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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

La Grande Bouffe aka "La grande bouffe" [Blu-ray]

 

(Marco Ferreri, 1973)

 

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Capitolina Produzioni Cinematografiche

Video: Arrow Video

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 2:09:56.038 

Disc Size: 46,688,248,235 bytes

Feature Size: 36,040,240,512 bytes

Video Bitrate: 32.99 Mbps

Chapters: 13

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: August 17-18th, 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:

The Farcical Movie A French television profile of Marco Ferreri from 1975 in which the director discusses, among other things, the influence of Tex Avery, Luis Bu˝uel and Tod Browning s Freaks (27:09)
Behind-the-scenes footage of the making of La Grande bouffe, containing interviews with Ferrari and actors Marcello Mastroianni, Michel Piccoli, Ugo Tognazzi and Philippe Noiret (11:03)
Extracts from the television series Couleurs autour d'un festival featuring interviews with the cast and crew recorded during the Cannes Film Festival (4:28)
A visual essay on the film with by Italian film scholar Pasquale Iannone (18:05)
Select scene audio commentary by Iannone (27:18)
News report from the Cannes Film Festival where La Grande bouffe caused a controversial stir, including Ferreri at the press conference (1:42)
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx
Booklet featuring new writing on the film by Johnny Mains, illustrated with original archive stills and posters.

DVD included

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Subversive Italian satirist Marco Ferreri directed and co-wrote (with Rafael Azcona) this grotesquely amusing French black comedy about four men who grow sick of life, and so meet at a remote villa with the goal of literally eating themselves to death. The quartet comes from various walks of life -- a pilot (Marcello Mastroianni), a chef (Ugo Tognazzi), a television host (Michel Piccoli), and a judge (Philippe Noiret) -- but all are successful men with excessive appetites for life's pleasures (food is used as mere metaphor here, as graphic as that metaphor becomes).

 

 

The Film:

In this rarely screened, hard to find '70s classic, a chef (Ugo Tognazzi), a TV producer (Michel Piccoli), a pilot (Marcello Mastroianni) and a judge (Philippe Noiret) get together for a weekend of gastronomic indulgence. Sounds like the setup to a joke, but La Grande Bouffe’s punchline turns out to be hilariously sinister. What seems at first to be a weekend getaway of indulgence and vice turns out to be a morbid pact between the friends, who threaten quite literally eat themselves to death if they don’t take a break from their grotesque and exuberant bacchanalian feast.

A bit like Pier Paolo Passolini’s Sal˛ in terms of premise but quite different in execution, La Grande Bouffe pushes the basest human desires to some extreme limits. It’s certainly funny to watch some of Europe’s best respected actors engage in gross, creepy, over-the-top behaviour (fart jokes featuring Michel Piccoli seem jarringly, darkly hilarious), but the humour in La Grande Bouffe is actually quite cynical – presenting the pillars of a morally bankrupt society at their most depraved and nihilistic, as mountains of puddings, roasts, cakes and pies make their ways into their gluttonous stomachs.

Excerpt from TheyShootActorsDon'tThey located HERE

 

Four men (a judge, a master chef, a TV personality, and an airplane pilot), decide to hole up for the weekend in a Paris estate belonging to one of them, and eat themselves to death. It becomes obvious to them after the first night that they will need a little female companionship, so they import a few whores. When some school kids ask to see a famous tree on the grounds, they also meet their teacher (Andrea Ferreol), and invite her to dinner. She accepts, and ends up staying for the duration. The prostitutes eat themselves sick, get bored, and leave. Andrea ends up sleeping in a big bed with all of the men, and ultimately decides to take care of all of them until they accomplish their goal or give up..

Excerpt from Scoopy located HERE

 

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

Firstly, this is another Arrow Blu-ray release that is being simultaneously released in both region 'A' (US) and 'B' (UK). It is the exact same package/transfer on both sides of the pond.

 

NOTE: As Michael Brooke informed us on Facebook about, the similar situation with, Day of Anger and Island of Death: '... I can confirm first hand that the UK and US discs are absolutely identical: we only paid for one master, so there's no doubt about this at all! Which means that no matter which package you buy, the discs will play in any Region A or B setup (or Region 1 or 2 for DVD - and in the latter case the video standard is NTSC, to maximise compatibility). The booklets are also identical, but there are minor cosmetic differences on the disc labels and sleeve to do with differing copyright info and barcodes, and the US release doesn't have BBFC logos.'

 

The presentation starts with these text screens:

La Grande Bouffe gets an impressive dual-layered transfer to Blu-ray from Arrow.  It has a strong bitrate for the over 2-hour feature. The film itself is not very visually appealing but the 2K restoration looks very crisp, and authentic. The 1080P supports solid contrast exhibiting healthy black levels and some minor depth in the 1.66:1 frame.  It's pristinely clean showcasing some hi-def detail, no gloss, minor texture, and there are really no flaws, whatsoever, with the rendering. This Blu-ray probably looks like exactly the theatrical version of the film La Grande Bouffe. It seems devoid of imperfections of any kind.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

We get a pure lossless linear mono track at 1152 kbps in the original French. It is predictably flat. The film has original music by Philippe Sarde (Tess, Alice and Martin, Quest For Fire). The restrained, and occasionally haunting score benefits the film experience. There are optional English subtitles and the disc is region FREE.

 

Extras :

Arrow continue to invest a lot of effort in preparing supplements. The Farcical Movie A French is a 27-minute television profile of Marco Ferreri from 1975 in which the director discusses, among other things, the influence of Tex Avery, Luis Bu˝uel and Tod Browning's Freaks. We get 11-minutes of Behind-the-scenes footage of the making of La Grande bouffe, containing interviews with Ferrari and actors Marcello Mastroianni, Michel Piccoli, Ugo Tognazzi and Philippe Noiret, 5-minutes of extracts from the television series Couleurs autour d'un festival featuring interviews with the cast and crew recorded during the Cannes Film Festival plus a rewarding 18-minute visual essay on the film with by Italian film scholar Pasquale Iannone who also gives us about 1/2 hour of select scene audio commentary. Lastly is a short, news report from the Cannes Film Festival where La Grande bouffe caused a controversial stir, including Ferreri at the press conference. The package has a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx and a liner notes booklet featuring new writing on the film by Johnny Mains, illustrated with original archive stills and posters. It is dual-format with a second disc DVD included.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
La Grande Bouffe is an uncomfortable film. In fact it can be downright ugly... which was probably Marco Ferreri's intent. Perhaps indulgence shouldn't be too seducing. It's an age-old tragi-'black'-comedy about unsatisfying freedom and misplaced passion. A wholly unusual piece of cinema. The Arrow Blu-ray provides a competent a/v presentation with many very appreciated extras. For those keen or curious to see the film this is an excellent package containing plenty of supplemental value. Absolutely recommended! 

Gary Tooze

August 6th, 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.

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
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Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

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Gary W. Tooze

 

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