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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka 'Balthazar' or 'Min vän Balthazar' ')

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/bresson.htm
France 1966

 

  (written in September 2003 just before the U.S. October 2003 theatrical run of Balthazar)

 

Although Robert Bresson's 1966 Au Hasard, Balthazar instantly attained its status as a classic, the current revival run at New York City's Film Forum (October 17 – 30, 2003) actually represents the first theatrical release for the film in the United States. Au Hasard, Balthazar has continued to intrigue film critics and scholars (it missed placing in the Top Ten during the 2002 Sight & Sound poll of international critics, but it made it into the Top Twenty), but it is one of those classics that remains virtually invisible to the public at large, certainly in this country. (For the record, Au Hasard, Balthazar tied with two other films at Number 19: Truffaut's Jules and Jim and Antonioni's L'Avventura.)

The circumstances of the making of Au Hasard, Balthazar were anomalous in the extreme. Mag Bodard, the French producer whose company Parc Films was actually a very small, independent concern, had just had a huge international success with Jacques Demy's The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964); Demy was an avowed disciple of Bresson (Elina Labourdette, who played Cecile's mother in Demy's first feature, Lola, had been the ingenue in Bresson's Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne; stills from Bresson's film are used in Lola to represent the character's past); Demy put Mag Bodard in touch with Bresson for the express purpose of producing Bresson's next film. Since the mid-1950s, Bresson's dream project had been a film about the legend of King Arthur, but the budget for that project proved too much for Bodard's limited finances. Turning to an anecdote from Dostoevsky's The Idiot, Bresson came up with an original script about the turmoil of an adolescent girl in a small border village; the trick was that the story of Marie would be contrasted with the life of her pet, a donkey she has named Balthazar. The financing for the film would be part of a deal involving co-production money with Svensk Filmindustri; the only requirement was that there had to be some Swedish personnel involved. (This was the same deal which also brought about Jean-Luc Godard's Masculine Feminine for George De Beauregard's Rome-Paris Films.) By the end of 1965, with a script ready and the film cast, Bresson set about the production of Au Hasard, Balthazar, only the second "original" screenplay of his career (his previous works had been adaptations of novels or nonfiction, with the exception of Pickpocket).

Excerpt of Daryl Chin's article found on Robert-Bresson.com

Posters

Theatrical Release: May 25th, 1966 - France

Reviews                                                              More Reviews                                                          DVD Reviews

 

Comparison:

Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Nouveaux Pictures - Region 0 - PAL vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT

Nouveaux Pictures - Region 0 - PAL - MIDDLE

Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Cover

  

  

 

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 297 - Region 1 - NTSC Nouveaux Pictures - Region 0 - PAL Criterion Collection - Spine # 297 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:35:18  1:31:24 (4% PAL Speedup) 1:35:52.246
Video 1.67:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.8 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
1.63:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.29 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

Disc Size: 48,756,995,003 bytes

Feature Size: 28,850,472,960 bytes

Average Bitrate: 36.01 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video

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

Bitrate: Criterion DVD

Bitrate: Nouveaux Pictures

Bitrate Blu-ray:

Audio French (1.0)  French (Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono)  LPCM Audio French 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Subtitles English, None English (non-removable) English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion / Home Vision

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.67:1

Edition Details:

• Video interview with film scholar Donald Richie (13:39 - 16X9)
• “Un metteur en ordre: Robert Bresson,” a 1966 French TV program about the film featuring Bresson, Jean-Luc Godard, Louis Malle, and members of Au hasard  Balthazar’s cast and crew (4:3 -1:02:00 - with optional English subtitles)
• Original theatrical trailer (1.78  - 1:55 - English subtitles)
• 8-page liner notes with new essay by Bresson scholar James Quandt

DVD Release Date: June 14th, 2005

Keep Case
Chapters: 24

Release Information:
Studio: Nouveaux Pictures

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.63:1

Edition Details:

• Bresson Filmography

• Photo Gallery

DVD Release Date:
November 22nd, 2004
Keep Case
Chapters: 12

Release Information:
Studio:
Criterion

 

Disc Size: 48,756,995,003 bytes

Feature Size: 28,850,472,960 bytes

Average Bitrate: 36.01 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video 

   

Edition Details:
• 
Interview from 2004 with film scholar Donald Richie (13:41)
“Un metteur en ordre: Robert Bresson,” a 1966 French television program about the film, featuring director Robert Bresson, filmmakers Jean-Luc Godard and Louis Malle, and members of Au hasard Balthazar’s cast and crew (1:02:06)
Trailer (1:57)
Plus: An essay by film scholar James Quandt

Blu-ray Release Date: May 29th, 2018
Standard
Blu-ray Case

Chapters 23

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

 

The Criterion Blu-ray is described as a "New 4K digital restoration". The Criterion Blu-ray is in the 1.66:1 aspect ratio and shows a shade more information in the frame than even their own DVD from 13 years ago. The detail tightens in the 4K restored transfer - dual-layered with a max'ed out bitrate - and grain textures give it a far more film-like appearance. The visuals are slightly darker than the SD treatments. It looks wonderful in-motion. 

 

Audio is in a linear PCM mono track (24-bit) in the original French language. Aside from the bray of a donkey the audio, there are few effects and the dialogue is clear and audible. The score is by Jean Wiener (The Lower Depths -1936, Mouchette, Touchez Pas au Grisbi) stays in the background.  There are optional English subtitles (see sample) offered on Criterion's Region 'A' Blu-ray disc.

Criterion include the same supplements as on their own 2005 DVD with a 14-minute video interview with film scholar Donald Richie, the 1966, hour-long, French TV program: “Un metteur en ordre: Robert Bresson,” about the film featuring Bresson, Jean-Luc Godard, Louis Malle, and members of Au hasard  Balthazar’s cast and crew plus an original theatrical trailer. The package contains an 8-page liner notes with new essay by Bresson scholar James Quandt.

 

A pure masterpiece. I'm not capable of extolling it as much as it deserves. A must own film - and this is the best presentation. Don't hesitate.

Gary Tooze

***

This DVD has been mastered from the newly restored print. The transfer is simply breathtaking, as the screengrabs below also bear witness to. The contrast is perfectly balanced, and you'll be hard-pressed to find traces of dust or scratches. I probably haven't been as excited over the visual quality of a DVD since I first saw Criterion's L'Avventura, Asmik Ace's Suna no onna, and Tartan's Winter Light. The audio has some minor problems with subtle humming, whirring, and whistling at various odd frequencies. The English subtitles are excellent. There are a few minor typographical blunders, and the subtitles unfortunately cannot be turned off. There are no significant extras, but who cares, really, in the face of such an excellent representation of a cinematic masterpiece. This is probably one of my favorite DVDs thus far! Support DVDBeaver and click the Amazon link above, NOW!

 out of   (due to inability to turn subs off)

--Trond Trondsen, mastersofcinema.org

ON THE Criterion DVD: Hello!, there is a couple of issues with this disc that I'd love some input on (see 2nd last paragraph).

Firstly though, the image looks gorgeous. It is in a proper aspect ratio of about 1.66 - great contrast, sharp and shows some good film grain - perfect subtitles - everything you might expect from the greatest DVD company in the world. In direct comparison to the Nouveaux Pictures - Region 0 - PAL DVD (Reviewed HERE and compared below) the Criterion is slightly darker - subtitles are also brighter on the PAL disc as well as smaller. it should be noted that the Nouveaux are fixed and the Criterion optional.  It is possible that the Nouveaux has had some minor contrast boosting (see the school sign in the comparison after the subtitles captures). Anyway, it is negligible but the Criterion avoids the slight digital pixelization seen briefly at two points in the Nouveaux release as noted by our colleagues at Masters of Cinema/Robert-Bresson.com HERE.

As expected the Criterion extras are top notch.  The hour long “Un metteur en ordre: Robert Bresson,” from a 1966 French TV program about the film featuring Bresson, Jean-Luc Godard, Louis Malle, and members of Au hasard Balthazar’s cast and crew is a wonderful bonus for, pretty much, all film fans. I found it fascinating. The Donald Richie comments for almost 15 minutes are likewise interesting, if less so than the TV feature.

Okay, back to my request for input; on scenes cuts the Criterion exhibits ghosting (see second last capture) - this is a sure indication that it was not transferred progressively (one frame at a time). It is on all scene changes - however the image still looks top notch. I'm not familiar with what process Criterion uses to transfer to DVD but imagine it is quite complex - so I don't know how they get away with this... AND in one (only one I could find) I see 'combing' (see last capture) - to us this indicates analog sourced, but as it was only in one sequence (ditto for Renoir's 'The River') I am wondering if the transfer process is a mixed one with varying methods to put image to disc. If anyone can help us out here with some knowledge we would surely appreciate it.

It has become part of our 'watchdog' status to be so picky with the DVD image, running over the whole thing with a magnifying glass - but we feel that you will own this DVD much longer than your current viewing system and when, one day, you upgrade you may notice these, seemingly at present, minute flaws. This DVD is still magnificent, a commentary would have been the icing on the cake, and we give it  out of       

Gary W. Tooze

 


Recommended Reading for Robert Bresson fans (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

Check out more in "The Library"


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Nouveaux Pictures - Region 0 - PAL

 

Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Sample

 

Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

Nouveaux Pictures - Region 0 - PAL - MIDDLE

Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

Screen Captures

 

Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

Nouveaux Pictures - Region 0 - PAL - MIDDLE

Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


Only instance of combing on Criterion DVD
 

More Blu-ray Captures


Recommended Reading for Robert Bresson fans (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

 

 

Check out more in "The Library"


 

Box Cover

  

  

 

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 297 - Region 1 - NTSC Nouveaux Pictures - Region 0 - PAL Criterion Collection - Spine # 297 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray




 

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