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 Eclipse (Criterion 3-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC - ABOVE TOP vs. Cinéart (5-disc) - Region 2 - PAL BOTTOM

 

Chantal Akerman in the Seventies


Hôtel Monterey (1972)      Je, tu, il, elle (1975)


Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975) (2-disc)


News from Home (1976)        Les rendez- vous d’Anna (1978)

 

Over the past four decades, Belgian director Chantal Akerman (Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles) has created one of cinema’s most distinctive bodies of work—formally daring, often autobiographical films about people and places, time and space. In this collection, we present the early films that put her on the map: intensely personal, modernist investigations of cities, history, family, and sexuality, made in the 1970s in the United States and Europe and strongly influenced by the New York experimental film scene. Bold and iconoclastic, these five films pushed boundaries in their day and continue to have a profound influence on filmmakers all over the world.

 

"Comparable in force and originality to Godard or Fassbinder, Chantal Akerman is arguably the most important European director of her generation." - J. Hoberman, The Village Voice

"The films of Chantal Akerman are the single most important and coherent body of work by a woman director in the history of the cinema." - Film Center Gazette of the School of the Art Institute

In 1976 the French newspaper Le Monde heralded Chantal Akerman's Jeanne Dielman 23, quai du commerce, 1080 Bruxelles as "the first masterpiece in the feminine in the history of the cinema." The unconventional style and subject made the film a powerful sign of a decade when feminism erupted into the arena of politics and film.

Akerman the filmmaker came of age at the same time as the new age of feminism, and her films became key texts in the nascent field of feminist film theory. Feminism posed the apparently simple question of who speaks when a woman in film speaks (as character, as director ...); Akerman insisted convincingly that her films' modes of address rather than their stories alone are the locus of their feminist perspective. The many arguments about what form a "new women's cinema" should take revolved around a presumed dichotomy between so-called realist (meaning accessible) and avant-garde (meaning elitist) work; Akerman's films rendered such distinctions irrelevant and illustrated the reductiveness of the categories. - Professor Janet Bergstrom, UCLA, in Sight and Sound

Born in Brussels, Belgium in 1950, Chantal Akerman is a filmmaker whose work gives new meaning to the term "independent film." An Akerman film is an exercise in pure independence, pure creativity, and pure art. The viewer must give him- or herself over completely to the experience of the film, to watch with open eyes and an open mind. To label Akerman's work "minimalist" or "structuralist" or "feminist" is to miss most of what she is about. Strong themes in her films include women at work and at home, women's relationships to men, women, and children, food, love, sex, romance, art, and storytelling. Each Akerman film is a world unto itself and demands to be explored on its own terms. Her films are the subject of two recent books: Identity and Memory: The Films of Chantal Akerman by Gwendolyn Audrey Foster and Nothing Happens: Chantal Akerman's Hyperrealist Everday by Ivone Margulies...

Excerpt from First Run Icarus Films website located HERE


Titles

 

 


 

La chambre
Chantal Akerman, 1972
In Chantal Akerman’s early short film La chambre, we see the furniture and clutter of one small apartment room become the subject of a moving still life—with Akerman herself staring back at us. This breakthrough formal experiment is the first film the director made in New York.

Hotel Monterey
Chantal Akerman, 1972
Under Chantal Akerman’s watchful eye, a cheap Manhattan hotel glows with mystery and unexpected beauty, its corridors, elevators, rooms, windows, and occasional occupants framed like Edward Hopper tableaux.

News from Home
Chantal Akerman, 1976
Akerman’s unforgettable time capsule of New York City in the 1970s is also a gorgeous meditation on urban alienation and personal and familial disconnection.

Je tu il elle
Chantal Akerman, 1975
In her provocative first feature, Chantal Akerman stars as an aimless young woman who leaves self-imposed isolation to embark on a road trip that leads to lonely love affairs with a male truck driver and a former girlfriend.

Les rendez-vous d'Anna
Chantal Akerman, 1978
In one of Akerman’s most penetrating character studies, Anna, an accomplished filmmaker (played by Aurore Clément), makes her way through a series of European cities to promote her latest movie.


****

Hôtel Monterey
This early experimental feature, slightly longer than an hour, by Chantal Akerman (1972), shot silently and brilliantly by Babette Mangolte, explores the corridors, lobby, elevators, and rooms of a cheap New York hotel. Occasionally the rooms' solitary occupants are glimpsed, but this only increases the overall atmosphere of eerie isolation and quiet, and reveals perhaps more than any other Akerman film how central an influence Edward Hopper has been in her work.

Excerpt from Jonathan Rosenbaum's capsule at The Chicago Reader located HERE

 

Je, tu, il, elle
Chantal Akerman directed and plays the lead in this early (1974) black-and-white feature that charts three successive stages of its heroine's love life. In the first part she lives like a hermit, eating only sugar, compulsively rearranging the furniture in her one-room flat, and apparently writing and rewriting a love letter; in part two she hitches a ride with a truck driver and eventually gives him a hand job; in part three she arrives at the home of her female lover, and they proceed to make frantic love. This is every bit as obsessive and as eerie as Akerman's later Jeanne Dielman and Toute une nuit, though not as striking on a visual level; as in all her best work, however, the minimalist structure is both potent and haunting.

Excerpt from Jonathan Rosenbaum's capsule at The Chicago Reader located HERE


Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
Chantal Akerman's feature is one of the few 'feminist' movies that's as interesting aesthetically as politically. It covers three days in the life of a bourgeois widow who supports herself and her somewhat moronic son by taking in a 'gentleman caller' each afternoon. Much of the film simply chronicles her ritualised routine, but does it in an ultra-minimal, precise style that emphasises the artifice of the whole thing...and gradually the artifice (coupled with the fact that Delphine Seyrig plays the woman) shifts the plot into melodrama, so that the film becomes a bourgeois tragedy.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE
 

News From Home
An early experimental feature by Chantal Akerman (1976, 85 min.) that juxtaposes images of New York City with the texts of letters written to Akerman by her mother in Belgium and read aloud offscreen by Akerman. This is one of the best depictions of the alienation of exile that I know.

Excerpt from Jonathan Rosenbaum's capsule at The Chicago Reader located HERE

 

Les Rendez-vous d'Anna
The succes de scandale of Jeanne Dielman brought Chantal Akerman the opportunity to make a film for the French major Gaumont; the result was this moody, terse, haunting feature about a woman filmmaker (Aurore Clement) on a promotional tour of Europe. In each city she takes the chance to look up relatives, friends, and ex-lovers, but none of the meetings is wholly satisfying; some block to communication always remains. Akerman's use of long takes and open spaces delineates the gulf that separates her characters from their environment and from each other. While the atmosphere of anomie may be familiar from countless European art films, it is Akerman's intense emotionality, held desperately in check by her precise camera style, that makes this effort something special.

Excerpt from Dave Kehr's capsule at The Chicago Reader located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Releases: 1972 - 1978

  DVD Reviews

DVD Comparison:

Cinéart (5-disc) - Region 2 - PAL vs. Eclipse Series 19 (Criterion) - Region 1- NTSC

Cinéart (5-disc) - Region 2 - PAL LEFT vs. Eclipse (Criterion 3-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC - RIGHT

 

DVD Box Cover

Distribution Cinéart - Region 2 - PAL Eclipse Series 19 (Criterion) - Region 1 - NTSC
Time: Respectively 59:32, 1:22:09, + 1:25:09 + 2:01:56 (4% PAL speedup) Respectively 1:02:24, 1:25:37, + 1:29:03 + 2:07:20
 

Cinéart

Bitrate:

Hôtel Monterey and Je, tu, il, elle

Bitrate:

Jeanne Dielman (film)

Bitrate:

News From Home

Bitrate:

Les rendez- vous d’Anna

 

Eclipse

Bitrate:

News From Home / Hôtel Monterey / Chambre

Bitrate:

Je, tu, il, elle

Bitrate:

Les rendez- vous d’Anna

Audio French (2.0 stereo) French (1.0 mono)
Subtitles English, Dutch, None English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Cinéart

Aspect Ratio:
All Original Aspect Ratios - 1.33 for all but Jeanne Dielman and Les rendez- vous d’Anna which are anamorphic 1.66:1  

Edition Details:  

NOTE: ALL EXTRAS HAVE OPTIONAL ENG. and DUTCH SUBTITLES

• Saute ma ville (1968) and La Chambre (1972)

• 3 separate Interviews - with Babette Mangolte, mother Natalia Akerman and Aurore Clement (approx. 1 hour 20 minutes)

• Interview with Chantal Akerman (17:15)

• Featurette: Autour de Jeanne Dielman (1:18:25)


DVD Release Date: April 18th, 2007

Custom 4-tiered case (see image above)
Chapters: various 

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
All Original Aspect Ratios - 1.33 for all but Les rendez- vous d’Anna which are anamorphic 1.66:1  

Edition Details:  

• one page (for each film) of liner notes in the transparent case


DVD Release Date: January 19th, 2010

3 -transparent slim keep cases inside a cardboard box
Chapters: various 

 

Comments:

ADDITION: Eclipse Series 19 - January 10': Firstly we should make very clear that Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du commerce, 1080 Bruxelles is NOT included in this Eclipse set. Criterion has that in it's own individual 2-disc release HERE and we have compared it to the one in the Cinéart set. The other 5 films are included in both sets (Hôtel Monterey, Je, tu, il, elle, News From Home, Les rendez- vous d’Anna and the 10-minute La Chambre). But the Cinéart package also has Saute ma ville (1968) and many supplements.

As far as image goes - It appears as though the source for the transfers is the exact same as there is not much difference at all between the two digital presentations. The colors on News From Home are less green on the Criterion and more blue. The Criterion is slightly cropped on Hôtel Monterey but shows a little more in the frame on News From Home but these films are less about image quality and more about the rhythm of the expression. Where the Eclipse has an advantage in that these are NTSC transferred - not 4% speedup via PAL as the Cinéart are. Some may consider this significant.

Both have optional English subtitles although there is no dialogue at all in a couple of the films (Hotel Monterey and the short La Chambre). Translations are different but I wouldn't value over the other. At times the Cinéart seems more literal but both are competent as far as my pigeon French can determine.

There are no extras on the Eclipse save some one page (for each film) liner notes in the transparent cases. On Criterion's Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du commerce, 1080 Bruxelles there are most of the supplements found here with an extra interview included and their typical liner notes booklet. Obviously, this is the perfect companion piece to the Eclipse Series 19 package - and with it you essentially have most of the same content as the Cinéart.

It's really very close and I'd suggest that it may come down to price and availability. Those less sensitive to PAL speedup and who are able to purchase the Cinéart for reasonable delivery costs may wish to go that route. North Americans should indulge in this Eclipse and Criterion's Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du commerce, 1080 Bruxelles. I wouldn't suggest that there is any strong need to double dip for anyone who already owns the Cinéart that has been out for almost 2 years. Either route though is essential.

***

ON THE Cinéart SET:  Many cineastes were riding a roller coaster of emotion when Carlotta films announced a Coffret Chantal Akerman - The 70's HERE but were later disappointed when it was confirmed that they did not include English subtitles. The fabulous news is that Cinéart (Belgium) have released a DVD collection, with the exact same films (Hôtel Monterey / Je, tu, il, elle / Jeanne Dielman, / News from home and Les Rendez-vous d'Anna), it has many viable supplements, AND does offer optional English (as well as Dutch) subtitles. Great news!

NOTE: Hotel Monterey and the short La Chambre have no dialogue and hence have no subtitle options.

Image quality is very acceptable and look accurate to the source prints. I see no digital manipulation. All are original aspect ratio - meaning 1.33 except for Anna and Dielman which are 1.66 anamorphic. I suspect that these are as good as we will see Akerman's 70's films look on DVD - unless, of course, Criterion do Jeanne Dielman one day (I have heard no rumors to that effect). The latest - Rendez-vous d'Anna - looks the best followed by Jeanne Dielman. The others show their frugal production limitations.

Important news is that the supplements ALL have optional English and Dutch subtitles.

On the News From Home disc we have two Akerman shorts - Saute ma ville (1968) running 12 minutes plus a silent camera piece, running 11 minutes, called La Chambre (1972). On the Les rendez- vous d’Anna DVD we have 3 separate Interviews - one with Babette Mangolte, a second with the director's mother Natalia Akerman and another with Aurore Clement (total approx. 1 hour 20 minutes). On the supplements disc for Jeanne Dielman there is an interview with Chantal Akerman (17:15) and a featurette called Autour de Jeanne Dielman. It is a limited production behind the scenes expose and runs for 1:18:25. I found it kind of boring.

The package is divided as follows - Hôtel Monterey and Je, tu, il, elle share a dual-layered disc. Jeanne Dielman is on its own (also dual-layered). The third disc has News From Home and the three interviews as extras, then the DVD with Les rendez- vous d’Anna has the two Akerman shorts and the 5th DVD is the bonus disc (Akerman interview and Behind the Scenes) is single-layered.

It took a couple of weeks for my set to arrive from overseas - but, obviously, it eventually did. I recommend it very strongly - these are memorable early works from a master filmmaker.   

Gary W. Tooze




DVD Menus

 

Cinéart (5-disc) - Region 2 - PAL LEFT vs. Eclipse (Criterion 3-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC - RIGHT


Cinéart Supplements


Screen Captures

 

Hôtel Monterey


Director: Chantal Akerman


Theatrical Release Date: July 11th, 1989 in US

 

Cinéart (5-disc) - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Eclipse (Criterion 3-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 

 

Cinéart (5-disc) - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Eclipse (Criterion 3-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 

Cinéart (5-disc) - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Eclipse (Criterion 3-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 


 

Screen Captures

 

 

Je tu il elle


Stars Chantal Akerman, Niels Arestrup and Claire Wauthion


Director: Chantal Akerman


Theatrical Release Date: December 27th, 1975

 

Cinéart (5-disc) - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Eclipse (Criterion 3-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 

 

Cinéart (5-disc) - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Eclipse (Criterion 3-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 

 

Cinéart (5-disc) - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Eclipse (Criterion 3-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 

 

Cinéart (5-disc) - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Eclipse (Criterion 3-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 


 

Screen Captures

 

Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du commerce, 1080 Bruxelles  

 

NOT AVAILABLE ON THE ECLIPSE SERIES 19 PACKAGE!

 

Compared to Criterion's individual 2-disc release HERE


Starring Chantal Akerman (Neighbor's voice), Delphine Seyrig, Jan Decorte and Henri Storck
 

Director: Chantal Akerman


Theatrical Release Date: October 1976 - Toronto Film Festival

 

 


 

Screen Captures

 

 

 News from Home


Chantal Akerman (voice)


Director: Chantal Akerman


Theatrical Release Date: January 3, 1953

 

Cinéart (5-disc) - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Eclipse (Criterion 3-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 

 

Cinéart (5-disc) - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Eclipse (Criterion 3-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 

 

Cinéart (5-disc) - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Eclipse (Criterion 3-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 

 

Cinéart (5-disc) - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Eclipse (Criterion 3-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 

 


 

Screen Captures

 

 

Les rendez- vous d’Anna


Stars Aurore Clément, Helmut Griem, Magali Noël, Hanns Zischler, Lea Massari and Jean-Pierre Cassel

 

Director: Chantal Akerman


Theatrical Release Date: November 8th, 1978

 

Cinéart (5-disc) - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Eclipse (Criterion 3-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 

 

Cinéart (5-disc) - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Eclipse (Criterion 3-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 

 

Cinéart (5-disc) - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Eclipse (Criterion 3-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 

 

Cinéart (5-disc) - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Eclipse (Criterion 3-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 

 


 

DVD Box Cover

 

Distribution Cinéart - Region 2 - PAL Eclipse Series 19 (Criterion) - Region 1 - NTSC




 

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Gary Tooze

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