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Zazie dans le métro (The Criterion Collection)

3.9 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A brash and precocious eleven-year-old (Catherine Demongeot) comes to Paris for a whirlwind weekend with her rakish uncle (La Pointe Courte’s, Philippe Noiret); he and the viewer get more than they bargained for in this anarchic comedy from Louis Malle (Murmur of the Heart, My Dinner with André), which treats the City of Light as though it were a pleasure island just waiting to be destroyed. Based on a popular novel by Raymond Queneau that had been considered unadaptable, Malle’s audacious hit Zazie dans le métro is a bit of stream-of-conscious slapstick, wall-to-wall with visual gags, editing tricks, and effects, and made with flair on the cusp of the French New Wave.

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Louis Malle's Zazie dans le métro is a delightful splash of slapstick and silliness, set against the dense background of Paris as if the City of Light were simply the best vaudeville stage ever constructed. The young star Catherine Demongeot is a madcap Zazie, a willful, mouthy country kid who's in Paris to visit with her reluctant Uncle Gabriel (a properly befuddled Philippe Noiret). Zazie's sole goal for her visit to Paris? Riding the famed métro, naturellement. That is pretty much the plot of Zazie--yet what Malle, Demongeot, and Malle's talented crew do with that wisp of a concept is brilliant, and owes more to the best films of, say, Harold Lloyd, than to the French New Wave.

The adults in Zazie are always just two steps behind the little dynamo as she zips around the city, leaving good-natured chaos in her wake. This new Criterion disc is a wonderful addition to any film-lover's collection, for Zazie dans le métro itself is restored to show the brilliance of cinematographer Henri Raichi and the splendid set design that makes the streets of Paris, just below its breathtaking landmarks, a pastiche of early '60s cubist colors. Not to be missed is the documentary interview with assistant director Philippe Collin, Le Paris de Zazie, in which Collin recalls the installation around the city of graphic, and graphically dramatic, panels in the background that tie Zazie dans the métro together with energy and pizazz. Or maybe that should be pizazie. --A.T. Hurley


Special Features

New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack

Archival interviews with director Louis Malle, novelist Raymond Queneau, and the young actress Catherine Demongeot

Le Paris de Zazie, an interview with assistant director Philippe Collin

Original theatrical trailer

New and improved English subtitle translation

PLUS: A new essay by film scholar Ginette Vincendeau


Product Details

  • Actors: Catherine Demongeot, Philippe Noiret, Hubert Deschamps, Carla Marlier, Annie Fratellini
  • Directors: Louis Malle
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Subtitled, NTSC
  • 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:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: June 28, 2011
  • Run Time: 92 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004SBL5P6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,861 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Zazie dans le métro (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Zazie is a classic French film, and we purchased it for that reason. The cast is fine, and the original production seems to have been well done. Criterion also created a high quality DVD. The movie follows the young girl Zazie around Paris in her quest to ride the Métro, and it's fun to see the scenes of the city. The film also has funny episodes, which is quite desirable in a comedy. However, I really could not get into the movie, and I found that I did not really care what happened to the characters. The problem may well lie with me, but nonetheless I feel ambivalent about the film itself.
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First saw Zazie years ago and remembered I'd loved it. So I was thrilled to see that it was coming out in a Criterion release. The film was as crazy and colorful as I remember it. All potty-mouthed Zazie wants to do while visiting her uncle in Paris is to ride the metro. Unfortunately it's closed due to a worker's strike. Still there are plenty of other adventures to be had and lots of colorful characters to have them with. Zazie is a real gem and I highly recommend it. The Criterion DVD is what one expects: outstanding and with great extras.
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This is the funniest movie I have ever seen. The background shifts as the characters go from one crazy scene to another. I love it being set in the '60's in Paris. It is a rare movie and not viewed often enough. It is a surreal comedy and should be seen.
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I'm not quite sure whether I like this film or not. I either loved it or I hated it ... it says something about the power of the film that I'm not quite sure how I feel about it.

What starts as a very realistic look at Paris through the eyes of a 10-year-old girl gradually slips into impressionism and finally into surrealism (the final fight in the restaurant). The more I think about it, I think Malle's absurdities work very well during the various chase sequences, but go a bit over the top during the restaurant fight.

What also struck me was the sexual ambiguity of the characters. Zazie's uncle is, of course, a professional female impersonator. But watch her aunt, a beautiful woman who starts out as a very domesticed housewife and gradually becomes more and more masculine, until at the end, she looks like one of the motorcycle thugs pursuing Orpheus. And Zazie herself begins as a charming young girl, but shocks you when she accuses a man trying to prevent her from running away of being a sexual preditor. Later, as she descends the Eiffel Tower, the makes sexual overtures to a much older man.

As I say, a strange film. Funny. Thought provoking and disorienting. But entertaining ...
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