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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka 'Graduate First')

 

Directed by Maurice Pialat

France 1979

 

Synopsis
Maurice Pialat examines the seemingly dead-end future of a number of young French teenagers living in a northern mining town, in his social-realist drama PASSE TON BAC D'ABORD. A group of friends, coming to the end of their school years, fill their days with sex, drugs and rock'n'roll. Some lapse into debauchery, others enter into loveless marriages. A few even stay the course and get their diplomas, only to find their prospects are not much improved. Pialat's vision may appear grim, but his portrait of suburban youth is haunting in its authenticity. Following on from his 1970s cycle of turbulant dramas--notably
L'enfance nue (1967)--the film is a very worthy addition to any Pialat-fan's collection.

****

The world sometimes seems divided into two camps: those who recall their teenage years as having been an exhilarating dream, and those who remember them as having been an infernal, nightmarish hell. With all this in mind, it might do to describe Passe ton bac d'abord... [Graduate First... / Pass Your Bac First...] as Maurice Pialat's "The Best Years of Our Lives", while bearing in mind all that such a description might suggest. It's an elastic, unsparing portrait of teenage life in the suburbs of France from an era when the phrase "sixteen candles" still might have first conjured the image of flames. A group of young actors including several local unknowns -- Philippe Marlaud, Bernard Tronczyk, Patrick Lepczynski, and Sabine Haudepin (once the little girl of Truffaut's Jules et Jim), among others -- make up the cluster of friends adrift beneath the twilight of their school years. There's drama, violence, and pot-induced laughs -- group holidays, indiscriminate sex, advances from teachers twenty-five years their seniors, attempted moves to Paris, and few prospects of passing the bac, the final set of exams French students take before embarking into the world to... do what? Marking the last work of Pialat's turbulent cycle of films made in the 1970s, Passe ton bac d'abord... is the brilliant spiritual sequel to the great filmmaker's feature-debut L'enfance nue -- picked up again from a vantage ten years on from the lives of the earlier film's protagonists. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present Maurice Pialat's teenage drama in a beautiful new transfer for the first time on home video in the UK.

Poster

Theatrical Release: August 29th, 1979

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DVD Review: Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Region 2 - PAL

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CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Spine # 75

Region 2 - PAL

The 5 other Masters of Cinema DVD packages of Maurice Pialat films:
Runtime 1:21:39
Video 1.66:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.52 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s
Bitrate Graph
Audio Mono Dolby Digital French
Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Eureka (Masters of Cinema)

Aspect Ratio:
Anamorphic - 1.66:1

Edition Details:
• A 2003 video interview with Pialat collaborators Arlette Langmann and Patrick Grandperret, made by Serge Toubiana (former editor-in-chief of Cahiers du cinéma and director of the Cinémathèque Française) [11:02]
• Après le bac [After the Bac] a 2003 documentary by Serge Toubiana and Sonia Buchman that catches up with the cast and location [25:38]
• Original trailer for the film, and trailers for the six other Maurice Pialat features available from The Masters of Cinema Series
• Booklet containing newly translated interviews with Maurice Pialat

DVD Release Date: August 24th, 2009
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Chapters 20

 

Comments

Thanks to Masters of Cinema for their screeners, this showed up quite early - as did Nous ne vieillirons pas ensemble allowing us ample time to view the feature and watch the supplements.

This is fourth (or fifth - depending on your perspective) in MoC's series of Pialat films, with L'enfance nue, La gueule ouverte, and Police already available and Nous ne vieillirons pas ensemble, and this, Passe Ton Bac D'abord, to be released in August 2009.
À nos amours and  Sous le soleil de Satan are eventually slated for arrival with an MoC spine number - hopefully this year. Pialat is a perfect example of a great director with only marginal exposure to many in the English-speaking world. He's a wonderful choice for The Masters of Cinema to focus on via accessible home-theater digital presentations.

 

As with the other's in this Pialat series I'll wager that MoC have utilized the HD restoration from France. Presented here in its original 1.66:1 aspect ratio, anamorphically enhanced and progressive, with another strong video transfer. The image is excellent - clean, bright - virtually flawless for rendering to SD-DVD. The image probably doesn't look far off the way it did theatrically 30-years ago. Surprisingly, it's that good.

Once again. audio is original mono - clear and consistent.  MoC have added English subtitles that never appear précised.

In this group of extras we are privy to a 2003 video interview with Pialat collaborators Arlette Langmann and Patrick Grandperret, made by Serge Toubiana (former editor-in-chief of Cahiers du cinéma and director of the Cinémathèque Française). It runs about 11-minutes and we also get a 2003, 25-minute, documentary by Serge Toubiana and Sonia Buchman entitled Après le bac [After the Bac] that catches up with the cast of the film. Like the other recent Pialat releases we get the original trailer, and trailers for the six other works by the director. This similarly includes a booklet containing newly translated interviews with Pialat.

Pialat has captured some of the recognizable qualities of aimless youth very well - and many will be able to relate to that time in their life where they were essentially 'directionless'. Passe Ton Bac D'abord is another film that only the French seem to be able to produce and I consider it very much worth seeing. Masters of Cinema are have created a reputation of quality and consistency with this being another, easily recommendable, product.  

Gary Tooze

 



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DVD Box Cover

    

 

 

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Spine # 75

Region 2 - PAL

The 5 other Masters of Cinema DVD packages of Maurice Pialat films:




 

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