divide many of his critics and admirers. For me it's an exhilarating and involving piece of cinema with characters destroyed by and destroying themselves in events in much more credible circumstances than in Regle du Jeu, which gives it some real emotional and thematic weight beyond mere parlor games - not to mention having the thrill of seeing post WW1 French doomed romanticism evolving into proto-film noir before your very eyes. These characters truly do all have their reasons and find their attempts to control events and other people backfiring spectacularly as they lose control in a way that none of the mannequins in Regle do. But it's all subjective. Jean Gabin is superb, the use of locations exemplary and Simone Simon was a babe, even if she does try to bite!

La Grande Illusion is one of those films whose reputation as one of the pinnacles of cinematic achievement has always seemed unfathomable to me. If anything, its reputation does the film a great disservice. It IS a good film - a very good film, in fact - but it's not a particularly great one, and it seems to have less to say with each passing year, gradually turning into yet another prisoner of war movie moving from boarding school hijinks to superficial comments on the class system. There are a few excellent scenes in the last third, not least once Von Stroheim re-enters the film, but it feels at times as if there's more French studio system craft than substance. Certainly as an anti-war film it's surprisingly ineffective compared to Pabst or Milestone's earlier efforts.
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Format: DVD
This is excellent value for money, three of Renoir's best films in one package.
Despite the lack of DVD Extras, this is still worth having. The print quality is exceptional,
especially in the case of Grande Illusion where the longer vhs version was a much poorer copy.
The inclusion of Crime De M. Lange makes this box set a must, as I don't believe it's available
elsewhere and it is definitely the best of the three- almost as good as Boudou or
La Regle Du Jeu.
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Format: DVD
The story revolves around a train driver, station master and his philandering psycho of a wife.Many scenes revolve around the french rail network and if you are into railways then this film will surely be a delight.
However should you be looking for a slice of philsophical intrgue and exploration of dark themes you may be disapointed. It's not that these are not present in the movie. They are. It's just that the central threads of the movie lacked coherence and there is a lack of empathy generated for the key characters.
Worth watching as a curiosity piece.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2.0 out of 5 stars 1 review
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars La Grande Illusion : censored 28 April 2010
By P. Jeanjean - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
Just a warning: the copy of La Grande Illusion in this set is a censored one (presumably post war Britain), two scenes being amputated for "moral" reasons (a French escaped soldier CAN NOT fall in love with a German war widow).
No need to say more...
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