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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • French PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 2 Discs
FEATURES
  • Includes the films: The Suitor, Yoyo, As Long as You've Got Your Health, Le grand amour, and Land of Milk and Honey
  • Includes the short films: Rupture, Happy Anniversary, and Feeling Good
  • New interview with director Pierre Etaix
  • New video introductions by Etaix to seven of the films
  • Pierre Etaix, un destin animé (2010), a portrait of the life and work of the director by his wife, Odile Etaix

Pierre Etaix

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Pierre Etaix
2013 | 413 Minutes | Licensor: Studio 37

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $59.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #655
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: April 23, 2013
Review Date: April 23, 2013

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SYNOPSIS

A French comedy master whose films went unseen for decades as a result of legal tangles, director-actor Pierre Etaix is a treasure the cinematic world has rediscovered and taken up with relish. His work can be placed in the spectrum of classic physical comedy with that of Jacques Tati and Jerry Lewis, but it also stands alone. These films, influenced by Etaix's experiences as a circus acrobat and clown and by the silent film comedies he adored, are elegantly deadpan, but as an on-screen presence, Etaix radiates warmth. This collection includes all of his films, including five features, The Suitor (1962), Yoyo (1965), As Long as You've Got Your Health (1966), Le grand amour (1969), and Land of Milk and Honey (1971)-most of them collaborations with the great screenwriter Jean-Claude Carričre-and three shorts, Rupture (1961), the Oscar-winning Happy Anniversary (1962), and Feeling Good (1966). Not one of these is anything less than a bracing and witty delight.

Discuss the film and Blu-ray here   


PICTURE

Long unavailable due to a legal dispute, the films of Pierre Etaix have been gathered together for this box set from Criterion. The set includes the short films Rupture, Happy Anniversary, and Feeling Good, and then includes the feature films The Suitor, Yoyo, As Long as You’ve Got Your Health, Le grand amour, and Land of Milk and Honey. Rupture and Happy Anniversary are presented in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1 while the remaining films are all presented in the aspect ratio of 1.66:1. The films have each been given 1080p/24hz high-definition transfers and have been spread over two dual-layer discs.

All of the films begin with notes indicating they were heavily damaged from poor storage conditions and were fully restored in 2010. If the films were suffering from heavy damage you’d be hard pressed to see it here in any of the films. Yes, some damage and inconsistencies remain, but the problems are surprisingly minimal. All of the transfers are also incredibly sharp and crisp. There are a few soft moments, primarily in the colour films, but definition is absolutely astounding as a whole. Details pop, edges are crisp and cleanly defined.

The black and white transfers may come off best overall, with strong contrast, gray levels, and deep blacks. They also offer the most consistently sharp images of the set. The colour films, Le grand amour and The Land of Milk and Honey both offer decent colour saturation but also offer what are probably the most inconsistent transfers on the set. The image can fade a bit and suddenly go from razor sharp to blurry and weak, and pulsating is noticeable in places. The Land of Milk and Honey, which was shot in a more documentary manner, can have somewhat of a home movie look at times, though this has more to do with the shooting style than anything else.

As Long as You’ve Got Your Health is the oddest one of the bunch. It’s a mix of colour and black and white footage, but it was either in the worst shape of all of the films or had filters applied to it. Colours look off and more greenish, and even the black and white segments can have a bit of a greenish tinge to them. This could be intentional but it stands out quite a bit in comparison to the other films in the set.

With so much content being slammed onto the two discs I figured there would be some repercussions, but thankfully there are none. The transfers look clean and free of noise. Grain looks natural and I didn’t detect any edge-enhancement around objects.

Many, including me, figured this may have originally been planned as an Eclipse set, but thankfully Criterion upgraded it to a Blu-ray edition. There are a few short comings to be found because of the source materials, but they’re easy to overlook. They’re a beautiful set of presentations.

8/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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Rupture

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Rupture

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Happy Anniversary

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Happy Anniversary

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The Suitor

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The Suitor

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The Suitor

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The Suitor

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Yoyo

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Yoyo

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Yoyo

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Yoyo

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Feeling Good

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Feeling Good

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As Long as You've Got Your Health

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As Long as You've Got Your Health

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As Long as You've Got Your Health

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As Long as You've Got Your Health

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Le grand amour

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Le grand amour

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Le grand amour

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Le grand amour

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Land of Milk and Honey

Screen Capture
Land of Milk and Honey

Screen Capture
Land of Milk and Honey

Screen Capture
Land of Milk and Honey

AUDIO

Etaix employs a rather unique sound design in his films, exaggerating even the most common noises. This unique style is perfectly served by the PCM 1.0 mono tracks found across all of the films. Going through the supplements it sounds as though Etaix used a rather cheap audio recorder for the first film, Rupture, but there’s no real evidence of that. The tracks all deliver impressive volume levels and range, and damage is minimal, with the occasional audible hiss in places.

7/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Again I’m pretty sure this was intended initially to be an Eclipse set, so I wasn’t too surprised to see so little on it in terms of extras. Other than Feeling Good all of the films come with an introduction of the film by Pierre Etaix. In the intros he talks about the origins of the films and any issues he came across while making them, specifically As Long as You’ve got Your Health, where his budget was severely low. There’s also some interesting surprises, like how Yoyo was inspired by 8 ˝, and he has some amusing anecdotes, including one where Etaix recalls how his producer didn’t tell him about his Academy Award nomination for Happy Anniversary and took a “pretty girl” to the ceremony instead of Etaix. Ranging between about 4 and 6 minutes each they’re a delightful set of interviews/intros. And though they are supposed to be introductions I would probably recommend watching the films prior to them.

The first disc also presents Pierre Etaix: Un destin animé, a 61-minute documentary put together by Etaix’s wife, Odie. It’s a wonderful documentary, gathering interviews taken with the director and those that worked with him or know him, including (but not limited to) Jean-Claude Carričre, actor Roger Trapp, and even his son, Marc. His desire to be a clown is covered extensively, as is his early career which included work with Jacques Tati. His close friendship with Jerry Lewis is touchingly covered (though not surprisingly there is no mention of The Day the Clown Cried,) and his other collaborations over the years are also touched upon. It’s a lovingly constructed portrait of the man, filled with terrific interviews.

Criterion then concludes the set with a thick booklet featuring an extensive essay on Etaix and his films by David Cairns, which nicely rounds off the set.

There isn’t much, but considering this set is basically a souped up Eclipse release that contains five features and three shorts, I won’t complain too much.

6/10

CLOSING

It’s a beautifully presented set with an incredible set of transfers for some terrific films. It comes highly recommended.


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