(aka 'Daybreak')

Directed by Marcel Carné
France 1939

Possibly the best of the Carné-Prévert films, certainly their collaboration at its most classically pure, with Gabin a dead man from the outset as his honest foundry worker, hounded into jealousy and murder by a cynical seducer, holes up with a gun in an attic surrounded by police, remembering in flashback how it all started while he waits for the end. Fritz Lang might have given ineluctable fate a sharper edge (less poetry, more doom), but he couldn't have bettered the performances from Gabin, Berry, Arletty, and (as the subject of Gabin's romantic agony) Laurent. Remade in Hollywood as The Long Night in 1947.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

***

The most celebrated example of the doom-laden, darkly shadowed "poetic realism" that flourished in France in the years leading up to World War II. Jean Gabin is the honest, timid workingman who, hiding from the police in an attic room, spends the night remembering the events that led him to murder. The screenplay is by Jacques Prevert, the most accomplished dialogist of the period, and the famous sets, with their overtones of German expressionism, are by Alexander Trauner. Only the direction, by Marcel Carne, seems less than it could be; there's a lack of imagination and suppleness in the images that pulls the film down.

Excerpt from Dave Kehr's review at the Chicago Reader located HERE.

Poster

Theatrical Release: June 9th, 1939

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DVD Review: Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC

DVD Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

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The Essential Art House - 50 Years of Janus Films is a 50-disc celebration of international films collected under the auspices of the groundbreaking theatrical distributor. It contains Alexander Nevsky (1938), Ashes And Diamonds (1958), L'avventura (1960), Ballad Of A Soldier (1959), Beauty And The Beast (1946), Black Orpheus (1959), Brief Encounter (1945), The Fallen Idol (1948), Fires On The Plain (1959), Fists In The Pocket (1965), Floating Weeds (1959), Forbidden Games (1952), The 400 Blows (1959), Grand Illusion (1937), Häxan (1922), Ikiru (1952), The Importance Of Being Earnest (1952), Ivan The Terrible, Part II (1958), Le Jour Se Lève (1939), Jules And Jim (1962), Kind Hearts And Coronets (1949), Knife In The Water (1962), The Lady Vanishes (1938), The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp (1943), Loves Of A Blonde (1965), M (1931), M. Hulot's Holiday (1953), Miss Julie (1951), Pandora's Box (1929), Pépé Le Moko (1937), Il Posto (1961), Pygmalion (1938), Rashomon (1950), Richard III (1955), The Rules Of The Game (1939), Seven Samurai (1954), The Seventh Seal (1957), The Spirit Of The Beehive (1973), La Strada (1954), Summertime (1955), The Third Man (1949), The 39 Steps (1935), Ugetsu (1953), Umberto D. (1952), The Virgin Spring (1960), Viridiana (1961), The Wages Of Fear (1953), The White Sheik (1952), Wild Strawberries (1957), Three Documentaries By Saul J. Turell plus the hardcover, full color 240-page book.

                 

 

Distribution Criterion / Janus Collection - Region 0 - NTSC
Runtime 1:29:57 
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.31 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:

Audio French (Dolby Digital mono) 
Subtitles English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion / Janus

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• none

DVD Release Date: September 15th, 2009

loose-leaf slip holder inside binder
Chapters: 14

 

Comments:

NOTE: As the other single-disc Essential Art releases have been duplicates of those found in the Essential Art package - we will assume the same here.

***

Wow!! - Christmas came a little early - this is yet another stupendous film - a crime, drama, thriller from late 30's French cinema. Using flashbacks we are shown a decent fellow (Jean Gabin) resigned to his fate while the surrounding intense performances echo his lament. Chilling and outstanding!

THIS DVD: Firstly, this image is pictureboxed (see our description of 'pictureboxing' in our Kind Hearts and Coronets review) - a standard practice by Criterion for 1.33 aspect ratio films - aspiring to eliminate overscan on standard production television tubes. Contrast is still good but perhaps a notch below current Criterion standards. The progressive transfer shows inescapable digital artifacts (for a film of this age), and expected wear and tear from the print with light scratches and marks. None of the negative's inferiorities diminish the film's impact though. Audio is correspondingly weak - but consistent. There are no digital supplements on this dual layered disc.

ON THE ESSENTIAL ART HOUSE COLLECTION:

THE COLLECTION: This is like nothing ever seen before - accurately described as:

'Packaged in a heavy slipcase binder (remember, lift with your legs, not your back), one volume contains the DVDs in sturdy cardboard pages; the other volume is a hardback book with introductory essays and essays about each of the films.

Janus Films is the precursor to the Criterion Collection, and this set is far and away the most beautiful art object the company has ever created. The substantial and subdued packaging is meant to stand the test of time, as are the films immortalized within. From The Seventh Seal to Jules And Jim to M and Pygmalion and The 39 Steps, this exquisite set is the art house DVD release of 2006, if not the decade.

The 200-page book provides context for the films and is worth reading in its own right. Martin Scorcese offers a brief and celebratory introduction, reminiscing about the thrill of seeing the antiquated Janus Films logo when attending a movie in one of New York City's art house theaters. Film historian Peter Cowie's essay about the history of art house cinema in America casts light on how films by directors like Akira Kurosawa and Ingmar Bergman first found American audiences. These days it's easy to take for granted our access to films from around the globe, but in the early 20th century it was only due to the efforts of a passionate few that these great films found theatrical life in the United States. Many of these films, particularly those from Europe, boasted more liberal attitudes about such things as sex and war, facing the threat of censorship and hostility from Hollywood-fed audiences who weren't accustomed to considering films as works of art. Janus Films evolved as a way to bridge these cultural gaps, introducing Americans to foreign sensibilities and big-screen stories that transcended language. '

NOTE: None of the discs in the collection have extras - all supplements from the individual Criterions have been stripped.

Now the logistics of buying this set can be greatly determined by how many of these Criterion DVDs that you already own... and how much you might value the remaining ones. If you consider the book itself to be in the neighborhood of $60-$100 then you can get a fair estimation of what the remaining discs would be valued at - BUT on the positive - you would still be getting 2nd copies of the duplicates. These could simply kept as back-ups (trust me - this is not such a crazy idea).

Waxing somewhat philosophically I can personally state that certain films in this collection (ex. L'avventura , Ikiru, Pandora's Box, The Rules Of The Game, Seven Samurai, The Seventh Seal, The Spirit Of The Beehive,  La Strada, Ugetsu, Umberto D. ) have altered not only my perception of cinema, but of life as well - making them virtually priceless. This collection is the single greatest purchase a cineophile could possibly make. Regardless of it being the Holidays, I encourage you to treat yourself to this gift of timeless art and beauty - it will last you a lifetime.  

Gary W. Tooze

 

 



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DVD Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

(click titles for DVDBeaver reviews)

The Essential Art House - 50 Years of Janus Films is a 50-disc celebration of international films collected under the auspices of the groundbreaking theatrical distributor. It contains Alexander Nevsky (1938), Ashes And Diamonds (1958), L'avventura (1960), Ballad Of A Soldier (1959), Beauty And The Beast (1946), Black Orpheus (1959), Brief Encounter (1945), The Fallen Idol (1948), Fires On The Plain (1959), Fists In The Pocket (1965), Floating Weeds (1959), Forbidden Games (1952), The 400 Blows (1959), Grand Illusion (1937), Häxan (1922), Ikiru (1952), The Importance Of Being Earnest (1952), Ivan The Terrible, Part II (1958), Le Jour Se Lève (1939), Jules And Jim (1962), Kind Hearts And Coronets (1949), Knife In The Water (1962), The Lady Vanishes (1938), The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp (1943), Loves Of A Blonde (1965), M (1931), M. Hulot's Holiday (1953), Miss Julie (1951), Pandora's Box (1929), Pépé Le Moko (1937), Il Posto (1961), Pygmalion (1938), Rashomon (1950), Richard III (1955), The Rules Of The Game (1939), Seven Samurai (1954), The Seventh Seal (1957), The Spirit Of The Beehive (1973), La Strada (1954), Summertime (1955), The Third Man (1949), The 39 Steps (1935), Ugetsu (1953), Umberto D. (1952), The Virgin Spring (1960), Viridiana (1961), The Wages Of Fear (1953), The White Sheik (1952), Wild Strawberries (1957), Three Documentaries By Saul J. Turell plus the hardcover, full color 240-page book.

                 

 

Distribution Criterion / Janus Collection - Region 0 - NTSC




 

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