|S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r|
La Poison aka Poison [Blu-ray]
(Sacha Guitry, 1951)
Review by Gary Tooze
Video: Eureka - Masters of Cinema - Spine #23 / Criterion Collection - Spine # 891
Region: 'B'-locked / Region 'A' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Runtime: 1:25:21.041 / 1:25:46.975
Disc Size: 32,708,281,451 bytes / 48,466,608,840 bytes
Feature Size: 24,633,501,696 bytes / 25,245,941,760 bytes
Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps / 35.12 Mps
Chapters: 8 / 10
Case: Standard Blu-ray case /
Release date: February 25th, 2013 / August 22nd, 2017
Aspect ratio: 1.37:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
LPCM Audio French 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
LPCM Audio French 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
• On Life On-Screen: Miseries and Splendour of a Monarch, a
61-minute documentary about Guitry and the making of the
film (1:00:59 - 2010)
New interview with filmmaker Olivier Assayas on director
Sacha Guitry’s influence on French cinema (16:13)
Cineaste De Notre Temps (1:06:53)
Description: One of the great late period films by Sacha Guitry — the total auteur who delighted (and scandalised) the French public and inspired the French New Wave as a model for authorship as director-writer-star of screen and stage alike. In every one of his pictures (and almost every one served as a rueful examination of the war between the sexes), Guitry sculpted by way of a rapier wit — one might say by way of “the Guitry touch” — some of the most sophisticated black comedies ever conceived… and La Poison [Poison] is one of his blackest.
...La Poison, with three-hundred and fourteen, is a popular
Guitry work. Part knockabout blackly comic farce, part social
commentary, part Plato-esque destruction of logic, La Poison,
shot in eleven days, is a real find from the archives for Masters Of
Cinema. At eighty-five minutes, this is an easy-going introduction to
the comic French cinema of the 1940s and 1950s but it is also a film
with real worth and voice, looking predictably sumptuous on the restored
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Guitry's La Poison looks very impressive on Blu-ray from The Masters of Cinema in the UK. The image quality shows a high level of detail with strongly layered contrast. I noted a bit of flared brightness but it is essentially inconsequential in-motion. The 1080P visuals have frequent depth with amazing sharpness. There are some hints of texture but the highlight is the crispness. This Blu-ray gets high marks for an excellent video presentation.
A NOTE ON THE TITLE (from the liner notes): Although the French “poison” translates directly to the English “poison”, it generally takes the masculine article – “le poison”. The title of Guitry’s film, a commonplace for a bitchy old woman, invokes the nickname given to Blandine Braconnier; the presence of the feminine article is a rural quirk indicating a female nickname, and has no relation to the actual article of the referent noun.
The Criterion looks a shade superior. It is slightly darker and I don't discount potential marginal tweaking of the black levels giving it a tighter look. The Criterion also seems to show more grain. You can see the visual superiority - even in the 800 width caps below. The Criterion image is richer and looked improved on my system.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Audio comes in the form of a linear PCM mono track at 1536 kbps. It alls sounds flawless, authentically flat, but runs sweetly and supportively beside the La Poison. There are optional English subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.
Criterion nudge ahead again - also using a linear PCM (mono) but at 24-bit. The original French dialogue is clean and clear. Louiguy (Louis Guiglielmi) - a Spanish composer who worked to films right up to the 70s - adds a score that benefits nicely by the uncompressed rendering. There are optional English subtitles on Criterion's Region 'A'-locked Blu-ray disc.
The only digital extra is a doozy - and hour long documentary on Guitry and the film entitled On Life On-Screen: Miseries and Splendour of a Monarch. It was made in 2010 and is filled with interesting information - Guitry fans will not want to miss. Masters of Cinema also include another substantial liner notes booklet containing writing on the film, vintage excerpts, and rare archival photos.
Criterion include a new, 16-minute, interview (conducted in October 2016) with filmmaker Olivier Assayas on director Sacha Guitry’s influence on French cinema. He states that he doesn't consider himself a cinephile who re-watches films over and over again... except for Guitry. He talks of the director's pioneering and influential style effecting French cinema. We also get On Life On-screen: Miseries and Splendour of a Monarch, a 60-minute documentary from 2010, also found on the MoC, on the work of Guitry and Michel Simon examining their collaboration and the making of La Poison. There is also an hour long episode of Cineastes De Notre Temps showing a portrait of director Sacha Guitry through interviews with those who worked with him, both onstage and on-screen. It was directed by Claude de Givray, it originally aired on May 20th, 1965 and is shown in French with optional English subtitles. The package has a liner notes booklet with an essay by film scholar Ginette Vincendeau and a 1957 obituary for Guitry by François Truffaut.
Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray
Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Criterion advance in every area on the Masters of Cinema disc from 4 years hence. It has superior a/v and supplements and is the definitive for this wonderful Sacha Guitry film. Strongly recommended!
February 18th, 2013
July 26th, 2017
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 3500 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.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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