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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • French Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 3 Discs
FEATURES
  • Includes the films: La chambre, Hotel Monterey, News from Home, Je tu il elle, Les rendez-vous d'Anna

Chantal Akerman in the Seventies


Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Chantal Akerman
2010 | 371 Minutes | Licensor: Paradise Films

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $44.95 | Series: Eclipse from the Criterion Collection | Edition: #19
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: January 19, 2010
Review Date: January 18, 2010

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SYNOPSIS

Over the past four decades, Belgian director Chantal Akerman (Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles) has created one of cinema's most distinctive bodies of work-formally daring, often autobiographical films about people and places, time and space. In this collection, we present the early films that put her on the map: intensely personal, modernist investigations of cities, history, family, and sexuality, made in the 1970s in the United States and Europe and strongly influenced by the New York experimental film scene. Bold and iconoclastic, these five films pushed boundaries in their day and continue to have a profound influence on filmmakers all over the world.

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PICTURE

For Eclipse set number 19 Criterion presents five films from Belgian director Chantal Akerman. The set includes the films La chambre, Hotel Monterey, News From Home (all three presented on the same disc with the title “The New York Films”,) Je tu il elle, and Les rendez-vous d’Anna over three discs. The first and third disc are dual-layer while the second one is single-layer. Les rendez-vous d’Anna is presented in the aspect ratio of about 1.66:1 and has been enhanced for widescreen televisions while the other films are presented in 1.33:1.

All five films present consistently firm transfers. La chambre may present the worst looking picture of the five presenting washed out blacks, blooming whites and the least amount of detail, though I suspect this may have to do more with the source materials. Scratches are somewhat heavier here when compared to the others. The remaining colour films present strong colour saturation, nice deep blacks, and look fairly sharp overall, though Hotel Monterey can look a little fuzzy at times (again it appears to be in the source.) Les rendez-vous d’Anna has a more muted colour scheme, heavy in grays and blues, which is the intended look of the film.

The lone black and white film, Je tu il elle, was probably the biggest surprise of them all, though. While some interior shots in a truck cabin look incredibly grainy, the image on this one is very clean, with sharp blacks and whites and excellent gray levels.

The prints are all in strong shape, a few large marks present in the New York films, but otherwise a lot of work looks to have gone into the restoration. I can’t compare to the previously available R2 box set (which included these films along with Jeanne Dielman…) but this one looks very good, a lot of effort having gone into these films.

7/10

All DVD screen captures are presented in their original size from the source disc. Images have been compressed slightly to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

Screen Capture
La chambre

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La chambre

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Hotel Monterey

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Hotel Monterey

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Hotel Monterey

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News From Home

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News From Home

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News From Home

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Je tu il elle

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Je tu il elle

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Je tu il elle

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Rendez-vous d'Anna

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Rendez-vous d'Anna

AUDIO

Both La chambre and Hotel Monterey are silent while the other three films present French Dolby Digital 1.0 mono tracks. News From Home also presents an alternative English Dolby Digital 1.0 mono track.

News From Home easily sounds the worst of the three sound films, coming off heavily distorted with a fair amount of damage audible in the background. Distortion is so heavy that at times it’s near impossible to hear what is spoken on both the English and French tracks, and it also doesn’t help that background noise can drown out the narration.

The other two films present better audio, with Rendez-vous d’Anna sounding the best if a little weak. Je tu il elle is strong but a little edgy when there is spoken dialogue.

Not a great set of audio presentations but they’re fine enough.

5/10

SUPPLEMENTS

This being an Eclipse set there are no special features to speak of. As always, though, you’ll find notes by Michael Koresky on the included films, the first disc for the “New York Films” coming with an insert.

1/10

CLOSING

Presenting 5 intriguing films from the director, all with fairly sharp, beautifully cleaned up transfers, this set comes with an easy recommendation. A great start to a new year of Eclipse releases.


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