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Autumn Hearts: A New Beginning

3.8 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews

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(Jul 22, 2008)
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Editorial Reviews

Susan Sarandon, Max von Sydow, Gabriel Byrne and Christopher Plummer give powerful performances in this lyrical, moving drama about the consequences of war. The past has cast a long shadow over the present, reaching to the picturesque farm where the now-married Melanie (Sarandon) lives unhappily with her husband (Plummer). When Melanie invites fellow Holocaust survivor Jakob (von Sydow) to her home, he unexpectedly bring Christopher (Byrne), whose love for Melanie has never diminished since their confinement in an internment camp. Old feelings and long-suppressed memories are stirred up and revealed at a climactic, life-changing feast.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Susan Sarandon, Christopher Plummer, Gabriel Byrne, Roy Dupuis, Max von Sydow
  • Directors: Paolo Barzman
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • DVD Release Date: July 22, 2008
  • Run Time: 99 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0017VG604
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #110,261 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Z Hayes HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on December 16, 2008
Format: DVD
"Autumn Hearts: A New Beginning" is a poignant movie that deals with three survivors of an internment camp during WW II. Though the pace of the movie is slow, it flows well and the story of three 'damaged ' individuals is poignantly told. The fine acting by a stellar cast makes this a riveting watch.

Susan Sarandon plays Melanie, a 50-something year-old woman who lives in Quebec with her retired college professor husband, David [Christopher Plummer], son Benjamin and young grandson Timmy. Melanie is an emotionally-disturbed woman, a legacy from her traumatic childhood experiences during WW II. As a child, Melanie was sent to the transit camp Drancy in France, and never saw her parents again. She meets a young Irish boy, Christopher [Gabriel Byrne] and both youngsters are taken under the protective wings of an older young man, Jakob [Max Von Sydow]. The three form a life-long bond even after the end of the war.

Fast forward 35 years later - Melanie has invited Jakob to spend some time with her, and to her surprise, Christopher tags along too. Painful memories are stirred up - and things are made more awkward and difficult given that Melanie's husband David is resentful of the two visitors and jealous of Melanie's closeness to Christopher. The rest of the story deals with how the three survivors make peace with their past, especially Melanie and answers whether closure is something they can achieve.

The acting in this movie was top-notch. Susan Sarandon credibly portrays a survivor who is wracked by guilt [common amongst many survivors of the Holocaust] and who is extremely determined not to forget. Her pain is so palpable and yet frustrating because we can see how her pain and determination to live in the past has taken a toll on her family life.
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Format: DVD
AUTUMN HEARTS: A NEW BEGINNING is another one of those independent films that lacks an audience until the DVD is released. Granted it is not based on subject matter that titillates the big movie house throngs, but it is a warmly tender film about the emotional effects of historical traumas and how each of our histories molds our lives. It is a superb work on every level. Director Paolo Barzman brings to life the novel 'Emotional Arithmetic' by Matt Cohen (as adapted for the screen by Jefferson Lewis) with a sterling cast of consummate actors. The impact is lasting.

Melanie Winters (Susan Sarandon) lives on a picturesque farm in Canada with her retired university professor husband David (Christopher Plummer) and their grown son Benjamin (Roy Dupuis), an unexplained single father of his own son Timmy (Dakota Goyo) and caregiver for his physically ailing father and mentally fragile mother. Melanie lives in the past: as a child in 1942 she was interned in Drancy, an internment camp outside of Paris where she bonded with a young man Jakob Bronski and an Irish lad Christopher - taking on the responsibility of maintaining the written history of the camp at Jakob's request so that atrocities such as they were witnessing would never occur again ('Always remember'). At one point Jakob turned himself over to the Nazis to allow Melanie and Christopher to be released.

Now, years later, Melanie is still cataloging all of the atrocities in the world as they appear in the newspaper and continues to attempt to find Jakob. Jakob writes to her and soon is arriving in Canada as an elderly man (Max von Sydow), traveling with his surprise guest, the adult Christopher (Gabriel Byrne).
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Format: DVD
There are few times that I would watch a film again, or give a 5-star rating, but this movie gets awarded both another viewing and the highest rating. An incredible performance piece set on the breathtaking panorama of a beautiful Canadian ranch.

There are so few chances to hear those unforgettable voices in the same film, yet two of the most prominent orators in Christopher Plummer and Max Von Sydow, get to exchange lines of pain, remorse and forgetting here. Supported with the cast of Gabriel Byrne, Susan Sarandon and Roy Dupois, all that is needed would be a powerful story and a rich backdrop to fill the screen; both are here.

The story jumps between 1980s Canada (in majestically filmed colors and pans) and 1941 France (shown in matted black and white flashbacks). Susan Sarandon plays a medicated woman still dealing with the pain of being a camp survivor from 1940s France, now living an obsessive life with her husband (Plummer). She manages to find her protector from the camp (Sydow) years later and invites him to her ranch. He surprisingly brings along her long lost love from their internment (played quietly by Byrne). The story plays out in a mix of flashbacks and the reliving of moments, edited flawlessly into the character's present day at the ranch.

There is so much more to write about in explaining the complexity of these people's lives, yet how simple everything seemed by the end. Even with the amount of angst, remorse and psychiatric damage, everything evolved perfectly into an amazing story and movie. This will definitely be on the recommendation list.

The DVD has a nice 15 minute making-of docu and a trailer. When you watch the behind the scenes footage on location, you will get an idea of how the camera work enhanced the Canadian landscape into that montage of colors.
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