7 Thought-Provoking Movies about Revolutionary France ...

7 Thought-Provoking Movies about Revolutionary France ...

The years 1787-1799 have been depicted many times in movies about the French Revolution. It is a fascinating period in history, not just for France but for its neighbors and also for America. Movies about the French Revolution are dramatic, romantic, shocking and thought provoking. This is my pick of the best of them.

1. Carry on Don't Lose Your Head

On iTunes at itunes.apple.com

It's a serious subject but the great institution of British films Carry On just had to find humor in it and produced one of the funniest, if not the only funny, movies about Revolutionary France. Carry on Don't Lose Your Head is my favorite Carry On and is a spoof of that very fine story, The Scarlet Pimpernel. Enjoy the fun as Sir Rodney Ffing aka The Black Fingernail runs rings around revolutionaries Citizen Camembert and Citizen Bidet to rescue the French aristocrats from La Guillotine.

2. The Scarlet Pimpernel

On Amazon at amazon.co.uk

I have always loved this story. There are a number of adaptations of Baroness Orczy's novel for film and television but this 1982 production is my favorite. It is a TV movie but I think it is good enough to have enjoyed a cinema release. It delivers a real good dose of heroism, daring do and plenty of romance. Anthony Andrews is a very believable Pimpernel and I totally am convinced by Sir Ian McKellen's performance as Chauvelin.

3. Scaramouche

On iTunes at itunes.apple.com

The country may be in a full state of revolution but we all know it's love that makes the world go round, so there's always time for romance. Loosely based on a novel by Raphael Sabatini, Scaramouche is one of Hollywood's seriously swashbuckling movies about the French Revolution. There's not much of a nod to the Revolution and is more a tale of characters than the time. The showdown sword fighting sequence is believed to be the longest in movie history.

4. Marie Antoinette

On iTunes at itunes.apple.com

Please don't watch the Kirsten Dunst version. This one may have been made in 1938 and is in black and white but it is far superior. It tells the story of the ill-fated Austrian Princess who became Queen of France. Her (and her husband's) excesses, extravagance and lack of sympathy for the starving masses were some of the triggers for the French Revolution.

5. Jefferson in Paris

On iTunes at itunes.apple.com

Sometimes it is interesting to see great historical events from a different perspective. Jefferson in Paris offers that, but more with the early stages of the Revolution kicking off in the background. Thomas Jefferson followed in the footsteps of Benjamin Franklin as the US Ambassador to France, serving between March 1785 and September 1789. With an unusual period drama role for Nick Nolte as the lead, the film examines the personal life of Jefferson during his time in Paris but it never answers the question, did Jefferson really have an affair and father a child with his black slave?

6. A Tale of Two Cities

On iTunes at itunes.apple.com

Charles Dickens didn't often venture outside of England or Victorian times but he made exception for this one. I'd love to know what motivated him to create what became one of his most admired stories. It is a beautiful story of love and self sacrifice, a story of a man who promised little but delivered greatly. It is one of the best books and this is one of the best French Revolution movies.

7. Danton

On Amazon at amazon.com

I have to say that most movies about the French Revolution tend to portray Paris in the grip of an extended Reign of Terror. If you want a little more insight into some of the main protagonists and architects of the Revolution, Danton is an excellent watch. With Gu00e9rard Depardieu in the title role, it is sweepingly dramatic and truly epic and a believable depiction of the clash between idolized Danton and villified Robespierre.

Is this a period of history that interests you? Have you seen any of these movies?

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