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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 (21 customer reviews)

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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: 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 (21 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000E1YVZA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #175,127 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
7 of 8 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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2 of 2 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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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No murmuring here; this film is all heart... June 10, 2009
There are few films that can get away with the outlandish and taboo behavior found within `Le Souffle au Coeur'. I've been a fan of director Louis Malle's for a while now, having seen two other masterpieces by him, and so this was a film I was dying to actually see. From the films very beginning I could feel it was something special. The jovial talk between two young boys of jazz music was sweet, concise and appropriate. It set the right mood for this unique look at `growing pains' so-to-speak.

The film is a wildly entertaining look at adolescence from the eyes of fifteen-year-old virgin Laurent Chevalier. Growing up in 1950's France, Laurent is your typical teenager. His older brothers are flamboyant playboys who talk of their exploits and teasing their younger brother. Laurent's father is uninterested in him entirely, and his mother Clara is maybe overly interested; doing her best to compensate. Laurent drinks and smokes and pursues relations (not relationships) with other girls hoping to walk into adulthood. When a bout of scarlet fever sends him to the spa he finds himself reaching at the opportunity to lose his virginity.

`Le Souffle au Coeur' is a comedy in pure French fashion. It's vibrant and carries an almost bouncy vibe. It's a film that is determined to make you smile.

What I admire about this film is that it takes a very realistic approach to the teenager's idea of sex. There is no over dramatization here or forced tragedy, but everything is seen through the eyes of the naïve and inexperienced. This way the film can grace the stages of adolescence with an almost fearlessness, giving everything the light appeal of a children's story.
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1 of 1 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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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 1 month 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 4 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 10 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 23 months ago 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
5.0 out of 5 stars Incest Isn't Sexy
I think this is an amazing film, one of Malle's best, but I just wanted to respond quickly to all the ignorant comments that suggest this film is "charming" or that the incestuous... Read more
Published on June 20, 2011 by M. Rogne
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 If Mozart had been a film maker, he would have made films like this
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... Read more
Published on March 5, 2009 by trastevere
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
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