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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "Me" or "Naked Childhood")

Directed by Maurice Pialat

France 1968

 

The singular French director Maurice Pialat puts his distinctive stamp on the lost-youth film with this devastating portrait of a damaged foster child. We watch as ten-year-old François (Michel Terrazon) is shuttled from one home to another, his behavior growing increasingly erratic, his bonds with his surrogate parents perennially fraught. In this, his feature debut, Pialat treats that potentially sentimental scenario with astonishing sobriety and stark realism. With its full-throttle mixture of emotionality and clear-eyed skepticism, L’enfance nue (Naked Childhood) was advance notice of one of the most masterful careers in French cinema, and remains one of Pialat’s finest works.

***

One of the earth-shaking feature debuts in the history of cinema, Maurice Pialat’s L’Enfance-nue [Naked-Childhood] provides a perspective on growing-up that rejects both sentimentality and modish cynicism. Its unflinching, but also warmly accommodating, outlook on childhood attracted François Truffaut to take on the role as co-producer of Pialat’s film — which, ironically, exists as much as a response to Truffaut’s own debut The 400 Blows as that film was to the ‘cinema of childhood’ that came before the New Wave.

First-time actor Michel Tarrazon plays the young François, a provincial orphan whose destructive behaviour precipitates his relocation from the home of a long-term foster family to the care of a benevolent elderly couple. In the course of this transition, Pialat’s film presents the turbulence of François’s unmoored existence, and his explosive reactions to the contradictory emotions it engenders. This is the naked portrait of a soul’s — and an entire society’s — dysfunction, before the moment of reconciliation.

L’Enfance-nue represents the ideal introduction to the films of Maurice Pialat — an artist whose work resides alongside that of Jean Eustache and Philippe Garrel at the summit of the post-New Wave French cinema. One discovers in his pictures a raw and complicated emotional core which, as in the films of John Cassavetes, reveals upon closer examination a remarkably rigorous visual aesthetic, and a facility of direction which lifts both seasoned actors and debut amateurs to the level of greatness. Coupled here with Pialat’s poetic and brilliant early short L’Amour existe [Love Exists, 1960], L’Enfance-nue is the first masterpiece of an artist whose work has had an incalculable influence on contemporary directors as diverse as Bruno Dumont, Olivier Assayas, Michael Haneke, and the Dardenne brothers, among others — and whose 2003 passing led Gilles Jacob, president of the Festival de Cannes, to declare: “Pialat is dead and we are all orphaned. French cinema is orphaned.” The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present Maurice Pialat’s 1968 debut feature film — and Prix Jean Vigo winner — in a magnificent restored transfer for the first time on home video in the UK.

Excerpt from MoC webpage located HERE

Poster

Theatrical Release: April 4th, 1968

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DVD Comparison: 

Eureka (Masters of Cinema - 2-disc) - Region 0 - PAL vs. Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC

Eureka (Masters of Cinema - 2-disc) - Region 0 - PAL LEFT vs. Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC RIGHT

DVD Box Cover

    

Distribution

Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Spine # 72

Region 0 - PAL

Criterion Collection - Spine # 534

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:19:36 (4% PAL Speedup) 1:23:00
Video 1.66:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.38 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s
1.66:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.72 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
Bitrate: MoC
Bitrate: Criterion
Audio Mono Dolby Digital French Mono Dolby Digital French
Subtitles English, None English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Eureka (Masters of Cinema)

Aspect Ratio:
Anamorphic - 1.66:1

Edition Details:
• Interview With Arlette Langmann And Patrick Grandperret [2003]: 06:24
  L'amour Existe (Pialat, 1960) 19:06 (1.66:1 non-anamorphic / progressive)

2nd disc (dual-layered)

• Interview with Maurice Pialat, from the programme Champ contre-champ
(1973) - 32:16
• Observations: Around L’enfance Nue] (1969) — 50:23
• 2005 video interview with Michel Tarrazon (09:43)
• The film’s original trailer, along with 6 other Pialat trailers.• 

Set comes with a 40-page booklet containing a new essay by critic and filmmaker Kent Jones, and newly translated interviews with Maurice Pialat

DVD Release Date: September 22nd, 2008
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Chapters 16

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Anamorphic - 1.66:1

Edition Details:
• L'amour existe, director Maurice Pialat's 1960 short film (19:53)
• Choses vues, autour de "L'enfance nue," a fifty-minute documentary (52:31)
• Excerpts from a 1973 French television interview with Pialat (15:36)
• New visual essay by critic Kent Jones (11:13)
• Video interview with Pialat collaborators (6:24)
16-page liner notes booklet featuring an essay by critic Phillip Lopate

DVD Release Date: August 17th, 2010
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Chapters 24

 

Comments ADDITION: Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - August 2010: There are some large visual differences between the two DVD editions. Firstly, the Masters of Cinema has a notably higher bitrate as it does not share the feature disc with as many supplements as the Criterion lone-disc does. The UK package has smartly moved the bulk of their extras to a second DVD. Also - glaring when looked at side-by-side but either the UK disc is horizontally stretched (fatter faces) or the Criterion is vertically stretched (slimmer faces). What I suspect is that it is a little of both but I'll go with the Criterion as being more correct in this regard. Colors - I will lean to the MoC transfer with much better flesh tones and tighter hues. The Criterion seems overly dark at times with some yellow/greenish infiltration. Primary colors are very similar with the Criterion being a bit richer and darker. The Criterion also has quite a bit more information the frame edges although both are in the correct 1.66:1 aspect ratio.

NOTE: the stretching and squeezing issue is probably more common than you might think but it is something you get used to very quickly in a standard viewing presentation.

Both are listed as being taken from a "high-definition" source but the MoC is marginally smoother with less artifacts and more grain visible. The Criterion looks like it may have had some manipulation - I can't be sure - where the UK transfer is "clean". Funnily enough, I'll wager both would look 'fine' without comparison to the other standard's edition. In the final tally - I hesitate to choose one over the other and would like the opportunity to compare both of these transfers to the French disc one day - perhaps this would be more revealing. It probably more depends on what you, personally, would be willing to accept.

Audio is a wash with both being the original French mono. My ears couldn't detect any differences in the scenes that I sampled and both have optional English subtitles. For those sensitive to PAL speedup - obviously the Criterion may be the way to go although I wouldn't say the dialogue pitch was notably higher on the MoC - not that I could notice anyway.

Criterion have crammed their disc with almost 2 hours of video supplements - most duplicated in the UK package including Autour de "L'enfance nue" - a 52-minute documentary shot by Daniel Creusot and Francis Warin. It first aired on the French television program Choses vues and examines both the making of "L'enfance nue" and the plight of children in the foster care system. It has optional English subtitles as do all extras. Also duplicated is L'amour existe, director Maurice Pialat's 1960 short film and the video interview with Pialat collaborators Arlette Langmann And Patrick Grandperret (running about 6-minutes). What is unique to the Criterion is an excellent new visual essay by critic Kent Jones running over ten minutes on a backdrop of the film and bits of Chantal Akerman's Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles. Criterion have only given about 1/2  - an excerpt - from the 1973 French TV programme 'Champ contre-champ', interviewing Pialat (MoC have 1/2 hour to Criterion's 15-minutes). Both have their own liner notes booklets - and the Criterion has photos in their 16-page one with an essay by critic Phillip Lopate. MoC's booklet is huge and they get the nod for overall supplements.

Despite the variance in image transfer - I'd say both editions have value - but the 2-disc MoC is significantly cheaper at the writing of this review and that is probably the way to go for those less sensitive to the differences and for those who are not region-locked to region 1/NTSC. This is a fabulously impacting film experience and we certainly recommend!

Gary Tooze

***

 

NOTE: DVDBeaver's UK correspondent for MoC, Henry Kedger, is continuing his reviewing and we are appreciative. He has sent us some captures and comments below for Spine # 72 L'Enfance.

ON THE Masters of Cinema DVD: Firstly, thank to Masters of Cinema for their screener and Gary for allowing me to review it here at DVDBeaver. I am quite honored.

This is another two disc offering with the first disc containing Maurice Pialat's debut feature. I found it truly a revelation, like the bastard, adopted, step-child of Truffaut's The 400 Blows (Truffaut actually co-produced L'anfance nue) and Loach's KES, it's hands down the most riveting new find I've come across in years. This is in part down to an incredible central performance by the young Michel Tarrazon, and the piercing, fully-formed directorial style of Maurice Pialat.

MoC have utilised the HD restoration from the French release, in its original 1.66:1 aspect ratio, anamorphically encoded for DVD (and progressive - I saw no 'combing' anomalies) with MoC's usual care taken with the new English subtitles -- I didn't spot one error although my fluency is somewhat dated being only tested through French cinema these past many years. The image quality is quite pristine. There appears little expense spared on this lavish 2-disc set, with a short (20 minute) Pialat film from 1960 (L'AMOUR EXISTE), an interview with co-screenwriter Arlette Langmann and Pialat- collaborator Patrick Grandperret; a fascinating 2005 catch-up interview with Michel Tarrazon, four decades later; a sublime 50- minute documentary shot during the course of the film's production; original French trailer (and six other wonderful Pialat trailers); and my favourite extra, a 32 minute 1973 television interview with Pialat where we perhaps come closest to understanding Pialat's approach to his work.

The 40-page booklet, which I received as a finished lo-res pdf (with my pressed dual-layered 'checkdiscs') is a typical MoC booklet (ie. it adds to the fine range of on-disc supplements (avoiding repetition), and contains incredibly rare interviews alongside newly commissioned work, in this instance a new Kent Jones essay where he suggests that L'ENFANCE-NUE "should be counted as one of the greatest debuts in cinema, on par with CITIZEN KANE, BREATHLESS, BADLANDS, or THE 400 BLOWS." -- I would agree. It's a terrific film, and I'm incredibly grateful to MoC for continuously concentrating on this kind of important and rich work. Fully recommended!  

Henry Kedger

 



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 Eureka (Masters of Cinema - 2-disc) - Region 0 - PAL LEFT vs. Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC RIGHT

 

 
 
 

 

Masters of Cinema Disc 2

 

 


 

 

Subtitle Samples

 

Eureka (Masters of Cinema - 2-disc) - Region 0 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 

 


Screen Captures

 

Eureka (Masters of Cinema - 2-disc) - Region 0 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


 Eureka (Masters of Cinema - 2-disc) - Region 0 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


 Eureka (Masters of Cinema - 2-disc) - Region 0 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


 Eureka (Masters of Cinema - 2-disc) - Region 0 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


 Eureka (Masters of Cinema - 2-disc) - Region 0 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


 Eureka (Masters of Cinema - 2-disc) - Region 0 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


 Eureka (Masters of Cinema - 2-disc) - Region 0 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


 Eureka (Masters of Cinema - 2-disc) - Region 0 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


 

DVD Box Cover

    

Distribution

Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Spine # 72

Region 0 - PAL

Criterion Collection - Spine # 534

Region 1 - NTSC




 

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Gary Tooze

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