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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka 'Le Fleuve')

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/renoir.htm
France / India / USA 19
51

 

Director Jean Renoir’s entrancing first color feature—shot entirely on location in India—is a visual tour de force. Based on the novel by Rumer Godden, the film eloquently contrasts the growing pains of three young women with the immutability of the holy Bengal River, around which their daily lives unfold. Enriched by Renoir’s subtle understanding and appreciation for India and its peoples, The River gracefully explores the fragile connections between transitory emotions and everlasting creation.

***

Jean Renoir's intoxicating first colour feature - shot entirely on location in India - is an adaptation of Rumer Godden's autobiographical coming-of-age tale of an adolescent girl living with her English family on the banks of the Ganges during the waning years of British colonial life.

Exquisitely shot in luminous Technicolor by Renoir's nephew Claude, The River is a visual tour de force and a glorious, meditative tribute to the sights and sounds of Indian culture.

Its central character (and the film's narrator) is fourteen-year-old Harriet (Patricia Walters), the eldest of five children. Harriet and her beautiful, slightly older friend Valerie (Adrienne Corri) experience the intensity of first love when Captain John (Thomas E. Breen) comes to stay with their neighbours, a mixed-race family with a daughter, Melanie (Radha), of similar age. Captain John, who has lost a leg in active service, captivates the three teenagers, each of whom develops romantic feelings towards this heroic and enigmatic young man.

Perhaps Renoir's most symbolic and spiritual film, displaying great humanity and refreshing simplicity, The River received tremendous international acclaim and remains one of his most popular films.

 

Posters

 

Theatrical Release: September 10th, 1951

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Comparison:

 Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC vs. BFI (2-disc) Region 2- PAL vs. Carlotta - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC LEFT

2) BFI (2-disc) Region 2- PAL MIDDLE

3) Carlotta - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Cover

 

Distribution Criterion - Spine # 276 - Region 0 - NTSC BFI - Region 2 - PAL Carlotta - Region 'B' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:39:12  1:35:06 (4% PAL speedup) 1:39:04.980
Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.54 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 
1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.92 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/

Disc Size: 43,021,710,016 bytes

Feature Size: 27,970,062,336 bytes

Total Bitrate: 35.00 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 Video

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

Bitrate: Criterion

Bitrate: BFI

Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0)  English (Dolby Digital 2.0) DTS-HD Master Audio English 855 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 855 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)
Subtitles English (hearing impaired), None English (hearing impaired), None French, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Introduction to the film by Jean Renoir
• New video interview with director Martin Scorsese
• 2000 audio interview with Ken McEldowney, producer of The River
• Rumer Godden: An Indian Affair, a 1995 documentary produced for the BBC Bookmark series, following author Rumer Godden as she journeys back to her childhood home in India
• Stills gallery featuring production photos and publicity stills
• Original theatrical trailer
• 15 page liner notes booklet with essays by film scholars Ian Christie and Alexander Sesonske

DVD Release Date: March 1st, 2005

Keep Case
Chapters:
17

Release Information:
Studio: BFI Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Specially commissioned filmed introduction to The River by Indian filmmaker Kumar Shahani (15:48)
• Seven rarely-seen short films set in India (1899-1945), preserved in the bfi National Film and Television Archive. Among them are two silent films showing the changes in jute production and two 1930s films photographed in Technicolor by British cinematographer Jack Cardiff
• Fully illustrated 24-page booklet including film essay and Rumer Godden interview by David Thompson; director biography and notes on the seven short films

DVD Release Date:
July 31st, 2006
Transparent Keep Case
Chapters:
15

Release Information:
Studio: Carlotta

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Disc Size: 43,021,710,016 bytes

Feature Size: 27,970,062,336 bytes

Total Bitrate: 35.00 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 Video

Edition Details:

• Introduction to the film by Martin Scorsese (12:41)
• Around the River (59:38)

• Unrestored English Trailer (2:35)

Blu-ray Release Date: March 21st, 2012
Transparent
Blu-ray Case inside cardboard sleeve
Chapters:
15

 

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

ADDITION: Carlotta - Region 'B' Blu-ray - March 2012: Everything seems improved visually on the new 1080P transfer from Carlotta in France. Contrast is more layered and hence detail a notch sharper, colors (a significant facet to the viewing experience) are more robust, there is some depth - essentially it looks significantly more film-like than the flatter SDs (both of which were excellent renditions for that format.) At times I thought it looked a little waxy - but I don't suspect it was anything manipulated in the transfer process. Overall it looks very impressive and Renoir fans should be extremely pleased with the video performance.

Audio is exclusively in original English (no French DUB offered) via a DTS-HD Master mono track at a modest 855 kbps. We can only expect that this is very faithful to the film's theatrical experience. There are optional French subtitles removed with the remote button (not via the menu). The Blu-ray is coded for region 'B'.

Extras give us some crossover material from the Criterion. WE get the 13-minute discussion with Scorsese on the restoration. He discusses the emotional impact of the colors and the positive influence that the cinema of Renoir exerts on him. Carlotta include Arnaud Mandagaran's hour long, 2008 feature 'Around The River'. It is described at Unitel HERE as "While the film (The River) may be rapturously luminous and as gently flowing as the Ganges itself, its making was nothing short of miraculous. In this one-hour documentary, Arnaud Mandagaran retraces the genesis of Jean Renoir's first Technicolor film shot on location. In conversations with a number of friends and colleagues of the great filmmaker both in Hollywood and India, Mandagaran provides a vivid account of the many obstacles that threatened the realization of Renoir's visionary concept. Finding the locations, working with amateur actors, coping with the loud and bulky cameras... An arduous task made lighter by the enormous interest and graciousness shown by the many Indians who contributed to making this masterpiece, which remains "a lesson in freedom and the story of an unprecedented fascination with the nature, the customs, and the refined culture of this land" (Le Monde)." While the film is mostly English - unfortunately some of it is drowned out by a French Narrator translating. There are many sequences (Satyajit Ray) with French subtitles supporting the English dialogue. It still offers a lot to English-locked audiences although this supplements seems designed more for French-language viewers. Now, there is also a BD-ROM feature with images, a PDF document - but I wasn't as adept at accessing it - so can't really comment - however it does look like a lot of effort went into it. There is also an unrestored trailer.

Tremendous Blu-ray release by Carlotta - an unforgettable film, The River is luminous and the extras make it a worthwhile investment. We can strongly recommend this package.

***

ADDITION: - BFI - Region 2- PAL - July 06' - I can't recall seeing two separate DVD productions of the same 50 year old film that looked so pristine. The BFI release gives absolutely nothing away to the sterling Criterion edition - in terms of image. If there are minor differences - the BFI is slightly brighter - giving a minutely sharper appearance (occasionally), and shows the Criterion to have some negligible cropping on the top and bottom edges. Colors appear duplicated. They both look immensely impressive - stunning - in a word.

NOTE: the BFI bitrate is substantially higher - possibly as the Criterion filled the feature disc with supplements. As I recall Criterion used the 'alchemist system' for transfer and hence there are very infrequent examples of combing possibly noticeable on high-end systems.

Audio and optional subtitles were very acceptable on both.

Extras: I really enjoyed the 7 short films set in India. Seeing the activity on the Ganges in 1899 was certainly a unique experience. Kumar Shahani's 15 minute insights were also great fodder for the feature experience. Although the BFI added a second disc (no doubt helping improve the image quality of the first disc) I still think the Criterions extras have more extensive (relevant) information - Renoir intro, Scorsese interview, Ken McEldowney (the producer) audio interview and the documentary about Rumar Godden. I have real trouble choosing one over the other and am glad I have both issues as they each have strong qualities regarding a film that was a very special viewing experience for me.

If I am to give a slight edge to BFI for the image, I, in-turn, will give the same degree of superiority for the Criterion extras. Truthfully though both these releases are two of the top DVDs I have seen in the past 5 years. Outstanding seems like an understatement.

One thing - I am not crazy about is the BFI cover.

In a not-so-totally-irrelevant suggestion - most are aware of Rumer Godden's Black Narcissus and Powell and Pressburger's untouchable filmic translation. But I'd like to mention another Rumer Godden narrative that was beautifully translated to film - Enchantment. It is very underrated cinema, which I strongly recommend if you are keen on her work. 

***

Another beautiful DVD from Criterion. I felt I could have taken screen captures all day. This transfer is from the 2004 film restoration (and its states so at the beginning of the presentation). It is extremely sharp with outstanding colors - neither muted nor overly brilliant. Stellar contrast. The whole film reminded me of Jack Cardiff and Powell and Pressburger's work of the same period. Stunning is an appropriate word. The DVD is loaded with insightful and valuable extra features. Original English audio and unobtrusive subtitles for the hearing impaired. What a magnificent DVD to own. I see it becoming Feature of the Month. I am blown away again Criterion. out of

Gary W. Tooze


Menus

 

(Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC LEFT vs. BFI (2-disc) Region 2- PAL RIGHT)

 Disc 2 of BFI Release

 

 

Disc 2 of the BFI DVD

 

 Titles of the seven rarely-seen short films set in India (1899-1945)

 

 

Carlotta - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 


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

 

Subtitle Sample

 

1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) BFI (2-disc) Region 2- PAL MIDDLE

3) Carlotta - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

NOTE: Not exact frame!

 

 


 

Screen Captures

 

1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) BFI (2-disc) Region 2- PAL MIDDLE

3) Carlotta - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) BFI (2-disc) Region 2- PAL MIDDLE

3) Carlotta - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) BFI (2-disc) Region 2- PAL MIDDLE

3) Carlotta - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) BFI (2-disc) Region 2- PAL MIDDLE

3) Carlotta - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) BFI (2-disc) Region 2- PAL MIDDLE

3) Carlotta - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) BFI (2-disc) Region 2- PAL MIDDLE

3) Carlotta - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) BFI (2-disc) Region 2- PAL MIDDLE

3) Carlotta - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures


 

Report Card:

 

Image:

Blu-ray

Sound:

Blu-ray

Extras: Criterion / Blu-ray

 

 

Box Cover

 

Distribution Criterion - Spine # 276 - Region 0 - NTSC BFI - Region 2 - PAL Carlotta - Region 'B' - Blu-ray




 

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