Is Paris Burning? (1966)

by | Dec 3, 2005 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Is Paris Burning? (1966)

Starring:  Leslie Caron, Kirk Douglas, Anthony Perkins, Robert Stack, Orson Welles
Studio:  Paramount
Video:  2.35:1 Widescreen Enhanced
Audio:  DD 5.1, DD 2.0, French
Extras:  None
Length:  172 minutes
Rating:  ***1/2

At the start of this disc the viewer is treated to an audio-only
classical overture lasting approximately 4 minutes.  The film
takes place near the end of WWII, centered primarily in Paris, 1944,
with a focus of the French resistance and their immense desire to purge
their city of the Nazis.  As defeat seems more and more imminent
for Hitler, a decision was made to send a top general to marshal over
the city of Paris.  If the resistance cannot be contained and
control is lost, then the plan will be to burn Paris to the
ground.  With a passion that can only be exhibited in the most
trying times, the French defend their city till the Americans can help
finally rid the city of the dangerous foreign element. 

The film pops back and forth between the French, the Germans, and the
Americans much like Japanese/American transitions in Tora, Tora, Tora
in an effort to give the viewer an opportunity to see the progression
of history from all sides.  Though the ending of the film is no
surprise to those who know the history of the war, the tension is well
played and keeps the viewer’s interest throughout.  Camerawork is
exceptional and the cast and sets are impressive and work well to
recreate the period.  The script is written by Gore Vidal and
Francis Ford Coppola and is much in the vein of The Longest Day. 
However, in this film, rather than concentrating on the American
involvement, the emphasis is on the French.  Though the video is
nicely done on the DVD, the audio track is a bit confusing.  The
characters speak German, French, and English depending on the
scene.  It would make sense to offer a soundtrack with all the
original languages and the appropriate optional subtitles. 
However, the French track has the German dubbed to French, and English
is dubbed almost throughout.  Why not have a version that offers
subtitles with the ability to hear the characters original inflections
and performances?  Or was there never a German audio
version?  Aside from the weird audio, any of those who love a good
war movie will want to add this film to their collection.

-Brian Bloom

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