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(aka 'Diamond Earrings' or 'Gioielli di Madame de ... ' or 'The Earrings of Madame de...')

Directed by Max Ophuls
France / Italy 1953

 

French master Max Ophuls's most cherished work, The Earrings of Madame de . . . is an emotionally profound, cinematographically adventurous tale of false opulence and tragic romance. When the aristocratic woman known only as Madame de (the extraordinary Danielle Darrieux) sells her earrings, unbeknownst to her husband (Charles Boyer), in order to pay personal debts, she sets off a chain reaction, the financial and carnal consequences of which can only end in despair. Ophuls adapts Louise de Vilmorin's incisive fin de siècle novel with virtuosic camera work so elegant and precise it’s been called the equal to that of Orson Welles.

Posters

Theatrical Release: September 16th, 1953

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Comparison:

Second Sight Films - Region 2 - PAL vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray vs. Gaumont - Region FREE - Blu-ray

1) Second Sight Films - Region 2 - PAL LEFT

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray THIRD

3) Gaumont - Region FREE - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

 Box Covers

 

All 3 Criterion

Ophuls Films/DVD

All 4 Second Sight Ophuls Films/DVD
Distribution Second Sight Films - Region 2 - PAL Criterion Collection - Spine #445 - Region 1 - NTSC Criterion Collection - Spine #445 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray Gaumont - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:35:42 (4% PAL Speedup) 1:40:15 1:40:27.062 1:39:37.125
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.15 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s
1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.58 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.33:1 - 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,161,585,677 bytes

Feature: 29,717,827,584 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.10 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

1.33:1 - 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 44,750,444,308 bytes

Feature: 25,318,225,920 bytes

Video Bitrate: 31.34 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

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

Bitrate:

Bitrate:  Criterion

Bitrate:  Criterion Blu-ray

Bitrate:  Gaumont Blu-ray

Audio French (Dolby Digital 2.0)  French (Dolby Digital 1.0)  LPCM Audio French 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
DTS-HD Master Audio French 862 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 862 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit / DN -8dB)
Subtitles English (non-removable) English, none English, none French, English, none
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Second Sight Films

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Featurette: Working With Max Ophuls
• Video Essay by Tag Gallagher 

DVD Release Date: September 18th, 2006
Keep Case
Chapters: 16

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Audio commentary featuring film scholars Susan White and Gaylyn Studlar
• Introduction by filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson (14:27)
• Interviews with Ophuls collaborators Alain Jessua (25:27), Marc Frédérix (8:12), and Annette Wademant (6:49)
• A visual analysis of the movie by film scholar Tag Gallagher (17:19)
• Interview with novelist Louise de Vilmorin on Ophuls's adaptation of her story (4:44)
• New and improved English subtitle translation
• A booklet featuring a new essay by Molly Haskell, an excerpt from costume designer Georges Annenkov's 1962 book Max Ophuls, and the 78-page source novel, Madame de, by Louise de Vilmorin 

DVD Release Date: September 16th, 200
8
Custom slipcase
Chapters: 22

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

1.33:1 - 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,161,585,677 bytes

Feature: 29,717,827,584 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.10 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Edition Details:

• Audio commentary featuring film scholars Susan White and Gaylyn Studlar
• Introduction by filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson (14:27)
• Interviews with Ophuls collaborators Alain Jessua (25:27), Marc Frédérix (8:12), and Annette Wademant (6:49)
• A visual analysis of the movie by film scholar Tag Gallagher (17:19)
• Interview with novelist Louise de Vilmorin on Ophuls's adaptation of her story (4:44)
• New and improved English subtitle translation
• A booklet featuring a new essay by Molly Haskell, an excerpt from costume designer Georges Annenkov's 1962 book Max Ophuls, and the 78-page source novel, Madame de, by Louise de Vilmorin 

Blu-ray Release Date: August 6th, 2013
Transparent
Blu-ray case
Chapters: 21

Release Information:
Studio: Gaumont

1.33:1 - 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 44,750,444,308 bytes

Feature: 25,318,225,920 bytes

Video Bitrate: 31.34 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Edition Details:
• Max by Marcel (7:06 in 1080P)
• Max Ophuls - Le Peintre de L'Amour Fatal (1:03:16 in 1080P)
• Madame De... Restoration (5:02 in 1080P)

Blu-ray Release Date: February 19th, 2014
Standard
Blu-ray case inside slipcase
Chapters: 12

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION Gaumont Blu-ray - March 2014: Beside the restored Gaumont 1080P of Madame De... we can more easily see the failings of the encode Criterion were provided. The US disc is darker, waxier, sharpened and grain removed. Those with very discerning systems (who project) will identify this more readily. And those sensitive to it will note the improvement and real film grain of the Gaumont. You can take two corresponding larger captures and toggle between them to see how Criterion's visuals appear to have boosted the black levels and see that the image is also cropped (I'd say notably) as compared to the French, dual-layered, transfer. There are a lot of captures, and I obtained the exact frame on most. Once again this boils down to your system and how diligent you are to seeing the film in its best (most theatrically accurate) presentation. We have a little of the 'law of diminishing returns' as some will be content owning the Criterion and reveling in the beauty of this masterpiece. Others are appalled at US transfer. Hopefully our comparison can better help you decide for yourself.

NOTE: We have added one more pair of comparisons captures (thanks to David!) HERE.

Gaumont use a DTS-HD Master mono French track at 862 kbps. I notice it seemed to handle the higher end more tightly. I probably noted it less in the score by Oscar Straus (Ophul's La Ronde) and Georges Van Parys (Casque D'Or, Le Million, L'Age D'Or, Madame de..., French Cancan, Les diaboliques, 1958's Les Misérables) but more in Oscar Straus' Einmal im Leben. I think the these differences will be negligible to most. The Gaumont offers both removable English and French subtitles and the disc is region FREE playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

Criterion win on the extras with the Susan White and Gaylyn Studlar audio commentary and Tag Gallagher's excelleent visual analysis, the booklet featuring a new essay by Molly Haskell, an excerpt from costume designer Georges Annenkov's 1962 book Max Ophuls, and the 78-page source novel, Madame de, by Louise de Vilmorin as well as the other video supplements. Gaumont's extras are all in French-language only with no subtitles. Max by Marcel runs 7-minutes and there is a 5-minute piece on the restoration (with samples) and Max Ophuls - Le Peintre de L'Amour Fatal (painter of fatal love) runs over an hour and, like the other 2 video extras, is in 1080P.

***

ADDITION Criterion Blu-ray - July 2013: The new 1080P image is quite different from Criterion's resolution-limited pictureboxed DVD image. The frame seems to have shifted to the right a shade (gaining more ion the right side, losing a fraction on the left.) It appears a bit darker but contrast is pristine. This is a huge improvement over the SD transfer. Criterion's audio is lossless - a linear PCM in authentic mono (French) and there are optional English subtitles. Extras duplicate the 2008 DVD with the commentary etc. - described below. This film continues to blow me away every time I see it and to have it looking so... rich in the pitch black of my home theater is an indescribable pleasure.

NOTE: There is discussion of the DNR smearing in this transfer - I was not as distracted by it - as say the Gaumont 1080P of Children of Paradise. I would agree more with Robert Harris who said: "Because, with the exception of a handful of shots, this is still eminently watchable."

***

ADDITION: Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC September 08': Criterion have thankfully corrected the instability flaws of the  of the Second Sight transfer with a typical rock-solid one on a dual-layered, progressive disc coded for region 1 in the NTSC standard.

The Criterion is pictureboxed transferred (see our full description of 'pictureboxing' in our Kind Hearts and Coronets review) with a black border circumventing the framed image. There is less flickering than the other two Ophuls DVDs - released simultaneously (La Ronde and Le Plaisir) and detail seems a notch higher - especially in background information which tended to get lost in the overly dark UK release. Compared to the boosted PAL edition Criterion have kept the contrast levels quite low and it seems to have greatly benefitted the visual presentation. Without a lot of fanfare the Criterion image is far superior - a lot more so than the screen captures below will indicate.

Audio, a mono track, is again unremarkable but clean and clear enough. The Criterion's subtitles are expectantly removable (unlike the UK edition).

On the extras front Criterion have included both supplements offered on the Second Sight DVD (Tag's magnificent 17-minute Video Essay and the Alain Jessua interview aka 'Working With Max Ophuls') as well as a whole lot more. First off a top notch commentary from film scholars, Susan White and Gaylyn Studlar, bona-fide Ophuls experts disseminating their bountiful knowledge. They seem to work well together - giving different 'takes' at times. Out of the blue we have a 15-minute introduction by filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson! He gives his take on Ophuls and shows admiration for the masters extensively choreographed tracking shots. There are three interviews; the 25-minute one on the Second Sight DVD with with Ophuls assistant director Alain Jessua interviewed by Robert Fischer in Paris in 2005. A second, almost 7-minutes long, is presented with co-writer Annette Wademant from 1989 hosted by Martina Muller. There is a third, 8-minutes long, with assistant decorator Marc Frédérix also interviewed in 1989 by Martina Muller. Kind of fun is the 5-minute interview with novelist Louise de Vilmorin on Ophul's adaptation of her story. She is humorous outspoken in this excerpt from French television from 1965. Finally included is a booklet featuring a new essay by Molly Haskell, an excerpt from costume designer Georges Annenkov's 1962 book Max Ophuls, and the nicely appointed 78-page source novel, Madame de, by Louise de Vilmorin. Wow!

What a package, what a film - strongly recommended! 

***

 

ON THE SECOND SIGHT: Another Ophuls DVD from Second Sight. Dirty in spots it shows some edge-enhancement and moiring from contrast manipulations. The image is extremely thin and fragile and many have reported extreme artifacts that make it virtually unwatchable - this is despite being dual-layered. More negatives are the subtitles are non-removable (but can be erased via re-burning). Of all the Ophuls DVDS just brought out I would have expected this to be a prime candidate for a commentary. The featurette - Working With Ophuls - and Tag Gallagher's Video Essay are both fine supplements - certainly interesting in their own right. Overall this is another must-have DVD that we haven't compared to existing versions, but will do so.

The film is essential and this DVD represents it inadequately but we will be on the watch for superior editions - hopefully soon!

Gary W. Tooze

 


Criterion DVD package

 

 

Menus

 

(Second Sight Films - Region 2 - PAL LEFT vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC RIGHT)


 
 
 

 

 

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

 

Gaumont - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 


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

 

Subtitle Sample

 

1) Second Sight Films - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray THIRD

3) Gaumont - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

Screen Captures

 

1) Second Sight Films - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray THIRD

3) Gaumont - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

1) Second Sight Films - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray THIRD

3) Gaumont - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

1) Second Sight Films - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray THIRD

3) Gaumont - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

1) Second Sight Films - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray THIRD

3) Gaumont - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Second Sight Films - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray THIRD

3) Gaumont - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Second Sight Films - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray THIRD

3) Gaumont - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Second Sight Films - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray THIRD

3) Gaumont - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures

1) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Gaumont - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Gaumont - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Gaumont - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Gaumont - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Gaumont - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Gaumont - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Gaumont - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Gaumont - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 Box Covers

 

All 3 Criterion

Ophuls Films/DVD

All 4 Second Sight Ophuls Films/DVD
Distribution Second Sight Films - Region 2 - PAL Criterion Collection - Spine #445 - Region 1 - NTSC Criterion Collection - Spine #445 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray Gaumont - Region FREE - Blu-ray



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