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Murmur of the Heart (The Criterion Collection) (1971)

Lea Massari , Benoît Ferreux , Louis Malle  |  R |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Murmur of the Heart (The Criterion Collection) + Lacombe, Lucien (The Criterion Collection)
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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: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000E1YVZA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #160,321 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Murmur of the Heart (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

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

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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the spectacle of childhood April 7, 2006
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 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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Louis Malle March 24, 2013
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Modern 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
5.0 out of 5 stars absolutely brilliant November 15, 2007
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Murmur of the Heart July 4, 2007
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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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartfelt murmurs July 21, 2012
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Le souffle au coeur (Louis Malle, 1971, 118`)

Le souffle au coeur tells a coming of age story about a 14-year-old boy growing up in bourgeois surroundings in post-World War II Dijon. The film was a hit across Europe, gaining 2.7 million admissions in France alone, and was also a modest hit in the United States. The film starts by showing the adventures of the boy in school and his first sexual experience at a brothel. When the boy is found to have a heart murmur after a bout of scarlet fever, he goes with his mother (Lea Massari) to a sanatorium, where a series of events lead to a sexual encounter with his mother. Jazz music by Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, along with books by Bataille, Proust and Camus, feature prominently in the film.

Louis Malle '(1932-1995) was an award-winning French film director, screenwriter, and producer. His film, Le monde du silence, won the Palme d'Or and Academy Award for Best Documentary in 1956. He was also nominated multiple times for Academy Awards later in his career. Malle was born into a wealthy industrialist family in Thumeries, Nord, France. He initially studied political science at the Sciences-Po before turning to film studies at IDHEC instead. He worked in both French cinema and Hollywood, and he produced both French and English language films.

His feature films were: Ascenseur pour l'échafaud (1958), Les Amants (1958), Zazie dans le métro (1960), Vie privée (1962), Le feu follet (1963), Viva Maria!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Degueulasse!
French for "disgusting". Unpleasant at the outset, it becomes far worse toward the end.

What is this about? Read more
Published 6 months ago by Long Tom
4.0 out of 5 stars "The Erlking" played out to in the life of a 15 year-old-boy
This film was well made and is easy to follow. I will note here that close to halfway through the movie Laurent's scout patrol presents a skit acting out Goethe's "The Erlking". Read more
Published 9 months ago by John Black
1.0 out of 5 stars I must have missed something by a mile
Ok, I am likely all alone is my opinion of this video. I could not have missed anything because there was nothing to miss! Read more
Published 15 months ago by TJ-STL
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Film.
Murmur of the Heart, Louis Malles ode to youth and carelessness centers in on a young fourteen year old boy named Laurent. Read more
Published on May 25, 2012 by John
5.0 out of 5 stars A timeless classic
There are a few subjects that are difficult to discuss on any plane, but incest, even in film, is among the trickiest. Read more
Published on November 29, 2011 by Jon Hunt
5.0 out of 5 stars Louis Malle and Charlie Parker...any questions??
Louis Malle - brilliant French Movie Director
Charlie Parker - brilliant American Jazz musician

A young boy grows up in 1954 France and discovers Albert Camus,... Read more
Published on July 13, 2011 by R. Hutchings
2.0 out of 5 stars Another French coming of age story
I love a lot of Malle's films but this isn't one of them. I guess if you find a really awkward, ugly, rude, kid who does everything he can to be obnoxious, charming, then you'll... Read more
Published on October 20, 2009 by Promise
5.0 out of 5 stars No murmuring here; this film is all heart...
There are few films that can get away with the outlandish and taboo behavior found within `Le Souffle au Coeur'. Read more
Published on June 10, 2009 by Andrew Ellington
4.0 out of 5 stars 3 stars out of 4
The Bottom Line:

Just about the most fun and charming movie you'll ever see about incest, Murmur of the Heart is a wonderful coming of age story that made me laugh out... Read more
Published on February 22, 2009 by One-Line Film Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars On The Precipice of Manhood
15-year-old Laurent (Benoit Ferreux) wants to grow up, but doesn't like the examples of manhood in his family. Read more
Published on January 18, 2009 by SORE EYES
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