The Barbarian Invasions

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This thoughtful French comedy has been given a simple but substantive release on North American DVD. The Barbarian Invasions has been given a letterboxed transfer to disc in the widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1, while the images have also been enhanced for anamorphic playback on 16 x 9 monitors. The audio appears in two formats, Dolby Digital Stereo and Dolby Digital 5.1; the dialogue is in French, with optional subtitles in English. A short documentary on the making of the ...
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This thoughtful French comedy has been given a simple but substantive release on North American DVD. The Barbarian Invasions has been given a letterboxed transfer to disc in the widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1, while the images have also been enhanced for anamorphic playback on 16 x 9 monitors. The audio appears in two formats, Dolby Digital Stereo and Dolby Digital 5.1; the dialogue is in French, with optional subtitles in English. A short documentary on the making of the film has been included as a bonus.
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Special Features

Closed Caption; "'Inside The Barbarian Invasions" featurette
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
Director Denys Arcand’s sequel of sorts to his 1986 Decline of the American Empire includes many of that film’s characters, played by the same actors. This time, the focal point is Rémy Rémy Girard, the cheerfully anarchic academic who -- after devoting his life to wine, women, song, and left-wing political causes -- finds himself dying of cancer. Having championed socialized medicine, he stubbornly remains in an overcrowded, inefficient Canadian hospital even though his stockbroker son whom Rémy disdains would love to bring the terminally ill professor to an American hospital. One by one, Rémy’s old friends reluctantly visit the former Falstaffian, now withering away but still defiant and domineering. Arcand uses his leading character’s hospitalization as a vehicle whereby the reunited comrades reflect on their youthful passions, idealism, and illusions. A few of the supporting characters are especially memorable, especially Marie-Josée Croze, portraying a drug addict who scores heroin for Rémy when the prescribed morphine no longer dulls his pain. Refreshingly, Arcand doesn’t expect us to look at the fiercely independent patient through rose-colored glasses: Rémy’s mistaken notions are revealed in all their vainglory; and we also learn that his son, Sébastien Stéphane Rousseau, superb in a delicately written role, is bribing friends and health-care professionals to comfort him. But there’s something exemplary about the way Rémy faces his impending demise, and something very touching about the way those around him enable the fusty academic to die with his illusions intact. The script’s emotional complexity no doubt impressed Arcand's fellow screenwriters, who nominated him for the Best Original Screenplay Academy Award. Although Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation won in that category, the French-Canadian Barbarian Invasions was honored with the Best Foreign-Language Film Oscar.
All Movie Guide - Richie Unterberger
The Barbarian Invasions is a sequel of sorts to The Decline of the American Empire, though it's not absolutely necessary to see both of these Denys Arcand films to understand and appreciate The Barbarian Invasions on its own merits. Like the earlier work, The Barbarian Invasions is an entertaining mix of intellectual musings, humor, and bawdy sexual repartee, all of these elements often mixing together to varying degrees. There's also much engrossing dialogue, as well as excellent ensemble acting. It's a more sentimental film, however, particularly in its latter portion, as the main character faces the inevitability of his impending death, cosseted as best he can be by flawed but sympathetic friends and family. There are plenty of fine scenes here, ranging from pointed (and funny) satire of Canadian institutional bureaucracy in hospitals, law enforcement, and unions to more serious vignettes of ruptured families and a young junkie (played with gaunt believability by Marie-Josée Croze) struggling with a heroin problem. If there's any reservation to be expressed about the film's quality, it's that some threads are left dangling, not just in terms of plot resolution, but also in the moral questions that Arcand often examines. Though the dying Rémy Girard is clearly a mixed bag of amusing, brainy raconteur and philandering cocksman, he seems to reach a rapprochement with his materialistic son Stéphane Rousseau rather too easily. In addition, the serious flaws and repercussions of the son's attitude -- putting everything right for Girard to leave the world in loving comfort by basically buying and bribing whatever and whoever he can -- are left mostly untouched. The stirrings of a possible romance between Rousseau and Croze are only tantalizingly dangled as well. Of course, a premature death often leaves many such loose ends, and The Barbarian Invasions is a worthy look at a man forced to ponder the weightiest of questions too soon, even if some of them aren't wholly answered.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 7/13/2004
  • UPC: 786936242782
  • Original Release: 2003
  • Rating:

  • Source: Miramax
  • Region Code: 1
  • Time: 1:39:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Rémy Girard Remy
Stéphane Rousseau Sébastien
Marie-Josée Croze Nathalie
Marina Hands Gaelle
Dorothee Berryman Louise
Johanne-Marie Tremblay Sister Constance
Dominique Michel Dominique
Louise Portal Diane
Yves Jacques Claude
Pierre Curzi Pierre
Sophie Lorain Premiere Amoureuse
Toni Cecchinato Alessandro
Mitsou Gelinas Ghislaine
Isabelle Blais Sylvane
Markita Boies Suzanne L'Infirmiere
Micheline Lanctôt Carole L'infirmiere
Jean-Marc Parent
Denis Bouchard Duharmel
Yves Desgagnes Oleg
Sylvie Drapeau Deuxieme Amoureuse
Roy Dupuis Gilles Levac
Technical Credits
Denys Arcand Director, Screenwriter
Caroline Adler Art Director
Pierre Aviat Score Composer
Jacques W. Benoit Asst. Director
Diane Boucher Sound Editor
Jérôme Décarie Sound Editor
Isabelle Dedieu Editor
Michel Descombes Sound/Sound Designer
Guy Dufaux Cinematographer
Gavin Fernandes Sound/Sound Designer
Marie-Claude Gagne Sound/Sound Designer
Daniel Louis Producer
Mireille Morin Sound/Sound Designer
Claire Pochon Sound Editor
Denise Robert Producer
Lucie Robitaille Casting
Patrick Rousseau Sound/Sound Designer
Jean-Philippe Savard Sound Editor
François Séguin Production Designer
Denis Sperdouklis Costumes/Costume Designer
Fabienne Vonier Co-producer
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Mother's Calling [:28]
2. Burlington [7:57]
3. Setting Up the Room [5:52]
4. Barbarian Invasions [6:39]
5. Reunion [5:47]
6. Riding the Dragon [9:15]
7. Women of Fantasies [7:26]
8. Father and Son [4:34]
9. Reflecting on Life [5:17]
10. Looking for Nathalie [13:09]
11. The Cottage [6:34]
12. The Last Supper [3:38]
13. The Goodbye [1:59]
14. Credits [4:50]
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Side #1 --
   Play Movie
   Scene Selection
   Set Up
      French Audio: 5.1 Dolby Digital
      French Audio: 2.0 Dolby Surround
      Captions & Subtitles: English Subtitles
      Captions & Subtitles: English Closed Captions
      Captions & Subtitles: None
   Inside The Barbarian Invasions
   Sneak Peeks
      Play All
      Paper Clips
      The Human Stain
      25 Miramax Anniversary
      People I Know
      Shall We Dance?
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    "The Barbarian Invasions" is deeply emotional and highly thought-provoking.

    The most skilful attribute of “The Barbarian Invasions” is the clever way in which the film intertwines a personal story with our collective history. I don't remember another recent film that has managed to move and making me feel involved as much, and in both respects. The film is incredibly accurate in capturing a "moment", an undercurrent difficult to articulate and to put in words, of what it is happening in our world today. It does this with remarkable restrain and in small measures in the delivery of details, giving us few but quite powerful facts. The film centers on Rémy's estranged relationship with his son Sebastian (stand-up comic Stéphane Rousseau) a millionaire London businessman. When Sebastian comes to Montreal with his fiancée (Marina Hands), years of resentment against his father boil to the surface. Rémy apparently was not an exemplary father figure. He cheated on his wife, over indulged himself in hedonistic pleasures, and offered less than the support his children needed. Rémy, a socialist, considers his son a "puritanical capitalist" and one who portends the coming "barbarian" invasions. Sebastian resents Rémy for his womanizing and calls him "contentious". In spite of this resentment, however, he starts throwing money around to try and make his father's final days more comfortable, in a way subtly letting his father know that money can buy anything. “The Barbarian Invasions” is not a perfect film by any means but is one of the strongest Canadian films. Though some of the dialogue is strained, underneath there is a humanity that allows us to connect with our feelings about our own mortality and our relationships with those we care about. It is often hard to reconcile the robustly alive Rémy with our pictures of a man dying of cancer but Girard is powerfully effective in the role and I went from quiet distaste of his amorality to full acceptance of who he is by the end of the film. Though the conclusion is emotional, it is not trite or overly sentimental but allows us to access the deep place of silence within ourselves and embrace the mystery. This film is great. But you may have to be in the right mood for it. There are a lot of interesting, thought provoking lines in the movie and it makes you think about how you feel, stand and react to the issues at stake. I laughed, I cried and I felt very appeased after seeing it. It is exactly the kind of movie one can ponder for a long time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    As Satisfying a Film as Any Ever Made!

    THE BARBARIAN INVASIONS is a miracle movie. As conceived and directed by Denys Arcand this film is a brilliantly entertaining story, full of hilarious dialogue and situations, full of intellectual stimulation, brilliant metaphors and similes, full of probing philosophy, while standing as the finest examination of our society as it stands at the moment. The beauty of the film is that for all of the intellectual wealth it contains, it never bogs down with cerebral weightiness. The mood is consistently entertaining: the infinite messages contained are left as after burn. Remy (and indelible characterization by Remy Girard) has lived a life of sexual freedom, intellectual pursuits (he is a Professor of History and defender of free thinking), and seems to have placed his family and wife in the periphery. Suddenly faced with a diagnosis of a rampantly aggressive and untreatable cancer, he rages against the world that no longer holds his tenets of civilization dear: he faces death having no legacy to leave the world he entered. His ex-wife notifies his worldly and wealthy Baby-Boomer generation son in his important office in London to return home, despite the fact that the son sees little point in rushing to the deathbed of a father who was never a father to him. The son Sebastien (in a sophisticated, engrossing performance by Stephane Rousseau) flies to Montreal and, in his manner of control, takes over, planning the exodus of this 'shameful father' in a manner that allows him to provide the best amenities while putting more emotional distance from his father. Money talks, and after Sebastien drives him to the USA for the best of scans and opinions only to hear that Remy will not follow-up by entering a US Medical Center, Remy is moved to a deserted floor of the hospital (grandly redecorated and staffed by Sebastien's conniving way with money bribes). Sebastien gathers the wildest assortment of Remy's friends, mistresses, and political/intellectual oddballs and gives Remy everything he could ask for - even satellite conversation with Remy's yachting-on-the-seas daughter. When the disease advances and terminal pain encroaches, Sebastien even arranges for heroin by coercing the addicted daughter of one of Remy's mistresses to supply the need. When it is clear that death is imminent, Sebastien arranges for the entire entourage to move to a beautiful house by a lake outside Montreal and there the group eats, drinks, philosophizes, entertains, and ultimately says goodbye to their old friend. At this point Sebastien and Remy are alone with their personal histories and disappointments and regrets and it is the playing out of how this is resolved that is the utter magic of this magnificent film. Though the ending of the film is implied from the outset, to spoil the final moments by revealing the actual moments of the story would be a disservice to the viewer An added attraction on the DVD (in French and English with subtitles) is a filmed dinner with the entire cast (and to a person, this is a cast of gifted, virtuosic actors), discussing the movies, their characters, and more importantly looking at the Montreal that was the dream of the future when all of these actors were young and idealistic and now faces a stagnation and void that each sees as a threat to the future. These are articulate actors and their words and thoughts are intensely sensitive and informative. This added feature adds yet more depth in accompaniment to the film. THE BARBARIAN INVASIONS is a film to purchase for your private collection, a film to return to often as a reminder that living our lives as individual sanctities is the only way we will be able to maintain 'civilization' in this era of instant gratification and disregard for the past. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED ON EVERY LEVEL!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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