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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Confession aka L'aveu [Blu-ray]

 

(Costa-Gavras, 1970)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Les Films Pomereu

Video: Criterion Collection Spine #759

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 2:18:59.539

Disc Size: 47,730,967,013 bytes

Feature Size: 28,796,805,120 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.00 Mbps

Chapters: 14

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: May 26th, 2015

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.66:1

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, none

 

Extras:

You Speak of Prague: The Second Trial of Artur London, a 1970 on-set documentary by set photographer Chris Marker, featuring Costa-Gavras, source book coauthor Artur London, actors Yves Montand and Simone Signoret, and screenwriter Jorge Sempr˙n (31:04)
Portrait London, a 1981 French program featuring Artur and Lise London discussing their experiences as political prisoners (11:26)
Interview with Montand from 1970 (7:12)
New interview with editor Franšoise Bonnot (17:14)
One-hour conversation between Costa-Gavras and film scholar Peter von Bagh from 1998 (1:04:49)
New interview with John Michalczyk, author of Costa-Gavras: The Political Fiction Film (7:32)
PLUS: An essay by film scholar Dina Iordanova

 

Bitrate:

 

 

 

Description: The master of the political thriller, Costa-Gavras became an instant phenomenon after the mammoth success of Z, and he quickly followed it with the equally riveting The Confession. Based on a harrowing true story from the era of Soviet bloc show trials, the film stars Yves Montand as a Czechoslovak Communist Party official who, in the early fifties, is abducted, imprisoned, and interrogated over a frighteningly long period, and left in the dark about his captors’ motives. Also starring Simone Signoret and Gabriele Ferzetti, the film is an unflinching, intimate depiction of one of the twentieth century’s darkest chapters, told from one bewildered man’s point of view.

 

 

The Film:

This Costa-Gavras thriller stars Yves Montand as an East European government functionary, inexplicably imprisoned by his Communist superiors. He is not told why he has been arrested, nor has his wife (Simone Signoret) been informed of his fate. Undergoing psychological torture, Montand is grilled about his wartime activities. At the end of his rope, Montand agrees to sign several papers that are thrust before him. He eventually discovers that he's to be a defendant in a "show trial" conducted by his government. He never knows the whys and wherefores of the whole affair -- nor does the audience. The Confession was based on the true story of loyal Communist Arthur London's unjustified purge trial of 1951. Despite the film's confusion, Costa-Gavras' Kafkaesque view of the world, in which the individual is overwhelmed by events that he can't possibly begin to understand, struck a responsive chord in the chaotic early '70s.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

"The Confession" is the real-life story of Artur London, a loyal Communist who certified his credentials by serving with the International Brigade in Spain and with the Communist anti-Nazi underground in France, and by a long term in a Nazi concentration camp. In 1949, Mr. London returned to his native Czechoslovakia from France to become Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs in the Communist Government of President Klement Gottwald. Two years later, along with 13 other leading Czech Communists (11 of whom were Jewish), Mr. London was arrested for treason and espionage and found guilty in what became known as .the "Slansky trial."

The Slansky trial, named for the secretary general of the Czech Communist party, who was also a defendant, was one of the last major gasps of the Stalinist purges that began with the Moscow trials in the 1930's. All of the Slansky defendants were found guilty and all but three, including Mr. London, were executed.

Mr. London lived not only to see the defendants rehabilitated and to write his book but also to return to Czechoslovakia on the day in August, 1968, when Soviet troops invaded his country to end the short Czech spring.

Excerpt from The NY Times located HERE

 

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

The Confession looks excellent on Blu-ray from Criterion.  The image has some very minor teal-leaning but the textures are abundant and consistent - looking very film-like and thick. This is dual-layered but a middling bitrate and we can still presume that it is a solid representation of the film. The frequent darker scenes showed no noise. It is in the original 1.66:1 aspect ratio and contrast and detail, in close-ups, are impressive. They are a few examples of depth. This Blu-ray has no discernable flaws and supplies a wonderfully rich presentation.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

The audio is via a linear PCM mono track at 1152 kbps. The score is by Giovanni Fusco (L'Avventura, The Red Desert, L'Eclisse, Hiroshima Mon Amour, Il Grido) and subtly portrays the grim, dour, circumstance throughout the film. It sounds clean and clear. There are optional English subtitles on the region 'A'-locked Blu-ray disc.

 

Extras :

Criterion stack the extras again. You Speak of Prague: The Second Trial of Artur London, is a 1/2 hour, 1970, on-set documentary by set photographer Chris Marker, featuring Costa-Gavras, source book coauthor Artur London, actors Yves Montand and Simone Signoret, and screenwriter Jorge Sempr˙n. The production icnludes footage from the film and it originally aired on French television on March 5th, 1970. Portrait London, is a, 12-minutes of excerpts, January 1981 (it coincided with the release of American hostages in Iran) broadcast on French television featuring Artur and Lise London discussing their experiences as political prisoners, life after being freed and their current political views. We also get a 7-minute interview with Montand from 1970 - when it aired on French television - where he discusses the making of The Confession and how he prepared for the role of Artur London. Criterion have produced a new interview with editor Franšoise Bonnot running 17-minutes. Bonnot was the editor of nine Costa-Gavras films, including Z, The Confession and State of Siege. She describes her working process with the director. Included is a one-hour conversation between Costa-Gavras and film scholar Peter von Bagh from the 1998 Midnight Sun Film Festival in Finland. The 2 discuss the director's life and career. Criterion have also produced a 7.5-minute new (December 2014) interview with John Michalczyk, author of Costa-Gavras: The Political Fiction Film. The package contains a liner notes booklet with an essay by film scholar Dina Iordanova.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
The Confession is quite the film experience. It builds with a wonderful, and thrill-inducing, pace. Costa-Gavras has made another powerful film that deserves its new audience! This is close to a masterpiece and the Criterion Blu-ray package offers a great a/v presentation with plenty of appreciation-garnering extras. Strongly recommended! 

Gary Tooze

April 21st, 2015


 

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.

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Gary W. Tooze

 

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