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:: Essential World Cinema: FRANCE

This is a set of three French films selected as essential viewing. They sit well amongst the best that the French have produced.

The first in this series of French films is Cyrano De Bergerac. The film tells the tale of a soulful poet/philosopher named Cyrano who falls in love with the fair Roxanne, but is ashamed to woo her because of his huge nose. Instead he writes love letters in order to win her hand for him. She falls deeply in love with the author, but doesn't know they were written by Cyrano.

“Cyrano De Bergerac” is a splendid movie because it tells its romantic story, making it visually delightful, and focusing on Depardieu in his terrific performance.

Queen Margot” tells of the circumstances surrounding the night of August 24, 1572, known as the Massacre of St. Bartholomew. In France a religious war is raging. In order to impose peace a forced wedding is arranged between Margot de Valois and the Hugenot King Henri of Navarre. Catherine of Medici maintains her behind-the-scenes power by ordering assaults and poisonings.

It is simply lavish in its scale and a wonderful film just to look at. Probably more memorable for the fantastic acting performance of Isabelle Adjani as the spellbinding Queen Margot. She is superb.

No “best of” French films could be selected without a film starring the great Catherine Deneuve, In “The Last Metro”, she stars as Marion, a Paris theatre manager during the Nazi occupation. She virtually leads a double life - running the business of the theatre and taking care for her husband, who is actually hidden its cellar.

Marion stages a new play, casting Bernard Granger (Depardieu) as her leading man. He has his own agenda - moonlighting for the resistance. There is a palpable tension between Marion and Bernard as she upholds any pretense in order to keep her secret and he, his. Meanwhile, the nazis circle closer and closer to the theatre. Deneuve is brilliant as the uncompromising wife who sacrifices everything for her husband and their theatre.

A very good set of French films, especially worthwhile for the acting performances, which are exquisite.

DVD Extras

Cyrano de Bergerac - Movie Show interview with Gerard Depardieu
Cyrano de Bergerac - Cast Profiles
Cyrano de Bergerac - Legend of Cyrano essay
Cyrano de Bergerac - Roger Ebert review
Cyrano de Bergerac - Awards and Nominations

Queen Margot - Filmographies for Isabelle Adjani and Daniel Auteuil
Queen Margot - Original Theatrical Trailer

The Last Metro - Introduction to the Film
The Last Metro - Francois Truffaut Collection Trailers
The Last Metro - Francois Truffaut interviewed upon the film's release (1980)
The Last Metro - Truffaut and the Pleasure of Reading (1980)
The Last Metro - The Cesar Awards 1981
The Last Metro - An Unreleased Scene
The Last Metro - Original Theatrical Trailer