(aka 'The Lovers')

Directed by Louis Malle
France 1958

 

Louis Malle unveiled the natural beauty of Jeanne Moreau in his breakthrough, Elevator to the Gallows. With his follow-up, the scandalous smash The Lovers (Les amants), he made her a star once and for all. A deeply felt and luxuriously filmed fairy tale for grown-ups, perched on the edge between classical and New Wave cinemas, The Lovers presents Moreau as a restless bourgeois wife whose eye wanders from both her husband and her lover to an attractive passing stranger (Jean-Marc Bory). Thanks to its frank sexuality, The Lovers caused quite a stir, being censored and attacked for obscenity around the world. If today its shock has worn off, its glistening sensuality and seductive storytelling haven't aged a day.

***

In Malle's second feature, he continued his association with new star Moreau in an (at the time) controversial study of bourgeois emptiness and sexual yearnings. She plays a chic, high society wife with money, a daughter, smart friends and a casual lover. Then one night, she makes passionate love with a young student of a few hours acquaintance, and leaves it all for a new life. If it now looks too much like an angry young sensualist's movie, the combination of highly pleasurable body language, Brahms on the soundtrack, and the ravishing, velvety monochrome photography of Henri DecaŽ proves hard to resist. The film established Moreau's screen persona - commanding, wilful, sultry - but it marked the stylistically-conscious Malle apart from his more tearaway nouvelle vague colleagues.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Releases: September 1958 - Venice Film Festival

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DVD Comparison:

Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC

(Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL LEFT vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC RIGHT)

DVD Box Cover

  

Distribution Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL Criterion Collection (Spine # 429) - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 1:26:51 (4% PAL Speedup)  1:30:39
Video 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.1 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s
2.35:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.55 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: Optimum

Bitrate: Criterion

Audio French (Dolby Digital Mono) French (Dolby Digital Mono)
Subtitles English (non-removable) English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Optimum Releasing

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio:  2.35 

Edition Details:

• Vincent Malle discusses the film (in English)

DVD Release Date: June 26th, 2006

4 Tiered Digipak inside VHS sized case
Chapters: 12

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio:  2.35 

Edition Details:

• Selection of archival interviews with Louis Malle (1963 - 9:44 + 1994 - 19:38), actors Jeanne Moreau (1958 - 2:37 + 1972 - 6:12) and Josť Luis de Villalonga (1958 - 5:31), and writer Louise de Vilmorin (1965 - 3:52)
•  Gallery of 14 promotional materials from the U.S. theatrical release 
•  18-page liner notes booklet with new essay by film historian Ginette Vincendeau

DVD Release Date: May 13th, 2008

Transparent Keep case
Chapters: 17

Comments:

ADDITION: Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC April 08':  The Criterion transfer is vastly improved over the single-layered Optimum. The larger differences include sharpness, resolution, contrast, less damage and less frequent flickering. This has resulted because the Criterion takes up more space (dual-layered), has had some digital restoration and is tighter to the frame edges. Something I didn't notice while reviewing the Optimum the first time, but it appears to be vertically compressed to a small degree. This would probably never have surfaced if not for the side-by-side comparison. NOTE: the Criterion shows more information on both edges.   

Both are progressive and anamorphic in-and-around the 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Both also suffer from prevalent digital noise in certain shadowy monochromatic black sequences. I can only assume nothing further could be done about this but prepare yourself and it can be distracting (on both - but more prevalent on the PAL DVD).  Compared to the Region 2 Optimum (boxset reviewed in full HERE) the differences are quite dramatic and, expectantly, the Criterion vaults ahead. To my ears the Criterion audio may also be superior but I couldn't detect too many anomalies to assuredly suggest that with any certainty. Once again, Optimum's subtitles are non-removable where on the Criterion they are.

Criterion have again stacked their release with some terrific archival interviews; two with Louis Malle ( from 1963 - 9:44 and, over 30 years later, from 1994 - 19:38), two shorter ones with Jeanne Moreau (1958 - 2:37 and 1972 - 6:12), another with Josť Luis de Villalonga (partially with his Polo Pony from 1958, lasting only 5:31), and finally a short piece with writer Louise de Vilmorin (1965 - 3:52). Impressive how Criterion have dug-up such vintage material - cool to watch too! There is also a gallery of 14 promotional materials from the U.S. theatrical release including some text and posters discussing the film's controversy. Lastly we have an 18-page liner notes booklet with new essay by film historian Ginette Vincendeau.  

The improvement here is much greater than in The Fire Within, extensively for both the image transfer and supplements. This film is surely worthy of an upgrade in my opinion. I admit to getting much more out of thee film in this, comparatively, excellent presentation. We recommend! 

***

ON THE OPTIMUM: This much softer than the other transfers in the Louis Malle Collection - Vol. 1. The 2.35 ratio is maintained but there is a slim black border surrounding the frame limiting the horizontal resolution and it is also single-layered taking up only 3.7 Gig of the disc. Contrast has some fluctuations and there is drastic noise. Again subtitles cannot be removed and the mono audio is clear and dialogue audible. Vincent Malle further discusses his brother and some tidbits on this particular film.

Another wonderful Malle film. Moreau's performance is quite special.      

Gary W. Tooze


DVD Menus


 
 
 

 

 

Subtitle Sample

NOTE: Not exact frame!

 

(Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


 

Screen Captures

 

(Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


(Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


(Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


(Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


(Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)
 

 

 


(Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)
 

 


Report Card:

 

Image:

Criterion

Sound:

-

Extras: Criterion
Menu: Criterion

 


DVD Box Cover

  

Distribution Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL Criterion Collection (Spine # 429) - Region 1 - NTSC




 

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