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(aka 'The Mouth Agape')

Directed by Maurice Pialat
France 1974

 

Few filmmakers could rival Maurice Pialat’s facility for transforming autobiographical material into the stuff of Art, and his third feature-film, La Gueule ouverte (The Mouth Agape / The Slack-Jawed Mug), stands as one of the director’s most intensely personal — and most lacerating — works. It is a film about illness: a condition of the body, and a name for the capacity to injure the ones who love us most.

Monique Mélinand (a star of several of Raúl Ruíz’s ’90s works, and of Jacques Rivette’s Jeanne la pucelle) portrays a woman in the late stages of terminal illness. She — and her prone body — become the locus around which gather her son Philippe (Truffaut-veteran Philippe Léotard), his wife Nathalie (French screen icon Nathalie Baye, in one of her earliest roles), and Monique’s husband Roger (Hubert Deschamps, of Pialat’s early short Janine, and Louis Malle’s Zazie dans le métro). In short order, Monique recedes into the background of Philippe’s and Roger’s network of respective adulteries. But as the final, crushingly eloquent succession of shots starts to unreel, we are once more reminded that, in the work of Maurice Pialat, that which seems absent ultimately makes its presence felt with terrible force.

The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present Maurice Pialat’s astonishing feature-length masterwork La Gueule ouverte, accompanied by nine Pialat shorts — three narrative works from the earliest part of the director’s career, and the six poetic essay-documentaries he shot in Turkey in the early ’60s — which alone total over two hours in length.

From Masters of Cinema website located HERE

Poster

Theatrical Release: May 8th, 1974

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DVD Review: Eureka - Masters of Cinema Series - Region 0 - PAL

DVD Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

 

Distribution Eureka - Masters of Cinema Series Home Video (spine #74) - Region 0 - PAL
The 5 other Masters of Cinema DVD packages of Maurice Pialat films:
Runtime 1:23:45 (4% PAL speedup) 
Video 1.75:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.6 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

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

Bitrate:

Audio French (Dolby Digital 2.0) 
Subtitles English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Eureka - Masters of Cinema Series

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.75:1

Edition Details:

Disc 1

• 11 minutes of footage from the shoot of La Gueule ouverte, featuring commentary recorded in 2005 by actor Jean-François Balmer
• Original theatrical trailer for La Gueule ouverte, along with trailers for the six other Maurice Pialat films released by The Masters of Cinema Series

• 12-minute 2004 interview with Pialat’s ex-wife and frequent collaborator, Micheline Pialat, conducted by former Cahiers du cinéma editor-in-chief, and current director of the Cinémathèque Française, Serge Toubiana

• 8-minute 2004 interview with actress Nathalie Baye

• Early short-films by Maurice Pialat: Janine – 1961, 17 minutes.
 

Disc 2

• Two early short-films by Maurice Pialat: — Drôles de bobines (Funny Reels) – 1957, 17 minutes. — L’Ombre familière (The Familiar Shadow) – 1958, 24 minutes.
• The six short 1964 essay-documentaries made by Maurice Pialat in, and about, Turkey: — Bosphore (Bosporus) – 14 minutes. — Byzance (Byzantium) – 12 minutes. — La Corne d’or (The Golden Horn) – 12 minutes. — Istanbul – 13 minutes. — Maître Galip (Master Galip) – 11 minutes. — Pehlivan – 12 minutes.

• 16-minute 2004 interview with cinematographer Willy Kurant discussing his work with Pialat on the Turkish short-films
• 14-minute 1987 interview with Pialat about the Cinémathèque Française’s role in his film education
• 10-minute excerpt from a 2002 masterclass with Pialat, discussing the film Maître Galip
• 32-page booklet containing a new essay by critic Adrian Martin, and newly translated interviews with Maurice Pialat

DVD Release Date: April 20th, 2009

Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 9

 

Comments:

Masters of Cinema keep coming through for us here - and we have another example of a neglected film that is so highly deserved of a new digital audience.

The image is imperfect appearing a bit thin and frail at times. However, it, in no way, deterred my thorough enjoyment of La Gueule ouverte.  Colors occasionally seem suspiciously infiltrated with a greenish masque - which I don't believe was an intentional appearance and looks to be directly from the transfer source used. I know there was a Pialat boxset from Paramount (France) HERE a few years back, with this title included, but I don't own it to compare. It might prove revealing - that this inconsistency is indeed inherent in the nest available source. This feature disc is dual-layered and anamorphic in the, reported, correct aspect ratio of 1.75:1. Detail has some surprisingly strong moments and there is even some exhibited depth of field. There are a few artifacts but most colors look to have a strong representation for the SD-DVD format and I truly believe this will be the best quality progressive image viewing I will ever have of this particular Pialat film.      

Audio is an unremarkable 2.0 channel but close, I'll wager, to the way it was originally produced. Listening to turntable LPs in the early part of the film represented the scratchy hollow quality brought back detailed memories. Dialogue is clear without the interference of dropouts or background hiss. There are optional English subtitles in an advertised "...new and improved subtitle translation."

Supplements extend beyond the stacked level of Criterion releases with an incredible listing of early short-films and essay-documentaries by Maurice Pialat. It appears to be a near complete anthology! On disc one we get eleven minutes of footage from the shoot of La Gueule ouverte, featuring commentary recorded in 2005 by actor Jean-François Balmer. There is a twelve-minute 2004 interview with Pialat’s ex-wife and frequent collaborator, Micheline Pialat, conducted by former Cahiers du cinéma editor-in-chief, and current director of the Cinémathèque Française, Serge Toubiana, an eight-minute 2004 interview with actress Nathalie Baye and one early short-film by Maurice Pialat, Janine from 1961, separated from the rest on disc 2. It runs about 17-minutes. Rounding out the first disc is the original theatrical trailer for La Gueule ouverte, along with trailers for the six other Maurice Pialat films released by The Masters of Cinema Series

Dual-layered disc 2 starts with two early short-films by Maurice Pialat - namely Drôles de bobines (Funny Reels) from 1957 running seventeen-minutes and L’Ombre familière (The Familiar Shadow) from 1958 running twenty-four minutes. There are also six interesting short 1964 essay-documentaries made by Maurice Pialat in, and about, Turkey entitled Bosphore (Bosporus), Byzance (Byzantium), La Corne d’or (The Golden Horn), Istanbul, Maître Galip (Master Galip) and Pehlivan. These total just over one hour's worth. Also on disc 2 are two interviews - one from 2004 with cinematographer Willy Kurant discussing his work with Pialat on the included Turkish short-films, and the second, from 1987, with Pialat about the Cinémathèque Française’s role in his film education. Finally, on the digital front we get a 10-minute excerpt from a 2002 Masterclass with Pialat, discussing the short Maître Galip. While the shorts are of varying image quality they are all very watchable in the context of appreciating the artist being covered. As per Masters of Cinema's standard we have a generous 32-page liner notes booklet containing a new essay by critic Adrian Martin, and newly translated interviews with Maurice Pialat. Wow - possibly the best supplements package of the entire year.

Everything is at MoC's high standard for packaging appearance as those who've indulged in their work have come to expect. It's an unrivaled 2-disc release that wholly deserves any cinephile's purchase dollars. As for the feature film, La Gueule ouverte consciously mirrors the physical pain and suffering of the mother's failing health directly relating it to the disparity of the family unit around her. I was impressed with Nathalie Baye in this early career role and this package has our highest recommendation.  

Gary W. Tooze

 



DVD Menus


 

Disc 2


 


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DVD Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

 

Distribution Eureka - Masters of Cinema Series Home Video (spine #74) - Region 0 - PAL
The 5 other Masters of Cinema DVD packages of Maurice Pialat films:




 

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