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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • French Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Stills gallery featuring rare behind-the-scenes photos
  • Essays by FranÁois Truffaut and David Thomson

Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne


Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Robert Bresson
Starring: , Paul Bernard, , Lucienne Bogaert, Jean Marchat
1945 | 85 Minutes | Licensor: Les Films Ariane

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $ | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #183
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: March 11, 2003
Review Date: June 26, 2008

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SYNOPSIS

This unique love story, based on a novelette by Denis Diderot and with dialogue written by Jean Cocteau, follows the maneuverings of a society lady as she connives to initiate a scandalous affair between her aristocratic ex-lover and a prostitute. With his second feature film, director Robert Bresson was already forging his singularly brilliant filmmaking technique as he created a moving study of the power of revenge and the strength of true love. The Criterion Collection is proud to present Robert Bresson's Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne.

Forum members rate this film 7.1/10

 

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PICTURE

An odd choice for introducing Robert Bresson to the collection (not in any way a pan against the film, but more a surprise they would save his better known films like Diary of a Country Priest and Pickpocket for later), Criterion presents Bressonís second film, Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-layered DVD.

Iím not going to lie or sugar coat it, but the picture does look pretty bad. Not Salo bad, but bad, the only thing going for it being the transfer is not interlaced.

The problems with this image have to do with the source used, which is in incredibly rough shape. The film has a dream-like quality to it, a soft glow seeming to cover most everything in the film. Iím assuming this is purposely done, but the image still has a fuzzy look to it that doesnít seem planned and looks more to be an issue with the source. The print has its fair share of grain, scratches, bits of dirt and debris, as well as hairs and tears. Vertical lines constantly appear, and the image jumps around every so often. As the film progresses it seems to get better, but not by much. The film looks worse during transition sequences, where the tears, marks and scratches become very evident, and it seems the film is about to fade away to a white nothing at moments. (I tried to capture some of these issues in the screen grabs but it was pretty hard as a most of the issues are really only noticeable as the film is playing.) Black levels are decent, though not great, and contrast varies throughout.

The film has had a rough history and to my understanding the negative is long gone, so I canít say Iím too surprised by the image, but Iím not going to give anyone the idea the image quality is up to Criterionís usual standards (even in 2003, the time of this DVDís release) because itís not. But the unfortunate thing is that this may be about as good as the film will ever look.

3/10

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

Audio really varies throughout. Right off there is an odd intermittent noise on the track, a scratch that goes in and out. Eventually it clears up and then the track sounds pretty good, but then every once in a while another crackly, scratchy noise will show up in the background of the track. Voices sound a tad distorted and the music that does appear in the film also sounds a little off. Again, this may have been the best that could have been mustered.

3/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Unfortunately not much has been included in the way of supplements other than a stills gallery. You can scroll through the gallery using the arrows on your remote. It has poster art, pictures of various members of the cast and crew, behind-the-scenes photos, publicity photos, and also contains shots from deleted scenes. There are also descriptions for sets of photos. Itís a short gallery with a few good shots.

And then you do get an insert with an essay by Francois Truffaut (who writes about the filmís commercial failure and then success later on, as well as write a bit about Cocteau and Bresson) and another by David Thomson (giving a decent analysis of the film.) Both make for excellent reads.

But thatís it. A bit disappointing.

2/10

CLOSING

This disc isnít an easy recommendation, unfortunately. For those that love this film or Bressonís work in general itís really the only way you can go (other DVDs from other regions donít seem to be really any better from what my research can tell me) but itís disappointing video and audio along with the lack of supplements make this release somewhat of a bust and one I canít fully endorse.


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