(aka "A Tale of Springtime" or "Contes des quatre saisons: Conte de printemps")

 

directed by Eric Rohmer
France 1990

 

In acclaimed director Eric Rohmer's first of the "Tales of the Four Seasons" series: 1992's "Tale of Springtime", four characters intertwine in real-life cadence. We are introduced to them, garner their likes, dislikes, demeanours... and then they interact. It's that simple... and that wonderful. Typical Rohmer.

At a party, Jeanne and Natacha sit beside each other on a couch and begin to converse. Regardless of their age difference, they immediately develop a rapport that develops a budding friendship. Begin plot.

We learn of Natacha's family life with separated parents and a dysfunctional relationship with her estranged Mother. She lives with her father and has an unhealthy bias against her fathers current girlfriend, Eve. On the other hand Jeanne is more guarded and divulges only hidden details of the state of her current life. A boyfriend who is away, and a female cousin and beau utilizing her apartment. She curiously relates her dislike of her traveling boyfriends unclean apartment where she has the key to stay but would prefer not to.

So Jeanne sleeps over at Natacha's home that night and her Father unexpectedly arrives the next morning embarrassingly finding Jeanne recently finished a hot shower. We are teased in believing this to be a foreshadowing of future indiscretions between these characters. Hmmm.. food for thought.

This film is filled with magnificent outdoor scenes of gardens and forests, as well as expected Rohmerian French babes. This character-based slice-of-life draws you into it's relaxed atmosphere of realism with perfect affinity. NOTE: I did note one rather unusual aspect of the film that is uncharacteristically Rohmer: the use of background music is pretty taboo, usually making use of only "natural sounds" from the activities occurring onscreen. Rohmer was a director born out of the experimental French New Wave era and has his own very specific criterion for making films: no over utilization of cinematography adaptations such as tracking shots, jump cuts or reverse angles. He feels this spartan cinematic experience subtly conveys to the viewer the ability to identify more closely with the characters and more intimately with the plot and storyline. I agree and "Tale of Springtime" is a prime example with one four minute conversation filmed by one camera with no cutaways or close-ups. However, like Russian cinema icon Andrei Tarkovsky, who was philosophically against music interludes, Rohmer still uses them in this film. The tracks used from the opening scene to various car ride sequences are:

Beethoven's Sonata #5 in F Major
Jean Louis Valero's Montmorency Blues
Schumann's Les Chants de l'aube
and Etudes symphoniques by Cecile Vigna
 

Quote from Eric Rohmer:
"To put it bluntly, I have to admit that I do not like music. I try very hard to eliminate it from my life and from my films. It irritates me, it annoys me, it tires me, and despite the old saying, it neither improves my morals nor sweetens my temper. I find myself quite at ease in silence. It doesn't oppress me. For this silence, whether among the fields or in a distant street, offers a sound-picture that is "sui generis", revealing just as much about a place as how it smells. Music broadcast in public places is already damnable because it removes some of their personality. But at the same time that it injures its environment, it sins also against itself, in preventing us, by its imposed and superimposed presence, from listening to it as it deserves to be, that is, in a state of complete recollection. Music, for me, is only bearable if you listen to it with the maximum attention, both with mind and body." -- Preface to De Mozart en Beethoven FROM HERE

There is a philosophical discussion, a conflict, a rejected lothario advance, a forgiven friendship and a missing necklace mystery solved. In the finale, Jeanne returns to her now vacated apartment greeted with fresh flowers discarding the dying ones left behind. The circle of life completes itself and Eric Rohmer has again titillated my hypothalamus with his subtlety and powerful emotive transference. Not my favorite Rohmer film, but still another noteworthy work from this master auteu
r.  out of     

Posters

Theatrical Release: France 4 April 1990

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DVD Comparison:

Artificial-Eye - Region 2 - PAL vs. MGM - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Per-Olof Strandberg and Per-olof Strandberg for the Screen Caps!

(Artificial-Eye - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT vs. MGM - Region 1 - NTSC - RIGHT)

DVD Box Covers

Distribution

Artificial-Eye

Region 2 - PAL

MGM
Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 1:42:42 (4% PAL speedup) 1:47:12
Video

1:1.66 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1:1.66 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.28 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:

 

Artificial-Eye

 

Bitrate:

 

MGM

 

Audio French (Dolby Digital 2.0)

French (Dolby Digital 2.0)

Subtitles English, None English, Spanish, French, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Artificial-Eye

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen letterboxed - 1:1.66

Edition Details:
• Trailer (1:43/Letterbox)
• Eric Rohmer talks about his films (39:53)
• Filmography (3 pages)
• DVD-9

DVD Release Date: 24/10 2005
Keep Case

Chapters 14

Release Information:
Studio: MGM

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen letterboxed - 1:1.66

Edition Details:
• Trailer
• DVD-5
 

DVD Release Date: 05/03 2002
Keep Case

Chapters 16

 

 

Comments:

A Tale of Springtime (1990) is the first part of Tales of Four Seasons. The others: A Winter's Tale (1992) A Summer's Tale (1996) and An Autumn Tale (1998) are available from Artificial-Eye as separate DVD's or in a box set HERE.

Artificial-Eye's DVD of A Tale of Springtime has got decent reviews and I wonder why my copy looks just awful? I watched both DVD's with a Projector, and the big screen seems to intensify the flaws.

The Artificial-Eye DVD (R2):
It seems that Artificial-Eye have recycled a transfer made some 15 years ago. The colors compared with the MGM (R1) are not correct. Everything has an violet palette: The black color, the nature scenes, the white walls, the skin tones, everything is distracting violet. The DVD is most probably transferred from an film copy, making too the contrast intensify. Blacks are blocked and the white colors are overexposed. The most annoying thing is that the picture is unstable, shaking frequently. There's not a second without aliasing (every door, bookshelf, table, etc is shaking like there where and earthquake around). There's so much low level noise in the picture, that my white screen looked like some design wallpaper. Compared with the MGM DVD the picture is also cropped on both side edges. On the DVD cover there's the text: "Enhanced for widescreen TV's", but it's not. It's a 4:3 letter-boxed image.
out of   

The MGM (R1):
The MGM DVD is from 2002, and it has also a 4:3 letter-boxed image. Compared with the Artificial-Eye DVD the color palette seems more accurate. This picture is also occasionally unstable, but much less so than the AE disc. The Image is cropped on the top and bottom, but if the original camera negative is Open Matte, perhaps the framing is correct. There's visible some minor color bleeding, but overall these picture is much better than the AE disc. It can be fully viewed with a projector.
 
out of   

The Subtitles on the MGM disc are 16:9 friendly. The AE disc need some adjustment. The sound feels almost identical. Perhaps the MGM disc is slightly louder, and on the AE disc it may be marginally quieter.

The AE disc has on the extra material a 40 minutes scene specific "director's commentary".

 - Per-Olof Strandberg



DVD Menus
(Artificial-Eye - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT vs. MGM - Region 1 - NTSC - RIGHT)


 

 


 

Screen Captures

(Artificial-Eye - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. MGM - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Artificial-Eye - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. MGM - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Artificial-Eye - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. MGM - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Artificial-Eye - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. MGM - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Artificial-Eye - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. MGM - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Artificial-Eye - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. MGM - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 


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Image:

MGM

Sound:

MGM

Extras: Artificial Eye
Menu: MGM

 
DVD Box Covers

Distribution

Artificial-Eye

Region 2 - PAL

MGM
Region 1 - NTSC




 

 

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