In this sprawling, star-laden film, we see the struggles of various French resistance factions to regain control of Paris near the end of World War II. The Nazi general in charge of Paris, Dietrich von Cholitz (Frbe), is under orders from Hitler himself to burn the city if he cannot control it or if the Allies get too close. Much of the drama centers around the moral deliberations of the general, the Swedish ambassador (Welles), and the eager but desperate leaders of the resistance.
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If the tagline for It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World was `Everyone whose ever been funny is in it,' then Rene Clement's epic could almost lay claim that `Anyone who's ever been French is in it,' assembling Alain Delon, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Charles Boyer, Leslie Caron, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Yves Montand, Simone Signoret, Michel Piccoli, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Claude Rich and others (Paul Crauchet, Bernard Fresson, Michel Lonsdale, Patrick Dewaere and Albert Remy can also be spotted if you look hard enough) in a spectacular retelling of the Liberation of Paris. While the French producers intended a great patriotic celebration of the deliverance of the capitol under the threat of total destruction after Hitler ordered nothing be left of the city but ruins, Paramount, who picked up the bulk of the tab, saw it as another Longest Day and padded out the American roles with largely blink-and-you'll-miss-`em cameos by Kirk Douglas, Glenn Ford, Anthony Perkins and Robert Stack. Of the non-French top-liners it's only Orson Welles as the Swedish consul Nordling, frantically trying to avoid unnecessary bloodshed through negotiation, and Gert Frobe as General Von Choltitz, the general tasked with defending or destroying the city, who play a major role in the film. Their scenes easily the best in the somewhat disjointed picture, never lapsing into simple stereotyping and giving a credible face to history. To be fair, most of the heavyweight French cast are not much more than slightly larger cameos, with the bulk of the film falling on lesser-billed Bruno Cremer and Peter Vaneck's shoulders, although both characters do bring to light the fact that somewhere along the way the film got somewhat depoliticised from Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre's superb book - both Colonel Rol-Tanguy and Major Gallois/Cocteau were key figures in the communist resistance, though you'd never know it from the film. Although the involvement of communists in the Liberation of the city is briefly acknowledged and the De Gaullist figures often identified as such, the left don't fare so well: ironic considering one of the strengths of the book was in showing the political infighting and jockeying for position between the De Gaullists and the communist resistance, with the armed rising a consequence of each side ignoring the Allies' strategy so that they could claim they led the Liberation in an escalating game of oneupmanship. Collaboration barely gets a mention either: this is predominantly triumphalist in tone, and as such its often very effective, with several sections carrying a real surge of jubilation as the people take their city back. (However, the involvement of black troops and resistance fighters on the French side is very briefly acknowledged.) Although primarily credited to Gore Vidal and Francis Ford Coppola, the script was the result of several writers - alongside Marcel Moussy and Beate von Molo, Jean Aurenche, Pierre Bost and Claude BrulÃ© also contributed - and there are a few somewhat jarring shifts in style as a result. Despite the political dilution that one suspects was a consequence of getting both the essential co-operation from de Gaulle's government and the equally essential dollars from Paramount, it does a good job of making the constantly shifting strategies and increasingly chaotic events accessible while keeping the momentum up, but as with most spot-the-star WW2 epics, it's the vignettes that stick most firmly in the mind: a German soldier, his uniform still smouldering, staggering away from a blown-up truck only to be ignored by a businessman blithely going to work as if nothing were happening; a female resistance worker delivering instructions for the uprising being offered a lift by an unsuspecting German officer after her bike gets a puncture; French soldiers picking off Germans from an apartment whole the little old lady who lives there excitedly watches while drinking her tea; Jean-Paul Belmondo and Marie Versini crawling across a road with their bikes to avoid snipers while a gay man walking his dog watches, before going on to liberate the seat of government without a shot being fired because the civil servants there habitually do what they're told by anyone in authority; an armoured unit getting a dozen different directions to their destination by Parisians; SS men casually looking through Von Choltitz's papers out of force of habit; and the general suddenly finding himself alone in a restaurant as the bells of Paris ring out for the first time in four years to proclaim the Allies' arrival. The Americans don't fare as well, all-too obviously being there simply for marquee value (the prominently billed George Chakhiris is in it for less than 30 seconds!), although Anthony Perkins' soldier acting more like a tourist is at least memorable, while most of the German regulars - Gunther Meisner, Karl-Otto Alberty, Wolfgang Preiss, Hannes Messemer - are pretty much stuck in their usual bad/good German roles from every other war movie they ever made (that said, it's a surprise Anton Diffring didn't get an invite as well!). In many ways the two real stars of the film are the city of Paris and Maurice Jarre's excellent score, the film's only real constant factors as the stars come and go and events move forward. For the most part the film avoids the tourist shots with a great use of locations, giving a sense of a place where people actually live and die, while Jarre's score manages to counterpoint a militant piano-led theme for the Nazi Occupation with an increasingly stirring resistance theme that constantly runs underneath it, gradually working its way out of hiding and constantly gaining ascendancy before finally flowering into a vivid and triumphant waltz for the Liberation. A somewhat ill-fated production - producer Paul Graetz died of a heart attack during filming - it was a huge but much-criticized success in France but a conspicuous box-office failure everywhere else, with Paramount swearing off the epic genre for decades to come and Rene Clement's career never really recovering: his last major film, he wouldn't work again for another three years and only made four more films. Best remembered today for Plein Soleil/Purple Noon, Clement was a logical choice for the film, having had earlier had much success with previous WW2 films La Bataille du Rail, about the French resistance on the railway network, and the Oscar-winning Jeux Interdit/Forbidden Games, and his direction is for the most part superb, be it the control of a chillingly formal tracking shot along a railway platform casually revealing and passing a dead body or the edgy hand-held work during some of the makeshift street fights. Although the decision to film in black and white which would hurt the film so much at the box-office and on television was reputedly forced on the film by the French government's refusal to allow the film to fly red and black Nazi flags over the city (grey and black, however, were permitted), it works to the film's advantage, not only allowing it to incorporate genuine archive footage a little more skilfully than is the norm but also gives it a more verite feel thanks to Marcel Grignon's naturalistic photography. If at times this feels less like the classic it could have been and more like the best film that could be made under the political and financial circumstances, it's still an impressive and occasionally compelling recreation of a unique moment in history that deserves to be at least a little better known and better regarded than it is. Unfortunately Paramount's DVD is a bit ill-starred itself. Although several behind the scenes documentaries and trailers exist, the fact that the DVD is extras-free is less problematic than the soundtrack. If you choose the English soundtrack, you have some highly variable dubbing of most of the French and German cast (although Frobe is well-dubbed here by Michael Collins, his `voice' from Goldfinger), but if you opt for the French soundtrack you have the equally variable dubbing of the German and American actors (though Georges Aminel does a strikingly good job of dubbing Welles on the French version). Just to add to the confusion, Hitler's dialogue is all in subtitled German, although in all the other scenes the Germans all speak English! Switching between the languages is a solution of sorts, but an irritating one. Still, at least the DVD preserves the widescreen format and the overture and intermission.
The dubbing and miscasting of Kirk Douglas as Patton aside, this filmis definitely the best of the WW2 flicks from the sixties. I have notseen The Longest Day and I remember The Bridge at Remagen as ploddingand slow. I own The Dirty Dozen, The Great Escape, and Patton. Theseare great films, indeed. But, if you have seen just one of them youhave, essentially, seen all three. The war movies from the sixties wereall about the rugged tough guys wanting to stick it to some Germancommandant (except Patton)."Is Paris Burning?" is a documentary-style film that puts you right inthe heart of the war in Europe. But, many things are missing, thingslike: the stoic RAF commander who sleeps around (The Battle ofBritain), the US Navy airman who falls in love with a Japanese girl(Midway), or every guy in the film being referred to as "Mister" (anywar movie from the sixties). In other words, Is Paris Burning? does notdeviate for one second from its story. The flow is strong and theaction is simply mind-blowing, especially for 1966. Moreover, as muchas we have a reason to not like the French at the moment, they deservetheir due honor and respect in history. Go ahead, call me a traitor andtar-and-feather me. The cinematography in Is Paris Burning? is daringand articulate. The cinematography is also reminiscent of The Passionof Joan of Arc (silent) and Schindler's List. I loved this film!!! Itmade we wish I was with the Resistance in Paris back then.
This indeed is an historic film that sets a benchmark for all other warfilms. It contains more visual and verbal cliches than any other war moviesince D.W. Griffith and sets an enviable standard for trivializing history.It's overly long, insanely idealized and not unduly concerned with fact.Cameos by any number of name stars including a delectably young Leslie Caronand a youthfully insufferable Anthony Perkins do nothing to rescue it. Aninteresting novelty: The good guys wear black hats (well, berets.) Havingdamned it thusly, some of the effects and most of the photography arenevertheless of a high standard and the integration of historic news footageinto the film is impressively effective. A little less gee-whiz and a littlemore tight editing and we might have had a classic here.
The great director, Rene Clement, put his angst to rest with this empowered version of the French Resistance in 1944. Most icons of the French Cinema appeared, including the great Charles Boyer, as well as modern idols Delon, Trintignant, Belmondo and the radiant Leslie Caron. This film was originally made with subtitles all around, except for the few scenes with Americans Kirk Douglas (as Patton via Spartacus), Anthony Perkins, Robert Stack, Glenn Ford and a particularly powerful performance from Orson Welles as Swedish consul Nordling. I was also very impressed with the performance of Gert Frobe (Goldfinger), as the German general with a serious dilemma. The DVD doesn't offer any features, and the entire film is dubbed, which is a great reason to try to get your kids to watch this as a valid history lesson. (I learned more about history from movies than I ever did in a classroom...) It's interesting that the film was written by Americans Gore Vidal and Francis Ford Coppola. Director Clement never failed to show impassioned moments, and all very well played. Terrific crowd scenes were mixed with archival footage. The war-torn Paris scenes were Oscar- nominated for Art Direction, and the seamless photography was also up for an Oscar. ("Virginia Woolf?" won in both categories, though these sets were stunning!). A great wide 2.35:1 Letterbox showed off some wonderful panoramas. Maurice Jarre's score was the icing on the cake! It is another feather in his epic cap (Lawrence, Zhivago, Ryan's Daughter). One line that moved me a bit was when the resistance fighter finally made it to Patton and said "The French people would never forgive the Allies for not coming to their aid." Well, we did. Why do they hate us so much?
This review is from: Is Paris Burning? (DVD) The quality of the production isn't the best, but if you are a World War II history buff, you will love this DVD.
Although this movie fails to fit the classic 'war film' category, it still has some decent battle scences and pays tribute to the French resistance who played such a vital role in the defeat of Hitler's Nazi war machine. On the down side, i thought the acting was a little ordinary in comparison to other films of its time ('The longest day', 'The train' etc)and at times became a little long winded. It did have a great soundtrack and overall was a film worth watching.
It took me many years of looking but I finally found the film I had been looking for since I first saw it in 1976. I read the book a few years ago, and the film goes well with it. It is a film that always leaves a tear in the eye as the city of Paris together with its many political factions rise up against their nazi rulers in August 1944.Filmed in black and white and cleverly interlinked with original film footage, this film is made even better by a fantastic musical score which I always sing to my self everytime I visit Paris.The all star French cast were excellent, but I found the sympathetic portrayal of the german soldier and his officers a refreshing change from the goose stepping fanatics we see in many other World war 2 war films.It was interesting to see major american stars in minor roles, and i think anyone watching the film would have known just what was going to happen to Anthony Perkin's character,..."I wonder what it's like to die..."A film well worth waiting all these years to watch again.
This review is from: Is Paris Burning ? (DVD) There was a region error, so would not play.I first saw this movie in Japan in 1967 and I loved it. However, the German actors spoke German and the French actors spoke French. The subtitles were in Japanese. I had to wait until the Americans showed up until I could understand the dialog.I know the history of the story, so would have loved to understand everything.
I don't know if it's just the copy of the movie I got, but the dubbing washorrible. Everyone except Kirk Douglas and Orson Wells was off by about 2words. Parts of the story were kind of random, but did add to the idea ofthe horror of war and the way people try to find the good in a badsituation.
Before I comment I should note that I haven't read the book nor am I thatfamiliar with figures in the French Resistance. One thing that I did noticewas that the portrayal of the Nazis in this film wasn't quite asstereotypical as in most World War II movies. Of course Hitler has to be arug chewing psychotic but many of the other Germans were actually depictedquite humanly. Gert Frobe (Goldfinger) is very believeable even sympatheticas the General in charge of Paris.On another note the star casting works in the case of Welles (Nordling) andis pointless in the case of Kirk Douglas and Anthony Perkins. All in all afair war picture, 6/10.
This all star international cast does an excellent job of portraying the events leading up to the liberation of Paris in August 1944. The film tells the story from the perspective of the German and French forces with some participation, it seems, from US forces. This film is a good overview of general activities in the battle but to fully understand the events leading up to the revolt by the French Undergound against German occupation forces, one needs to read the book by the same name and other military history. Internal frictions within the underground is downplayed in the film. The treatment of the German occupation force is good and makes a clear distinction between the military occupation force and the Gestapo in their actions during the battle.This film gives good treatment to a high point in French history and presents a balanced, thoughtful film. The theme music is unforgetable and captures the spirit of Paris in August 1944. This should be in all historical film collections.
What gigantic and difficult project! Gore Vidal and Francis FordCoppola collaborated on a screenplay which would portray the vastsubject of the liberation of Paris in a lively and coherent manner,despite the sprawling content and disparate multiple story lines andendless variety of locations. The fact that they succeeded at all is amiracle. Many characters appear in the film as miniature cameos, theirstories lasting only one or two minutes, which is one reason why thesecameo appearance were 'heightened' by using a cast consisting of alarge number of famous movie stars of the 1960s, all of whose faceswere well known at that time, both American and French. The bestproduction decision taken was to entrust the directing of the film tothe famous French director, RenÃ© Clement (1913-1996), who even at thistime was a grand old man of French cinema, and commanded transatlanticconfidence due to the success of FORBIDDEN GAMES (1952) in America andBritain (nominated for an Oscar, won a Bafta and New York CriticsCircle Award, etc.) He had also just directed THE LOVE CAGE (1964) withAlain Delon and Jane Fonda in English. This film was made in bothFrench and English versions, with a lot of German speakers as well, andhad dubbing which was often imperfect. The film was also based on twoseparate books dealing with the subject. French and German scriptcollaborators prepared the dialogue for scenes involving thosenationalities. Making this film was practically a military exercise, itwas so complicated. Orson Welles has a substantial role as the SwedishConsul in Paris, who was always trying to save French prisoners, butthe main part in the film is really that of General von Cholitz,brilliantly performed by the German actor Gert FrÃ¶be, who has awonderful way of swallowing 'Ja', mumbling, frowning, and lookingtroubled, for all the world as if he really is in charge of theoccupation of Paris. The title of the film refers to the fact that vonCholitz has been given explicit orders by Hitler to destroy Paris. Nearthe end of the film while the liberation is taking place, a phone lyingoff the hook in his now-abandoned office is screaming: 'Is Parisburning? Is Paris burning?' Obviously, I am giving away no secretsabout the film by revealing that von Cholitz defies the order todestroy Paris, as most people are presumably aware that Paris stillexists. But just in case viewers of the film had their doubts aboutwhat it really means to destroy a city, this film includes horrifyingfootage of the total destruction of Warsaw. Throughout this film, eagerSS men are seen planting bombs beneath the Eiffel Tower, the bridgesover the Seine, in Napoleon's Tomb and the Chamber of Deputies, readyfor von Cholitz's order to detonate everything at once. And this is atrue story: it came within a hair's breadth of happening. This film wasmade in black and white so that there could be seamless inter-cuttingwith real footage of the liberation. The result is totally satisfactoryand very unnerving. Much of the footage was shot by Resistance fightersat the time. The film thus achieves a tremendous sense of immediacy andrealism in many parts. The French Government and Municipality of Parisgave total cooperation: whole streets such as the Champs ElysÃ©e and thePlace de la Concorde were cleared of people and traffic, and no effortwas spared to make the entire city of Paris available to portrayitself. This film really does ultimately star the city itself in a waywhich has probably never happened before or since in the entire historyof the cinema. The achievement should thus not be under-estimated. Sucha thing will and can never happen again. It is true that Kirk Douglasdoes not at all resemble General Patton, and Glenn Ford looks nothinglike General Omar Bradley, but these factors were wisely ignored by theproducers, who focused only on the events and the epic itself. (JacquesChaban-Delmas must have been very flattered to be portrayed by thehandsome Alain Delon.) Billy Frick does an excellent cameo of Hitlernear the beginning of the film. Some of the stars, such as AnthonyPerkins, have more extended roles, and he in particular lends greatpathos to the eager young GI who has always wanted to see Paris and isso thrilled to enter a real Paris cafÃ© even though he has never drunkwine before and wonders if he should. Simone Signoret's smile as wideas a boulevard lights up a small part but poor Yves Montand gets shotin the back by a German sniper. Tragedy is not at all spared in thisgritty portrayal of real events and many genuine persons. Jean-LouisTrintignant gets stuck with the part of a slimy collaboratorresponsible for the murder of 30 young people. I remember so wellseeing this when it first came out, in a huge cinema in 70 mmwide-screen, with the rousing music of Maurice Jarre blaring out. Itmade a huge impression on everyone I knew at the time and was a majorcultural event, not just a cinematic one. Maybe it never earned itsmoney back, despite the fact that the French authorities probably didnot charge. But it stirred the public and brought the lessons ofhistory home to them. After seeing this, no one could say that Pariswas a faraway city of which he knew nothing. And that is what thisproject was all about, to portray the world's most romantic city in itsgreatest moment of danger, and to see how narrowly it survived beingwiped from the face of the earth by madmen. When I see the plaques allover Paris today to the brave Resistance fighters, I always give athought for their courage.
If the tagline for It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World was 'Everyone whoseever been funny is in it,' then Rene Clement's epic could almost layclaim that 'Anyone who's ever been French is in it,' assembling AlainDelon, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Charles Boyer, Leslie Caron, Jean-PierreCassel, Yves Montand, Simone Signoret, Michel Piccoli, Jean-LouisTrintignant and others in a spectacular retelling of the Liberation ofParis. Even that was not enough for Paramount, who wanted anotherLongest Day and padded out the American roles with largelyblink-and-you'll-miss-'em cameos by Kirk Douglas, Glenn Ford and RobertStack. Of the non-French top-liners, only Orson Welles as the Swedishconsul frantically trying to avoid unnecessary bloodshed, and GertFrobe as the general tasked with defending or destroying the city, playa major role in the film. Their scenes easily the best in the somewhatdisjointed picture, never lapsing into simple stereotyping and giving acredible face to history.Most of the heavyweight French cast are not much more than cameoseither, with the bulk of the film falling on lesser-billed Bruno Cremerand Peter Vaneck's shoulders, although both characters highlight thefact that somewhere along the way the film got somewhat depoliticisedfrom Collins and Lapierre's superb book Â both Colonel Rol-Tanguy andMajor Gallois/Cocteau were key figures in the communist resistance,though you'd never know it from the film. Although the De Gaullistfigures often identified as such, the left don't fare so well: ironicconsidering one of the strengths of the book was in showing thepolitical infighting and jockeying for position between the DeGaullists and the communist resistance. Collaboration barely gets amention either: this is predominantly triumphalist in tone, and as suchits often very effective, with several sections carrying a real surgeof jubilation as the people take their city back.Despite the political dilution that one suspects was a consequence ofgetting both the essential co-operation from de Gaulle's government andthe equally essential dollars from Paramount, it does a good job ofmaking the constantly shifting strategies and increasingly chaoticevents accessible while keeping the momentum up, but as with mostspot-the-star WW2 epics, it's the vignettes that stick most firmly inthe mind: a German soldier, his uniform still smouldering, staggeringaway from a blown-up truck only to be ignored by a businessman blithelygoing to work as if nothing were happening; a female resistance workerdelivering instructions for the uprising being offered a lift by anunsuspecting German officer after her bike gets a puncture; Frenchsoldiers picking off Germans from an apartment while the little oldlady who lives there excitedly watches as she drinks her tea; Jean-PaulBelmondo and Marie Versini crawling across a road with their bikes toavoid snipers while a gay man walking his dog watches, before going onto liberate the seat of government without a shot being fired becausethe civil servants there habitually do what they're told by anyone inauthority; an armoured unit getting a dozen different directions totheir destination by Parisians; SS men casually looking through VonCholtitz's papers out of force of habit; and the general suddenlyfinding himself alone in a restaurant as the bells of Paris ring outfor the first time in four years to proclaim the Allies' arrival.The Americans don't fare as well, all-too obviously being there simplyfor marquee value (prominently billed George Chakhiris is in it forless than 30 seconds!), although Anthony Perkins' soldier acting morelike a tourist is at least memorable. In many ways the two real starsof the film are the city of Paris and Maurice Jarre's excellent score,the film's only real constant factors as the stars come and go andevents move forward. For the most part the film avoids the touristshots with a great use of locations, giving a sense of a place wherepeople actually live and die, while Jarre's score manages tocounterpoint a militant piano-led theme for the Nazi Occupation with anincreasingly stirring resistance theme that constantly runs underneathit, gradually working its way out of hiding and constantly gainingascendancy before finally flowering into a vivid and triumphant waltzfor the Liberation.A somewhat ill-fated production - producer Paul Graetz died of a heartattack during filming Â it was a huge but much-criticised success inFrance but a conspicuous box-office failure everywhere else, withParamount swearing off the epic genre for decades to come and ReneClement's career never really recovering: his last major film, hewouldn't work again for another three years and only made four morefilms. Best remembered today for Plein Soleil/Purple Noon, La Batailledu Rail and the Oscar-winning Jeux Interdit/Forbidden Games, and hisdirection is for the most part superb, be it the control of achillingly formal tracking shot along a railway platform casuallyrevealing and passing a dead body or the edgy hand-held work duringsome of the makeshift street fights. Although the decision to film inblack and white which would hurt the film so much at the box-office andon television was reputedly forced on the film by the Frenchgovernment's refusal to allow the film to fly red and black Nazi flagsover the city (grey and black, however, were permitted), it works tothe film's advantage, not only allowing it to incorporate genuinearchive footage a little more skilfully than is the norm but also givesit a more verite feel thanks to Marcel Grignon's naturalisticphotography.If at times this feels less like the classic it could have been andmore like the best film that could be made under the political andfinancial circumstances, it's still an impressive and occasionallycompelling recreation of a unique moment in history that deserves to beat least a little better known and better regarded than it is.
This film is a very well done dramatisation of the account of theliberationof Paris in August of 1944.History buffs take note;notice the mascot namesof the tanks in General Leclerc's Free French armoured division.Many hadSpanish names such as "Madrid" "Teruel" & "Zaragosa" as these vehiclesweremanned by anti-Fascist Spanish refugee fighters who played a largelyimportant yet mostly un-acknowledged part largely ignored by mainstreamhistorians about the WW2 period.
Viewed: 3/08Rate: 33/08: Don't be fooled by the caption, sported by Is Paris Burning?, claiming it having an "all-star cast." It is nowhere near the all-star status, not even by a mile. Is Paris Burning? is just a terribly made soap operatic film that runs too long on fumes containing far too many newsreels more than necessary. There are many overly melodramatic scenes constructed to draw sympathy from the audience, and they all come off being amateurishly thought of. Take one scene in particular involving a woman running and looking for her husband (I think) and finally finding him before he runs away and gets shot. Now, when I think about the scene as time goes on, the sillier is the usage of it. In a sense, Is Paris Burning? feels lot like an assembly of many moments into one big picture, almost never tying up together. Every time the word "Paris" is mentioned especially in the last hour of the film, it's like a magic word that can unlock the doors to the universe of truth. And how painfully corny is that? Even worse is the inclusion of Anthony Perkins. I was thinking of Norman Bates Attacks Paris and then Norman Bates Meets a Nazi or Norman Bates Could Have Met Adolf Hitler. In the end, he was pretty much useless as the screen time involving him didn't contribute much to the overall story. Although I do like the concept behind the movie, the movie is so darned predictable, so I feel like I wished the Nazis have blown Paris into smithereens every time the word "Paris" is uttered. Speaking of the "all-star" cast, Orson Welles overacts, Kirk Douglas gives his two cents and disappears after five minutes, and who else...oh yes...the star of Diabolique Simone Signoret shows up and that's it. Rene Clement, the director, shows that he is wholly incapable of directing an epic picture like Is Paris Burning? I am not even sure if I should go as far as calling the movie an epic picture, but it was far too long and silly. When I saw the men being shot without even being actually shot, The Battle of the Bulge immediately came to my mind. Especially a couple of scenes, one of them shows a jeep with several men on it ramming into a wall or a tree, they all stand up and slowly fall to the ground pathetically as if they died at the point of impact. I couldn't help but rewind that part and see it again before laughing too much. On a positive side about Is Paris Burning?, I liked some of the shots and how they were aesthetically done, and it's even probable that certain ideas from the movie were influences for Steven Spielberg before he did Schindler's List. Then again, he might have learned a lot of lessons in what to avoid. When the hammy line "In Paris we have to look our best," was uttered by the French commander, it was the death knell of the film as whole trying to be a serious war film. Anthony Perkins was probably the final nail on the coffin. My gosh, he doesn't even look like he was in a war for mere two seconds! I have to say there are a lot of editing problems throughout Is Paris Burning? because the transitions seemed to be rough and unconnected. When I found that Kirk Douglas was actually playing as General Patton, I was thinking, "Gee whiz." I actually lip-read the actors and found myself questioning if they were speaking in different languages instead of English. Maybe the movie is half-English and half-dubbed. All in all, I just wished that Paris burnt down instead of the mess I saw in Is Paris Burning? As a side mention, I actually liked Gert Frobe, who played the Nazi commander of Paris and did look familiar, in this film.
When I read about this DVD my first thought was "why haven't I already seen this?" I'm a big WWII buff and on paper this movie sounds amazing. Orson Wells, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Kirk Douglas, and many other big name stars plus a script by Gore Vidal and Francess Ford Copola. If only they could have got Copola to direct. I suspect that unlike the actual director he would have had the french speaking french, the english english, and the germans german. Instead the movie was directed with dubbing in mind so no matter how you manipulate the language options you can never hear the germans speaking german (from what I can tell I think they are actually speaking french most of the time). I toggled back and forth between French with English subtitles (most of the movie) and English (scenes with Wells, Douglas, Stack, Glen Ford, and Tony Perkins) using the "Setup" option on the DVD. Another problem is this movie is just too long. Especially at the beginning there are too many scenes of people going back and forth between different french organizations and talking and also some melodramatic scenes of Nazis acting like the cliche Nazis in an American B movie. However, once the movie gets going its actually quite compelling. The story is the very interesting true story of how Paris was liberated. Hitler wanted to see Paris completely obliterated before the Nazis left. The allies on the other hand are torn between several different factions of the french resistance and General Patton who despite his love of French culture was more interested in getting to Berlin ASAP and for him that meant bypassing Paris. I saw that one reviewer said that the Nazis never really had the capability to completely destroy Paris. I suppose that depends on what you mean by destroy but there was a similar situation on the Eastern front where insurgents rose up against the Nazis as the Russians were advancing and parts of Warsaw were completely obliterated and thousands of people were masacred. The same could easily have happened but didn't thanks to the perseverence of the French resistance and the fact that the commanding general of the Germans behaved like a human not a war criminal.What I loved about this movie were the shots of battles and troops liberating Paris. People who are familiar with WWII history will appreciate the battle scenes which for a change are quite realistic (minor exception, the insurgents deal with German tanks far too easily). The Americans actually have Sherman tanks and the Germans Panzers, unlike some movies such as Patton where they took 50's era war surplus tanks and passed them off. And the liberation scenes, the cooperation of the Americans and French were quite moving to me. I think this movie would make a nice companion to Casablanca.
IS PARIS BURNING? is the theatrical movie version of the best selling book of the same name. It was released in the United States in late autumn 1966 at, what was then, the peak years of war films. Many have seen IS PARIS BURNING? as the natural follow on to THE LONGEST DAY. A long film in summary: Historically accurate, closely follows the book, filmed throughout Paris, dubbed French and German dialogue is sometimes annoying.The setting is August 1944. Paris has been occupied by the Germans for more than four years. The Allied ground forces are close enough to the city to encourage various French resistance groups to join in an insurrection against the German garrison. On the eve of the uprising German General Dietrich von Choltitz (Gert Frobe) is appointed by Hitler to command Fortress Paris. His orders are to maintain order and destroy the city if the Allies break through. Choltitz arrives in Paris and realizes his job is a hopeless one. With resistance units in control of key points and facilities throughout the city, Choltitz can only play for time. Meanwhile, French resistance forces ambush German trucks and battle German tanks with Molotov cocktails. The irony is that both von Choltitz and the French depend on the rapid arrival of the Allies in order to save the city. Until that time Choltitz, whose forces are not sufficient to pacify the city, is limited to isolated demonstrations of strength, while at the same time giving the appearance of fully supporting demolition operations. French representatives finally make it through German lines and meet with a string of American Generals, as well as French General Leclerc, and obtain a commitment from the Americans. Both French and US Army troops enter the city and overcome sporadic German resistance. Choltitz is finally taken prisoner and Paris is spared the horrific fate suffered by Warsaw.Several things surprised me about this film. Despite that fact that it was released by Paramount, was based on a book co-written by American Larry Collins, had a screenplay written by Gore Vidal and Francis Ford Coppola, and included big name American movie stars the film was produced with a French audience in mind. There is no American version. Directed by French director Rene Clement, who at one time was an acclaimed director of documentaries, IS PARIS BURNING? was sometimes filmed in documentary fashion. Indeed, many of the linking scenes consisted of actual wartime footage. Much like THE LONGEST DAY, IS PARIS BURNING? is filmed in black and white with the exception of the end credits appearing over aerial views of the city.The music was composed and arranged by Maurice Jarre. Recall the Maurice Jarre was made forever famous by his score for LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. Most of 1960s scores sound like a variation of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. His music for THE TRAIN also contained many familiar cues from LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. Although his IS PARIS BURNING? music is not one of those soundtracks that will ever reach the fame and popularity of classic war films such as PATTON, I must admit that it appropriate for IS PARIS BURNING? It simply sounds like what I would expect for a film centered in and around Paris.There are two reasons I gave IS PARIS BURNING? only three stars. First is that the English dubbing leaves something to be desired. The original American actor voices are retained. Unfortunately the German and French dialogue is dubbed poorly. The second reason I did not give the movie a higher rating is that the movie faithfully follows the book. In most cases this is a good thing. In this film adhering to the book sometimes becomes confusing as there are too many locations and personalities. There is also a loss of continuity between activities because it is difficult to portray concurrent events in any sort of order. Unless you have read the book you are likely to miss the importance of many of the events. For example at the same time the resistance appears to hold key positions in the city with French armor entering the outskirts of the city we still find German demolition crews continuing unimpeded with their work.A lot of effort went into the making of this film. Filming on location in a major European city is no easy feat. This is a credit to the production crew. Also note that they configured ex-U.S. Army M-24 Chaffee tanks as German Mark V Panthers. Not a bad job at all.Paramount was less than thrilled at the response for IS PARIS BURNING? Despite two academy award nominations the film bombed at American box offices. Audiences are picky when it comes to docudramas. TORA, TORA, TORA would years later suffer a similar response. What it really got down to was the question as to why anyone in the United States would care about what happened in August 1944 Paris. Despite boasting such American stars such as Glenn Ford, Kirk Douglas, Anthony Perkins, E.G. Marshall, Orson Welles and Robert Stack, none of these fine actors has a singularly pivotal role in the film. Additionally none of the Americans has a presence throughout the film. German actor Gert Frobe (most audiences know him best as James Bond's Goldfinger) is really the only personality in the movie from beginning to end.The movie has a 175 minute running time. This might be a little lengthy for those more familiar with more traditional 90 to 120 minute films. For history buffs it is likely just the right length.
This review is from: Is Paris Burning? (DVD) This is a great depiction of the end of Germany in Paris. The movie is filmed from the Allied and the German positions in saving the City of Lights, the treasures, buildings and structures from the warped mentality of Adolph Hitler. It demonstrates that even in the German High Command, there were officers who had the courage to make a counter decision to save the beauty and history of this famous old city. The movie is a great narative of what could have happened, and did in many other places. The film contains actual footage of the Allied entry, adding to the reality of the retaking of Paris, confirming that war is cruel and devastating for everyone.
This review is from: Is Paris Burning? (DVD) I just got the DVD last Friday, I can't believe last time I saw this movie was almost 25 years ago in Hong Kong. If you have THe Longest Day, you should definitely get this movie, feels like they are attached to each other.Well, I can also say that most of the good war movies are back in the 60s. Nowadays, we just see explosive and bloody scenes.
This is a good movie, but only if you have read the book. Otherwise, itwould appear to be muddled and difficult to follow. There were so manydifferent resistance factions operating in Paris at the time of theliberation it is difficult to keep them straight. The movie doesn't helpyou in that regard. Reading the book gives you a much better perspectiveonthe part each faction played in the liberation.The little vignettes you see with characters appearing in the film foronlya few minutes are all true. Unfortunately, they don't always make sensetoan uninformed viewer and they give the viewer the sense of a badly editedfilm.The true story of the last few days before the liberation is extremelyremarkable. Hitler sent a hard core general he trusted to destroy Paris.It is incredible that he disobeyed orders and saved the city.What I really loved about the movie was the city itself. It is one of themost beautiful cities in the world. The film was shot mostly in theactuallocations where the events portrayed took place. As a lover of history, Ihave been fortunate to have visited Paris more than once and walked theselocations fully aware of what happened there. That makes this moviespecialfor me. But, the film does have problems.Besides being a bit disjointed, the French and German dialog were dubbedinEnglish. It would have been better with subtitles, although many of thesame actors did their own English dubbing. The film is in black andwhite,which doesn't bother me, but it might have been better in color. One ofthemain reasons for B&W was the Nazi flags. The French authorities refusedtoallow red and black Nazi flags to fly in Paris, even for a movie. Theyagreed only to have black and gray flags. But the black and white filmingalso allowed the blending of authentic war footage with the movie. Alsoremember that another similar film, The Longest Day, was shot a couple ofyears earlier in B&W.The film is filled with a small army of great international actors. Thatwas fun, although I didn't buy Kirk Douglas as General Patton. Gert Frobe(Goldfinger) was excellent as the German general in charge of Paris andCharles Boyer was also excellent in his small role. The music wascomposedby Maurice Jarre and is just wonderful. Whenever I am in Paris, the musiccontinually runs through my head. As a side note, Jarre obviouslyborrowedmuch of this soundtrack for use in "Grand Prix".In short, this is a historical movie rather than a great film. Irecommendyou read the book to get the full impact of the movie. But understandthisremarkable story of the liberation is stranger than fiction, which makesita good read. And, if you ever visit Paris the movie will take on a wholenew perspective.