Search DVDBeaver

S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka 'Diabolique" or "The Devils" or "The Fiends')

directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot
France 1955

 

After the success of The Wages of Fear (Le salaire de la peur) Henri-Georges Clouzot cemented his reputation with his masterpiece, Les diaboliques.

Based on a novel by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac (who also wrote the novel on which Hitchcock's Vertigo is based), Les diaboliques tells the story of a sadistic headmaster (Paul Meurisse) who brutalises his wife and mistress (Véra Clouzot and Simone Signoret) and their plot to murder him. Superbly edited with nail-biting suspense, the two women murder the headmaster and dump the body in the swimming pool, but when the pool is drained no corpse is found. An unsettling and beautifully-paced study of betrayal, mistrust and guilt, Les diaboliques is atmospherically shot in black and white, its murky tones hauntingly echo the moral ambiguity of its principals.

***

In this heralded French terror classic by director-screenwriter Henri-Georges Clouzot, the wife (Vera Clouzot) of a boys-school headmaster (Paul Merisse) tires of his violent treatment of her, along with his philandering, and teams up with his mistress (Simone Signoret) to drown him and make it appear as a suicide. When the body goes missing and sightings of the supposedly dead man are reported all over town, the two mismatched women must uncover what happened to the body before it's discovered what they've done. Upon its release, Clouzot urged all who saw the film not to reveal its surprise ending---one which still stands as one of the original 'shock' endings.

***

An acknowledged influence on Psycho, Henri-Georges Clouzot’s horror classic is the story of a sadistic headmaster who brutalizes his fragile wife and his headstrong mistress. The two women murder him and dump his body in a swimming pool; when the pool is drained, no corpse is found.

Posters

Theatrical Release: January 29th, 1955

Reviews         More Reviews         DVD Reviews

Comparison:

Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Arrow Films - Region 0 - PAL vs. Arrow Academy (Dual Format) - Region FREE - Blu-ray vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC LEFT

2) Arrow Films - Region 0 - PAL SECOND

3) Arrow Academy - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

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

 

DVD Box Cover

   

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 35 - Region 0 - NTSC Arrow Films - Region 0 - PAL Arrow Academy - Region FREE - Blu-ray Criterion Collection - Spine # 35 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:56:12  1:51:52  1:56:50.044 1:57:11.983
Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.7 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.76 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 24,249,432,466 bytes

Feature: 19,800,465,408 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 18.97 Mbps

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,701,401,138 bytes

Feature: 34,366,765,056 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 35.00 Mbps

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

Bitrate:

Criterion

Bitrate:

 Arrow Films

Bitrate:

 Arrow Academy Blu-ray

Bitrate:

Criterion Blu-ray

Audio French (Dolby Digital 1.0)  French (Dolby Digital 1.0) 

LPCM Audio French 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit

Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -4dB

LPCM Audio French 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Subtitles English, None English, None English, None English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• 4-page liner notes with essay by Danny Peary

DVD Release Date: February 2nd, 1999

Keep Case
Chapters: 24

Release Information:
Studio: Arrow Films

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Audio commentary by Professor Susan Hayward (director of film studies at University of Exeter)

DVD Release Date: October 29th, 2007

Keep Case
Chapters: 12

Release Information:
Studio: Arrow Films

1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 24,249,432,466 bytes

Feature: 19,800,465,408 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 18.97 Mbps

 

Edition Details:

• Audio commentary by Susan Hayward, author of Les diaboliques (Cine-file French Film Guides)
• Original Trailer (2:32)
• Filmed interview with Ginette Vincendeau, French cinema scholar, critic and author (28:58)
• Brand new writing on the film by author and critic Brad Stevens and a re-printed interview with Clouzot by Paul Schrader illustrated with stills and rare original set drawings by Léon Barsacq.
• Artwork presentation packaging including original posters and a newly commissioned artwork cover

Blu-ray Release Date: April 25th, 2011
Unknown Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 12

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,701,401,138 bytes

Feature: 34,366,765,056 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 35.00 Mbps

 

Edition Details:

• Selected-scene commentary by French-film scholar Kelley Conway (44:30)
• New video introduction by Serge Bromberg, codirector of Henri-Georges Clouzot’s “Inferno” (14:49)
• New video interview with novelist and film critic Kim Newman (15:46)
• Original theatrical trailer (2:32)
• 20-page booklet featuring an essay by film critic Terrence Rafferty

Blu-ray Release Date: May 17th, 2011
Transparent Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 28

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - May 11': We can see another big advantage to side-by-side comparisons.  Criterion's Blu-ray edition boasts a 'new digital restoration' which has significantly more information in the frame on all 4 edges (see very last two captures.) Not that we should need too many more points in Criterion's favor as the amount cropped by the Arrow is surprising, but - the Criterion transfer is dual-layered with almost twice the bitrate of the Arrow AND is cleaner (see damage in 5th set of large captures where we took the first frame - damaged on all other editions - even Criterion's original DVD - as well as the next frame - notable by the blurred hand position.) The restored Criterion 1080P rendering is easily the best of all compared.

The Criterion audio may be restored but I couldn't notice a difference as it is transferred exactly as the Arrow with a linear PCM mono track at 1152 kbps. There are, as expected, removable English subtitles - with a slightly different translation at times. The Criterion Blu-ray is region 'A'-locked.

Criterion supply some wonderful extras; a 45-minute select-scene commentary by French-film scholar Kelley Conway (author of Chanteuse in the City: The Realist Singer in French Film) who analyzes several scenes from Diabolique exploring Clouzot's themes and style. We get a new 15-minute HD video introduction by film preservationist and historian Serge Bromberg, co-director of Henri-Georges Clouzot’s “Inferno - a 2009 documentary about Clouzot's uncompleted film. He talks about how the filmmaker puts his unique visual stamp on Diabolique. There is also a new 15-minute video interview (shot in London 2010) with novelist and film critic Kim Newman on how the groundbreaking Diabolique has influenced countless horror films, including Psycho. There is an original theatrical trailer and 20-page booklet featuring an essay by film critic Terrence Rafferty.

Criterion wins this comparison although Arrow have some solid extras that are worth indulging in (Hayward commentary). North Americans should indulge in the Criterion Blu-ray.

***

ADDITION: Arrow Academy - Region FREE - Blu-ray - April 11': This is a dual format release from Arrow - with a DVD enclosed of the film along with the Blu-ray edition. The presentation can look inconsistent - at times quite strong and at other times the contrast is muddy. The Arrow Academy 1080P transfer is single-layered with a modest bitrate. It looks like it may be a different print, in spots, than the DVDs. I'd like to reserve more judgments on the image till we see the Criterion Blu-ray which is due for release HERE on May 17th, 2011. It did look excellent in-motion despite the deficiencies of the source, and age, limitations of the print.

The audio is via a lossless linear PCM mono track at 1152 kbps. It is imperfect but again at the mercy of the source and sounded a shade more buoyant than I recall ever hearing before from the DVDs. There are optional subtitles that are different from the 2007 PAL DVD edition. The Blu-ray is region FREE.

Arrow retain the excellent audio commentary by Susan Hayward, author of Les Diaboliques (Cine-file French Film Guides) and the original trailer but add another fabulous supplement - a filmed 1/2 hour interview with French cinema scholar, critic and author Ginette Vincendeau. Also included is a liner notes booklet with a brand new writing on the film by author and critic Brad Stevens and a re-printed interview with Clouzot by Paul Schrader illustrated with stills and rare original set drawings by Léon Barsacq plus, described as, ' an artwork presentation packaging including original posters and a newly commissioned artwork cover.'

Don't be deterred by the comparative caps as most are the first frame after a scene change, where the source is at its weakest. Often the next frame is sharper and it blends seamlessly into the presentation. This gave me the best presentation of Les Diaboliques that I have yet seen - but would fully expect the Upcoming Criterion to surpass it for those in region 'A'. The Arrow Academy supplements here are excellent and add a strong value. This is a huge part of our recommendation.

***

ADDITION: Arrow Films - PAL - November 07': Both are single-layered and the print used (same) is weak but may be the best available. No restoration appears to have been done but Criterion may have boosted the brightness in a few scenes (darkened others). Overall the bare-bones Criterion looks superior but it may not be enough to recommend over the Arrow with its wonderful commentary from Susan Hayward (director of film studies at University of Exeter). She is very professional and brings up some relevant details in raising your appreciation of Clouzot's layered suspense film. Until someone restores this and includes relevant extras I recommend the Arrow films.

About the Criterion: An early Criterion and somewhat soft. There are instances of scratches and dirt, but overall a progressive transfer and watchable print. Contrast and gray scales are a little weak by today's standards. Audio is consistent for the most part. It's a damn interesting film and one very worthy to own. You may wish to buy sooner rather than later. No extras keeps this in the lower price-point. This is superior to the French Region 2 from TV1 (no Eng subs) version listed HERE  out of    

Gary W. Tooze



Menus

(Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC LEFT vs. Arrow Films - Region 0 - PAL RIGHT)


 

Arrow Academy - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

 

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 


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

 

Subtitle Sample

 

NOTE: Not exact frame...

 

1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Arrow Films - Region 0 - PAL SECOND

3) Arrow Academy - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

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

Screen Captures

 

1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Arrow Films - Region 0 - PAL SECOND

3) Arrow Academy - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Arrow Academy (following frame) - Region FREE - Blu-ray - FOURTH

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

 


 

1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Arrow Films - Region 0 - PAL SECOND

3) Arrow Academy - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Arrow Academy (following frame) - Region FREE - Blu-ray - FOURTH

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

 

1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Arrow Films - Region 0 - PAL SECOND

3) Arrow Academy - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Arrow Academy (following frame) - Region FREE - Blu-ray - FOURTH

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

 

1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Arrow Films - Region 0 - PAL SECOND

3) Arrow Academy - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Arrow Academy (following frame) - Region FREE - Blu-ray - FOURTH

5) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - FIFTH

6) Criterion (following frame) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

NOTE: This shows (captures #5) that the Criterion has cleaned the frame damage...

 

1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Arrow Films - Region 0 - PAL SECOND

3) Arrow Academy - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Arrow Academy (following frame) - Region FREE - Blu-ray - FOURTH

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

 

More Blu-ray Captures

1) Arrow Academy - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

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

 

1) Arrow Academy - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

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

 

1) Arrow Academy - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

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

 

1) Arrow Academy - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

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

 

NOTE: This is an exact frame and shows how much the Arrow is cropped beside the Criterion...

 


DVD Box Cover

   

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 35 - Region 0 - NTSC Arrow Films - Region 0 - PAL Arrow Academy - Region FREE - Blu-ray Criterion Collection - Spine # 35 - Region 'A'  - Blu-ray




 

Hit Counter

 

DONATIONS Keep DVDBeaver alive:

 CLICK PayPal logo to donate!

Gary Tooze

Thank You!