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The Story of Adele H. [VHS] (1975)

Isabelle Adjani , Bruce Robinson , François Truffaut  |  PG |  VHS Tape
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)

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The Story of Adele H. [VHS] + Camille Claudel [VHS]
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Product Details

  • Actors: Isabelle Adjani, Bruce Robinson, Sylvia Marriott, Joseph Blatchley, Ivry Gitlis
  • Directors: François Truffaut
  • Writers: François Truffaut, Adèle Hugo, Frances Vernor Guille, Jean Gruault, Suzanne Schiffman
  • Format: Color, Original recording reissued, NTSC
  • Language: English, French
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Fox Home Entertainme
  • VHS Release Date: March 2, 1999
  • Run Time: 96 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00000IBS9
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #479,892 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews


François Truffaut's dramatization of the true story of Adele Hugo, the daughter of French author-in-exile Victor Hugo, and her romantic obsession with a young French officer is a cinematically beautiful and emotionally wrenching portrait of a headstrong but unstable young woman. Adele (Isabelle Adjani, whose pale face gives her the quality of a cameo portrait) travels under a false name and spins a half-dozen false stories about herself and her relationship to Lieutenant Pinson (Bruce Robinson), the Hussar she follows to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Pinson no longer loves her, but she refuses to accept his rejection. Sinking farther and farther into her own internal world, she passes herself off as his wife and pours out her stormy emotions into a personal journal filled with delusional descriptions of her fantasy life. Beautifully shot by Nestor Almendros in vivid color, Truffaut's re-creation of the 1860s is accomplished not merely in impressive sets and locations but in the very style of the film: narration and voiceovers, written journal entries and letters, journeys and locations established with map reproductions, and a judicious use of stills mix old-fashioned cinematic technique with poetic flourishes. The result is one of Truffaut's most haunting portraits, all the more powerful because it's true. --Sean Axmaker

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
56 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars love and derangement January 10, 2003
Format:VHS Tape
The descent into delusion and insanity is skillfully portrayed by Isabelle Adjani in this film that opens by stating that it is about "events that really happened, and people who really existed".
Set mostly in Halifax, beginning in 1863, the cinematography by Nestor Almendros is exquisite, with the camera lovingly capturing Adjani's gorgeous face. Using a somber palette, with occasional patches of brilliant red, it often has the look of an old painting, and the music of the early 20th century composer Maurice Jaubert fits in nicely.
Francois Truffaut (who 19 minutes into the film makes a brief cameo appearance) tells this story with gentleness and sensitivity, keeping the pace flowing; though a rather gloomy tale, it never gets either depressing or boring. It shows what started out as love, with a resolution to bravely cross the ocean to be with her lover, become increasingly demented, from being a stalker, to debasing herself by her willingness to "share", to the end, which takes place in Barbados. In the short and almost mute part of Baa, Madame Louise is a powerful and beautiful presence.
Adjani won numerous awards for this 1975 film, and was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar (Louise Fletcher won for "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"). Though the make-up is subtle and clever, it's her stellar performance that bring believability to this film.
The historical photos and information in the final scene are fascinating, and make for a satisfying ending to another of Truffaut's great films, and one I have enjoyed seeing numerous times.
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49 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly Extraordinary June 12, 2005
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Thirty years later it is hard to imagine "The Story of Adele H" without the then twenty-year old Isabelle Adjani as the title character. But at the time Truffaut's decision to cast the young French theatre star was very risky. Not because there was any doubt about Adjani's acting, but because casting someone who was arguably the most beautiful actress in the world as a character driven mad by unrequited love raised a potential credibility issue. Would viewers believe that the advances of a woman so beautiful, passionate, and intelligent were rejected? And could someone like that elicit sympathy from the average viewer.

But Truffaut knew what he was doing because Adjani's Adele Hugo is 100% convincing. And rather than going for audience sympathy they go for audience frustration as the viewer is increasingly exasperated over Adele's self-destructive behavior. Adjani's breathtaking beauty actually is an asset as Truffaut wants you convinced that the world offers unlimited possibilities for Adele if only she can let go of her obsession. Adjani plays the character with such intensity that you are finally relieved when Adele's madness has reached the stage where she is no longer aware of her own suffering.

Apparently Adele had other issues before going on her obsessive quest for love. Her sister drowned a few years before and her parents had always strongly favored her sister. Adele has recurrent nightmares about drowning. Marriage and her pursuit of Pinson are her only way to escape from her famous father. Truffaut's stays with blacks, browns, and blues; with much of each frame filled with shadows; not exactly dreary but consistent with a character who has found little non-fantasy happiness during her life.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful French movie with a beautiful actress! January 24, 2003
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Isabelle Adjani again takes on a role of the rejected lover. This is the true story of Victor Hugo's daughter Adele, who enamoured of a military man, follows him to Halifax and refuses to accept his rejection. She does a fine job of depicting a young lady who has gone off the edge. The story is reminiscent of her portrayal of Camille Claudel, another excellent movie. Isabelle Adjani is beautiful to look at and does a fine job of portraying Adele. I enjoyed this film very much. For those who do not understand French, there are moments when English is used throughout the film. The subtitles do justice to the French.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Desperately follow your love to the ends of the Earth December 20, 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
I first saw this movie 20+ years ago, and it has stuck with me ever since. I'm not sure if that's because of the beautiful Isabelle Adjani, or because it's a heart-breaking romance. The H in Adele H stands for Hugo, and yes, she is the daughter of the great French writer, Victor Hugo. I don't remember a spectacular setting, or a mighty cast of characters, but I do remember a tragic romance and a most gorgeous woman. It's not action packed, but it will get to you. Maybe watch it alone on a quiet evening.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Haunted Girl January 14, 2000
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
This is the most amazing story of obsessive love I have ever seen. Isabel Adjani is so attractive it takes my breath away. I could watch this movie over and over, and have. The cinematography is very good, and the acting is also exceptional.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sad, facinating tale of a young woman's madness July 29, 2001
By Kelly
This is done in a semi-documentary style in that it switches back and forth between a narrative format and dramatic scenes. It deals with the life of the daughter of Victor Hugo and her obsession with a young British officer who lacks even the slightest interest in her. It was quite well done and visually beautiful, but a bit hard to take as she deteriorates from a beautiful, well-off young girl into a street crazy. Don't watch this if you are looking for a happy ending, feel-good sort of film or have a lot of scars from an unrequited love (a friend of mine couldn't finish watching it), but if you have an interest in 19th century culture and society it is worth your time.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 1 month ago by Stoney
4.0 out of 5 stars Isabelle Adjani in one of her best. Adele is Victor Hugo`s daughter
Isabelle Adjani in one of her best. Adele is Victor Hugo`s daughter. Based on a true story, but you know how true stories can be embellished when made... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Jay Holder
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story of Victor Hugo's daughter!
I remember seeing this movie when it first came out and thinking of how tragic was the heroine(?).
Isabelle Adjani is perfect as Adele and gives a great performance as does... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Lisa Raney
3.0 out of 5 stars not memorable
The film was released in 1975, French with English subtitles.

Adele H is the true story of Adele Hugo who was the daughter of Victor Hugo the famous author and poet. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Diana L. Cain
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly interesting true story of Adele H
Found this story of Adele H very intriguing. More so, being a true story about the daughter of the famous Victor Hugo. Highly recommend this movie.
Published 9 months ago by Theresa
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful & Haunting....
Francois Truffaut is one of my favorite French directors, to date, and has a real knack for storytelling and bringing a great energy to his actors and the stories they recount... Read more
Published 12 months ago by D. Pawl
5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettably Gorgeous
"The Story of Adele H" is one of Francois Truffaut's best movies, although the brilliance of his direction here will forever take second place to the stunning beauty of Isabel... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Peter Baklava
5.0 out of 5 stars VCR
Bought for my elderly Mom in a nursing home that has a huge collection of VCR tapes. Yea, I know she refuses to come into the 21st century with DVD but its ok. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Barbara J. Tankink
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic and True
The 1975 film, Story of Adele H ("H" as in Hugo - Victor Hugo was her father) is a powerful love story with an unhappy ending. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Fotobaron
5.0 out of 5 stars Sad, Romantic, History
Adele Hugo was the 5th daughter of the famous writer, Victor Hugo. She was young and beautiful & fell in love with the wrong man for he was not true to her, gambled, was in debt,... Read more
Published on April 2, 2012 by Nikki
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