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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Les visiteurs du soir aka The Devil's Envoys [Blu-ray]


(Marcel Carne, 1942)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Productions André Paulvé

Video: Criterion Collection Spine #626



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:01:14.892

Disc Size: 47,424,761,391 bytes

Feature Size: 35,534,585,856 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.98 Mbps

Chapters: 19

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: September 18th, 2012



Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



LPCM Audio French 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit



English (SDH), none



• L’aventure des “Visiteurs du soir,” a 2009 documentary on the making of the film (37:23)
Trailer (3:38)
A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Michael Atkinson





Description: A work of poetry and dark humor, Les visiteurs du soir is a lyrical medieval fantasy from the great French director Marcel Carné (Children of Paradise). Two strangers (Children of Paradise’s Arletty and La dolce vita’s Alain Cuny), dressed as minstrels, arrive at a castle in advance of court festivities—and it is revealed that they are actually emissaries of the devil himself, dispatched to spread heartbreak and suffering. Their plans, however, are thwarted by an unexpected intrusion: human love. Often interpreted as an allegory for the Nazi occupation of France, during which it was made, Les visiteurs du soir—wittily written by Jacques Prévert (Children of Paradise) and Pierre Laroche (Lumière d’été), and elegantly designed by Alexandre Trauner (Port of Shadows) and shot by Roger Hubert (Children of Paradise)—is a moving and whimsical tale of love conquering all.



The Film:

An eerie and often beautiful medieval fantasy parable about the devil sending two messengers to earth to break up a court romance, directed by Marcel Carne during the French occupation from a script coauthored by Jacques Prevert (1942). An obscure antifascist message may have been intended, but it doesn't come across with much clarity; more sustaining are the film's memorable look and atmosphere, and the capacity of the messengers to freeze the action into tableaux that anticipate by nearly 20 years images in Last Year at Marienbad. Also known as The Devil's Envoys.

Excerpt from Jonathan Rosenbaum at the Chicago Reader located HERE

Forced to retreat into the past during the German Occupation, the poetic realism of Carné and Prévert degenerated into fey surrealism in this lazy medieval ballad about the Devil's malicious meddling in affairs of the heart. The opening sequences, with two mysterious strangers riding out of the desert and beginning to work their magic in the magnificent white castle created by Trauner, have a true fairytale touch. But as the hearts get tangled, with the devil's emissary falling despairingly in love with the beautiful princess, the dialogue gets increasingly lachrymose, and the slow pace begins to take its toll. Wonderful performances, though, and graced with an undeniable visual splendour.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guides located HERE

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

Les Visiteurs du Soir looks quite solid on Blu-ray from Criterion.  The image is relatively clean with impressive detail.  This is dual-layered with a supportively high bitrate and we can guess that it is a solid representation of the film. Contrast has a slight greenish leaning but nothing detrimental to the viewing presentation. They are some pleasing examples of depth. All things considered this Blu-ray supplies a wonderful 1080P presentation with no noise and it carries mild textured grain.















Audio :

The audio is rendered via a linear PCM mono track at 1152 kbps in the original French. Dialogue is clear and audible and there are optional English subtitles. My Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A' disc.


Extras :

Criterion include as a supplement the 37-minute L’aventure des “Visiteurs du soir,” a 2009 documentary on the making of the film featuring interviews with author and Carne friend Didier Decoin, archivist Andrew Heinrich, film historian Alain Petit, and journalist Philippe Morrison. There is also a trailer from the film and a liner notes booklet featuring an essay by film critic Michael Atkinson.



Like Children of Paradise, Les Visiteurs du Soir has some witty Jacques Prévert dialogue. The forced allegorical storytelling produces a rich, warm, amusing and memorable film experience - one of Carné's greatest works. Strongly recommended! 

Gary Tooze

September 6th, 2012

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
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Gary W. Tooze






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