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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

L'Inhumaine aka The Inhuman Woman [Blu-ray]

 

(Marcel l'Herbier, 1924)

 

Also available on Blu-ray in France in Dual-Format edition:

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Cinégraphic

Video: Flicker Alley

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 2:03:11.583 

Disc Size: 35,788,149,606 bytes

Feature Size: 28,646,965,248 bytes

Video Bitrate: 26.07 Mbps

Chapters: 13

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: March 1st, 2016

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 24 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

Aidje Tafial:

LPCM Audio French 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
Alloy Orchestra:

LPCM Audio French 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
 

 

Subtitles:

English, none

 

Extras:

• “Behind the Scenes of L’Inhumaine”: A 15-minute featurette about the original production and making of L’Inhumaine (15:09)
About the Recording of Aidje Tafial’s Music”: An exclusive look into the creation of the original score (18:19)
A booklet featuring rare, behind-the-scenes photographs and information about the film

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Flicker Alley and Lobster Films are proud to present this groundbreaking landmark of artistic collaboration and avant-garde design, newly-restored with two original scores from Aidje Tafial and the Alloy Orchestra, in its North American Blu-ray premiere.

Released to intense controversy in 1924 for its cinematic and technical innovations, L’Inhumaine (The Inhuman Woman) is a visual tour-de-force; a fantastical, science-fiction melodrama; and a momentous collaboration of legendary figures from the avant-garde movement. Directed by Marcel L’Herbier (L’Argent, Feu Mathias Pascal) and starring the famous French opera singer Georgette Leblanc – who helped produce the film along with L’Herbier’s company, Cinégraphic – L’Inhumaine is most notable for the style of filmmaking. In L’Herbier’s words, it represents a “miscellany of modern art,” bringing together some of the greatest artists from the time period, including painter Fernand Léger, architect Robert Mallet-Stevens, glassmaker René Lalique, fashion designer Paul Poiret, and directors Alberto Cavalcanti and Claude Autant-Lara, among others, to create a collaborative cinematic experience.

Leblanc plays the “Inhuman Woman” of the title, Claire Lescot, who lives on the outskirts of Paris, where she draws important men to her like moths to a flame. At her luxurious parties, she basks in the amorous attentions of her many admirers while always remaining aloof. When it appears she is the reason for a young devotee’s suicide, however, her fans desert her. The filming of the concert where she’s raucously booed is a renowned piece of cinema history: L’Herbier invited more than 2,000 people from the arts and fashionable society to attend the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées and play the part of the unruly audience. Among the attendees were Pablo Picasso, Man Ray, Erik Satie, René Clair, James Joyce, and Ezra Pound (although none are actually visible).

For this brand-new restoration, Lobster Films – with the support of Marie-Ange L’Herbier (the director’s daughter), the French CNC, SACEM and Maison Hermès – utilized the original nitrate negative, scanned at a pristine 4K resolution, and restored the original tints for the first time since the film’s release. The Blu-ray features two audacious new scores, one from percussionist Aidje Tafial and the other by the Alloy Orchestra. With optional English subtitles to the original French intertitles, Flicker Alley and Lobster Films are proud to present L’Inhumaine in an edition that does justice to the dazzling beauty of L’Herbier’s landmark vision.

 

 

The Film:

Part-financed by American singer Georgette Leblanc, who also stars, this was designed as a sort of showcase for contemporary French arts. So, decorating a tolerably camp story about a heartless woman (Leblanc) who is poisoned by one disappointed lover (Hériat) and scientifically resuscitated into new humanity by another (Catelain), it boasts extravagant Cubist settings (by Fernand Léger, Robert Mallet-Stevens, Claude Autant-Lara and Alberto Cavalcanti), features costumes by Paul Poiret, incorporates a Jean Borlin ballet, makes coy reference to radio and TV, and was originally accompanied by a Darius Milhaud score. The result, resolutely chic, brought instant sneers about aesthetic dilettantism which L'Herbier was subsequently never quite able to shake off. But despite the wretched acting and daft script (by Pierre Mac Orlan), the last third of the film, in which L'Herbier's attempt to apply a different mood and rhythm to each setting begins to pay dividends, is often remarkable in the way it manipulates space as an autonomous element in the drama.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

A 1924 avant-garde feature by Marcel L'Herbier, featuring art deco and cubist set design by Fernand Leger and architects Robert Mallet-Stevens and Alberto Cavalcanti, among others. Treated as an object of ridicule by most critics when it came out—partly because of the improbable SF/thriller/love-story plot, and partly because the much sought-after heroine was played by a diva (American singer Georgette Leblanc) who helped to produce the film and was getting a bit long in the tooth—it actually registers today as a fascinating piece of period avant-garde chic with a fine sense of rhythm (though the original score by Darius Milhaud is apparently lost).

Excerpt from Dave Kehr at the Chicago Reader located HERE

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

Firstly, L'Inhumaine is a beautiful and mesmerizing film. This is from the 2015 4K restoration and the Flicker Alley Blu-ray looks stunningly attractive.  The 2-hour film is on a dual-layered disc with a supportive bitrate.  The quality is remarkably consistent and the gratuitously rich color tinting is scrumptious establishing lighting and mood changes. There are some minimal surface scratches and almost imperceptible damage that was so secondary to the film's visual eye-candy.  This Blu-ray is extremely pleasing in its in-motion appearance (24 fps) despite less-apparent imperfections. I was blown away and I think most will be very appreciative of the rewarding video presentation. The initial screen gives you the option of English or French-language menus.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

We are given the option to listen to the unique but addictive Aidje Tafial (2012-2015) on Percussion, more modern, score with accordion, vibraphone, electronic cues etc. sound engineer Remi Parguel or a more standard Silent Era, Alloy Orchestra, score - both in linear PCM 2.0 at 1536 kbps (16-bit). I enjoyed both and they give different experiences - and I appreciated the variation when re-watching the film. The uncompressed quality is excellent. There are optional English subtitles (for the French intertitles and text screen - samples below.)  The back cover of the package indicates the Blu-ray is region 'A'-locked.

 

Extras :

There are some supplements - both in French with optional English subtitles. We get a 1/4 hour “Behind the Scenes of L’Inhumaine” featurette about the original production and making of L’Inhumaine and a lengthier piece entitled "About the Recording of Aidje Tafial’s Music”: a look into the creation of the original score. The package also contains a liner notes booklet featuring rare, behind-the-scenes photographs and information about the film.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I thoroughly enjoyed L'Inhumaine on Blu-ray. Aside from the brilliant style, this is an exciting, poetic and rich Art-Deco-esque film experience. Silent Era fans will be appreciative. I have watched it twice (one with each audio track) and I wish I could see it again for the first time. I LOVED the feeling this film gave me. Absolutely brilliant! We give this a VERY strong recommendation! 

Gary Tooze

February 16th, 2016

Also available on Blu-ray in France in Dual-Format edition:

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
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD 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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