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Water Drops on Burning Rocks

3.4 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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(Oct 09, 2001)
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Editorial Reviews

Leopold, a smug, still-hunky 50-year-old businessman, picks up and seduces fresh-faced, carrot-topped 19-year-old Franz who swiftly moves into his bachelor pad. Their cozy relationship soon sours as Leopold, a kind of gone-to-seed Dirk Bogarde, turns cranky and argumentative. When Franz's buxom blond girlfriend surfaces, and then Leopold's elegant and enigmatic ex, things get funnier, steamier and a lot more complicated. Set in Germany in the '70s, and brilliantly adapted from a play by the great R.W. Fassbinder, by one of France's most daring and innovative new directors, WATER DROPS ON BURNING ROCKS is fraught with intimations of violence, betrayal, and sexual shenanigans run amok.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Bernard Giraudeau, Malik Zidi, Ludivine Sagnier, Anna Levine
  • Directors: François Ozon
  • Writers: François Ozon, Rainer Werner Fassbinder
  • Producers: Alain Sarde, Christine Gozlan, Kenzô Horikoshi, Marc Missonnier, Olivier Delbosc
  • Format: Color, Letterboxed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: French (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • 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:
    Unrated
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Zeitgeist Video
  • DVD Release Date: October 9, 2001
  • Run Time: 82 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005KCAW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #149,392 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Water Drops on Burning Rocks" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Clark on October 31, 2003
Format: DVD
With his deliriously rich fourth feature, Water Drops On Burning Rocks, François Ozon (See The Sea, Under The Sand, 8 Women) tackles the legacy of the great Rainer Werner Fassbinder in fascinating ways, even as he refines his own distinctive voice. This brilliantly acted film is alternately tender and sardonic, visually opulent yet claustrophobic, and wise beyond its years.
Although you do not need to have seen a single Fassbinder to enjoy Ozon's film, those people familiar with the German enfant terrible will recognize his perennial theme of the vicious circles of exploitation - with all of the attendant love, loathing and unsettling but sometimes hilarious humor. Yet his worldview is refracted through a new, and razor-sharp, perspective. Middle-aged Leopold and 20-year-old Franz obviously love each other, but their familiar, and all-too-human, inability to communicate divides them. Into that breach Leopold is only too eager to bring exploitation, as he turns Franz into a hausfrau, albeit one in lederhosen instead of pantyhose. Typical of Fassbinder, we see the exploitation spiral into a second generation, as Franz uses Leopold's strategies on his former girlfriend, Anna, when she makes a surprise visit in the hope of snagging back her beau. Perhaps the most poignant, and surprising, example of these circles - within circles - of need and frustration comes when we learn the story of the mysterious Vera, Leopold's former lover.
Ozon also uses, and creatively plays with, Fassbinder's visual style, especially as seen in the ravishing Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant.
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Format: DVD
Francois Ozon is one of the new wave of French directors, who have made their mark by the sheer force fo their talent. And while his latest 8 Femmes, has taken France by storm, and has made his name on an European and International level, his earlier films show the signs of a great director.
I saw Water Drops yesterday, having no expectations at all..Just a movie on cable to kill my sunday afternoon, and i was pleasently surprised and captivated.
The story based on Fassbinder's play is typical of the late German director..gay themed, complex, full of tortured souls, and pessimistic. But Ozon gives the film a new life, with his brilliant camera work, and his obvious sympathy for the characters.
Although the ending leaves a lot to be desired, and prevents me from giving the film full marks, it is the wondeful actors that keeps you watching in fascination.
Giraudeau and Zidi give their best performances to date as the gay couple, with a complex relationship full of passion, quarrels and the need for fulfillment.
As for Ludivine Sagnier, not only she is very beautiful, but her acting is very good, as well as Anna Thomson aka Anna Levine, an underrated American actress that did some excellent indie and european films.
The dance scene is probably a bit weird , watching it in the context of the whole film, but it adds some humour to the Fassibinderesque bleak atmosphere.
The choice of music, I thought was very good as well. The German songs complement the film beautifully.
The film has some nudity, but it is not explicit in a voyeuristic sense. Like most French films, it comes naturally and very believable, as opposed to the somehow added scenes for the viewer's pleasure in most American films.
So Water Drops is an intense above average film for cinema lovers that should be appreciated for its acting, direction and even music.
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Format: DVD
There is a lot going on in Water Drops On Burning Rocks (WDOBR): it is a film which rewards thoughtful analysis. The film is much more than what it appears to be at the start: a May-December homosexual romance. Patient viewers who piece together the relationships and surmise what the motives of the characters are will ultimately realize just what story WDOBR is trying to tell.

Although much of the early part of the film focuses on young, directionless Franz, it is not until the other two characters show up and explain themselves that one realizes that the primary subject of WDOBR is 50 year-old solitary bachelor Leopold (which makes the film a star vehicle for Bernard Giraudeau, who gives a strong performance). There is always something a bit off-kilter about Leopold, but not so far off as to cause new acquaintances to flee. Instead, he is able to manipulate and mentally (not physically) control his weak-minded targets, and get them to do his bidding in multiple ways. At the end of the film, after the wreckage Leopold creates is lying in smoldering ruins, the viewer realizes just what a sociopath Leopold is. This is the most powerful aspect of WDOBR: it is ultimately a chilling portrait of how one type of sociopath operates.

One interesting question for American audiences about this French film is: is it necessary that it be set in Germany (which means all the dialogue is in French, with English subtitles, even though the characters are German and the setting is in Germany)? Is there something about Leopold and the other characters that makes Germany a better setting than France? Perhaps the film makers are engaging in some national stereotyping.
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