This is the one area where the disc disappoints after being so strong in the other areas. This is a smaller, lower-tier release from Criterion so it only comes with a couple of supplements, only one of which is worth bothering with.
Gérard Philipe: Star, Idol, Legend is a 27-minute documentary made exclusively for this release about the film’s star and features new interviews with Philipe’s daughter Anne-Marie Philipe and biographer Gérard Bonal, and features archival interviews filmed in 1979 with director Christian-Jaque and Gina Lollobrigida. In all I don’t think I found it a very deep documentary but it offers a respectable look at the man, his life, and his work. Through the interviews (Bonal taking up most of the documentary) it covers his early life, how he first got into acting and his early work, and also touches on some personal problems including his father standing trial for his involvement with the Nazis (the young actor then using his clout to help him escape and avoid execution.) It touches on his involvement with politics, Philipe leaning [i]strongly[/i] left, probably because he spent his youth surrounded by his father’s extreme right views. Of his works it primarily focuses on Fanfan and even offers some behind-the-scenes footage, and there are details about how difficult Philipe could be to work with (apparently he wanted to make Fanfan a “deeper” character while Christian-Jaque had to fight with him to keep the character the free spirit that was intended.) I felt it maybe skimmed over the man a little too much and focused too much on Fanfan but it is still an interesting documentary worth your time.
The second feature is A clip from the colorized version of the film, which is interesting, though fairly frivolous. The notes state that the film is so popular in France that a colorized version was created in 1997. The clip is the sequence where Fanfan saves the Princess from a group of bandits. I’ll say that it doesn’t actually look that bad, though it has obviously been colorized. It’s an interesting curiosity but not much else.
The disc then closes with the original 4-minute trailer, which is in French with burned-in English subtitles.
Included with the disc is a 12-page booklet with an essay by Kenneth Turan. It offers a short analysis of the film and also covers its reception and popularity, and Turan also defends the film as it (along with other films similar to it and the films of Christian-Jaque) were heavily criticized by Godard and Truffaut.
The documentary was worth a look and the booklet's essay makes for a good read, but taken as a whole I can't say the supplements really enhanced my appreciation of the film in any way. 4/10