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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

directed by Jean-Jacques Beineix
France 1981

Marvellous amalgam of sadistic thriller and fairytale romance, drawing on a wild diversity of genres from film noir to Feuillade serial. The deliriously offhand plot, cheekily parodying Watergates and French Connections, has switched tapes setting a pair of psychopathic hoods on the trail of a young postal messenger, turning his obsessive dream - of romance with a beautiful black opera singer whose performance on stage he has secretly recorded - into a nightmare from which he is rescued by a timely deus-ex-machina (clearly a descendant of the great Judex). The most exciting debut in years, it is unified by the extraordinary decor - colour supplement chic meets pop art surrealism - which creates a world of totally fantastic reality situated four-square in contemporary Paris.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: 11 March 1981 - France

Reviews                                                           More Reviews                                                     DVD Reviews

DVD Comparison:

Lions Gate (Meridian)  Region 1 - NTSC  vs. Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Fox Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Bill McAlpine for the Anchor Bay Screen Caps!

1) Lions Gate (Meridian) Region 1 - NTSC LEFT
2)
Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE
3)
Fox Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC RIGHT

 

DVD Box Covers

Distribution Lions Gate (Meridian Collection)
Region 1 - NTSC

Anchor Bay

Region 1 - NTSC

Fox Lorber
Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 1:57:36 1:57:36 1:57:21
Video

1.66:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 4.3 mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

1.66:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.54 mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

1.64:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.12 mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Lions Gate

 

Bitrate:

Anchor Bay

 

Bitrate:

 

Fox Lorber

 

Audio French (Dolby Digital 1.0) French 5.1 & 2.0. English 5.1 & 2.0

French (Dolby Digital 1.0)

Subtitles English, None English or None English or None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Lions Gate

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.66:1

Edition Details:
• Screen specific commentary by director (but all in French)

• Featurettes - mostly in French - no subs

DVD Release Date: June 3rd, 2008
Keep Case inside cardboard box

Chapters 27

Release Information:
Studio: Anchor Bay

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.66:1

Edition Details:
• Interview with Jean-Jacques Beineix (6 min)
• JeanJacques Beineix Bio
• Theatrical Trailer

DVD Release Date: June 12, 2001
Keep Case

Chapters 27

Release Information:
Studio: Fox Lorber

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen letterboxed - 1.64:1

Edition Details:
• Production Notes

 

DVD Release Date: November 10th, 1997
Keep Case

Chapters 33

Comments ADDITION: Lions Gate - Region 1 - NTSC June 08':

NOTE: My Canadian Lionsgate DVD edition differs from other reviewers in the US. MINE CATEGORICALLY HAS FRENCH ONLY MENUS AND NO ENGLISH (SUB or DUB) ON THE EXTRAS. I obviously received some sort of 'Quebecois' edition but the exclusion of English options is ridiculous.

The US edition - sold from the links above - DOES indeed have English-friendly options on the supplements. Make sure you get that one not the one sold in Canada.

These excellent extra features include: a scene specific commentary by director Beneix (about 40 minutes worth). Director-writer Beneix speaks in French but there is a clearly audible English voiceover. There is also "Searching for Diva" which consists of the following interviews (some in English but mostly in French with English voice-overs):

  • Introduction by Professor Phil Powrie & Eric Grinda (6:22)
  • Vladimir Cosma (the film's composer) (10:45)
  • Dominique Besnehard (Diva's casting director) (7:19)
  • Frederic Andrei (plays "Jules") (5:46)
  • Anny Romano (plays "Paula") & Dominique Pinon ("Le Curé") (12:01)
  • Richard Bohringer (plays "Gorodish") (6:52)
  • Jean-Jacques Beneix (writer-director), 2 - parts (11:00 + 8:33)
  • Philippe Rousselot (the cinematographer) (6:04)
  • Hilton McConnico (the film's production designer) (6:50)

The edition is worthwhile if only for the supplements - a lot of effort went into them and it is VERY much appreciated. Great for he many fans of the film!

On the image: As for the Lions Gate image - it has obvious manipulation (see zoomed-in edge enhancement capture below) and is cropped with the Anchor  Bay having significantly more information on the right edge. The bitrate is appallingly low and it has lost detail in many sequences. The Anchor Bay shows a bit more noise but the colors are far truer.  the Lionsgate is also horizontally stretched (see below)!

This is a fabulously clandestine/cultish film and the extras are wonderful - it's a shame Lionsgate didn't put the same effort into the image stated as approved by director Jean-Jacques Beineix'. He may have approved the source but not the final encode... but I'm sure he approved the viable supplements. The Anchor Bay is much more authentic to the theatrical appearance but the Lionsgate supplements make it very appealing if only for the scene specific commentary and interviews. I hope we see more of these type of relevant compiled extras in the future from Lionsgate and we wish they were as diligent on the image transfer. 

***

ON the ANCHOR BAY vs. the Fox/Lorber: This is a pretty easy choice - the newer Anchor Bay is much sharper, anamorphic, has better sound and better Extras. The Fox is interlaced. I see a greenish tinge on the Anchor Bay, but that may be part of the film itself. The Anchor Bay has a little cropping, which I would guess is about 4% in anamorphizing the picture. It is quite negligible. I'll be buying the Anchor Bay myself next order as I quit enjoyed this film.

 - Gary W. Tooze

 


Recommended Reading in French Cinema (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

The Films in My Life
by Francois Truffaut, Leonard Mayhew

French Cinema: A Student's Guide
by Philip Powrie, Keith Reader
Agnes Varda by Alison Smith Godard on Godard : Critical Writings by Jean-Luc Godard Notes on the Cinematographer by Robert Bresson French New Wave
by Jean Douchet, Robert Bonnono, Cedric Anger, Robert Bononno
French Cinema: From Its Beginnings to the Present
by Remi Fournier Lanzoni
Truffaut: A Biography by Antoine do Baecque and Serge Toubiana

Check out more in "The Library"


DVD Menus

Lions Gate (Meridian) Region 1 - NTSC

 

An English title with French dialogue and no English subtitles:

 

 

(Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Fox Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC - RIGHT)
 

 

 

 

The Lions Gate is horizontally stretched!

 

(Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Lions Gate (Meridian) - Region 1 - NTSC - RIGHT)

Subtitle Samples

 

1) Lions Gate (Meridian) Region 1 - NTSC TOP
2)
Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE
3)
Fox Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM


 

 


 

Screen Captures

 

1) Lions Gate (Meridian) Region 1 - NTSC TOP
2)
Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE
3)
Fox Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM


 

 

 


 

 

1) Lions Gate (Meridian) Region 1 - NTSC TOP
2)
Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE
3)
Fox Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

Edge enhancement halos visible on the new Meridian edition...

 

 


 

 

1) Lions Gate (Meridian) Region 1 - NTSC TOP
2)
Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE
3)
Fox Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 

 

 


 

 

1) Lions Gate (Meridian) Region 1 - NTSC TOP
2)
Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE
3)
Fox Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

;

Note: Orangy skins tones on the Meridian...

 

 

 


 

1) Lions Gate (Meridian) Region 1 - NTSC TOP
2)
Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE
3)
Fox Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

.

Note: Anchor Bay shows more detail...

 

 

 

 


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Report Card:

 

Image:

Anchor Bay

Sound:

Anchor Bay

Extras: Anchor Bay
Menu: Anchor Bay

 

DVD Box Covers

Distribution Lions Gate (Meridian Collection)
Region 1 - NTSC

Anchor Bay

Region 1 - NTSC

Fox Lorber
Region 1 - NTSC


 

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Gary Tooze

Many Thanks...