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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "Donna di vita")

directed by Jacques Demy

1961 France

Jacques Demy's first and in some ways best feature (1961, 90 min.), shot in exquisite black-and-white 'Scope by Raoul Coutard, is among the most neglected major works of the French New Wave. Abandoned by her sailor lover, a cabaret dancer (Anouk Aimee) brings up their son while awaiting his return and ultimately has to choose among three men. Chock-full of film references (to The Blue Angel, Breathless, Hollywood musicals, the work of Max Ophuls, among others) and lyrically shot in Nantes, the film is a camera stylo love letter, and Michel Legrand's lovely score provides ideal nostalgic accompaniment. In his third feature and biggest hit, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Demy settled on life's disappointments; here at least one major character gets exactly what she wants, and the effect is no less poignant. With Marc Michel, Jacques Harden, and Elina Labourdette (the young heroine in Robert Bresson's 1945 Les dames du Bois de Boulogne). In French with subtitles.

Excerpt from Jonathan Rosenbaum's Chicago Reader review HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: March 3rd, 1961 - France

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Comparison:

Wellspring -  Region 1 - NTSC vs. Criterion Collection (part of Essential Jacques Demy Boxset)  - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

1) Wellspring - Region 1 - NTSC LEFT

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Covers

Distribution Columbia Tri-Star  Region 1 - NTSC Criterion Collection - Spine # 714
Region 'A' -
Blu-ray
Runtime 1:27:15 1:28:48.948
Video 2.35:1 Original Aspect Ratio 16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.40 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

2.35:1 / 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,240,329,866 bytes

Feature: 26,049,908,736 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Bitrate:

Bitrate: Blu-ray

Audio French (Dolby Digital 5.1 Stereo), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono) LPCM Audio French 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Subtitles English, None English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Wellspring Media, Inc

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.35:1

Edition Details:
• Black & White, Widescreen
• Theatrical trailer (1:56 )
• In French with optional English subtitles
• Excerpt from The World of Jacques Demy ( 6:47 )
• Widescreen anamorphic format

DVD5 - single layer

DVD Release Date: December 9, 2003
Keep Case
Chapters: 24

Release Information:
Studio:
Criterion

Aspect Ratio:

1.85:1 / 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 46,515,766,915 bytes

Feature: 27,627,939,840 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:
• Interview with actor Anouk Aimée from 2012, conducted by filmmaker Agnès Varda (3:28)
• Interview with Varda from 2012 on the origin of Lola’s song (3:24)
• Four short films by director Jacques Demy: Les horizons morts (1951 - 8:22), Le sabotier du Val de Loire (1956 - 23:32), Ars (1959 - 16:43), and La luxure (1962 - 14:51)
• Restoration demonstration (10:20)
• Trailer (1:50)


Blu-ray Release Date: July 22nd, 2014
Custom Blu-ray Case

Chapters 16

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Criterion Collection (part of the Essential Jacques Demy boxset) - Region 'A' - Blu-rays (July 2014): Yes, we have a problem here. The 2K digital restoration source used, has butchered the image. It is teeming with DNR and artifacts. It looks awful. This seems to be the same situation we have seen with Madam De... and Children of Paradise. Criterion's transfer is adept - dual-layered and a max'ed out bitrate but the, so-called, 'restoration' done outside of Criterion (in 2012 by Cine-Tamaris) is highly flawed. What a shame. Detail and grain are all gone. The DVD does look out-of-ratio now. Perhaps is enough fuss is made this will get redone... properly.

Audio seems a bit scattered but clean and there are some extensive extras. There is a short interview with actor Anouk Aimée from 2012, conducted by filmmaker Agnès Varda, another with Varda from 2012 on the origin of Lola’s song - also brief at 3.5 minutes. A great addition - there are four short films by director Jacques Demy: Les horizons morts (1951 - 8:22), Le sabotier du Val de Loire (1956 - 23:32), Ars (1959 - 16:43), and La luxure (1962 - 14:51) - all in 1080P. There is a 10-minute restoration demonstration and a trailer. The Demy package includes a booklet featuring essays by critics Ginette Vincendeau, Terrence Rafferty, Jim Ridley, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Anne E. Duggan, and Geoff Andrew, and a postscript by Berthomé.

I'll expand more on the comments as I intend on covering the entire set in another, separate, review. Stay tuned for more! 

***

 

ON THE DVD: Not a pristine job, but a commendable effort by Wellspring. The print used seems fairly clean and free of blemishes. Contrast might be a shade boosted, actually I'm pretty sure it is. Not the sharpest of lines but passable for a film of this age. Sound seemed quite weak, but I'm sure that's the best they could do. It has an option of boosting to 5.1 but nothing really comes from the rear channels. Extras include almost 7 min. from "The World of Jacques Demy", a trailer and some bios etc. Better than your average fare from Wellspring. Demy fans will be happy this is available.      

Gary W. Tooze


Recommended Reading in French Cinema (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

The Films in My Life
by Francois Truffaut, Leonard Mayhew

French Cinema: A Student's Guide
by Philip Powrie, Keith Reader
Agnes Varda by Alison Smith Godard on Godard : Critical Writings by Jean-Luc Godard Robert Bresson (Cinematheque Ontario Monographs, No. 2)
by James Quandt
The Art of Cinema by Jean Cocteau French New Wave
by Jean Douchet, Robert Bonnono, Cedric Anger, Robert Bononno
French Cinema: From Its Beginnings to the Present
by Remi Fournier Lanzoni
Truffaut: A Biography by Antoine do Baecque and Serge Toubiana

Check out more in "The Library"




Menus

1) Wellspring - Region 1 - NTSC LEFT

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

 

 

 

 Four shorts on the Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 


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

 

Subtitle Sample

 

1) Wellspring - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

Screen Captures

1) Wellspring - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Wellspring - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Wellspring - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Wellspring - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Wellspring - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 

Box Covers

Distribution Columbia Tri-Star  Region 1 - NTSC Criterion Collection - Spine # 714
Region 'A' - Blu-ray


 

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