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(aka 'Under the Sun of Satan')

Directed by Maurice Pialat
France 1987

 

Positioned somewhere between Bresson’s immortal Journal d’un curé de campagne and Dieterle’s The Devil and Daniel Webster, Maurice Pialat’s staggering Sous le soleil de Satan [Under the Sun of Satan] addresses the torrent of spiritual and intellectual turmoil unloosed among the denizens of a little country parish. It is a film by turns calm and violent, buoyant upon the tears of mercy and gurgling with the blood of the Lamb.


Gérard Depardieu (Loulou, Le Garçu) is the self-abasing curate tortured by questions about his role in God’s plan — before an encounter with a material Satan touches off a powerful revelation. At the crux of his vision is Sandrine Bonnaire (A nos amours., Police), the madly profligate sylph whose fate ruptures in a blast of gunpowder and the slash of a razor. As events unfurl, Maurice Pialat himself provides witness as the seasoned cleric who pronounces the words: “God wears us down.”
One of the great films of faith made by a non-believer, Sous le soleil de Satan left an indelible mark on spectators from the very moment of its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in 1987 — where it won the Palme d’Or for Best Film. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present Maurice Pialat’s soul-shaking Sous le soleil de Satan on DVD in the UK for the first time.

 

***

 

A slow, complex and involving tale of a French priest and his moral trials and tribulations, SOUS LE SOLEIL DE SATAN (UNDER THE SUN OF SATAN) is adapted from the Georges Bernanos novel of the same name. Father Donissan (Gerard Depardieu) struggles to save the soul of the 16-year-old pregnant woman Mouchette (Sandrine Bonnaire) in this allegorical drama. She is the mistress of a married politician, but she carries the child of a poor nobleman. Mouchette shoots and kills the nobleman when he refuses to run away with her, and the emotionally tortured Donissan flagellates himself with a chain and despises his superior Menou-Serais (Maurice Pialot). This dramatic struggle of good versus evil took the Golden Palm Award for Best Film at the 1987 Cannes Festival.

From Masters of Cinema website located HERE

Poster

Theatrical Release: September 13th, 1987 - Toronto Film Festival

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

DVD Box Cover

   

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Distribution Eureka - Masters of Cinema Series Home Video (spine #78) - Region 0 - PAL
The 5 other Masters of Cinema DVD packages of Maurice Pialat films:
Runtime 1:33:33 (4% PAL speedup) 
Video 1.66:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.5 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 1.66:1

Edition Details:

Disc 1

• 11-minute 2003 interview with star Gérard Depardieu, conducted by former Cahiers du cinéma editor-in-chief, and current director of the Cinémathèque Française, Serge Toubiana

• Original theatrical trailer for Sous le soleil de satan., along with trailers for the six other Maurice Pialat films released by The Masters of Cinema Series
 

Disc 2

• Isabelle aux Dombes [Isabelle in La Dombes] — Maurice Pialat’s first film, an 8-minute silent work from 1951
• Congrès eucharistique diocésain. [Diocesan Eucharistic Congress.] — an 8-minute silent film by Maurice Pialat from 1953
• 13 minutes of footage from the press conference for the film with Pialat and cast, directly following its debut at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival
• 7-minute interview with Pialat and Depardieu, directly after receiving the Palme d’Or award for Best Film at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival
• 54-minute 1983 television programme dedicated to the film, featuring lengthy interviews with Pialat (speaking about the film and his career) and esteemed Catholic writer André Frossard
• 14 minutes of footage shot on the set of Sous le soleil de Satan
• 55-minute featurette containing excised scenes and alternative versions of sequences from the film, commented upon by editor Yann Dedet, apprentice editor and future director Cédric Kahn, and screenwriter and assistant Sylvie Pialat
• Original theatrical trailer for Sous le soleil de Satan, along with trailers for the six other Maurice Pialat films released by The Masters of Cinema Series

• 28-page booklet containing a new essay by writer Gabe Klinger, and excerpts from a 1987 interview with Pialat accompanied by remarks from Sandrine Bonnaire one week after the director’s death in 2003, newly translated into English

DVD Release Date: March 22nd, 2010

Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 12

 

Comments:

This is yet another Pialat masterpiece film available to us thanks to The Masters of Cinema. I watch a lot of cinema from around the globe but might never have been exposed to these essential Pialat films if not for their efforts. Sous le soleil de Satan really blew me away. I can see myself revisiting this layered title year after year.

The image is imperfect with some crushed blacks and while this may be the weak sister of the 6 Pialat MoC DVD images - it definitely had no impact on my thorough enjoyment of the film. I'm actually kind of glad this was last of the six and I waited a few extra days building the anticipation of my viewing. The image is flat, thick, dark and grainy but I have no reason to suspect that it is the fault of the progressive transfer. I presume the elements were faithfully replicated.  I know there was a French edition of this film HERE in 2003, and it is reported to have the same limitations. This feature disc is dual-layered and anamorphic in the, reported, correct aspect ratio of 1.66:1. Detail seems limited by both the source and SD rendering. As a positive the image does seem to improve as the film runs on. There are artifacts but I truly believe this will be the best quality viewing I am likely to get of this particular Pialat film.      

Audio is an unremarkable 2.0 channel but close, I'll wager, to the way it was originally produced. Dialogue is audible without untoward interference, dropouts or background hiss. There are optional English subtitles in an advertised "...new and improved subtitle translation."

In a word - 'stacked'. Supplements extend far beyond most any production company DVDs I can think of - even Criterion. Simply listing them (as above) seems unjust. MoC themselves have meticulously detailed the extra features and we have lazily repeated them above. There are English translated interviews, short films by the director, on-set footage, television programs and other material pushing the total digital bonus material time to the 3-hour mark on a second dual-layered disc. On top of that they include a wonderful 28-page booklet containing a new essay by writer Gabe Klinger, and excerpts from a 1987 interview with Pialat accompanied by remarks from Sandrine Bonnaire one week after the director’s death in 2003 - all translated into English where necessary.

Everything is at MoC's high standard for packaging appearance as those who've purchased their product have come to expect. As have stated in the past this is (another) unrivaled 2-disc release that wholly deserves any cinephile's purchase dollars. As for the feature film, I won't extol it further although I will comment on Gerard Depardieu's performance which, I think, was one of his best - and I'm sure that I'd watch Sandrine Bonnaire in anything.  

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 #78) - Region 0 - PAL
The 5 other Masters of Cinema DVD packages of Maurice Pialat films:




 

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