Directed by Andrzej Zulawski
France 1984

La Femme Publique is a cinematic milestone rich with extreme imagery and raw emotions. Twenty five years after its controversial inception at the Cannes Film Festival, this story of a young, struggling actress retains the power to shock even the most seasoned of movie goers with its violently stylish, apocalyptic tone. A woman s destiny, divided between angel and demon...An hour and 54 minutes of painful happiness, La Femme Publique scratches the soul, slaps the eyes, and seduces like the maelstrom that each one of us hides beyond the conscious. To summarize La Femme Publique is impossible, dangerous and impoverishing. Zulawski is not a man of words; he plays and juggles with the image, the color, the rhythm, the sound, the music, and this unspeakable shamelessness that he steals from his actors so effectively. Between humor and paroxysm, La Femme Publique is a fascinating metaphysical experience with a degree of intensity that needs to be seen to be believed. Simply put, it represents cinema at its most insane & brilliant.

***

An aspiring young actress (Valerie Kaprisky) accepts a leading role in a film version of Dostoyevsky's The Possessed. Dissatisfied by her performance, the eccentric filmmaker (Francis Huster) begins a rigorous course of indoctrination, sexual domination, and acting lessons, leaving the mentally exhausted girl unable to distinguish between the real world and that of the film. Arty, challenging, and some say over the top, the film was honored with the Special Jury Award at the Montreal World Film Festival in 1984.

***

Ethel (Valerie Kaprisky) runs out on her alcoholic father (Patrick Bauchau) to pursue a career as an actress in Paris. She finds work as a nude model between unsuccessful auditionand her beauty catches the eye of flashy director Lucas Kesling (Francis Huster) (in a typical Zulawkian scene where the actress bursts into tears while delivering a monologue as part of a complex camera move) who wants her to play the lead in his period film adaptation of Dostoyevsky's "The Possessed." Although her acting skills are constantly derided by Kesling (in typically Zulawskian tense and uncomfortable sequences), Ethel's performance skills seem to excel in adapting the role of the dead (possibly murdered) lover of Kesling's mysterious Czech associate Milan (Lambert Wilson) - whom Kesling may be manipulating into assassinating a visiting archbishop - who had also been Kesling's previous starlet (gotta love that art film ambiguity).

As mesmerizing as the film is, reviewers of the time were correct about the confused screenplay. According to Zulawski, the source novel was more intimate and that he asked co-scenarist and original author Dominique Garnier to add a political subplot (some of which he ended up cutting out in post). At the same time, its not the piece of eighties Euro-chic fluff the trailers and promotional material (emphasizing Kaprisky's frantic nude dance, a refined variation of Isabelle Adjani's POSSESSION looking forward to Iwona Petry's shaman woman in SZAMANKA - though it would make an even better double bill with Jean-Luc Godard's PRENOM: CARMEN (link) than Godard's own HELAS POUR MOI.
 

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: May 16th, 1984

Reviews         More Reviews       DVD Reviews

DVD Comparison:

Minerva (Italy) - Region 0 - PAL vs. IVC (Japanese) - Region 2 - NTSC vs. L.C.J. Editions (France) - Region 0 - PAL - PAL vs. Mondo Vision (Special Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC

 

1) Minerva (Italy) - Region 0 - PAL - LEFT

2) IVC (Japanese) - Region 2 - NTSC - SECOND

3) L.C.J Editions (France) - Region 0 - PAL - PAL - THIRD

4) Mondo Vision (Special Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC - RIGHT

 

DVD Box Covers

 

 

Distribution

Minerva

Region 0 - PAL

IVC (Japan)

Region 2 - NTSC

L.C.J. Editions (France)
Region 0 - PAL
Mondo Vision (UNCUT Special Edition)
Region 0 - NTSC

For about $6 more Mondo Vision are offering a 'Limited Premium Edition' boxset HERE.

It contains a second disc - the original motion picture soundtrack CD as well as an individually numbered certificate (2,000 copies) and 10 black and white reproductions of the original Japanese publicity photos.

Runtime 1:49:28 (4% PAL speedup) 1:49:44 (PAL source or cut) 1:49:57 (4% PAL speedup) 1:54:40
Video

1.66:1 Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 8.22 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.66:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.31 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.66:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: ? mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.66:1 Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.86 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:

Minerva (Italy)

 

Bitrate:

IVC (Japanese)

Bitrate:

 

LCJ

 

CANNOT OBTAIN BITRATE GRAPH

Bitrate:

 

Mondo Vision

 

Audio

French (Dolby Digital 5.1)

 DUB Italian Dolby Digital 5.1

French (Dolby Digital 2.0) 

French (Dolby Digital 2.0)

 

French (Dolby Digital 2.0)

Commentary: English (2.0)

Subtitles None Japanese, None None English, and none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Minerva
(Italy)

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.66:1

Edition Details:
• Biographies
• Filmographies

DVD Release Date: October 7th, 2003
Custom Case

Chapters 8

Release Information:
Studio:
IVC (Japan)

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen letterboxed - 1.66:1

Edition Details:
• Liner notes in Japanese
- Biographies

DVD Release Date: June 25th, 2004
Keep Case

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio: L.C.J. Editions

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen letterboxed - 1.66:1

Edition Details:
• Filmographies (in French)

DVD Release Date: August 6th, 2006
Keep Case

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio: Mondo Vision (US)

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.66:1

Edition Details:
• Audio commentary by director
• Andrzej Zulawksi interview
• 1984 pre-release trailer
• Image gallery
 

DVD Release Date: November 11th, 2008
Custom Case (see image below)

Chapters 27

 

Comments

NOTE: DVDBeaver's Open Response to Mondo Vision is HERE!

Mondo Vision's release has lived up to expectations with an anamorphic, dual-layered, progressive transfer and strong mono audio. The image comparison comparison below indicates the Mondo Vision is well ahead of both the Italian and incorrect standard Japanese release as well as being marginally sharper than the single-layered French disc from 2006.

Extras include a commentary and interview with Andrzej Zulawski, a trailer, and image gallery.

 

The second disc of the 'limited edition' features the film's soundtrack. A booklet features reprinted interviews with the director and three of the stars. Also included in an envelope are 10 Japanese lobby cards. The same loving care that has gone into the disc itself has also been extended to the set's case which has a magnetic clasp (with the thick compartment for the booklet and lobby cards positioned safely between the magnets and the disc compartments. The booklet and the two discs arrive with sheets of tracing paper between them to prevent scuffing during shipment.

The single disc version (compared here) available. The 1984 Variety review mentions a US VHS release but I've never come across one.

Eric Cotenas

I'll concur with Eric in that the Mondo is the best image and looking closely (beyond Valerie Kaprisky's bare buttocks) it appears to have come from a new, or restored, source as it is the only edition that doesn't show cue-blip makers (used for the projectionists reel changes.) The Japanese shows ghosting from an unconverted PAL source, the Italian (dual-layered despite other reviews that say different) is generally hazier while the single-layered French shows more artifacts but actually tends to support the same color scheme. The Mondo shows a bit of greenish haze that I have no idea if it is intentional or not.

Audio is a wash as they all sound the same to me although the Italian boasts a very fake 5.1 bump and similar Italian DUB.

 

Supplements easy go the way of the Mondo Vision with the English commentary from Zulawski - interesting to hear him explain his film - and his 15 minute interview (also in English) plus the extensive image galleries. In my Special Edition is a very nice 24-page book which includes an essay by Daniel Bird and other text reprinted from original Press Kits.

As the only one of the four versions that is English-friendly and completely original NTSC running time - it is an easy recommendation - and the film is typical  Zulawski- if there is such a thing. Weird, deviant and quite intriguing. Those keen to see it - this, or the Limited Premium Edition - is the way to go! 

 - Gary W. Tooze

 



DVD Menus

Minerva (Italy) - Region 0 - PAL - LEFT vs. IVC (Japanese) - Region 2 - NTSC - RIGHT

 

 

L.C.J Editions (France) - Region 0 - PAL - PAL - LEFT vs.  Mondo Vision (Special Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC - RIGHT
 

 
 

 


Mondo Package


Screen Captures

 

NOTE: Only the Mondo Vision does NOT display cue-blip markers (aka cigarette burns, reel change makers). All three other releases contain the black circles!

 

 

 

1) Minerva (Italy) - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) IVC (Japanese) - Region 2 - NTSC - SECOND

3) L.C.J Editions (France) - Region 0 - PAL - PAL - THIRD

4) Mondo Vision (Special Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 

 

 


1) Minerva (Italy) - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) IVC (Japanese) - Region 2 - NTSC - SECOND

3) L.C.J Editions (France) - Region 0 - PAL - PAL - THIRD

4) Mondo Vision (Special Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 

 

 


1) Minerva (Italy) - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) IVC (Japanese) - Region 2 - NTSC - SECOND

3) L.C.J Editions (France) - Region 0 - PAL - PAL - THIRD

4) Mondo Vision (Special Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 

 

 


1) Minerva (Italy) - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) IVC (Japanese) - Region 2 - NTSC - SECOND

3) L.C.J Editions (France) - Region 0 - PAL - PAL - THIRD

4) Mondo Vision (Special Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 

 

 


1) Minerva (Italy) - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) IVC (Japanese) - Region 2 - NTSC - SECOND

3) L.C.J Editions (France) - Region 0 - PAL - PAL - THIRD

4) Mondo Vision (Special Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 

 

 


1) Minerva (Italy) - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) IVC (Japanese) - Region 2 - NTSC - SECOND

3) L.C.J Editions (France) - Region 0 - PAL - PAL - THIRD

4) Mondo Vision (Special Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Minerva (Italy) - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) IVC (Japanese) - Region 2 - NTSC - SECOND

3) L.C.J Editions (France) - Region 0 - PAL - PAL - THIRD

4) Mondo Vision (Special Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Minerva (Italy) - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) IVC (Japanese) - Region 2 - NTSC - SECOND

3) L.C.J Editions (France) - Region 0 - PAL - PAL - THIRD

4) Mondo Vision (Special Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 

 


Hit Counter


Report Card:

 

Image:

Mondo Vision

Sound:

-

Extras: Mondo Vision

Menu:

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DVD Box Covers

 

 

Distribution

Minerva

Region 0 - PAL

IVC (Japan)

Region 2 - NTSC

L.C.J. Editions (France)
Region 0 - PAL
Mondo Vision (UNCUT Special Edition)
Region 0 - NTSC

For about $6 more Mondo Vision are offering a 'Limited Premium Edition' boxset HERE.

It contains a second disc - the original motion picture soundtrack CD as well as an individually numbered certificate (2,000 copies) and 10 black and white reproductions of the original Japanese publicity photos.



 

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