In this historical drama, Andrzej Wajda draws a parallel between the tumult of the French Revolution and contemporary crises in his native Poland. The film features what is often regarded as Gérard Depardieu's finest performance, as the compassionate rebel leader who tragically fails to mitigate the Reign of Terror of his friend-turned-enemy Robespierre (Wojciech Pszoniak). The French historical setting and political parallels to contemporary events make this one of Wajda's most accessible films for English language audiences. Igor Luther's cinematography gives the film's settings an authentic feel, as do Yvonne Sassinot de Nesle's costume designs. Among the screenwriters was Agnieszka Holland, who parlayed this and other prominent credits into a career directing films in the United States.