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(aka "The Town Is Quiet" or "La ciudad esta tranquila" or "A Cidade Esta Tranquila" or "Byen er stille" )

 

directed by Robert Guediguian
France 2000

 

In his unsettling urban panorama, ''The Town Is Quiet,'' the director Robert Guediguian invests the French port city of Marseille with the same epic sense of drama that infused Robert Altman's ''Nashville.'' Raw, wrenching and more starkly tragic than Mr. Altman's satire, ''The Town Is Quiet'' evokes a similar vision of a city as a teeming organism in violent, spasmodic flux.

Like ''Nashville,'' the film is a sprawling mosaic of interlocking stories whose characters run the social gamut, from right-wing upper-class politicians to young North African immigrants to blue-collar dock workers. As much as the director grasps the anxieties of the city's well-heeled establishment, his sympathies lie with the sufferings of its underdogs, the struggles of its working class and the dreams of newcomers pouring into the city through its teeming harbor. If his identification with the common people recalls Frank Capra, the go-for-broke passion with which he expresses that vision is closer to Pier Paolo Pasolini.

Excerpt of review from Stephen Holden located HERE

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Theatrical Release: January 17th, 2001 (France)

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DVD Review: Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL

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Distribution

Artificial Eye

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 2:07:13
Video

1.66:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 4.14 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 (Burnt-In)
Features Release Information:
Studio: Artificial Eye

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.66:1

Edition Details:
• Interview with Director Robert Guediguian and Actress Ariane Ascaride
• Ariane Ascaride Filmography
• Jean-Pierre Darroussin Filmography
• Gerard Meylan Filmography
• Director Robert Guediguian Filmography

DVD Release Date: April 22nd, 2002
Keep Case

Chapters 30

 

Comments

Thanks to the folks at Artificial Eye for bringing this to DVD. Although those of us in region 1 had the chance to pick it up until recently under its English moniker, "The Town is Quiet", since it was a property of New Yorker Video, the disc is now out of print, as appear to be the French editions of the film. So, until the rights issues are settled for North America and the new holders decide to release the title, this will be the only option for fans looking for English subtitles, and all things considered, it isn't a bad choice at all.

As the review at the top states, here Guediguian crafts a story in the mold of some of Altman's work. The comparison only goes so far, however, as this film lacks most of the humor and quirkiness found in films like "Nashville" or "Short Cuts" and instead focuses on the pain and tragedy in its character's lives. That being said, the film is quite good, but does feel a bit choppy at points, where certain character's stories seem to have been under focused or even abandoned by the end of the film. As Holden explains in his review, there is a longer cut of the film which was initially screened at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2001. While I can't guarantee that we'd get more on some of these minor characters in the longer cut, I strongly suspect that we would. Hopefully if the film does get rereleased in region 1, we'll get some of the deleted scenes.

The video here looks decent for a single layered disc with a relatively low bitrate (4.14). At points the image does look a little flat and soft, but also seems to lack any damage marks or signs of artificial manipulation. The flesh tones in here seem fairly realistic, as does the contrast between lights and darks. What's more, there is none of the blurring that I've recently encountered on some of the other releases from the company. Yes, the picture could have been better, but it also could have been dramatically worse.

Audio wise, there is not much to complain about. The surround sound mix is relatively clear with no hisses or other obtrusive background noise. One problem, though, is the fact that the film has forced English subtitles. While a non-French speaker like me needs them to enjoy the film, I certainly would have appreciated having the option to remove them.

Outside of the usual filmographies offered by Artificial Eye, the only extra on the disc is a reproduction of an interview with the director and his wife/star, Ariane Ascaride. I was actually quite surprised when I clicked on this, expecting a video interview, but instead finding just text. While the interview was welcome and added to my understanding of the film, as previously mentioned, the scenes removed from the initial cut of the film would have been the best extra that they could have provided.

This film was my introduction to Guediguianân's work and it left me wanting more. Since this is your only option to get the film right now, and a pretty decent option at that, it's certainly recommended.

 - Brian Montgomery

 



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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Artificial Eye

Region 2 - PAL

 

 




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