(aka "Donna di vita")

directed by Jacques Demy

1961 France

Jacques Demy's first and in some ways best feature (1961, 90 min.), shot in exquisite black-and-white 'Scope by Raoul Coutard, is among the most neglected major works of the French New Wave. Abandoned by her sailor lover, a cabaret dancer (Anouk Aimee) brings up their son while awaiting his return and ultimately has to choose among three men. Chock-full of film references (to The Blue Angel, Breathless, Hollywood musicals, the work of Max Ophuls, among others) and lyrically shot in Nantes, the film is a camera stylo love letter, and Michel Legrand's lovely score provides ideal nostalgic accompaniment. In his third feature and biggest hit, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Demy settled on life's disappointments; here at least one major character gets exactly what she wants, and the effect is no less poignant. With Marc Michel, Jacques Harden, and Elina Labourdette (the young heroine in Robert Bresson's 1945 Les dames du Bois de Boulogne). In French with subtitles.

Excerpt from Jonathan Rosenbaum's Chicago Reader review HERE


Theatrical Release: March 3rd, 1961 - France

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DVD Review: Wellspring -  Region 1 - NTSC

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Distribution Columbia Tri-Star  Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 1:27:15
Video 2.35:1 Original Aspect Ratio 16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.40 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

Audio French (Dolby Digital 5.1 Stereo), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Wellspring Media, Inc

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.35:1

DVD5 - single layer

DVD Release Date: December 9, 2003
Keep Case
Chapters: 24

Edition Details:
• Black & White, Widescreen
• Theatrical trailer (1:56 )
• In French with optional English subtitles
• Excerpt from The World of Jacques Demy ( 6:47 )
• Widescreen anamorphic format



Not a pristine job, but a commendable effort by Wellspring. The print used seems fairly clean and free of blemishes. Contrast might be a shade boosted, actually I'm pretty sure it is. Not the sharpest of lines but passable for a film of this age. Sound seemed quite weak, but I'm sure that's the best they could do. It has an option of boosting to 5.1 but nothing really comes from the rear channels. Extras include almost 7 min. from "The World of Jacques Demy", a trailer and some bios etc. Bettr than your average fare from Wellspring. Demy fans will be very happy. out of         

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 Robert Bresson (Cinematheque Ontario Monographs, No. 2)
by James Quandt
The Art of Cinema by Jean Cocteau 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

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Distribution Columbia Tri-Star  Region 1 - NTSC


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