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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka 'Balthazar' or 'Min všn Balthazar' ')

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/bresson.htm
France 1966

 

  (written in September 2003 just before the U.S. October 2003 theatrical run of Balthazar)

 

Although Robert Bresson's 1966 Au Hasard, Balthazar instantly attained its status as a classic, the current revival run at New York City's Film Forum (October 17 – 30, 2003) actually represents the first theatrical release for the film in the United States. Au Hasard, Balthazar has continued to intrigue film critics and scholars (it missed placing in the Top Ten during the 2002 Sight & Sound poll of international critics, but it made it into the Top Twenty), but it is one of those classics that remains virtually invisible to the public at large, certainly in this country. (For the record, Au Hasard, Balthazar tied with two other films at Number 19: Truffaut's Jules and Jim and Antonioni's L'Avventura.)

The circumstances of the making of Au Hasard, Balthazar were anomalous in the extreme. Mag Bodard, the French producer whose company Parc Films was actually a very small, independent concern, had just had a huge international success with Jacques Demy's The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964); Demy was an avowed disciple of Bresson (Elina Labourdette, who played Cecile's mother in Demy's first feature, Lola, had been the ingenue in Bresson's Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne; stills from Bresson's film are used in Lola to represent the character's past); Demy put Mag Bodard in touch with Bresson for the express purpose of producing Bresson's next film. Since the mid-1950s, Bresson's dream project had been a film about the legend of King Arthur, but the budget for that project proved too much for Bodard's limited finances. Turning to an anecdote from Dostoevsky's The Idiot, Bresson came up with an original script about the turmoil of an adolescent girl in a small border village; the trick was that the story of Marie would be contrasted with the life of her pet, a donkey she has named Balthazar. The financing for the film would be part of a deal involving co-production money with Svensk Filmindustri; the only requirement was that there had to be some Swedish personnel involved. (This was the same deal which also brought about Jean-Luc Godard's Masculine Feminine for George De Beauregard's Rome-Paris Films.) By the end of 1965, with a script ready and the film cast, Bresson set about the production of Au Hasard, Balthazar, only the second "original" screenplay of his career (his previous works had been adaptations of novels or nonfiction, with the exception of Pickpocket).

Excerpt of Daryl Chin's article found on Robert-Bresson.com

Posters

Theatrical Release: May 25th, 1966 - France

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DVD Review: Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC

DVD Box Cover

   

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Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 297 - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 1:35:18 
Video 1.67:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.8 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Audio French (1.0) 
Subtitles English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion / Home Vision

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.67:1

Edition Details:

• Video interview with film scholar Donald Richie (13:39 - 16X9)
• “Un metteur en ordre: Robert Bresson,” a 1966 French TV program about the film featuring Bresson, Jean-Luc Godard, Louis Malle, and members of Au hasard  Balthazar’s cast and crew (4:3 -1:02:00 - with optional English subtitles)
• Original theatrical trailer (1.78  - 1:55 - English subtitles)
• 8-page liner notes with new essay by Bresson scholar James Quandt

DVD Release Date: June 14th, 2005

Keep Case
Chapters: 24

 

Comments:

Hello!, there is a couple of issues with this disc that I'd love some input on (see 2nd last paragraph).

Firstly though, the image looks gorgeous. It is in a proper aspect ratio of about 1.66 - great contrast, sharp and shows some good film grain - perfect subtitles - everything you might expect from the greatest DVD company in the world. In direct comparison to the Nouveaux Pictures - Region 0 - PAL DVD (Reviewed HERE and compared below) the Criterion is slightly darker - subtitles are also brighter on the PAL disc as well as smaller. it should be noted that the Nouveaux are fixed and the Criterion optional.  It is possible that the Nouveaux has had some minor contrast boosting (see the school sign in the comparison after the subtitles captures). Anyway, it is negligible but the Criterion avoids the slight digital pixelization seen briefly at two points in the Nouveaux release as noted by our colleagues at Masters of Cinema/Robert-Bresson.com HERE.

As expected the Criterion extras are top notch.  The hour long “Un metteur en ordre: Robert Bresson,” from a 1966 French TV program about the film featuring Bresson, Jean-Luc Godard, Louis Malle, and members of Au hasard Balthazar’s cast and crew is a wonderful bonus for, pretty much, all film fans. I found it fascinating. The Donald Richie comments for almost 15 minutes are likewise interesting, if less so than the TV feature.

Okay, back to my request for input; on scenes cuts the Criterion exhibits ghosting (see second last capture) - this is a sure indication that it was not transferred progressively (one frame at a time). It is on all scene changes - however the image still looks top notch. I'm not familiar with what process Criterion uses to transfer to DVD but imagine it is quite complex - so I don't know how they get away with this... AND in one (only one I could find) I see 'combing' (see last capture) - to us this indicates analog sourced, but as it was only in one sequence (ditto for Renoir's 'The River') I am wondering if the transfer process is a mixed one with varying methods to put image to disc. If anyone can help us out here with some knowledge we would surely appreciate it.

It has become part of our 'watchdog' status to be so picky with the DVD image, running over the whole thing with a magnifying glass - but we feel that you will own this DVD much longer than your current viewing system and when, one day, you upgrade you may notice these, seemingly at present, minute flaws. This DVD is still magnificent, a commentary would have been the icing on the cake, and we give it  out of       

Gary W. Tooze

 


Recommended Reading for Robert Bresson fans (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

Check out more in "The Library"




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Subtitle Sample

 

 

(Nouveaux Pictures - Region 0 - PAL - TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 


 

Screen Captures

 

(Nouveaux Pictures - Region 0 - PAL - TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


Ghosting in scene shifts - evidence of non-progressive ?
 

 
Only instance of combing.
 

Recommended Reading for Robert Bresson fans (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

 

 

Check out more in "The Library"


 

DVD Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 297 - Region 1 - NTSC




 

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