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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • French Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Líamour existe, director Maurice Pialatís 1960 short film about life on the outskirts of Paris
  • Choses vues, autour de ďLíenfance nue,Ē a fifty-minute documentary shot just after the filmís release
  • Excerpts from a 1973 French television interview with Pialat
  • New visual essay by critic Kent Jones on the film and Pialatís cinematic style
  • Video interview with Pialat collaborators Arlette Langmann and Patrick Grandperret

L'enfance nue


Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Maurice Pialat
1968 | 83 Minutes | Licensor: Roissy Films

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $29.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #534
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: August 17, 2010
Review Date: August 19, 2010

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SYNOPSIS

The singular French director Maurice Pialat (Loulou, ņ nos amours) puts his distinct stamp on the lost-youth film with this devastating portrait of a damaged foster child. We see FranÁois (Michel Terrazon), on the cusp of his teens, shuttled from one home to another, his behavior growing increasingly erratic, his bonds with his surrogate parents perennially fraught. In this, his feature debut, Pialat treats this potentially sentimental scenario with astonishing sobriety and stark realism. With its full-throttle mixture of emotionality and clear-eyed skepticism, Líenfance nue (Naked Childhood) was advance notice of one of the most masterful careers in French cinema, and remains one of Pialatís finest works.

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PICTURE

The Criterion Collection releases their second film by director Maurice Pialat (the first being A nos amour, almost 200 spine numbers ago) with Líenfance nue, presenting the film in its original aspect ratio of 1.66:1 on this dual-layer disc, enhancing it for widescreen televisions.

Though by now itís well known and has become a source of controversy to some, I was stunned by just how much the transfer leans over towards a yellow tint after first popping it in. I donít think itís as bad as some have made it out to be, based on screen captures and comparisons to the Masters of Cinema edition (which certainly leans towards cooler colours) that are out there but itís noticeable. Criterion has already addressed the issue (found here,) basically stating their research concluded this colour scheme was correct. I do actually like the warmer tone and find it suiting, but I canít help but wonder if maybe it was overdone in certain areas. The sky looks rather yellow in plenty of sequences and people can look to have a severe case of jaundice from time to time. I think the worst offender is the second capture below, but the level does vary throughout the film.

That colour tone will be a deciding factor for many, and some will like it and some wonít. As to whether itís what Pialat would have wanted I donít know and canít say, but I still have to say personally it can look a little odd.

The rest of the transfer looks pretty good on the other hand. Definition and clarity arenít great, limited by the source materials I feel, presenting a picture that looks fuzzy around the edges. The transfer is very clean and presents no visible artifacts or compression issues, and the print is in good shape, but still contains a few minor but noticeable flaws.

I think the actual digital transfer is good, but the yellow colour tone will be the deciding factor. The Masters of Cinema edition also looks good, so itís going to come down to personal preference on the colour scheme.

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 discís Dolby Digital 1.0 mono track is nothing special, coming off incredibly weak and hollow. Voices are weak and sound very flat, but the track is at least clean, free from any noise or distortion. Otherwise, again, it never really stands out as more than a slightly below average mono track.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

We get a solid set of supplements, though most of them have been carried over from the UK Masters of Cinema edition (but not all of them.)

First, and probably the best supplement here, is the 52-minute documentary Autour de ďLíenfance nueĒ which was made in 1969 just after the filmís release. This is a different sort of ďmaking-ofĒ documentary, veering off and focusing to a staggering degree on the filmís subject matter, that of children in the foster system. The documentary gathers interviews with those of the cast and crew, including Pialat, about the film and its subject matter, but presents more information about Franceís foster child system, presenting interviews with children (whose faces are hidden to protect their identities) currently in the system, and adults who were in the system. As a making-of I found it lacking, but itís look into the foster child system in France is still quite enthralling and makes it a worthwhile supplement.

Criterion then includes Pialatís first short film, Líamour existe, a documentary of sorts about post-war France and the suburbs outside of Paris. Itís an incredibly critical piece, with voice over narration talking over the images of ďfaux luxeĒ homes (as the narrator calls them,) the poor that live in shanty towns on the edge of the burbs, and the long, grueling commute many must make. Itís a nice looking film, and edited beautifully, a nice early look into Pialatís work.

Exclusive to this release is a video-essay/interview with Kent Jones, a short 11-minute piece about Pialatís techniques, the filmís characters, and the shifts in tone. Though he certainly has some fascinating comments it was a fairly light piece.

Criterion then includes 15-minutes worth of excerpts from an interview with Maurice Pialat, recorded in February of 1973 after a showing of the film on television. Pialat explains to the host (who has the scariest hair I have ever had the displeasure of seeing) why he thinks the film did poorly during its release and how the subject matter probably scared many away. He briefly touches on his opinions of the film now, admitting heíd probably change some things if he could and talks about other films that are similar. Itís unfortunately focused primarily on the filmís box office failure rather than much else, but itís a solid inclusion. But I do wish Criterion included the rest of the interview, though.

And the final disc supplement is a brief 6-minute interview with Arlette Langmann and Patrick Grandperret, co-writer and assistant director to the film, respectively. Itís sparse, only quickly covering the research, the ďscriptĒ for the film (a lot was improvised) and how the non-professional actors handled the shoot. Again, probably too brief and it feels to have been edited down, but it offers a little bit of information about the production.

The thin booklet that accompanies the release only includes a short but informative essay about Pialat and this film by Phillip Lopate.

Altogether theyíre a fairly good collection of features that add some real value to the film, and those who have never owned the film before on DVD will be surely happy with them, but they add nothing really new over previous editions available in other regions, the MoC in particular.

7/10

CLOSING

Itís a decent release, though itís going to come down to personal taste, since I doubt anyone truly knows what Pialat wanted, with the yellow tone of the transfer being an issue for many (but itís still not as bad as many are making it out to be.) The other aspects of the transfer are excellent, and the supplements are still all rather valuable altogether.


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