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Swann in Love

3.9 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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(Jun 08, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

From internationally acclaimed director Volker Schlöndorff (The Tin Drum) and starring Academy Award® winner Jeremy Irons(Reversal of Fortune, Dead Ringers) comes Swann In Love, a tale of obsessive love set against the colorful backdrop of Paris in the 1890s. Swann (Irons) falls in love with a young courtesan, and soon finds himself tormented by his unrelenting sexual desire. Based on the novel by Marcel
Proust, Swann in Love is a visually stunning film, bursting with life, love, and passion.

Special Features

  • Alternate English dubbed soundtrack

Product Details

  • Actors: Jeremy Irons, Ornella Muti, Alain Delon, Fanny Ardant, Marie-Christine Barrault
  • Directors: Volker Schlöndorff
  • Writers: Volker Schlöndorff, Jean-Claude Carrière, Marcel Proust, Marie-Hélène Estienne, Peter Brook
  • Producers: Eberhard Junkersdorf, Margaret Ménégoz
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (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:
  • Studio: Homevision
  • DVD Release Date: June 8, 2004
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00020VZUW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,469 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Swann in Love" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Terrific costuming and production design, most noteworthy is the luminous camerawork of Sven Nykvist (Bergman/Allen/Tarkovsky and others). The film is paced as languidly as narrative film making will permit, allowing a certain quality of the author's voice to be felt beneath the demands of "storytelling", one of the chief obstacles in adapting this material.

I think that a masterstroke in this film is the music. While it may seem inconsequential, it draws the film into a more complex direction than typical period music would have done. I believe that this allows the film to reinvent the quality of emotional space in the material.

Contemporary composers of modern chamber music like Hans Werner Henze (who'd collaborated with Schlondorff before) were brought into the making of the film. The music succeeds by injecting an atonal, dissonant, aching, atmosphere into the story. The piano and violin pieces work well against typical form and aid the narrative in a superbly contemplative manner. I was reminded somewhat of "L'Année dernière à Marienbad", simply because the musical "cues" were not spelled out in simple terms.

Avoiding kitsch is part of the problem when adapting an author who discusses subjects (in epic detail) which have been filmed a thousand times before - in my opinion, the music permits yet another interpretation of that subject. At first its quietly unusual, becoming a defined, twisting voice, accenting the growing dissonance Swann experiences with Odette and ultimately with society.

It is a beautiful film. My only concerns were the occasionally odd voice-over work, which was a little distracting. Ornella Muti is a knockout, but her beauty seems oddly contemporary - its as if the filmmakers were trying to make the statement that voluptuousness is eternal, while beauty standards shift periodically and culturally. Irons is excellent as Swann. I would highly recommend the film.
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Format: VHS Tape
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I rented this video because I had discovered Ornella Muti in the small role of Mercedes in the recent French miniseries of The Count of Monte Cristo and wanted to see more of her. The movie is well-worth seeing for her alone. She is amazingly beautiful, although in playing Odette de Crecy she combines powerful sensuality with a slight vulgarity that seems appropriate to the character she is playing, even though it detracts a little from her beauty.

One of the reviews jokingly suggested that seeing this movie would allow you to pretend that you had read the novel. I strongly disagree. I suspect that anybody who has not read the novel would find this movie pretty hard to follow and even harder to like. It's probably true that Proust is an essentially unfilmable writer. But, having conceded that, it is surprising how much subtlety and insightful reading is displayed in this movie. I am generally a pretty careful reader, but in watching this movie I had the experience several times of seeing things that I thought were changes from the novel and then, when I went back to the text I found that they were there all along and I had simply missed them.

This is mostly true in Muti's portrayal of Odette, which is not only much more sympathetic, but also much more complex than the view of her I remembered from reading the book. In fact, for me, the subtlety of Muti's performance has opened up a whole new possibility of interpretation of the role in the Proust novel of a character who is normally treated by readers with the same kind of contempt with which she is regarded by many of the novel's characters, including (most of the time) Swann himself.
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3 Comments 35 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Let's get what's bad out of the way.

There's no point in whining about what Schloendorff got wrong in his adaptation, or what he left out. For instance I didn't much like how the famous last line of "Swann in Love" was rendered ("To think I've wasted the best years of my life..." etc.). But let's face it: you can't take a two-million-plus word novel and turn it into a movie without losing _something_. Just accept it.

My other gripe is that neither of the two lead characters say their own lines. Jeremy Irons (English) and Ornella Muti (Italian) are dubbed by French actors. Most Europeans would have seen a dubbed version anyway given how unpopular subtitles are in Europe. To a non-European, it's silly to have a movie dubbed even in the original language, but I suppose it's part and parcel with the European Union's subsidized financing of culture.

That aside, the adaptation is far from being all bad.

Alain Delon as Charlus is especially good. Despite being dubbed, Jeremy Irons looks spot on as Charles Swann. He's got the right balance of haughty manliness and effeminate aristocratic French charm. Ornella Muti is lovely as the cocotte Odette, except that I was disappointed for personal reasons. I saw Muti in a later film, where she was breathtakingly stunning as housewife to a French lawyer ("Un Couple Epatant"). As beautiful as she was at 28, she was ten times more beautiful twenty years later at 48.

As a period piece, the film shines. Swann's tuxedos, the Guermante's Salon, the stone paved streets, the horse drawn carriages, the lady's dresses.

Much of the dialog is lifted straight out of Proust, almost word for word although the context is sometimes changed.
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