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Murmur of the Heart (The Criterion Collection)


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Editorial Reviews

This is a jolly coming-of-age story about a 15-year-old boy named Laurent Chevalier who is growing up in bourgeois surroundings in Dijon, France. This is France in the mid-1950s rather than America in the 1990s. Thus, Laurent is unharmed by events which would irreparably shatter the self-esteem of a modern American adolescent: he gets drunk, he smokes, he has sex (including incestuous sex), he is smothered by his mother, he is ignored by his father, a priest makes a pass at him, he gets rheumatoid fever, etc. There's enough scandalous behavior in this film to make 100 made-for-TV movies, and yet this is a very happy and oddly innocent tale.

Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • A new essay by film critic Michael Sragow
  • New and improved English subtitle translation

Product Details

  • Actors: Lea Massari, Benoît Ferreux, Daniel Gélin, Michael Lonsdale, Ave Ninchi
  • Directors: Louis Malle
  • Writers: Louis Malle
  • Producers: Claude Nedjar, Vincent Malle
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: French (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: March 28, 2006
  • Run Time: 118 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000E1YVZA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,191 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Murmur of the Heart (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Stalwart Kreinblaster on April 7, 2006
Format: DVD
Louis Malles' film 'murmur of the heart' dances accross the screen with so much vigor and and jazz that you don't know quite what hit you in the end..it is fabulous light-hearted and it dosen't care what people think.. that is why i like it. It is gorgeously filmed and the acting is quite good - but it is not a typical portrait of childhood - it contains both the things you would expect to see and also the unexpected - a great French film.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By WillDecker on March 24, 2013
Format: DVD
All crimes in "Murmur of The Heart" go unpunished: Stealing, Pedophilia, Incest, Prostitution, Scout Tent /Sleeping Bag Sex, etc., etc., etc..... Not only unpunished but all with happy endings. Louis Malle you were a master at telling us that our Crime and Punishment world has got it all wrong.

I recommend "A Renegade History of The United States" by Thaddeus Russell for further understanding.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By trastevere on March 5, 2009
Format: DVD
One of the most delightful films ever made, this is a feast of fluid, elegant filmmaking. The erotic, rebellious content thus is elevated to something sacred-- think of Titian's painting of Ariadne and Bacchus, or the courting of Papageno and Papagena in The Magic Flute. In Malle's hands, life is too exquisite to be wasted on the squeamish, on the people with small souls. This is an inspired, civilized, and absolutely moral film, on a par with Bunuel's The Milky Way and Renoir's Rules of the Game. Nobody who hasn't seen this film should ever be allowed to vote!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Catchafire on August 6, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This film was made in the 70s and touches on so many topics that would have made it a banned film in the US. For it's time, it is a masterpiece and a great film altogether. It's very edgy, but what do you expect from a French film shot in the 70s?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John on May 25, 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Murmur of the Heart, Louis Malles ode to youth and carelessness centers in on a young fourteen year old boy named Laurent. He smokes, drinks, masturbates, has sex with a whore, and even shares some crude moments with his older brothers, who are the influence that makes Laurent who he is. In short, he is a typical fourteen year old boy, especially growing up in France at the time. Malle doesn't try to candy coat his portrayel of youth, although Louis Malle doesn't necessarily candy coat any of his movies. Yet this one is real, to the point where the audience is almost left blushing at the shere akwardness of the moment. However, the movie shares its main character with mother of Laurent, who is as equally interesting as Laurent. Malles displays the relationship between Laurent and his mother so well, that in the end, when the last scene comes, it doesn't seem out of place at all, but natural and almost sad. The movie is definitely a gem for Louis Malle, and in my opinion, one of his best.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By EliteLamo on November 15, 2007
Format: DVD
I really cant say much that the other reviewers haven't said already. Mr. Littrell said it best with this line: "Malle, more than almost any film maker I can think of, keeps sex in perspective and does not over react to sexual differences." I concur wholeheartedly. Sex, even taboo, never looked so inviting.

I saw it once when I was fourteen myself and then just recently I picked it up on sale used, and I cherish it now as much as I did as a youth. The strong, tender relationship that Benoit Ferreux and Lea Massari share on screen is simply ravishing, sensual, brilliant and stunning. Malle does such an exceptional job in creating this funny, but believable world. The relationship reminds me somewhat of Marcel's with his mother in Yves Robert's 'My Father's Glory' and 'My Mother's Castle', another French masterpiece.

Lea Massari simply steals the show with sexy, sultry and tender scenes.

One of my favorite films of all time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jon Hunt on November 29, 2011
Format: DVD
There are a few subjects that are difficult to discuss on any plane, but incest, even in film, is among the trickiest. Louis Malle's "Murmur of the Heart", now forty years old, is seamless in its approach and understanding, presenting what could happen when a mother and her son draw very close and it's made all the better by two brilliant stars under Malle's direction.

The Dijon, France of 1954 is a long way from Anytown, USA of 2011, but in many ways this is not a film of mere innocence...it's one of subtle maturity where the story rings true at every level. Benoit Ferreux, the bony-kneed, teenage Laurent, is marvelous to watch as his understated but nonethelss passion-filled relationship with his mother unfolds. The mother, Lea Massari, is a gem as she tries to balance a marriage, a lover and Laurent. Her eyes tell the whole story. "Murmur of the Heart" is a treasure and should not be missed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John Farr on July 4, 2007
Format: DVD
Criticized in 1971 for daring to deal with the theme of incest, Malle's "Murmur" is actually a sparkling French comedy notable for its wit, sensitivity, and energetic jazz soundtrack. Writer-director Malle approaches the awkwardness of adolescence with honesty and cheeky humor--as when Laurent drinks, smokes, and attempts to quench his carnal desires on an outing with his older brothers--but also subtlety, especially in the film's trickiest turn of events. Ferreux and Massari have an undeniable chemistry that feels genuine rather than manipulative or shocking, letting Malle put an unusually fresh spin on the sexual coming-of-age drama. For a fond, funny take on teen innocence, "Murmur of the Heart" is made to order.
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