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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "The Forgiven Sinner" or "Leon Morin prete" or "Leon Morin, Priest")

directed by Jean-Pierre Melville
France 1961

Aiming successfully for a wider audience in 1961, the neglected French independent Jean-Pierre Melville (Les enfants terribles, Le samourai) adapted Beatrix Beck's autobiographical novel, set in a French village during World War II, about a young woman falling in love with a handsome, radical young priest who's fully aware of his power over her. For the starring roles Melville, godfather of the New Wave, ironically selected two talented actors catapulted to fame by that movement--Hiroshima, mon amour's Emmanuele Riva and Breathless's Jean-Paul Belmondo. The poetic results are literary and personal; the heroine's offscreen narration suggests the pre-Bressonian form of Melville's first feature, Le silence de la mer, and sudden subjective shots convey the woman's physical proximity to the priest as she undergoes an ambiguous religious conversion. Not an unqualified success, the film remains strong for its performances, its inventive editing and framing, and its evocative rendering of the French occupation. According to Melville, the film ran for 193 minutes in its prerelease form; he edited out 65 minutes, and another 18 minutes are missing from the present version. The eclectic and resourceful nonjazz score is by jazz pianist Martial Solal.

Excerpt from Jonathan Rosenbaum's  capsule on the Chicago Reader located HERE

Jean-Paul Belmondo delivers a subtly sensual performance in the hot-under-the-collar Léon Morin, Priest (Léon Morin, prêtre), directed by Jean-Pierre Melville. The French superstar plays a devoted man of the cloth who is desired by all the women of a small village in Nazi-occupied France. He finds himself most drawn to a sexually frustrated widow—played by Emmanuelle Riva—a religious skeptic whose relationship with her confessor turns into a confrontation with both God and her own repressed desire. A triumph of mood, setting, and innuendo, Léon Morin, Priest is an irreverent pleasure from one of French cinema’s towering virtuosos.

Poster

Theatrical Release: March - 1961 - France

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Comparison:

BFI -  Region 2 - PAL vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

1) BFI - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT

2) Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

DVD Box Cover

   

Distribution BFI - Region 2 - PAL Criterion Collection, spine #572 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:52:12 (4% PAL Speedup) 1:57:43.681
Video

1.66:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.22 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 43,969,862,503 bytes

Feature: 34,515,554,304 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

 

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

Bitrate:

 

Bitrate: Blu-ray

 

Audio French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Dolby)  LPCM Audio French 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Subtitles English English and none
Features

Release Information:
Studio: BFI Video Publishing

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.66:1

Edition Details:

• Commentary by French film expert Prof. Ginette Vincendeau
• 4:3 Trailer (3:03)
• Director's Biography (3:16)
• Interview with assistant director Volker Schlöndorff (4:3 -  13:12)
• Introduction by Ginette Vincendeau (21:18)
• Acknowledgements


DVD Release Date:
April 26th, 2004
Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 20

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

 

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 43,969,862,503 bytes

Feature: 34,515,554,304 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

 

Edition Details:
French television interview with director Jean-Pierre Melville and actor Jean-Paul Belmondo from 1961 (4:45)
Selected-scene commentary - Chapters 1-2 (9:30), 6-7 (11:15), 17-20 (14:29) by film scholar Ginette Vincendeau
Original theatrical trailer (3:10)

2 Deleted Scenes (1:21+ 2:52)
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic and novelist Gary Indiana and excerpts from Melville on Melville

 

Blu-ray Release Date: July 26th, 2011
Transparent Blu-ray Case

Chapters 22

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - July 11': Criterion maintain the 1.66:1 aspect ratio in their 1080P transfer. It looks improved beside the out-of-print BFI SD release from 2004. There is more information in the frame, far more textured grain is readily present and detail and contrast are elevated to more film-like levels. The strong and damage free Criterion Blu-ray image is darker making the BFI look slightly brightness boosted.

Criterion again opt for the faithful mono audio using a linear PCM track at 1152 Kbps. Not that there was any problem with the BFI but dialogue does seem more audible. Criterion have added optional English subtitles - exporting a different translation than the BFI but supporting the same intent. The Criterion is, as always, region 'A'-locked.

Criterion extras are not as stacked as we have seen in the past and don't quite eclipse the BFI in the supplement area. We get a brief French television interview with director Jean-Pierre Melville and actor Jean-Paul Belmondo from 1961 for less than 5-minutes in HD, and the same selected-scene commentary in Chapters 1-2 (9:30), 6-7 (11:15), 17-20 (14:29) by film scholar Ginette Vincendeau (still love that voice) author of Jean-Pierre Melville: An American in Paris, an original theatrical trailer for 3-minutes also in HD, plus 2 short deleted Scenes - together running les than 5-minutes. There is an enclosed booklet featuring an essay by critic and novelist Gary Indiana and excerpts from Melville on Melville.

A less typical Melville film but well-crafted and an interesting tale with toned down sexual impulses always prevalent between the priestly-garbed Belmondo and wholesome looking Emmanuelle Riva. Supposedly the film was originally, but rarely seen, 3+ hours and parsed down at some stage to the cut we have on both digital editions. This remains an excellent film and a Blu-ray we can strongly recommend! 

***

ON THE BFI DVD: The picture quality seems even better than Le Doulos. Shows a lot of good film grain and fairly tight anamorphic picture quality. I couldn't remove the English subtitles but suspect that it might have been my player - regardless they are clear and "Criterion-like". Exact same extras as in Le Doulos, but , of course, a different commentary and trailer. A very well done DVD by the BFI!  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 Notes on the Cinematographer by Robert Bresson 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

Check out more in "The Library"


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

 

 


1) BFI - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

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

 

 


1) BFI - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

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

 


1) BFI - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

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

 


1) BFI - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

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

 


1) BFI - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

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

 

 


1) BFI - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

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

 


1) BFI - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

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

 

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 

 

DVD Box Cover

   

Distribution BFI - Region 2- PAL Criterion Collection, spine #572 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray


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