La Marseillaise | Chicago Reader

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Jean Renoir's fascinating (but not wholly successful) attempt to rethink the historical film draws a parallel between the rise of the French Revolution and the spread of its rallying song, the “Marseillaise.” The beauty of the work is in its balance: Louis XVI (played by Pierre Renoir, Jean's brother) is less of a monster than an anachronism, struggling to learn the subtleties of the latest fashions—tomatoes and toothbrushes—while the peasants storm the Bastille. Financed by trade-union subscriptions, the 1937 film was envisioned by Renoir as a call for national unity against the growing threat of Hitler. In French with subtitles. 130 min.

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