(aka 'Second Breath')

Directed by Jean-Pierre Melville
France 1966

 

With his customary restraint and ruthless attention to detail, director Jean-Pierre Melville follows the parallel tracks of French underworld criminal Gu (the inimitable Lino Ventura), escaped from prison and roped into one last robbery, and the suave inspector, Blot (Paul Meurisse), relentlessly seeking him. The implosive Le deuxième souffle captures the pathos, loneliness, and excitement of a life in the shadows with methodical suspense and harrowing authenticity, and contains one of the most thrilling heist sequences Melville ever shot.

Poster and alt DVD cover

Theatrical Release: November 1st, 1966

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DVD Review: Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC

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Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 448 - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 2:29:55
Video 1.66:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.33 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

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1

Edition Details:

• Audio commentary by film scholar Ginette Vincendeau, author of Jean-Pierre Melville: An American in Paris, and film critic Geoff Andrew of the British Film Institute
• New video interview with director Bertrand Tavernier, who served as publicity agent on the film (11:35)
• Archival footage featuring interviews with Melville and actor Lino Ventura
• Original theatrical trailer
• PLUS: A new essay by film critic Adrian Danks 

DVD Release Date: October 7th, 200
8
Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 34

 

Comments:

Aside from a few more noticeable artefacts in the darker scenes of the beginning - this Criterion transfer settles down to have some fairly strong moments. It appears to have a few more earmarks of Criterion digital restoration magic which I, actually, never found overly obvious but it seems to have helped smooth out the source inconsistencies. I wouldn't say it is a perfect transfer but for the most part it looks quite competent and reasonably clean. It is anamorphic (in the original 1.66:1 aspect ratio), progressive and situated on a dual-layered SD-DVD.  Hopefully the screen caps below will give you a good idea of what it will look like on your system.

The mono track may have a few more weaknesses than I noticed in Le Doulos but for standard viewing it supported the dialogue adeptly enough. There are optional English subtitles.

The commentary is another excellent one - it has Ginette Vincendeau,  the author of Jean-Pierre Melville: An American in Paris and Geoff Andrew - head of programming at London's BFI Southbank Cinema. Each impart interesting, and different, knowledge of the film production and of Melville as director. Like Le Doulos there is another interview (recorded at the same time) with Bertrand Tavernier, who served as a critic and publicity agent (how he became to be involved with Le Deuxième Souffle). He talks about his memories of the film as well as Melville himself for about 12 minutes. There are two archival interviews - both from 1966 French television programs. Province Actualitès  features a 4 minute newsreel taken from the set of Le Deuxième Souffle. The three principles are sitting at a bar conversing with a 'host'. Cinèma features interviews by Francois Chalais with Melville and actor Lino Ventura. It runs just shy of 26 minutes. We are given an anamorphic trailer running 2:15 and a booklet with a new essay by film critic Adrian Danks.

These Melville crime dramas are so darn addictive. I believe Le Deuxième Souffle was available from Rene Chateau in France but with a lesser image and no where near the extras. The noir-esque aura is so thick - typical Melville and hence very desirable. Criterion comes through again. 

Gary W. Tooze

 



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