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The Cars That Ate Paris

4.0 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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(Oct 21, 2003)
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Editorial Reviews

Lying in a gently rolling range of hills, the town of Paris has prospered from the hunting and destruction of cars: the road into Paris is a death trap. Into this trap drive George and Arthur Waldo. George is killed; Arthur survives and is pronounced harmless by the mayor. Although unaware, Arthur is a prisoner. He must never leave Paris. But the town that lives by the car shall die by the car, and eventually the hunters become the hunted, in this film directed by Peter Weir (The Truman Show, Dead Poets Society and Witness).

Special Features

  • New digital transfer approved by the director
  • Interviews with Peter Wier on The Cars That Ate Paris and The Plumber

Product Details

  • Actors: Terry Camilleri, John Meillon, Judy Morris, Ivar Kants, Kevin Miles
  • Directors: Peter Weir
  • Writers: Peter Weir, Harold Lander, Keith Gow, Piers Davies
  • Producers: Hal McElroy, Jim McElroy, Matt Carroll
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • 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:
    Parental Guidance Suggested
  • Studio: Home Vision Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: October 21, 2003
  • Run Time: 163 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000BWVL4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #159,762 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Cars That Ate Paris" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jeffrey Leach HALL OF FAME on November 3, 2005
Format: DVD
Peter Weir! One of Australia's premier film directors, the man behind numerous classic films. He made the creepily obtuse "Picnic At Hanging Rock." He's also responsible for the depressing World War I flick "Gallipoli," the equally bleak "The Year of Living Dangerously," and the Robin Williams drama "Dead Poets Society." Weir worked with Harrison Ford on "Witness" and "The Mosquito Coast." He made the highly successful romantic comedy "Green Card" in 1990, the intriguing "Fearless" after that, and followed up with "The Truman Show" and "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World." Wow! That's a heckuva filmography! In other words, he helped Mel Gibson find greater exposure in America, assisted Harrison Ford's transition from "Star Wars" to more serious roles, and tried to break Jim Carrey out of his comedic rut. Not bad considering he largely succeeded in all of these endeavors. Mel Gibson is huge here, Harrison Ford makes big buck dramas every year or so, and Jim Carrey has successfully expanded his repertoire to include Oscar worthy films. It's hard to believe Weir's career started with movies like "The Cars That Ate Paris" and "The Plumber." What's that? You haven't heard of these two films? Well, here they are on DVD.

I'm not surprised in the least to learn that "The Cars That Ate Paris" never achieved much success. Why? Because the movie gives a new meaning to the term "odd". It's the story about an unemployed sad sack named Arthur Waldo (Terry Camilleri) and a pal who set off across the Australian countryside in search of work. Weirdness arrives shortly after a car accident right outside of the village of Paris injures Waldo and kills his pal. For some reason never adequately explained, the elders work hard to keep Arthur from leaving town.
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Format: DVD
The Cars That Ate Paris is a seminal and highly influential Australian film, though by the standards of Peter Weirs later work it is ultimately an artistic failure.

The concept for the film was a good one... a small country town, in the throes of an Australia wide, and perhaps worldwide economic downturn... resorts to deliberately causing car accidents by putting booby traps on dangerous country roads, in order to obtain consumer goods, car parts and booty. The whole town is in on the conspiracy, though it is divided into two camps. There are the older and seemingly more respectable pillars of the community such as the mayor (John Meillion) and the Doctor (?) who stage manage and orchestrate the murders and keep the best of the plunder. And the disaffected and rebellious youth who while away their time building and racing ever more outrageous and frightening looking jalopies.Tensions between the two camps bring about the films climactic apotheosis at the apocalyptic Paris Ball, a yearly town event.

I see the film as a forerunner to the later Mad Max films, which created a similar social melieu; the collapse of law & order after an unspecified social catastrophe, and used similar iconography ; cars and their drivers that exibit and outrageous fusion of punk rock and bikie aesthetics. There is even a direct visual reference to The Cars That Ate Paris in Mad Max II when Snake (Bruce Spence) leaps from the dirt to ambush Mel Gibson. This was obviously borrowed from the scene garage scene in CTAP when we are first introduced to Bruce Spence's character.

The film has three major problems...
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I don't write a lot of reviews for Amazon, but I was a little concerned about how little respect The Cars That Ate Paris was receiving. Don't get me wrong; I love The Plumber too, but I think The Cars That Ate Paris is really the greater of the two; (not that it's necessary to rank them). The film fits perfectly into Peter Weir's series of brilliant 70s movies about the Australian psyche as it struggles to come to terms with its dubious history, its indigenous peoples, and its overwhelmingly vast landscape, all of which seem to test the sanity of individuals and communities. For a debut feature, it is remarkably assured and focused in its vision of an isolated town descending into a kind of cultural inbreeding, where it invents and enforces its own strange laws and customs. Part of the problem some viewers have with it is that it is not immediately obvious what genre of film it is. Like Kubrick's films, it's somewhere in between horror and comedy, with situations that are so bizarre and terrible that sometimes all you can do is laugh. I also think it's interesting to compare it to another horror film that's laced with black comedy and was released in the same month, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. In both, unhinged locals trap passerby in order to make use of their "raw materials," and also have a knack for Outsider Art, in which the surplus of their trade is used to make offbeat sculptures, furniture and mobiles. On its own, though, The Cars That Ate Paris is a very powerful, darkly amusing, and incredibly eerie film that makes you think about the nature of community and how and why things break down.
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