The Sorrow and the Pity aka "Le chagrin et la pitié" [Blu-ray]
(Marcel Ophüls, 1969)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Télévision Rencontre
Video: Arrow Academy
Region: 'B' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Runtime: 2:13:05.791 + 2:06:51.333
Disc Size: 49,127,366,110 bytes
Feature Size: 20,186,941,440 bytes + 19,240,574,976 bytes
Video Bitrate: 17.49Mbps
Chapters: 14 + 13
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: June 26th, 2017
Aspect ratio: 1.66:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
LPCM Audio French / German 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
•Interview with director Marcel Ophuls, filmed in 2004 (30:11)
• Le Nouveau Vendredi: The Sorrow and the Pity, a 55-minute debate that followed the film's belated 1981 French television premiere, in which Ophuls and historians Henri Amouroux and Alain Guérin discuss the film and the issues that it raises with an audience of students from Clermont-Ferrand (1:02:07)
• Reversible sleeve featuring new and original artwork.
Part 1 : The Collapse
Part 2 : The Choice
Description: Marcel Ophuls four-and-a-half hour portrait of
the French town of Clermont-Ferrand under German occupation
from 1940-44 is one of the greatest documentaries ever made,
as important as Claude Lanzmann's
Shoah in its value not just as a film but as an
essential historical record in its own right not least since
its interviewees are all long dead.
The occupation was such a complex matter, so much a matter of human
nature, they seem to say. It is hard to explain to an outsider (and
maybe even to oneself) exactly how a decision was reached, and why some
Frenchmen collaborated with the Germans while others resisted and most
simply tried to carry on business as usual.
They have, in short, concentrated their investigations on the industrial
city of Clermont-Ferrand as exemplary (it is implied) of what most
Frenchmen and invaders did then and how they feel about it now. And,
with the aid of English voice-overs, which literally translate the
French and German dialogue, its points, implied and otherwise, are made
naturally and convincingly.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The Sorrow and the Pity come to Blu-ray from Arrow Academy. The 4-hour+ film is, in two-parts on a dual-layered disc with a modest bitrate. The film is a mixture of multiple interviews and archival war footage. It is in the 1.66:1 aspect ratio - when when on TV was in 1.37:1. The image is surprisingly clean (less so in the vintage sequences), with minimal speckles or extensive damage and the grain is thick. Obviously, the quality varies, culled from many sources, but it is the best presentation, with layered contrast, I have seen of the film - and will be happy to discard my old DVD. This Blu-ray gives a welcome thick, textured and heavy film-like presentation - details in close-ups is surprisingly rich - and overall I appreciated my viewing in the 1080P resolution.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Arrow use a linear PCM 2.0 channel (16-bit) and the film is mostly dialogue in French / German and some English. It sounds quite clear. There is some music; Henri Betti's Notre Espoir sung by Maurice Chevalier. I noted no weaknesses except those inherent in the vintage footage (when sound is used thee.) There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.
There are two main extras. Although originally made from French television, The Sorrow and the Pity would not be broadcast in France for twelve years. After its first screening, at the end of October 1981, Le Nouveau Vendredi hosted this discussion programme, in which director Marcel Ophuls and historians Henri Amouroux and Alain Guérin discuss the film and the issues that it raises with an audience of students from Clermont-Ferrand. The full vieo runs 1-hour 2-minutes. There is also a 1/2 hour interview with director Marcel Ophuls, filmed in May of 2004 after a screening of The Sorrow and the Pity at London's National Film Theatre where its director Marcel Ophuls discusses the film with critic ian Christie.
For history buffs this is a truly fascinating film, imbedding deeply the often unspoken and unseen affects that Germanys military sweep through Europe had made on the entire country of France, this small city and many of the individuals who lived there, before, through and after the occupation. I think the story was relatively objective, giving air time to German officials and infantrymen as well as French and English high ranking politicians gaining their insights on similar topics.
Certainly this is a must see at least once in your life - especially recommend to fans of history and WW2. The Arrow Academy Blu-ray provides the best home theatre presentation you are likely to find. If you are have ever been keen to see The Sorrow and the Pity in the comfort of your home - viewing at your preferred time and pace, this is a must-own.
July 8th, 2017
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.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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