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(aka 'White Mane')

Directed by Albert Lamorisse
France 1953

 

A lesser-known short by the French master filmmaker Albert Lamorisse, whose Red Balloon is an all-time classic, White Mane is a beautiful but somewhat disturbing allegory that looks at first glance like a boy's adventure story, but actually contains real good vs. evil battles that can only be interpreted as a reflection of Lamorisse's own post-war angst.

Shot in stunningly bright black and while in 1953, just eight years after the war's end and featuring narration co-written by the great James Agee, White Mane takes us to a vast marsh in southern France where herds of wild horses roam free. The horse known as White Mane, who stands out because of his coloration, is a herd leader and much sought after by the French cowboys who ride around the marsh trying to capture and break horses. Rounded up and taken to a pen, White Mane resists captivity and escapes dramatically, and the incident is observed by a boy named Folco (Alain Emery), who lives a subsistence existence with his fisherman grandfather and too-cute toddler brother (Lamorisse's own son) in the middle of the marsh.

Excerpt from Don Willmott's review at filmcritic.com located HERE

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Theatrical Release: April 1953 - Cannes Film Festival

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Comparison:

Janus Films / Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Network - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Janus Films / Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC LEFT vs. Network - Region FREE - Blu-ray RIGHT

DVD Box Cover

 

Distribution Janus Films / Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC Network - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Runtime 40:00  0:39:55.041
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.69 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1080P / 24 fps Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 20,458,010,036 bytes

Feature: 5,858,562,048 bytes

Video Bitrate: 19.98 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

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

Bitrate:

Bitrate:

Audio French (Dolby Digital mono), DUB: English (Dolby Digital mono) LPCM Audio French 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
Subtitles English, None English (non-removable)
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Janus Films / Criterion Collection

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Trailer (1:24)

• 8-page liner notes

DVD Release Date: April 29th, 200
8
Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 11

Release Information:
Studio: Network (UK)

1080P / 24 fps Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 20,458,010,036 bytes

Feature: 5,858,562,048 bytes

Video Bitrate: 19.98 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Edition Details:

• Mon Pere Etait un Balloon Rouge (My Father Was A Red Balloon) - Albert Lamorisse Featurette (51:59)

• L'Enfant Qui Ne Sourait Pas - portrait of Alain Emery (43:13)

• The Red Balloon in HD (SEE COMPARISON HERE)

Blu-ray Release Date: January 18th, 2010
Standard (UK)
Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 6

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Network - Region FREE Blu-ray January 2010': Contrast is weak on this new Blu-ray with some green infiltration but more than that the frame is set is askew - at an angle (right edge disproportionately higher than the left) and we see rounded corners - something no respected projectionist would have allowed theatrically. It does have more information in the frame than the DVD. It looks okay on my system but not stellar nor anywhere near as good as The Red Balloon in 1080P - which it shares the Blu-ray disc with. To be fair the Criterion was imperfect as well so the original source may be compromised.

The linear PCM audio is pretty clean but not an overwhelming part of the presentation. the music sounds more resounding.

A big plus is that it also has Lamorisse's The Red Balloon in HD - albeit with some issues (SEE COMPARISON HERE) and two excellent French documentaries (with English subtitles). On Albert Lamorisse's life story is Mon Pere Etait un Balloon Rouge (My Father Was a Red Balloon) running over 50-minutes and L'Enfant Qui Ne Sourait Pas - is a 45-minute portrait of Alain Emery. Both are in SD.

NOTE: While the Blu-ray is technically region FREE - the documentaries are in PAL and North American players may not play the extras.

With The Red Balloon , and great extras - plus the reasonable price it makes for an enticing purchase. I really enjoyed watching this in an un-picture-boxed, high-definition transfer. It's definitely worth seeing again in the higher resolution despite the flaws.

NOTE: Sent by Richard Waara in email: "This weekend as I reviewed White Mane, looking for what I could use as a clip from it in the coming up But oh remembrance for a fallen comrade, it suddenly dawned on me that I was looking at another work of art, one of the finest children's films that has ever been made, that had been made flawed by unconscionable men.The full-length version (47 minutes) of White Mane is, in my opinion, better than The Red Balloon. I originally saw White Mane many years ago on television in SF. I was stunned by it. I was in my twenties and between memories of my childhood and becoming a so-called adult. It acted as a bridge between those two worlds and told me that there are ideals that we have in our childhood that we should maintain all our life and ultimately are worth dying for. White Mane was that rarest of children's films, a film by a director who dared to say something that could possibly traumatize its audience but with a message that was as true as childhood can be. Years later when I later discovered that both White Mane and The Red Balloon were coming out on laser disc, I rushed out to buy a copy. As the movie started to play there was an ominous date that had been added after the original date of the film. I can't remember what the exact wording was but it somehow suggested a possible new version of the film. As this version of the film came to an end, what had been alluded to became clear. This version of the film it turned out ended one minute right before the ending of Criterion's current version (40 minutes long) as both horse and boy escape to the narrow slip of land on the right. One can see it and a similar slip of land to the left that they are swimming toward. All the framing that occurs in this section is building up to an inevitable escape. As an innocuous voiceover rhapsodies their escape, the film abruptly ends. I was so outraged back then that I immediately returned the disc to the dealer where I had gotten it. The clerk appeared bemused about how worked up I was and believe me I was. Unfortunately I have been forced to relive that outrage today.This is again a case of the adult world trying to destroy the last remaining dreams of our youth. I can only speculate that the film was deemed too unsafe for the young to see. It might traumatize them. If there was only the possibility that this film existed in a way that it could. The only noticeable difference from that version and the current version that has been released by Criterion is an added minute of the real ending of the film. But what about the seven missing minutes in between the two endings? What about the integrity of the voiceover that was written by James Agee? Was that footage possibly destroyed so that the original film could never be restored? If it was, this has to be among one of the most heinous crimes ever perpetrated in the history of cinema." (Thanks Richard!)

***

ON THE DVD: NOTE: This Criterion transfer is again pictureboxed (see our description of 'pictureboxing' in our Kind Hearts and Coronets review). Criterion have included a thick black border around the edge of the frame to counter overscan on production-made television sets.

Like The Red Balloon, this is advertised as 'released by Janus Films, in association with the Criterion Collection' and is a single-layered, progressive DVD that bears the professionalism of the latter organization, although it has no spine number. The 1:33 ratio film is clean and very bright with minimal noise. Contrast is exceptionally strong retaining the heavy 'white' emphasis of the film and detail is somewhat stronger than The Red Balloon. Aside from the original French mono (mostly a narration), there is an English DUB provided - I assume, extensively for the sake of children. There are also optional English subtitles (see sample below) This short runs exactly 40 minutes long and is a wonderful tandem piece to The Red Balloon.  

Released simultaneously on April 29th (along with White Mane) are Paddle to the Sea (Bill Mason, 1966) and The Red Balloon (Albert Lamorisse, 1956).

There is a trailer and some liner notes with an essay by Michael Koresky. Criterion have stated in their blog that they may 'SE' this title along with The Red Balloon this year. If so, I'm sure we will compare but at this price - it is an easy purchase to show my young boys. 

Gary W. Tooze

 



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Distribution Janus Films / Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC Network - Region FREE - Blu-ray




 

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