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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Chronicle of a Summer [Blu-ray]


(Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin, 1961)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Argos Films

Video: Criterion Collection Spine #648



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

Runtime: 1:30:50.069

Disc Size: 47,333,846,774 bytes

Feature Size: 26,627,051,520 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.98 Mbps

Chapters: 22

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: February 26th, 2013



Aspect ratio: 1.37:1

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



Un été + 50 (2011), a seventy-five-minute documentary featuring outtakes from the film, along with new interviews with codirector Edgar Morin and some of the film’s participants (1:14:55)
Archival interviews with codirector Jean Rouch (5:41) and Marceline Loridan (7:20), one of the film’s participants
New interview with anthropology professor Faye Ginsburg, the organizer of several Rouch retrospectives (14:10)
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by scholar Sam Di Iorio





Description: Few films can claim as much influence on the course of cinema history as Chronicle of a Summer. The fascinating result of a collaboration between filmmaker-anthropologist Jean Rouch and sociologist Edgar Morin, this vanguard work of what Morin termed cinéma- vérité is a brilliantly conceived and realized sociopolitical diagnosis of the early sixties in France. Simply by interviewing a group of Paris residents in the summer of 1960—beginning with the provocative and eternal question “Are you happy?” and expanding to political issues, including the ongoing Algerian War—Rouch and Morin reveal the hopes and dreams of a wide array of people, from artists to factory workers, from an Italian émigré to an African student. Chronicle of a Summer’s penetrative approach gives us a document of a time and place with extraordinary emotional depth.



The Film:

A joint effort by the great (and recently deceased) French ethnographer-filmmaker Jean Rouch and the important French sociologist Edgar Morin (The Stars) yielded this remarkable 1961 documentary investigation into what Parisians—regarded as a “strange tribe”—were thinking and feeling during the summer of 1960, when the war in Algeria was still a hot issue (although many other issues are discussed as well, private as well as public). The filmmakers treat their interview subjects with respect and sensitivity, among them Marilu Parolini, a secretary at Cahiers du Cinema who later became a screenwriter for Jacques Rivette, and Marceline Loridan, a concentration camp survivor who later became the collaborator and companion of Joris Ivens. Rouch and Morin even screened their first interviews for the participants and then filmed their responses, catching the shifting emotional tenor of their lives over a certain period. A seminal work.

Excerpt from Jonathan Rosenbaum at the Chicago Reader located HERE

The notion of a domestically-based 'ethnological study' dates at least from Montesquieu's Lettres persanes. But what distinguishes this attempt by Rouch and the sociologist Edgar Morin to 'bottle' the climate of Paris circa 1960 is their camera's candid assumption of its own disruptively active presence: interviewees are introduced to each other, form groups, and may well (in one case) have got married after shooting was over. In an interesting epilogue, Rouch invites them all to comment on his footage.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

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

Chronicle of a Summer arrives on Blu-ray from Criterion.  The film was shot in 1960 mainly on 16mm reversal and partially on 35mm camera negative - almost exclusively handheld. It was restored by Cineteca di Bologna in collaboration with Argos Films working on the best available elements. The digital picture restoration was performed at 2K resolution on a 35mm blow-up printed in 1961. The contrast of the 1080P image looks superb - it remains as thick and true to its roots as could possibly be expected. There is no over-digitization, chroma, moiring or other flaws. The image supports some rich textures. I don't doubt this is the very best we will see it look.















Audio :

The audio is in the form of an authentic linear PCM mono track at 1152 kbps in the original French language. A few years back the sound was restored and re-synced. It was based on a sound positive generated from an optical soundtrack and an incomplete magnetic 35mm. It is as imperfect, flat and limited as the original production but all dialogue is clear and optional English subtitles are available. My Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A' disc.


Extras :

Criterion offer quite a lot of supplements. We get Un été + 50 (2011), a seventy-five-minute documentary featuring outtakes from the film, along with new interviews with codirector Edgar Morin and some of the film’s participants. This footage was digitized in 2008. Some scenes were restored and res-ynced but the image is also not enhanced. The film is a selection of unreleased footage, highlighted by interviews conducted in 2010, fifty years after the film was shot. There are also archival interviews with co-director Jean Rouch (5:41) and Marceline Loridan (7:20), one of the film’s participants and a new, 15-minute, interview with anthropology professor Faye Ginsburg, the organizer of several Rouch retrospectives. The package contains a liner notes booklet featuring an essay by scholar Sam Di Iorio..



Chronicle of a Summer is quite the amazing film experience. We get a fascinating, verité, slice-of-life in Paris circa 1961. It was so interesting to see the alternate views across a reasonably wide spectrum of different people. This documents attitudes and opinions of the era/location and many seemed like the opposite of, what would be, today's 'generic' answers. If not a masterpiece - it's framing the edges - and the Criterion Blu-ray package offers an essential experience for film fans. Strongly recommended! 

Gary Tooze

January 29th, 2013


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
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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