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Jean Gremillon During the Occupation
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • French Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 3 Discs
FEATURES
  • Includes the films Remorques, Lumière d'été, and Le ciel est à vous

Jean Gremillon During the Occupation


Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Jean Gremillon
2012 | 301 Minutes | Licensor: Janus Films

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $44.95 | Series: Eclipse from the Criterion Collection | Edition: #34
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: July 24, 2012
Review Date: July 29, 2012

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SYNOPSIS

Though little known outside of France, Jean Grémillon is a consummate filmmaker from his country's golden age. A classically trained violinist who discovered cinema as a young man when his orchestra was hired to accompany silent movies, he went on to make almost fifty films-which ranged from documentaries to avant-garde works to melodramas with major stars-in a career that started in the mid-1920s and didn't end until the late 1950s. Three of his richest films came during a dire period in French history: Remorques, starring Jean Gabin, was begun in 1939 but finished and released after Germany invaded France, and Lumière d'été and Le ciel est à vous were produced during the occupation. These are character-driven dramas that reveal either a society on the precipice of doom or people breaking free of societal limitations; humane, entertaining, and technically brilliant, they show Grémillon to be one of cinema's true hidden masters.

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PICTURE

Criterion’s 34th set in their Eclipse series presents tree films by director Jean Grémillon made during the French occupation. The film’s included in the set are Remorques, Lumière d’été, and Le ciel est à vous. Remorques is found on a single-layer disc while the other two are on their own dual-layer discs. All three films are presented in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and have not been window boxed.

Conditions vary across all three films though the transfers themselves are fine. Remorques is weakest of the bunch. The film is littered with scratches, stains, mold, flickering, fading, and jumps. It also looks a little fuzzy and details altogether aren’t that strong, which I blame on the conditions of the source. Le ciel est à vous also presents some damage but it’s not as heavy and is primarily limited to scratches and tram lines with a few stains and frame jumps. Lumière d’été seems to be in the best condition, with only a few notable blemishes. Of the three it’s obviously the best cared for.

The standard definition transfers are fine and hold up well upscaled. They are of course limited by the source but the transfers actually handle film grain rather well, allow for as sharp an image as possible, present strong gray levels and black levels, and looks great in motion. Despite any shortcomings to the source materials the digital transfers themselves are strong.

6/10

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.

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Remorques

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Remorques

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Remorques

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Remorques

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Remorques

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Lumière d’été

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Lumière d’été

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Lumière d’été

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Lumière d’été

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Lumière d’été

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Le ciel est à vous

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Le ciel est à vous

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Le ciel est à vous

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Le ciel est à vous

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Le ciel est à vous

AUDIO

All three films are limited by their age and the Dolby Digital 1.0 mono tracks are flat and weak overall. Conditions vary with Remorques presenting more noticeable damage in the way of pops and hisses, along with a couple of audio drops. The other two can be a little harsh with their use of music and also present some audible damage, but they’re in better shape.

They all have their shortcomings and there’s nothing overly egregious here.

5/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Like almost all Eclipse sets there are no supplements to speak of other than the usual great set of notes by Michael Koresky, who gives a great primer on Grémillon to the uninitiated, like me.

1/10

CLOSING

An incredible set of films, with some striking camerawork and editing, and each one should be in the main Criterion line. But as it is this Eclipse release presents a surprisingly decent presentation for all three films, despite the lack of any real restoration for a couple of them. The set comes highly recommended.




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