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TURN-ONS AND TURN-OFFS IN CURRENT HOME ENTERTAINMENT RELEASES : Excellent Good Fair Poor : VIDEOCASSETTES

January 13, 1987|MICHAEL WILMINGTON | Compiled by Terry Atkinson

"La Marseillaise." Hollywood Home Theater. $49.98. Jean Renoir made this panoramic, populist view of the French Revolution during the middle of his greatest period (in 1938, right after "Grand Illusion"), but it's often ignored or dismissed. A mistake. Once we grasp Renoir's methods--the abrupt shifts between social classes and locales, the lack of an identifiable "hero," the surprising sympathy shown the aristocrats and tyrants--the brilliance of "La Marseillaise" becomes apparent. Here, Renoir had the lavish budget and means usually deployed by an Abel Gance or a D. W. Griffith, and he remarkably humanized the events. It's one of the best historical war films ever made, an unjustly neglected masterpiece. Information: (213) 466-0121.

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