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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

La Chienne [Blu-ray]

 

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/renoir.htm, 1931)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Les Établissements Braunberger-Richebé

Video: Criterion Collection Spine #818

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:36:07.803

Disc Size: 46,541,347,578 bytes

Feature Size: 22,499,008,512 bytes

Video Bitrate: 27.43 Mbps

Chapters: 17

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: June 14th, 2016

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.19:1

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:
Introduction to the film from 1961 by director Jean Renoir (2:45)
New interview with Renoir scholar Christopher Faulkner (25:24)
New restoration of On purge bébé (1931), Renoir’s first sound film, also starring Michel Simon (52:02)
Jean Renoir le patron: “Michel Simon” a ninety-five-minute 1967 French television program featuring a conversation between Renoir and Simon, directed by Jacques Rivette (1:35:13)
PLUS: An essay by film scholar Ginette Vincendeau

 

Bitrate:

 

 

 

Description: Jean Renoir’s ruthless love triangle tale, his second sound film, is a true precursor to his brilliantly bitter The Rules of the Game, displaying all of the filmmaker’s visual genius and fully imbued with his profound humanity. Michel Simon cuts a tragic figure as an unhappily married cashier and amateur painter who becomes so smitten with a prostitute that he refuses to see the obvious: that she and her pimp boyfriend are taking advantage of him. Renoir’s elegant compositions and camera movements carry this twisting narrative—a stinging commentary on class and sexual divisions—to an unforgettably ironic conclusion.

 

 

The Film:

Jean Renoir's first sound full-length feature was a bitter and highly controversial psychological drama, so controversial that it was never shown in the United States until 1975, 44 years after its original French release. Maurice (Michel Simon) is a meek bank clerk trapped in a marriage with a harridan named Adele (Magdelaine Berubet). Maurice's sole pleasure in life is painting, a hobby he avidly pursues on weekends. One day, Maurice sees a woman on the street being beaten by a man; he steps in to rescue her, and strikes up a friendship with her. Maurice soon falls in love with Lulu (Janie Pelletier), unaware that she's a prostitute and that the man who was beating her is her pimp, Dede (Georges Flamant). Lulu admires Maurice's paintings, and he gives her several canvases; Lulu and Dede then invent an American artist named Clara Wood and place Clara's signature on Maurice's works before selling them to an art dealer, who is quite impressed. Maurice keeps giving money and artwork to Lulu, forgiving her even after he finds out that she's been selling paintings by "Clara Wood" that are earning high prices and enthusiastic reviews. However, Maurice is unaware that Lulu's a streetwalker or that she truly loves Dede until he catches the two in bed together; eventually, love leads to jealous violence and a tragic conclusion. While Pelletier gave a remarkable performance in La Chienne, she was unable to enjoy the film's wide acclaim; she died in an auto accident only a few weeks after shooting was completed.

Excerpt from Barnes and Noble located HERE

M Legrand (Simon), a mild-mannered, middle-aged cashier, uses painting as a means of expression, of escape from his shrewish wife and the tedium of his job. After an accidental encounter with femme fatale Lulu (Marèze), he falls madly in love, setting her up in a flat which he fills with his paintings. Lulu, who loves only her pimp Dédé (Flamant), uses Legrand as a milch-cow, and when his money runs short, starts selling his paintings as her own (with the Sunday painter ironically unaware that his work is now much sought after). Freeing himself finally from his wife, Legrand arrives at the flat, only to realise that Lulu is still bedding Dédé... Renoir's first great talkie has been described as 'an insignificant little melodrama, given unexpected vigour and depth by a sense of momentary occasion in the filming'. That is, a glorious experiment in, and exploration of, the nature of cinema. Wonderfully moving, with great performances. Remade by Fritz Lang as Scarlet Street.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

 

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

La Chienne looks excellent on Blu-ray from a 2014 restoration from the original negative and is cited as a "new, restored 4K digital transfer" by Criterion in 1080P. It housed on a dual-layered disc with a supportive bitrate. the image is clean and contrast far better than you might have expected for an 85-year old film. There is some texture and the visuals seem far superior than a film from that era - more power o the restoration. The image quality is strong exporting a rich, and impressive, presentation - no digitization - and that is all we can ask.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Typically flat, linear PCM mono track at 1152 kbps (24-bit) in the original French language - that sounds at the mercy of the production limitations of the time. But dialogue is always clear, if imperfect. There is music by Eugénie Buffet (La Sérénade du Pavé), Enrico Toselli's La Serenata and Marlborough s'en va-t'en guerre by Fernando Sor. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A' disc.

 

Extras :

Criterion add many supplements starting with a 3-minute introduction to the film from 1961, originally aired on French television, by director Jean Renoir. There is a new, 25-minute, interview with Renoir scholar Christopher Faulkner discussing the filmmaker's transition from silent films to talkies, his stylistic evolution, and the importance of La Chienne within his career. It was recorded by Criterion in Ottawa in February 2016. There is a new restoration of Renoir’s first sound film, On purge bébé (1931) also starring Michel Simon. It runs 52-minutes. Jean Renoir le patron: “Michel Simon” is a ninety-five-minute, 1967 French television program featuring an after-dinner conversation between Renoir and Simon, moderated by Jacques Rivette. It aired in 1967 as a three-part documentary series profiling Renoir - this is the second in the series. The package also has an essay by film scholar Ginette Vincendeau.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
La Chienne
is brilliant and had me frequently thinking of Scarlet Street.  This is a masterpiece - or as close as a film can get. I've seen polls where this film was ranked #64 on list of the 100 greatest ever French films! Criterion's Blu-ray package is an easy recommendation. I had never had the opportunity to see this before and I am appreciative that my first viewing was with such a stellar a/v - the best possible for the film in my home theater. Our highest recommendation!

Gary Tooze

May 30th, 2016


 

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
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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