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 Post subject: 438 Mon oncle Antoine
PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 9:58 pm 
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Mon oncle Antoine

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Claude Jutra’s evocative portrait of a boy’s coming of age in wintry 1940s rural Quebec has been consistently cited by critics and scholars as the greatest Canadian film of all time. Delicate, naturalistic, and tinged with a striking mix of nostalgia and menace, Mon oncle Antoine follows the everyday lives of both young Benoit, as he first encounters the twin terrors of sex and death, and his fellow villagers, living under the thumb of the local asbestos-mine owner. Set during one ominous Christmas, Mon oncle Antoine is a holiday film unlike any other, and an authentically detailed illustration of childhood’s twilight.

SPECIAL EDITION DOUBLE-DISC SET FEATURES

• New, restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised and approved by director of photography Michel Brault
On-Screen: “Mon oncle Antoine,” a 2007 documentary tracing the making and history of the film
Claude Jutra, an Unfinished Story, a 2002 documentary that attempts to unravel “the Jutra mystery,” featuring interviews with Brault, Bernardo Bertolucci, actors Geneviève Bujold and Saul Rubinek. and actor-director Paule Baillargeon
A Chairy Tale, a 1957 experimental short codirected by Jutra and Norman McLaren
• Theatrical trailer
• Optional English-dubbed soundtrack
• New and improved English subtitle translation
• PLUS: A new essay by film scholar André Loiselle

Criterionforum.org user rating averages



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 10:16 pm 
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Claude Jutra: An Unfinished Story- 82 minutes:

Quote:
A revealing look at the great Quebecois director who gave us such classic films as Mon Oncle Antoine, A toute prendre and Kamouraska: Power of Passion. Amidst the rise of French-Canadian identity and the political struggles of the '60s, Jutra was at the forefront of a group of artists dedicated to social change and attacking taboo.

A Chairy Tale- 12 minutes:

Quote:
A young man wishes to sit down on a plain white chair in order to read. The chair resists this whole idea strenuously. Finally the young man admits defeat and sits on the floor. But left on its own the chair becomes lonesome... The music is provided by Ravi Shankar, years before the Beatles spread his name far and wide.

On-Screen: Mon Oncle Antoine- 60 minutes (standard episode length, though I'm not sure if this includes commercials or not; originally aired on Bravo):

Quote:
Claude Jutra was already one of Canada’s notable directors when he made his best-loved work, a poignant portrait of growing up in a small Quebec mining town in the 1940s. His film is the story of Benoît (Jacques Gagnon), a young orphan who spends Christmas Eve with his undertaker uncle, Antoine (Jean Duceppe), on a sleigh-bound journey through a bitter snowstorm to retrieve the body of a local boy. Drawing heavily from the French new wave filmmakers, Jutra’s affecting slice-of-life tale is a bittersweet look at Quebec before the Quiet Revolution that focuses almost entirely on Benoît’s nostalgic and sometimes absurd view of the townspeople. Though Jutra passed away in 1986, the film’s history is traced by famed cinematographer Michel Brault, composer Jean Cosineau and star Monique Mercure. Two residents of Black Lake, where the film was shot, are also interviewed alongside critics including Martin Knelman, Piers Handling and Andre Loiselle, who express the lasting impact of this undeniable classic of French-Canadian cinema.


Last edited by Cronenfly on Wed Apr 16, 2008 10:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 10:44 pm 
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I think it's great that they're including "A Chairy Tale" here. It's important to point out that, although McLaren was 16 years Jutra's senior and is much better known, this was not simply Jutra acting as McLaren's assistant or anything like that. It was a real collaborative effort, and Jutra provided important creative input throughout the making of the film. It's one of the top-tier McLaren works along with Neighbors, both of which show how pixilation can be used to make films that succeed on so many different levels, even though to many it would seem to lend itself to mere wackiness.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 11:36 pm 
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Jeff wrote:
• PLUS: A new essay by film scholar André Loiselle

Hey, cool. Monsieur Loiselle is a former film prof of mine. He showed this film in his class too.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2008 1:47 pm 
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I've seen all the component parts of this set except the On Screen show.

I would note that the Quebecois direct cinema movement was not based on the French New Wave but contemporaneous with it. Jean Rouch being an inspiration to both inter-connected movements. Cinematographer (and director -- albeit not here) Michel Brault actually worked with Rouch -- and helped aid in the development of the lightweight sound camera that became a routine tool for the New Wavers.

The film itself, the biographical film and the short are all very worth seeing.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2008 7:23 pm 
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Great stuff, Criterion! This film has intrigued for years.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2008 8:16 pm 
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Definitely one of the more exciting releases so far this year, though I personally am more interested in seeing Gilles Groulx's The Cat in the Bag. Still, it's nice to see Criterion finally getting into French-Canadian stuff. I'm hoping this will lead to more.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2008 11:22 pm 
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sidehacker wrote:
Definitely one of the more exciting releases so far this year, though I personally am more interested in seeing Gilles Groulx's The Cat in the Bag. Still, it's nice to see Criterion finally getting into French-Canadian stuff. I'm hoping this will lead to more.

Cat in the Bag is now available, relatively cheaply -- but without subtitles -- as part of an excellent NFB box set. It used to cost about $150, but got re-priced lower. (Archambault carries it).


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2008 11:33 pm 
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It's a nice film too, quite strong, radical, and unusual pace that make it feels like some kind of manifesto.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 19, 2008 9:32 am 
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Oh, I forgot to mention -- this has an exceptionally fine score -- with music performed by two of Quebecs's musical legends -- Ti-Jean Carignan on violin and Philippe Bruneau on accordion.

Screen shots from the NFB version:

http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a59/mk ... /moa01.png
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http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a59/mk ... /moa23.png


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 19, 2008 6:58 pm 
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Looks fine to me in 1.33:1 (its original aspect ratio, I always thought); based on the caps Michael provided, does anyone with a keener eye for composition than me have any thoughts on whether Criterion's choice of 1.66:1 will be acceptable? It is supervised by DoP Michel Brault, and there seems to be enough room at the top/bottom of most of the above frames to make 1.66:1 a fine choice (I'm sure it was masked this way in most theatres anyways), although I had just assumed it would be 1.33:1 based on the Canadian releases of the film.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2008 12:06 am 
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Great. It would be terrific if Criterion would release Don Shebib's "Goin' Down the Road" next. Another 70's Canadian classic.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2008 8:22 am 
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Frankly, too many shots scattered throughout the film will be mucked if the full frame ratio is abandoned.

For example.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2008 9:34 am 
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Cronenfly wrote:
Looks fine to me in 1.33:1 (its original aspect ratio, I always thought); based on the caps Michael provided, does anyone with a keener eye for composition than me have any thoughts on whether Criterion's choice of 1.66:1 will be acceptable?

Actually, most of those shots look ripe for a 1.66 cropping from the top. They contain a clumsy empty space at the top of the frame.

What's the story behind this- why was it released 1.33 in Canada?


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2008 10:00 am 
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How could you crop this one on the top.

You would have to shift masking from top to bottom to centered.

There is no way this could have been projected as anything but Academy ratio.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2008 10:56 am 
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Michael Kerpan wrote:
How could you crop this one on the top.

You would have to shift masking from top to bottom to centered.

There is no way this could have been projected as anything but Academy ratio.

You found an exception, which could be cropped from the bottom without a loss of anything.

Most of the shots are like this one.

Clumsy empty top space.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2008 11:22 am 
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Some more screen shots, courtesy of the NFB.

My point is not that one can't use modern techniques to create a mostly acceptable 1.66:1 version. Probably one can. What I wanted to point out is that there is no way this could have been screened soft-matted. Jutra's original expectation would surely have been full-screen presentation.

If you search NFB's site for feature length films during 1970-72, you'll find everything was still 1.33:1. Interestingly, Arcand's work for them during this period followed this format -- while his "outside work" was .2.35:1 format.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2008 11:53 am 
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Michael Kerpan wrote:
If you search NFB's site for feature length films during 1970-72, you'll find everything was still 1.33:1. Interestingly, Arcand's work for them during this period followed this format -- while his "outside work" was .2.35:1 format.

If we pepper Criterion with emails, maybe we can get a Blog response ala The Last Emperor.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2008 12:07 pm 
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GringoTex wrote:
If we pepper Criterion with emails, maybe we can get a Blog response ala The Last Emperor.

Already sent an inquiry (to the "mulvaney" address -- or is there some other one to use these days)?


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2008 12:34 pm 
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Here's a Jutra interview from the 70s about the movie, in French. Possibly something Criterion could subtitle and add to the extras.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2008 12:59 pm 
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Michael Kerpan wrote:
Some more screen shots, courtesy of the NFB.

My point is not that one can't use modern techniques to create a mostly acceptable 1.66:1 version. Probably one can. What I wanted to point out is that there is no way this could have been screened soft-matted. Jutra's original expectation would surely have been full-screen presentation.

If you search NFB's site for feature length films during 1970-72, you'll find everything was still 1.33:1. Interestingly, Arcand's work for them during this period followed this format -- while his "outside work" was .2.35:1 format.

Would DoP Brault's participation extend to the framing of Criterion's transfer? I know that his participation doesn't equal Jutra's approval, there's no way of knowing how much Brault was actually actively involved in the transfer, and there's no way of knowing (yet) whether 1.66:1 was Brault's choice or Criterion's, but his approval still counts for something, I would think.

You're right, Michael, about the film surely never having been screened soft-matted; I always forget that once upon a time 1.33:1 was still a much more viable ratio to project at (and compose at with the expectation that one's film would actually be projected at that ratio).

I think that 1.33:1 would've been the safer ratio to choose, if for no other reason than Jutra's not being around to okay the alteration to 1.66:1 (and that all previous home video transfers to my knowledge have been at 1.33:1).


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 02, 2008 3:34 pm 
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Phrasing as to "original aspect ratio" on Criterion's web page now corrected to "director of photography's preferred ratio".


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 09, 2008 6:07 am 
My first experience of Jutra was with his film TAKE IT ALL which was screened late night in 1982 on commercial TV here in Australia. I taped it out of 'blind' interest and was glad I did since it was an interesting film to watch [despite being cropped on the sides and dubbed in English]. I still have it somewhere. The film is full of jump cuts: more than in any film I've ever seen including BREATHLESS.
I saw MON ONCLE later that decade and was impressed in other ways. It's good to see it in the collection and the documentaries on this set will be interesting since information on French-Canadian cinema is quite sparse here and it deserves more exposure [as does Swiss, non-Bergman Swedish and Yugoslavian].

By the way does anyone know of DVDs of Jutra's pre-ONCLE work?

David Stratton prefaced the SBS screening of ONCLE with the story of how Jutra, dying of cancer, disappeared and of how his body was found months later in the forest. He wanted to die with dignity (on his own terms) rather than ignominiously in a hospital.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 09, 2008 9:46 am 
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À tout prendre / Take It All (1964) is available as part of the NFBC box set (along with MOA, Chairy Tale and the Paule Baillargeon documentary that will be included in the Criterion set). La lutte (1961) and Québec-U.S.A. ou L'invasion pacifique (1962) are included in the NFBC's (indispensable) Michel Brault box set. Félix Leclerc, troubadour (1959) and Wow (1970) are available on DVD in Quebec -- but probably don't have subtitles (I haven't yet gotten these).

I'm not aware of any other Jutra DVDs.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2008 3:44 pm 

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