War of the Buttons (2011)

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Released 7-Nov-2012

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Family Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-More from Palace Films x 4
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2011
Running Time 104:52
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Yann Samuell

Madman Entertainment
Starring Eric Elmosnino
Mathilde Seigner
Fred Testot
Alain Chabat
Vincent Bres
Salomé Lemire
Théo Bertrand
Tristan Vichard
Tom Terrail
Louis Lefèbvre
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music Klaus Badelt

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English (Burned In) Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     It is the early 1960s and the French are fighting an independence movement in their Algerian colony. In the southern French countryside, gangs of boys from two nearby villages, Velrans and Longueverne, have been skirmishing with each other for generations. Anyone captured in this war between villages has their buttons cut off as trophies and the boys then have to face the extra difficulty of explaining dirty clothes and missing buttons to their parents.

     The gang leader from Velrans is Aztec Labru (Theo Bertrand), whose father (Alain Chabat) is the school teacher. However, the story is told from the point of view of the children of Longueverne, especially their leader Lebrac (Vincent Bres). His father has gone, leaving Lebrac to assist his mother (Mathilde Seigner) around the farm as well as help with his two younger sisters. This barely leaves him time for his schoolwork, although the teacher at Longueverne, Merlin (Eric Elmosnino), believes that with a little application he could get a scholarship and make something of himself. With Lebrac preoccupied, the gang from Longueverne suffers some humiliating defeats, and must decide whether to suffer more possible humiliation by accepting the help of Lanterne (Salome Lemire), who just happens to be a girl!

     The War of the Buttons (original title La Guerre des boutons) is based on the well-loved French novel of the same title by Louis Pergaud that was published in 1912 and remains to this day on the French school curriculum. The author was a committed pacifist who was killed in WWI and the novel has been filmed numerous times, including in 1962 at the height of France’s Algerian conflict. That film, directed by Yves Robert, became a domestic and international hit and is still regarded as a classic of French cinema. In 1995 a version of the novel directed by John Roberts moved the action from France to Ireland. Now, just like in Hollywood with two volcano pictures or two end of the world pictures in the same year, another film based on the book was also released in France in 2011, this one titled La nouvelle guerre des boutons, directed by Christopher Barratier and set during the German occupation of France in WWII.

     The version of The War of the Buttons on this DVD was directed by Yann Samuell, who also wrote the screenplay. It is not a remake of the 1962 film but a reworking of the original novel, and is now set in the 1960s so that the film could make some comments about the Algerian war, independence, and freedom. However, these topics are not laboured, although it is clear that the children are merely perpetuating the traditional rivalry of previous generations without thought, and that certain adults in each village, such as the two schoolteachers, are just as likely to indulge in name-calling and fighting as the children.

     Despite its anti-war sentiments, The War of the Buttons is more about acceptance, leadership, loyalty, freedom to choose and the pains of growing up, including becoming aware of the other sex. When the film concentrates upon the children, which it mostly does, it is humorous and endearing such as when to avoid losing their buttons and dirtying their clothes the gang go into battle naked! Indeed, the film is well served by its cast of children, who were non-professional actors which certainly gives a naturalness and freshness to the performances.

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Transfer Quality


     The War of the Buttons is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, the original theatrical ratio being 1.85:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     This print has good and not so good points. The colours are a highlight, with deep natural greens and yellows showing off the vibrancy of the French countryside. Blacks and shadow detail are good, skin tones natural, brightness and contrast consistent.

     On the other hand, The War of the Buttons was shot with a constantly moving camera with sudden changes of frame and perspective. When the camera is still, such as in some scenes in the villages, it is sharp and nicely detailed, but with any movements, such as the children running through the forest or fighting, it loses sharpness and becomes a jumbled mess of movement and it is difficult to tell what is going on. Against the background of green leaves in the forest, any movement also leads to ghosting and some aliasing. In addition, the end titles suffered from some shimmer. Marks, however, are absent.

     The layer change occurred at a scene change at 68:21 and resulted in a slight pause.

     Burnt in subtitles in English English are in a clear white font. They appear timely, are easy to read and contained no obvious spelling or grammatical errors.

     While the colours are great, the constant camera motion can be distracting.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     Audio is a French Dolby Digital 5.1 track at 448 Kbps.

     This is mostly a film for dialogue, which was clear and centred. There was not a lot in the surrounds, mostly music and some ambient sound, although during the fights, the “button party” and the fireworks they came more to life. The sub-woofer supported music and the fireworks.

    Lip synchronisation is fine.

     The original music by the prolific Klaus Badelt was effective in supporting the visuals.

     The audio is good without problems.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Theatrical Trailer (1:58)

More From Palace Films

     Trailers for A Cat in Paris (1:54), The Age of Reason (2:06), The Women on the 6th Floor (2:10) and To Be and To Have (1:47).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     There does not seem to be a Region 1 US or Region 2 UK release of War of the Buttons. There is a Region 2 French release that includes as extras a making of (26 min) and featurettes on casting the children (5 min) and on author Louis Pergaud (12 min). However, neither the feature nor extras have English subtitles so unless you understand French, our Region 4 version is the only one available.


     The War of the Buttons is based on the well-loved French novel that was published in 1912 and has been filmed before. The present version of The War of the Buttons is about acceptance, leadership, loyalty, freedom to choose and the pains of growing up, and is light hearted family fare.

     The DVD has video that could be better, good audio, and a trailer as the only relevant extra.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Saturday, January 19, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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