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(aka 'Zazie dans le métro' or 'Zazie in the Subway' or 'Zazie in the Underground' or 'Zazie nel metrò')

Directed by Louis Malle
France 1960

A brash and precocious ten-year-old (Catherine Demongeot) comes to Paris for a whirlwind weekend with her rakish uncle (Philippe Noiret); he and the viewer get more than they bargained for, however, in this anarchic comedy from Louis Malle, which rides roughshod over the City of Light. Based on a popular novel by Raymond Queneau that had been considered unadaptable, Malle’s audacious Zazie dans le métro, made with flair on the cusp of the French New Wave, is a bit of stream-of-consciousness slapstick, wall-to-wall with visual gags, editing tricks, and effects.

***

Arguably Louis Malle's best work (1960). Based on Raymond Queneau's farcical novel about a little girl (Catherine Demongeot) left in Paris for a weekend with her decadent uncle (Philippe Noiret), this wild spree goes overboard reproducing Mack Sennett-style slapstick, parodying various films of the 1950s, and playing with editing and color effects (Henri Decae's cinematography is especially impressive), though gradually it becomes a rather disturbing nightmare about fascism. Forget the preposterous claim by a few critics that the movie's editing influenced Alain Resnais, but there's no doubt that Malle affected Richard Lester--and was clearly influenced himself by William Klein, whom he credited on the film as a visual consultant. A rather sharp, albeit soulless, film, packed with ideas and glitter and certainly worth a look.

Excerpt from Jonathan Rosenbaum's review at the Chicago Reader located HERE

 

 Posters

Theatrical Releases: October 28th, 1960

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Comparison:

Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Optimum Releasing -  Region 2 - PAL LEFT vs. Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT

DVD Box Cover

Distribution Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL Criterion Collection, spine #570 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
  1:28:44 (4% PAL Speedup) 1:32:47.603
  1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.83 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 43,696,065,986 bytes

Feature: 27,195,611,136 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Bitrate: DVD

Bitrate: Blu-ray
Audio French (Dolby Digital Mono) LPCM Audio French 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Subtitles English (non-removable) English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Optimum Releasing

Aspect Ratio:
Aspect Ratios: 1.33 

Edition Details:

• Interview with Jean-Paul Rappeneau (9:59)

• Vive le Tour (18 minutes)

• Vincent Malle discusses the film (7:14)

DVD Release Date: June 26th, 2006

4 Tiered Digipak inside VHS sized case
Chapters: 12

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 43,696,065,986 bytes

Feature: 27,195,611,136 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

 

Edition Details:
• Archival interviews with director Louis Malle (4:54 in 1080i), novelist Raymond Queneau (9:20 + 5:52 in 1080i), and the young actress Catherine Demongeot (7:39 in 1080i)
• Le Paris de Zazie, an interview with assistant director Philippe Collin (14:57 in 1080i)

Audio interview with Jean-Paul Rappeneau (10:00)

Audio Interview with William Klein (13:06 in 1080P)
• Original theatrical trailer (2:14 in 1080P)
• PLUS: A new essay by film scholar Ginette Vincendeau

Blu-ray Release Date: June 28th, 2011
Transparent
Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 19

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - June 11': The DVD captures are from the Louis Malle Collection Vol. 1 from Optimum Releasing in the UK (reviewed HERE). Regarding the image transfer - I think 'you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear' would be appropriate for the image which we can assume has the best possible source (restored) - albeit still weak looking. There are moments when the image quality is impressive showing a bit of depth (this mostly occurs in the outdoor sequences). But a lot of the visuals appear flat and video-like. Detail climbs a bit, colors tighten, grain is more prevalent, there is a shade more information in the frame - but overall the video won't be utilized for demo purposes. It opens with the comment of a restoration - and with the dual-layered 1080P transfer with a very high bitrate indicates that it probably looked similar theatrically and this will be the best you will ever see Zazie Dans Le Metro in your home theater.

Audio gets the lossless mono treatment in the form of a linear PCM track sounding authentically flat but clean. There are optional subtitles on the region 'A'-locked Blu-ray disc.

The Optimum disc included some nice supplements but, predictably, Criterion have surpassed them with only one duplicate. We get archival interviews, some from French TV, with director Louis Malle (4:54 in 1080i), novelist Raymond Queneau (9:20 + 5:52 in 1080i), and the young actress Catherine Demongeot (7:39 in 1080i). There is another entitled Le Paris de Zazie; with assistant director Philippe Collin running 15-minutes talking about some of the locales. Criterion have included audio interviews with Jean-Paul Rappeneau (who has the distinction of directing nine different actors in César-nominated performances: Catherine Deneuve, Gérard Depardieu, Jacques Weber, Anne Brochet, Vincent Perez, Juliette Binoche, Isabelle Carré, Grégori Derangère and Yvan Attal.) There is another audio segment with William Klein (artistic consultant on the film) - both lasting about 25-minutes in total. There is an original theatrical trailer and a new essay by film scholar Ginette Vincendeau.

I had forgotten what a little joy this film is. Zazie Dans Le Metro can really hit the spot when you are in the right mood. This is a film you want to own and the Blu-ray is the best you'll ever see it. From that standpoint - this is recommendable.

***

ON THE DVD: I have had some email reports that some suspect that this film may be presented on this DVD in open matte, as opposed to a presumed ratio of 1.66. Composition may tend to support this as the framing leaves quite a bit of space in many scenes. Frankly though, I am not 100% sure and prefer to be happy with the bright colors that the Optimum DVD shows. It looks modest with some minor digital noise/dirt peeking through. Included as an extra are the Malle short of the Tour De France (Vive le Tour) and two interviews - a decent 10 minutes with co-writer Jean-Paul Rappeneau and another brief one with brother Vincent Malle. This DVD is dual-layered.

Rosenbaum is right about the film - Zazie in the Underground is real comic gem with some brilliant slapstick and satire discreetly poking through.      

Gary W. Tooze


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Optimum Releasing -  Region 2 - PAL LEFT vs. Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT


 
 

 

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Optimum -  Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

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Optimum -  Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Optimum -  Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

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DVD Box Cover

Distribution Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL Criterion Collection, spine #570 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray



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