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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • French Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • New video interviews with Rui Nogueira, author of Melville on Melville, and Ginette Vincendeau, author of Jean-Pierre Melville: An American in Paris
  • Archival interviews with Melville and actors Alain Delon, François Périer, Nathalie Delon, and Cathy Rosier
  • Theatrical trailer

Le samourai


Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Jean-Pierre Melville
Starring: Alain Delon
1967 | 105 Minutes | Licensor: Editions Rene Chateau

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $29.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #306 | Out of print
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: October 25, 2005
Review Date: November 26, 2017

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SYNOPSIS

In a career-defining performance, Alain Delon plays a contract killer with samurai instincts. A razor-sharp cocktail of 1940s American gangster cinema and 1960s French pop culture--with a liberal dose of Japanese lone-warrior mythology--maverick director Jean-Pierre Melville's masterpiece Le Samouraï defines cool.

Forum members rate this film 8.7/10

 

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PICTURE

Criterion’s original 2005 DVD edition of Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le samourai presents the film in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on a dual-layer disc. The picture has been enhanced for widescreen televisions.

For an older master and encode this edition’s image still holds up fairly well more than a decade later. There are the usual limitations of the format still present: compression, limited detail, some mild halos, and so forth. But even then the level of detail is still pretty good, to the point where grain is rendered to a decent enough degree. Colours are a bit washed but this could be intentional (there have been complaints the colours do look off, in that they should be colder, but I don’t know for sure), while black levels can crush out details at times. Darker scenes also present more apparent compression and noise.

There are a few minor marks and such remaining but the restoration work still looks to have been very impressive as much doesn’t remain. It’s a clean, stable image that still looks decent, even upscaled.

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.

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AUDIO

The Dolby Digital 1.0 mono presentation can come off a little flat but I didn’t notice any major damage or distortion. Dialogue sounds clear and the music doesn’t get edgy or harsh.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Criterion’s lower-tier special edition contains a few decent supplements. First up are two interviews, one featuring critic Rui Nogueira, author of 1971’s “Melville on Melville,” and scholar Ginette Vincendeau, who wrote 2003’s “Jean-Pierre Melville: An American in Paris.” Nogueira, who first praises Le samouraï as Melville’s masterpiece, talks a little about the film’s production and moves on to Melville’s work as a whole, even mentioning his studio (which unfortunately burned down). Vincendeau’s interviews is longer (19-minutes to Nogueira’s 13) and probably a bit more in-depth. She talks about the American films that more than likely influenced him, how he worked with actors like Delon, Jean-Paul Belmondo, and Lino Ventura. She also breaks down a few quick sequences in Le samouraï, looking at the editing style. They’re both decent but Vincendeau’s contribution seems to have more meat to it.

The Lineup is a collection of archival interviews featuring Melville, Delon, Nathalie Delon, Cathy Rosier, and François Périer. Périer’s contribution appears to be from 1982 while the others are from 1967, around the time of the film’s release. Rosier talks about the possibility of an acting career and her realization she probably won’t have long in the industry, making of it what she can now. Nathalie Delon also talks about the prospects of acting, not sure whether it’s something she really wants to do, while Delon praises Melville and the film. Melville takes up more than half of the montage, talking about his work and sharing his thoughts on films (including that they are commercial and need an audience). When asked about actors he explains it would be stupid to treat actors poorly, and Delon talks highly of him in this regard during his segment, but rather amusingly Périer, in his final short excerpt, describes Melville as an incredibly difficult director who was hard on his actors. I don’t know why but I do genuinely love contradictions in supplements because they feel more honest.

The disc closes with a lengthy trailer and then comes with a booklet. It contains a wonderful essay on the film by David Thomson (not to be confused with David Thompson), a reprint of an appreciation for Melville written by director John Woo, and then excerpts from Nogueira’s Melville on Melville with the director focusing on Le samouraï. It’s a great booklet and adds a lot, making up for the lack of much else on the disc.

I’ve always been a bit surprised that this wasn’t a bigger edition considering its stature but in the end it still offers an engaging set of supplements on the film and Melville’s career.

6/10

CLOSING

Criterion’s new Blu-ray reuses the same master this edition used and does offer a visible improvement. But as far as DVDs go this edition still looks pretty good with a decent encode and a nice looking restoration.


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