(aka 'The Human Beast' or 'Judas Was a Woman')

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/renoir.htm
France 1938

 

Based on the classic …mile Zola novel, Jean Renoir’s La bÍte humaine was one of the legendary director’s greatest popular successes, tapping into the fatalism of a nation in despair. Jean Gabin’s emblematic portrayal of doomed train engineer Jacques Lantier granted him a permanent place in the hearts of his countrymen. Part poetic realism, part film noir, the film is a hard-boiled and suspenseful journey into the tormented psyche of a workingman.

****

Jean Renoir's generous sensibility seems at odds with the sterile determinism of the Zola novel on which this 1938 film was based. Jean Gabin is an epileptic train engineer drawn to the stationmaster's young wife (Simone Simon). The couple murders a man who tried to seduce her; Gabin witnesses the killing and begins an ambiguous emotional blackmail. Fritz Lang remade this film in 1954 as Human Desire, and as with Lang's other Renoir remake (Scarlet Street, from La chienne), the material was better served by Lang's Germanic obsession with destiny. But there is much of Renoir here, most beautifully in the opening scene with Gabin at the controls of his train, rushing through the countryside and into the city.

Excerpt from Dave Kehr's capsule from the Chicago Reader located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: December 9th, 1938

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DVD Review: Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC

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Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 324 - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 1:40:51 
Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.89 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

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

Bitrate:

Audio French (Mono) 
Subtitles English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Introduction to the film by Jean Renoir
• Interview with director Peter Bogdanovich
• Archival interviews with Renoir discussing his adaptation of Emile Zola’s novels, his process with actors, and directing actress Simone Simon
• Gallery of on-set photographs and theatrical posters
• Theatrical trailer
• Liner notes booklet featuring writings by film critic Geoffrey O’Brien, historian Ginette Vincendeau, and production designer EugŤne Louriť

DVD Release Date: February 14th, 2006

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Chapters: 23

 

 

Comments:

Like Forbidden Games and The Virgin Spring releases by Criterion (as well as Nanook of the North) La bÍte humaine also has a thick black border around the edge of the frame. This limits resolution... meaning the image can look even better if it had been transferred to fill the entire screen. Of course many players will automatically compensate by zooming in slightly, however this still does not improve resolution. It does however make screen captures appear slightly sharper than they might otherwise represent. We will continue to investigate this increasing Criterion production transfer feature.

We have included two captures from the Warner (UK) - thanks Pepsi! There is also a Studio Canal (France) release (NOTE: The UK disc has slightly stronger blacks vs. the French and is not cropped as much as that release. The Studio Canal has superior extras to the UK edition but only in French with no optional English subtitles).

Although the image looks quite acceptable it appears to be a notch ahead of the Warner (and Studio Canal) which are also quite good (sharp with good contrast). Where this Criterion shines brightest, as expected, are in the extensive extra features. Renoir introduction and interviews, Bogdanovich interview etc. make this a complete package for lovers of Renoir and this film that contains deep noir-ish elements - one of Renoir's best and we strongly recommend the Criterion DVD package.

Gary W. Tooze

 





DVD Menus

 


Subtitle Sample

 

Criterion - TOP vs. Warner (UK) BOTTOM

 

 


 

Screen Captures

 

Criterion - TOP vs. Warner (UK) BOTTOM

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 

 


 

 


 

 

 

DVD Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 324 - Region 1 - NTSC




 

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Mississauga, Ontario,

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