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4.5 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Delphine Seyrig gives an award-winning performance in Alain Resnais hauntingly brilliant masterpiece. Helene (Seyrig) is a widow who sells antiques from the apartment she shares with her eccentric filmmaker stepson, Bernard. Bernard is a veteran of the Algerian War and is haunted by his participation in the torture and murder of a young woman named Muriel.

Special Features

  • Interview with film critic Francois Thomas
  • Original theatrical trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: Delphine Seyrig
  • Directors: Alain Resnais
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: French (Unknown)
  • 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:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Koch Lorber Films
  • DVD Release Date: March 13, 2007
  • Run Time: 116 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000LW7L04
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #137,204 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Muriel" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
"Muriel" is one of the greatest films ever made. It is Alan Resnais' ultimate masterstroke. It is better than both "Hiroshima Mon Amour" and "Last Year At Marienbad;" However, it ABSOLUTELY DEMANDS MULTIPLE VIEWINGS. It is a difficult but ultimately magnificent and supremely satisfying film experience.
The first time I saw "Muriel" (it was, for years, extremely hard to find on video and only one video store carried it even in movie mecca L.A.) I was completely confounded by it. The radical presentation of the ordinary characters in the context of their transcendent thoughts and memories seemed to be uninteresting and bland (probably because I hadn't thought of its connections to the universal). I didn't think it warranted any closer attention. But I knew there was something there I was uncomfortable with, a deeper aspect I wasn't picking up. I knew that great films sometimes take a while before they reveal themselves and that I had to come back sometime and reassess it.
After reading a deeply insightful old article from "Cahiers du Cinema" called "The Misfortunes of Muriel" in which Jacques Rivette and a group of other French critics praise this film to the skies and also Truffaut's little piece about it in his book "The Films in My Life," I decided to give it another try.
To say that I'm glad I took the time to make that reassessment is an understatment because this is such an amazingly satisfying film, that once all the pieces of the puzzle come togeher in your head in all their subtle details, THERE IS NOTHING ELSE TO COMPARE. You almost feel like you've just seen the birth of cinema.
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Format: VHS Tape
Although "Hiroshima, Mon Amour" and "Last Year in Marienbad" will always get more press, I think that "Muriel" is Alain Resnais' best film. Beware, if you are not a fan of the most challenging foreign films or of the nouvelle vague, this film will absolutely confound you, it is challenging viewing. Resnais probably revolutionized film even more than Michelangelo Antonioni or Jean-Luc Godard did. "Muriel", the story of some very emotionally ravaged people set in a city being rebuilt after being destroyed during World War II, was the first color film directed by Resnais and features stunning work by his (and Peter Greenaway's) cinematographer, Sacha Vierny. I must recommend it, above all, for its absolutely incredible editing. Watch the first two minutes and be prepared to be blown away by Resnais' cutting techniques. Later, you will see him alternate quickly between scenes during the day and scenes during the night, something Godard later did in "Masculin-Feminin". "Muriel", like any film from Alain Resnais, is one of a kind. Hopefully, "Muriel" will someday become available on DVD using a remastered print, so that the beautiful bright greens and scenes shot in near darkness, will come across in all their glory. For now, we can thank Hen's Tooth Video for making this film available on VHS.
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Format: DVD
"Muriel" (1963) directed by Alain Resnais is a drama about the persistence of memory (aren't all Resnains' films? Incidentally, I named my review of "Hiroshima Mon Amour" that I saw about two years ago, "Persistence of Memory".)

Muriel of the title is dead by the time the movie begins, the victim of torture by the French soldiers during the occupation of Algeria. One of the soldiers, Bernard, is back in France living with his step-mother, Helene (Delphine Seyrig) in the province city Boulogne and hunted by the memories of war and Muriel. Helen deals with her own past and memories of Alphonse (Jean-Pierre Kérien), an ex-lover who comes from Paris to visit her in the company of his new 20-years-old girlfriend, Françoise (Nita Klein)

The story which Resnais tells is simple and the trailer for the movie gives a viewer a very good idea of what they are about to see: The Past. The present. The future - is it possible? Uncertainty. Suspicions. Lies. Four main characters, Helene, Alphonse, Bertrand, and Françoise are in search of what they are. There will be secrets and confessions. Is that time to love? The main theme of the film is reality vs. memory of it. Can we always trust ourselves with what we remember? Does our memory reflect the events the way they really happened or our vision of them is altered as time passes and new realities inevitably enter our lives?

What makes "Muriel" unique after all these years is the way the director presents the journey into the past of his characters, how they see it, and how it affects their present lives and the possibility (or rather impossibility) of love and happiness.
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Format: DVD
Delphine Seyrig has always been my favorite French actress -- this was mostly based on her icy, regal, and hauntingly beautiful role in Alain Resnais' seemingly impenetrable masterpiece, The Last Year at Marienbad. In Resnais' third film, Muriel, or The Time of Return (1963) Delphine Seyrig's acting abilities really shine through. Gone are her icy stares, delicately turned head indicating ambivalence, impassive expressions -- instead, we see her vulnerable, motherly, and human. In short, if for nothing else, Muriel is a vehicle for Seyrig's true acting ability as Hélène, a middle-aged widow. Although Seyrig is only in her 30s, despite the artificial quality of the 60s makeup which attempts to make her older, we believe that Hélène has experienced a great deal in her life.

Seyrig's acting tour de force is hampered somewhat by the most obvious and bothersome flaw of this film -- poor supporting acting almost across the board. Hélène's traumatized son, Bernard (Jean-Baptiste Thiérrée), is probably the worst acted role in the film. Almost as poorly portrayed is Hélène's one time love interest who has come to visit her, Alphonse Noyard (Jean-Pierre Kérien). So in short, if one can tolerate some poor acting then the rest of Muriel, or The Time of Return has quite a lot to offer: ingenious editing, a convoluted but meaningful plot, and above all, an interesting examination of the trauma of war, the banality of everyday life, and the nostalgia of lost love and what could have been.
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