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Essential Art House: Gervaise

4.9 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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(Sep 15, 2009)
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Editorial Reviews

One of France's most respected directors of the postwar era, Rene Clement directed such searing psychological dramas as Forbidden Games and Purple Noon. And Gervaise, his vivid 1956 adaptation of Emile Zola's 1877 masterpiece L'assommoir, is no exception. An uncompromising depiction of a lowly laundress's struggles to deal with an alcoholic husband while running her own business, Gervaise was nominated for an Oscar, and the indomitable Maria Schell earned best actress honors at the Venice Film Festival.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Maria Schell, François Périer, Jany Holt, Mathilde Casadesus, Florelle
  • Directors: René Clément
  • Writers: Jean Aurenche, Pierre Bost, Émile Zola
  • Producers: Agnès Delahaie
  • Format: Black & White, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Unrated
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: September 15, 2009
  • Run Time: 116 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002E01M9M
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #128,221 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Essential Art House: Gervaise" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
I was only 12 years old when I saw this film in 1957 in New Zealand and at that tender age rated it as one of the very best films that I had ever seen.Seeing it on television several times in recent years has not diminished my feelings in calling this an unforgettable masterpiece.This is one of those rare classics that still lingers in the mind fifty years later.
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A classic film of a classic book.
Seeing a film from 1956 now, is always a bit risky in terms of what to expect, but I was very pleasantly rewarded. I had read the book too long ago to remember its details, but not its impact - and the film in no way came up short. It was very well acted by Maria Schell, and the supporting cast was generally very good.
I was urged to buy it since it was shortly going to be withdrawn from the catalogue, and am very glad I did so.
The print is very decent for its age, and although I would not elevate this film into the pantheon of all time greats, its classical pedigree and excellent period mood make it way above average for its vintage.
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It is intersting that few (only one I can see) actually refers to the Criterion/Essential Art House release on DVD. SO.... First search for a good price. Mine $6.53 - an amazing price (plus postage to U/K of course). The Dvd box is secure and good. There is a useful little leaflet inside which includes a cast list (Thank You Criterion). The print is more than decent - it's very good - crystal clear B/W in 4.3 ratio. Subtitles are easy to read. So that's all good. Maria Schell is superb, and whilst the film is hardly a bunch of laughs, it is so beautifully, lovingly made that you can't help being sorry when it's over (well I couldn't). Be warned tho-It isn't for the faint hearted. Highly, unreservadly recomended
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I had seen this a long time ago and had forgotten all the details. Seeing it again, I realized how Victor Hugo like it was, but with far more gritty realism. I do not think any American director could have come close to the impact this made on me. Maria Schell did this role perfectly and the rest of the cast was excellent, but Rene Clement was fabulous in his portrayals and editing. This is definitely one of the best films I have seen, and from a genre that is not normally one of my favorites.
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In René Clément's "Gervaise" from 1955, we get an unbiased and realistic depiction of the 'working-class', in the Paris of the 1870's. Based on Émile Zola's novel "L'assommoir", Maria Schell gives an unforgettable performance in the title role of "Gervaise", she was simply magical! The film paints a very ugly truth and fact: in how women and children are the real victims of poverty! In romanized/chauvinistic societies like that of France (including Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Latin America for that matter), women have no real say (this of course, has moderated greatly since those days), and the exploited become exploiters themselves (especially the men, here however, the villainous character of 'Virginie' excellently played by Suzy Delair, easily gave the men a run for their money). An exception was the character of 'Goujet' (Jaques Harden), who truly symbolized the principles of "Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity", and offered 'Gervaise' a way out. She however, continued to make very poor choices and, was ensnared in her downward spiral. I don't want to give anymore away, so as to spoil it for anyone. An excellent film, by one of the world's true "auteurs" (I'm sure even David Lean must have been very impressed with the cinematography, editing, etc., etc.). I highly recommend this powerful film! This Criterion edition, is of course first-rate. NTSC, French (English subtitles), NR 117 mins.

Love and Peace,
Carlos Romero
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