(aka "The Raven" )

 

directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot
France 1943

A mysterious writer of poison pen letters, known only as Le Corbeau (the Raven), plagues a French provincial town, unwittingly exposing the collective suspicion and rancor seething beneath the community’s calm surface. Made during the Nazi Occupation of France, Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Le Corbeau was attacked by the right-wing Vichy regime, the left-wing Resistance press, the Catholic Church, and was banned after the Liberation. But some—including Jean Cocteau and Jean-Paul Sartre—recognized the powerful subtext to Clouzot’s anti-informant, anti-Gestapo fable, and worked to rehabilitate Clouzot’s directorial reputation after the war. Le Corbeau brilliantly captures a spirit of paranoid pettiness and self-loathing turning an occupied French town into a twentieth-century Salem.

Today it stands as one of French cinemas masterpieces, a dark and subversive study of human nature. Essential viewing.

Posters

Theatrical Release: September 28th, 1943

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DVD Comparison:

Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Optimum - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Gary Tooze and Henrik Sylow for the Screen Caps!

(Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Optimum - Region 2 - PAL - RIGHT)

DVD Box Covers

Distribution

Criterion - Spine # 227

Region 0 - NTSC

Optimum
Region 2 - PAL
Runtime 1:31:18 1:27:28 (4% PAL speedup)
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.97 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.59 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

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

Bitrate:

 

Criterion

 

Bitrate:

 

Optimum

 

Audio 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono French

2.0 Dolby Digital Mono French

Subtitles English, None English (fixed)
Features Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• New digital transfer, with restored image and sound
• Video interview with Bertrand Tavernier, director of Coup de Torchon
• Excerpts from The Story of French Cinema by Those Who Made It: Grand Illusions 1939 – 1942, a 1975 documentary featuring Henri-Georges Clouzot
• New essay by film scholar Alan Williams, author of Republic of Images: A History of French Filmmakin
• New and improved English subtitle translation

DVD Release Date: February 17th, 2004
Keep Case

Chapters 24

Release Information:
Studio: Optimum

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• New digital remastered print
• Introduction to 'Le Corbeau' by Ginette Vincendean (24:36)

 

DVD Release Date: March 14, 2005
Keep Case

Chapters 12

 

 

 

 

Comments

On Criterion
This disc shows occasional damage and I suspect the print it was taken from may not have been in the best of shape. It doesn't have the, now usual, high level of Criterion sharpness and tight contrast. It is still good, mind you, just not as one might expect. I suppose that is the problem when you raise the bar so high - people expect it from you later. The image is restored, shows good balance, the subs are good, but is just a notch blow Criterion sharpness. The audio is also restored and there are excellent Extra Features.



Gary Tooze

On Optimum
The image of the Optimum DVD has considerable more picture versus the Criterion. The Criterion image lacks approx 40px left and 30px right (9.75%), and approx 55px top/bottom (10.25%). While the horizontal cropping remains fixed, the vertical moves, and as such suggests a 10% overscan. This is unacceptable and one can only wonder why Criterion has chosen to do so.

The Optimum image is very soft and "bright", versus the Criterion, which is significant darker and has more contrast. However, while Criterion at first glance looks better, there are both pros and cons. In image #2 (the graveyard), the clouds show no texture and virtually glow (due to high contrast) in the Criterion image, while the Optimum image show cloud texture and has a balanced light / contrast ration. However in image #6 (the newspaper), the text is easily readable in the Criterion image, while somewhat unclear in the Optimum image. Then again in image #4 (the street), neither the details on the door to the right, nor the details in the shadows at the back of the image, are visible, due to too the darkness and contrast on the Criterion, while clearly visible on the Optimum. And the other way around, the text on top of the store is more visible in the Criterion.

While its not really a good basis for comparison, I still checked my VHS copy from French TV and it appears to closer to the Optimum image in tone, light and contrast than to Criterion. One can thus speculate, if Criterion lowered light and boosted contrast to make it look better. Because of this and because of the serious overscan, the best picture must go to Optimum.

Henrik Sylow  

 

 



DVD Menus

(
Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Optimum - Region 2 - PAL - RIGHT)
 

 


 

Screen Captures

(Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Optimum - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)
subtitle sample (English only)
PAL captures resized to 720px from 768px native resolution

 

 


(Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Optimum - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Optimum - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Optimum - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Optimum - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Optimum - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Optimum - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 


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Report Card:

 

Image:

Optimum

Sound:

Optimum

Extras: Criterion
Menu: Criterion

 

DVD Box Covers

Distribution

Criterion

Region 1 - NTSC

Optimum
Region 2 - PAL

 




 

 

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