Bertolucci tells the story of the first half of the 20th-century through the lives of a pair of friends born on the same day, one a peasant (Gerard Depardieu) and one an aristocrat (Robert De Niro). As the friends grow up and grow apart, their experiences encompass the changing political and economic climate of Italy, and of Europe as a whole. Donald Sutherland and Burt Lancaster also star in this stunning combination of the intimate and the epic.
Dir: Francois Truffaut
During the German occupation of Paris, a theater company struggles to produce a new play while its director is forced to hide in the basement, leaving his wife (Catherine Deneuve) to carry on an affair with the new leading man (Gerard Depardieu). This meditation on the ultimate powerlessness of the artist is surprisingly charming given its heavy subject matter, and Deneuve is as elegant and compelling as ever. In French with English subtitles.
France, Poland, West Germany,
Dir: Andrzej Wajda
Directed by Andrzej Wajda while in exile, the Polish filmmaker's French-language debut is an adaptation of "The Danton Affair," written in the 1920s by Communist playwright Stanislawa Przybyszewska. After the French Revolution, Paris suffers under the Reign of Terror as the government of the ruthless Maximilien de Robespierre (Wojciech Pszoniak) intimidates all opponents. Georges Danton (Gérard Depardieu), former friend of the leader, seeks an end to the bloodshed and, joined by Camille Desmoulins (writer-director Patrice Chéreau in his first acting role), attempts to bring peace to the streets of the capital. For his efforts, Danton is imprisoned, and awaits the guillotine with steely resolve. In French with English subtitles. "I do not know of any play or movie that has ever come so close to suggesting the fascinating complexity of the French Revolution." - Andrew Sarris, Village Voice