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(aka "Only the French Can")

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/renoir.htm

Nineteenth-century Paris comes vibrantly alive in Jean Renoir’s exhilarating tale of the opening of the world-renowned Moulin Rouge. Jean Gabin plays the wily impresario Danglard, who makes the cancan all the rage while juggling the love of two beautiful women—an Egyptian belly-dancer and a naive working girl turned cancan star. This celebration of life, art and the City of Light—with a cameo by Edith Piaf—is a Technicolor tour de force by a master of modern cinema. out of    

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Theatrical Release:  April 27th, 1955 - France

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Comparison:

Criterion - "Stage and Spectacle Box" - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Gaumont - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Criterion - "Stage and Spectacle Box" - Region 0 - NTSC LEFT vs. Gaumont - Region FREE - Blu-ray RIGHT

DVD Box Cover

 

UK BFI Blu-ray Version:

Distribution Criterion - "Stage and Spectacle" Box - Region 0 - NTSC Gaumont - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:43:44  1:43:39.416
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.45 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 43,481,827,584 bytes

Feature: 25,214,871,552 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

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

Bitrate:  DVD

Bitrate: Blu-ray

Audio French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Dolby)  DTS-HD Master Audio French 836 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 836 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)
Subtitles English, None English, French, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Video introduction by director Peter Bogdanovich (The Last Picture Show, Paper Moon)
• Interview with production designer Max Douy
• A collection of behind-the-scenes and publicity stills


DVD Release Date: August 3, 2004
Cardboard Box with 3 plastic insert Cases

Release Information:
Studio: Gaumont

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 43,481,827,584 bytes

Feature: 25,214,871,552 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

• Le Spectacle Avant Tout! (56:50 in French no subtitles)

• French Cancan Restaure (5:38 in French no subtitles)

• Renoir(s) en Suivan les Fils de L'eau (50:56 in French no subtitles)

• Bande Announce (Trailers)

Blu-ray Release Date: August 17th, 2010
Standard
Blu-ray Case inside cardboard slipcase
Chapters: 12

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Gaumont - Region Free - Blu-ray - the transfer is extremely impressive and my only concern was the strong blue/gray hue as compared to the Criterion - but this seemed far less noticeable in playback on my system (perhaps being supplanted by the vibrancy of the other colors) than in the individual captures (I double checked on a second system - obtaining the 2nd large capture HERE - it matches exactly). The wonderful detail and beautifully bright image is more than apparent in the large 11 extra captures at the bottom of this comparison. It's amazingly beautiful - almost bordering on unreal - you can't take your eyes off it once it starts.

Audio is lossless DTS-Master mono and is without major flaw with a clean, crisp sound emanating from the front of your system. It does offer English subtitles - that seem reasonably complete and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

There is almost 2 hours worth of supplements, on Renoir and the restoration... but, alas, none are English-friendly - however, they did all play on my region A-Blu-ray player.

The Criterion Stage and Spectacle DVD package from 2004 was met with some dissatisfaction, in a number of areas, from fans. Complaints of both mastering and ineffectual sources were raised by those far more familiar with the 3 films than I. 

Regarding Renoir's French Cancan in general and Robert's comments (below) regarding the version, and more, I'll simply refer to our resident experts, DVDBeaver ListServ members David Hare and Tag Gallagher:

David tells us: "The film was cut in the USA when it was released as 'Only the French Can' in 1956 by about twenty minutes. That was censorship related and although I've never seen the US version (also dubbed into English apparently) I always understood the cuts were all around the affair between Francoise Arnoul and Franco Pastorini ("Paulo") and they also swept up several scenes with the young count - Giani Esposito. The final Cancan ballet is supposed to be cut, indeed you can hear three jumps/edits in the soundtrack music which the Gaumont cleans up better than any previous version, but these may have been short producer cuts pre-first release. These all occur just before and just after that incredible montage of couples facing the camera (effectively taking their bow to the audience.) But IMO anyway that's pretty minor.

Now later: I cant see any cuts in the opening 15 minutes of the Criterion with Maria Felix that Robert refers to, so I can't comment about that. I always thought the Criterion looked overly bright and thin on color but was the best we would ever get. I suspect it's probably color boosted in their telecine. The two Gaumont resto guys describe what they did in the unsubtitled extra: they found two sets of 3 strip negs (and IB positive prints for reference): one complete (they say 1h 40 minutes but it's 1h 46 minutes) held by the BFI of the full version, and the US cut version of 1h20m. They say the US elements were superior to the BFI's and they used all this footage for the core of the new transfer/encode, with the other 20 or so minutes coming from the BFI elements (in other words the material cut for the US version) You can tell these as they look somewhat grayer in base image - the first visit to the old lady with Gabin and Arnoul where they "invent" the new dance craze, then a couple more scenes with Arnoul and her lover in bed, etc. Indeed this is what those scenes (and the rest of the movie) look like on the old BFI VHS release of this from circa 1996.

Getting back to the negs, what they saw was imperfectly registered three strips in the master and telecine for the SD (including the Criterion) which made the image soft, so they digitally scanned the three strips and corrected color, frame jitter, and also general cleanup of color splodge reel markers, and debris, dust etc. Then they were then able to composite a new Technicolor style matrix negative from which they derived the far far sharper image we now see, as well as deeper, richer color through the spectrum. As Peter Henne and Monoloop would say, I honestly think it now looks even better than Technicolor, like the Red Shoes resto
." (Thanks David!)

In regards to what Robert said below about the Criterion DVD - author, journalist, and DVDBeaver ListServ member Tag Gallagher remarks: "I don't think I've ever seen the scenes he's speaking of (which I don't recognize as being in the Criterion edition). I don't recall what was or wasn't in the film when I saw it in NYC in the 1970s. But ever since then it was distributed in the US in an edition maybe 10 minutes shorter than today's Criterion. Around 1990 the only prints in distribution (by the Cinémathèque française) were miserably horrible Eastmancolor prints that otherwise match the Criterion edition.

By the way, there were a lot of scenes cut from French Cancan, but prior to its release. It would be interesting to know the running time of Robert's print. Perhaps the explanation is that he has had access to a preview print?"- Thanks Tag!

I looked pretty hard to find a reason to ignore this release, but:

1) It's an important director; Jean Renoir

2) It's a Region FREE Blu-ray

3) With optional English subtitles...

Not to mention that the a/v transfer blew me away - even beyond the screen captures and I found yet another joy-filled reason to adore this new format. Big thanks to David for alerting us! STRONG purchase recommendation!

Gary W. Tooze

***

ON THE Criterion DVD: NOTE:  Robert says: "I like this movie quite a lot and have shown in classes for many years, a number of times in a spectacular 35 mm IB tech print. The Criterion color is not so hot - not faithful to the original color, being kind of one-dimensional and lacking in the original richness very noticeable in the 35 print. Clear and bright it is, but there was and should be more to it that that.

I'd be thrilled if my only problem was quibbling over the color - but the cuts are a disgrace and make the film impossible to watch as they distort the relationship of Gabin's character to that of Felix's and Felix's to her art. Somebody, somewhere must not have liked Maria Felix, as it is her (character establishing) scenes that are gone. The first is right after her cooch dance number near the start of the film where her relationship to Gabin and the industrialist guy is laid out, the second is when she has a conversation of the guy who owns the cafe they all visit after her performance and we see that she is one of the working class artist community. When the second scene disappeared as if it never existed I shut off the machine, and have never looked at anything else in the set, as the mutilation of French Can Can is so extreme. Felix plays one of the three main characters and the cuts not only ruin her role but totally distort it. If within 15 minutes two entire scenes (the two and only times to this point in the film when Felix's character has something significant to say) are cut, how many more of her moments are cut in what remains of the movie? Perhaps every time Maria Felix's character has something to say, the person who edited the print Criterion worked from also removed it?
"

Gary W. Tooze

 


Menus

 

Criterion - "Stage and Spectacle Box" - Region 0 - NTSC LEFT vs. Gaumont - Region FREE - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Sample

 

Criterion - "Stage and Spectacle Box" - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Gaumont - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

Screen Captures

 

Criterion - "Stage and Spectacle Box" - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Gaumont - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


Criterion - "Stage and Spectacle Box" - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Gaumont - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


Criterion - "Stage and Spectacle Box" - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Gaumont - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


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DVD Box Cover

 

UK BFI Blu-ray Version:




 

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Gary Tooze

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