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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Le pont du Nord [Blu-ray]

 

(Jacques Rivette, 1981)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Les Films du Losange

Video: Eureka - Masters of Cinema - Spine #62

 

Disc:

Region: 'B'-locked (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:08:39.712

Disc Size: 37,624,054,555 bytes

Feature Size: 37,616,527,104 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.91 Mbps

Chapters: 17

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: July 29th, 2013

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.37:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

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

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

• A lengthy booklet with writing about the film by Arthur Mas, Andy Rector, Serge Daney, and Caroline Champetier; writing from the original press - book by Jacques Rivette, and Jean Narboni; rare archival imagery

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: The culmination of New Wave master Jacques Rivette ' s legendary middle period (which ranged from L' Amour fou through Out 1, Céline and Julie Go Boating, Duelle, Noroît, and Merry - Go - Round), Le Pont du Nord envisions Paris as a sprawling game - board marked off with tucked - away conspiracies, where imagination and paranoia intermingle; where the hinted - at stakes are sanity, life, and death.

Regular Rivette actress Bulle Ogier stars as Marie, a claustrophobic ex - con who, shortly after wandering into Paris, encounters the wild and potentially troubled young woman Baptiste (Pascale Ogier, Bulle's actual 22 - year - old daughter). Baptiste, a knife - wielding, self - proclaimed kung - fu expert with a drive to slash the eyes from faces in adverts (including, in one instance, those on a placard for Akira Kurosawa's Kagemusha), accompanies Marie on her quest to solve the mystery behind the contents of her former lover's (Pierre Clémenti's) suitcase: an amalgam of clippings, patterns, and maps of Paris that points to a vastly unsettling labyrinth replete with signs and intimations whose menacing endgame remains all too unclear.

Gorgeously shot by the master cinematographer William Lubtchansky, Le Pont du Nord is a free - wheeling, powerful experience whose hypnotic rhythm and ominous undercurrents resolve into a frightening and exhilarating portrait of post - revolutionary, early - ' 80s Paris - and in turn form a prime example of Rivette's uncanny, occult cinema. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present Jacques Rivette ' s rare and essential feature Le Pont du Nord on Blu-ray for the first time anywhere in the world.

 

 

The Film:

A movie that pushes the conspiratorial playfulness of Rivette's Céline and Julie in directions both maddening and magical. Ogier and her daughter Pascale are here the crossed-paths comrades impulsively taking up the silent challenge of the city's codes: hopscotching the map of Paris' arrondissements and turning it into a life-size outdoor board game. As ever in Rivette's labyrinthine re-imaginings of the urban obstacle course, the rules and goals are obscure while the allusive clues, keys and signposts multiply alarmingly. Underworld and wonderland merge in the open air; joyous whimsy blurs with justified worry; and Rivette risks exploring the scarifying powers of fantasy and paranoia with a panning, punning documentary eye. With so many oblique strategies, a little irritation is inevitable...but if you could possibly imagine a pre-micro Tron, the leaps of faith needed here shouldn't be difficult.

Excerpt from TimezOut Film Guide located HERE

Mother and daughter performers Bulle and Pascale Ogier star as an appropriately mismatched duo in Jacques Rivette's inventive outdoor fantasy Le Pont du Nord. Much like Bulle's claustrophobic character Marie, Rivette's film can't bear to enter enclosed spaces: in one of its best scenes (captured in a single, breathless long take) Marie swoons and sways her way through an extended elevated train ride, and the film seems to share in her heady mindset, never quite knowing if its setting (a Paris slowly but surely succumbing to modernization) is a paradise or an inferno. It's an intentionally amateur production through and through—even the boom mic intrudes now and again, perversely heightening the sense of fantasy while simultaneously demolishing an already tenuous fourth wall.

Excerpt from Slant Magazine located HERE

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

Le pont du Nord appears true to the source on Blu-ray from The Masters of Cinema arm of Eureka Cinema in the UK.  The image quality shows distinct textured grain and colors are bright and true. The film itself is just gorgeous and the 1080P exports that hypnotic quality.  It is neither glossy nor pristinely sharp and the luscious grain may be the most distinct feature. It is transferred in the original 1.37:1 aspect ratio and it appears as though the dual-layered transfer, with very high bitrate, is a strong replication of the theatrical appearance now over 30-years ago. This Blu-ray has a very realistic film-like feel. Visually this is about as ravishingly rich and appealing as it gets.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

The audio is transferred via a linear PCM mono track at 1152 kbps in the original French language. The film is punctuated by many long-ish pauses but dialogue, when delivered, is clear and even. Background sounds of their walk are not remarkable. There is no score but we do get to hear Astor Piazzolla performing his own Libertango and Violentango which sounds clean but flat. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.

 

Extras :

The only supplement is a standard MoC lavish, liner notes, booklet with writing about the film by Arthur Mas, Andy Rector, Serge Daney, and Caroline Champetier; writing from the original press - book by Jacques Rivette, and Jean Narboni and rare archival imagery.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Le pont du Nord is intriguing and unconventional. I can see this note quite satiating those addicted to Rivette. I recall the daughter, Pascale Ogier, from Rohmer's Full Moon in Paris. She unfortunately died at age 25. A lot of this film is an ode to the lesser seen areas of Paris. I don't think it's Rivette's best work but it has an appealing intangible that gives it worthy substance.  I think this was a great choice for MoC to release on Blu-ray. I thoroughly enjoyed the 1080P presentation and the booklet. Fans of the director or French cinema will probably want to indulge. 

Gary Tooze

July 26th, 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 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.

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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