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Jefferson in Paris
Jefferson in Paris
Actors: Nick Nolte, Greta Scacchi, Gwyneth Paltrow, Thandie Newton, Lambert Wilson
Director: James Ivory
Genres: Drama
PG-13     2004     2hr 19min

Hollywood favorite Nick Nolte (I LOVE TROUBLE, THE PRINCE OF TIDES) stars with the sexy Greta Scacchi (SHATTERED, PRESUMED INNOCENT) in this impassioned story of forbidden love! During one man's unforgettable visit to libe...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Nick Nolte, Greta Scacchi, Gwyneth Paltrow, Thandie Newton, Lambert Wilson
Director: James Ivory
Creators: Ismail Merchant, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
Genres: Drama
Sub-Genres: Love & Romance
Studio: Touchstone Home Entertainment
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 04/06/2004
Original Release Date: 03/31/1995
Theatrical Release Date: 03/31/1995
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 2hr 19min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 8
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: English, French

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Movie Reviews

Best film about our early history
Nicholas Carroll | Portland OR United States | 12/10/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Although some people may find this film boring, it may not be their type of film. For anyone who wants to see a film about one of our most fascinating Founding Fathers, this is the film to watch and own. Its my favorite film about any of the presidents and I wish they would make more of them. I especially loved the actress who played Marie Antoinette. She embodied exactly how I pictured Marie Antoinette to look and act when I only read about her. The same goes for Lambert Wilson, who played the Marquis de Lafayette...exactly as I had imagined him. My favorite performance though, goes to Thandi Newton as Sally Hemmings. Seeing her in this film when it first came out made me take notice of her and follow her career with interest. What I love most about this film is the glimpse it gives viewers of life during the pre-revolutionary period in France, and shows the absurdities of ritualized Court life and why the people demanded change. King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were simply out of touch with ordinary people, and our Ambassador to France Thomas Jefferson was a first hand witness to it all. The film ends too abruptly for me. I would have liked a greater resolution than that...but since films like these are rare, and I wish that Hollywood made more films about our Founding Fathers, I can't complain with what this film accomplishes. Its certainly a lot better than the made for TV, "Sally Hemings" mini-series."
Jefferson in Paris- A Must See !
L. Oben | DC, USA | 09/12/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Just finished watching Jefferson in Paris again for what seems like the upmteenth time and am amazed by how much more I undertood the movie this time around, and how much of its many nuancies I'd missed, or simply forgotten, from previous viewings. For example, the almost competitive nature of the relationship between the perpetually sickly and sullen looking Martha "Patsy", Jefferson's daughter and the enigmatic Mrs. Conway, played by the incomparable Greta Sacchi; Mr. Conway's inexplicable jealousy at the blossoming relationship between his wife and Jefferson, even in spite of his flagrant homosexuality (addressed in a sublte, yet clear fashion, another example of this film's classiness), and much more.

From the beautifully hypnotic and classical soundtrack (an escapists dream), to the movie's scenery and wardrobe that encapsulates the European decadence of the period, this movie is one of my all time favorites.

There is so much more to praise about this film: for starters, the historical accuracy of the portrayal of the events of France in that period, the director's ability to entertwine both the historical events of the time with a little poetic justice to fill in those gaps which history books have oft left unfilled (such as Jefferson's relationship with Sally Hemmings played with such nymph-like and utterly stunning talent by the amazing Thandie Newton), and much more.

Nick Nolte is perfect in his role as Jefferson, and lends a keen sensitivity (not to mention sexiness!) to the character; Gweneth Paltrow does a wonderful job of making Patsy one of my least favorite characters in the movie: her sullen, bitter, jealous, clinging and insecure nature comes shining through under Paltrow's characterization, helping us to understand just how plausible it might have been for an incestuous relationship to have existed between herself and her father.

The actor who plays James Hemming deserves much praise also in his rare portrayal of a young slave who is not only alert, smary (able to learn French and the art of French cusine without much help) and canny, but who is also endowed with the ability to reason and understand the liberties to which he is entitled as a human being, despite the clear absence of a formal education America's institution of slavery has denied him, his sister and the countless others of their position.

However, the bulk of my praise goes to Thandie Newton and her portrayal of the young Sally Hemmings. Thandie lends to Hemmings a naivete, innocence, virginity, vulnerability, good-natured childishness, beauty and myriad more qualities which at once make it easy to understand how Jefferon could so easily have engaged in an ongoing relationship with her. If the household in which he lived in true life was anything close to that portrayed in the film, then who could blame him for finding solace in the childish wit and the naively entertaining qualities and charm of a girl like Sally? It would appear that his household prior to her arrival was not entirely dissimilar to that of a dark hospital room- prisine, sanitary and markedly devoid of the sunlight and laughter which Sally Hemmings' presence was clearly able to illicit from the previously astute Jefferson.

An A-plus cast, an exquisite soundtrack, coupled with an excellent attention to historical events of the time, make this one of my favorite period pieces. Ivory fans will not be disappointed. A must see for all those who profess to be American history buffs and those who share a love for escapist flights into a period in American and French history not too often portrayed in movies."
A controversial and beautiful film
C. Middleton | Australia | 07/10/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Merchant and Ivory productions, whose first film appeared in 1957, has a reputation for lavish sets, beautiful cinematography and the "period piece" masters of the film industry. It is certainly true that they set a new benchmark in adapting literature to the screen with such films as The Golden Bowl and The Bostonians by the American master, Henry James. They have also produced a magnificent adaptation of E.M. Forrester's groundbreaking novel of a gay man living in England in the 19th century battling with his conscience, Maurice. The list goes on as they continue to make incredible films to present day.

My favourite film by the famous duo would have to be Surviving Picasso, about the numerous women who would self-destruct after a relationship with the mad genius. This film was controversial as the Picasso Estate attempted to stop its production. More controversial still, is their 1995 film, Jefferson in Paris.

As the title suggests, the film is about the time, (1784-1789) where the 41-year-old Jefferson held the post of Ambassador to France. This important time marked the beginnings of Frances revolution. Jefferson walked the magnificent halls of Versailles, dined and danced with aristocracy and attempted to maintain good relations with the French government and Monarchy, as they had been key, in terms of monetary and military support, during the American Revolution.

President Jefferson, played with surprising aplomb by Nick Nolty, establishes himself in Paris and as history has shown, fell in love with a beautiful artist, Madam Cosway, (Greta Scacchi) and begins an innocent affair, (a deep and lasting relationship if one reads the letters), writing his famous ode to love, My Head and My Heart.

American historians and biographers (aside from Fawn Brodie in her entertaining biography of Jefferson) had utterly dismissed Jefferson's alleged relationship with his slave, Sally Hemings. This film focuses on the beginnings of this relationship, which began in Paris, and continued through Jefferson's Presidency. The film was scathingly criticised by established historians until the later DNA results revealed the Jefferson paternity through the Hemings line. Interestingly, however, the debate still continues despite evidence to the contrary and the arguments are compelling.

Jefferson in Paris has been created to the standard that we expect from Merchant and Ivory Productions. The depiction of Paris during the late 18th century at a time leading up to the revolution is done with reality and tragedy. The famous women's march from Paris to Versailles, taking Louie XVI and Marie Antoinette back to Paris as prisoners is done extremely well. Merchant and Ivory must be perfectionists, as there seems not to be a single flaw in the entire film.

Having read Jefferson and many biographies, this film deserves to be amongst the best of them. If you like American history, you'll like this film.

A sumptuous and lavish retelling of an ENIGMA
KerrLines | Baltimore,MD | 11/16/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"If this movie doesn't get you to thinking about the conflicts of our society and how different people confront them, then the movie would fail! It doesn't,though.Jefferson is a man at odds with himself.What he believes versus what he actually does remains for all the world to see.Monticellian life was an undiscussed secret.Jefferson loved French society and yet loathed an aristocracy.Jefferson was an enigma and Nick Nolte plays the part to an absolute tee!The more I have watched this film the more I could never see anyone else playing Jefferson but him.The story line is quite engaging and Thandie Newton,Greta Scacchi and Gwyneth Paltrow are at their very best as supporting cast.The soundtrack is wonderful for the lover of Baroque music.This is an artistic film and has great appeal to those with an artist's sensibilities."