Day for Night – The Criterion Collection #769 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
August 22, 2015 by Dennis Amith
“Day for Night” is a Truffaut masterpiece. For its time and a story that still is relevant today, a filmmaker presenting to the audience of the making of a film, the problems that can occur in production and how one’s goal to create a magnificent film, is not always the end product. Featuring magnificent performances from a stellar cast, Francois Truffaut’s “Day for Night” is a film that is highly recommended!
Image courtesy of © 1973 by Les Films du Carrosse S.A. 2015 The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Day for Night – The Criterion Collection #769
YEAR OF FILM: 1973
DURATION: 116 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Color, 1:66:1, French Monaural, Subtitles: English SDH
COMPANY: Warner Brothers/THE CRITERION COLLECTION
RELEASE DATE: August 18, 2015
Directed by Francois Truffaut
Screenplay by Francois Truffaut, Jean-Louis Richard, Suzanne Schiffman
Produced by Marcel Berbert
Music by Georges Delerue
Cinematography by Pierre-William Glenn
Edited by Martine Barraque, Yann Dedet
Production Design by Damien Lanfranchi
Art Direction by Damien Lanfranchi
Costume Design by Monique Dury
Jacqueline Bisset as Julie Baker
Valentina Cortese as Severine
Jean-Pierre Aumont as Alexandre
Dani as Liliane, la stagiaire scripte
Jean Champion as Bertrand, le producteur
Alexandrea Stewart as Stacey
Jean-Pierre Leaud as Alphonse
Nathalie Baye as Joelle, la scripte
Francoise Truffaut as Ferrand, le realisateur
This loving farce from François Truffaut (Jules and Jim) about the joys and turbulence of moviemaking is one of his most beloved films. Truffaut himself appears as the harried director of a frivolous melodrama, the shooting of which is plagued by the whims of a neurotic actor (The 400 Blows’ Jean-Pierre Léaud); an aging but still forceful Italian diva (Juliet of the Spirits’ Valentina Cortese); and a British ingenue haunted by personal scandal (Bullitt’s Jacqueline Bisset). An irreverant paean to the prosaic craft of cinema as well as a delightful human comedy about the pitfalls of love and sex, Day for Night is buoyed by robust performances and a sparkling score by the legendary Georges Delerue (Contempt).
In 1973, Francois Truffaut’s latest French film “La Nuite americaine” (a.k.a. “Day for Night”) was released in theaters.
The title of the film is named after the filmmaking process where sequences filmed outdoors during the daylight are shot using film stock balancd for tungsten light and underexposed to appear as if the scene was taken place during the night.
The film would feature an ensemble cast which includes Truffaut, Jacqueline Bisset (“Bullitt”, “Murder on the Orient Express”, “The Deep”), Valentina Cortese (“The Adventures of Baron Munchausen”, “Juliet of the Spirits”, “Barefoot Contessa”), Jean-Pierre Leaud (“The 400 Blows”, “Masculin Feminin”, “Stolen Kisses”), Jean-Pierre Aumont (“Turn the Other cheek”, “Lili”, “Hotdel du Nord”), Dani (“Love on the Run”, “Avenue Montaigne”, “Story of Women”), Jean Champion (“The Umbrellas of Cherbourg”, “Le Cercle Rouge”, “Coup de Torchon”), Alexandra Stewart (“Under the Sand”, “Black Moon”, “The Bride Wore Black”), Nathalie Baye (“An Affair of Love”, “Tell No One”, “Catch Me If You Can”) and many more.
The film won a 1974 BAFTA Award for “Best Film” and the Academy Award for “Best Foreign Language Film”, also earning nominations for “Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress” for Valentina Cortese and “Academy Award for Directing” for Francois Truffaut.
Often considered as one of Truffau’s masterpieces next to “The 400 Blows”, the film would also receive a lot of hype as the film that destroyed the friendship between Francois Truffaut and filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard (who was disgusted by the film and called it a “Lie”), which would then prompt Truffaut to write a personal letter which literally featured many emotions that Truffaut had held onto many years towards his former friend.
One of the films that Truffaut fans have been waiting for a Criterion Collection release, “Day for Night” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of the Criterion Collection in August 2015.
“Day for Night” is set during the film production of “Je Vous Present Pamela” (I Want You to Meet Pamela) starring aging screen icon Alexandre (portrayed by Jean-Pierre Aumont), former film diva Severine (portrayed by Valentina Cortese), popular young actor Alphonse (portrayed by Jean-Pierre Leaud) and British actress, Julie Baker (portrayed by Jacqueline Bisset).
The film would be about Alexandre’s character falling for his son’s wife.
But “Day for Night” would show the dilemmas facing the actors and crew.
Julie Baker had a nervous breakdown and is married to the elder, Dr. Nelson. She has to play the main character Pamela but is often having to wait for her co-star Alphonse make it to the set.
Alphonse is spoiled and needy and is dating one of the crew members. He is infatuated with her, while she feels that he smothers her and often tries to find solace with other men. Because of his emotional instability, he is often late to the set or in a bad mood.
Severine is an aging artist who comes to the set drunk and is seen as a person with a drinking problem, but because of her status as an icon, no one dares interrupt her.
Director Ferrand (Truffaut) and producer Bertrand Jean Champion are trying to create a film but with holdups during the making of the film and money lost, they will need to improvise by removing scenes altogether.
Meanwhile, crew are affected by the emotional instability of the actors, must deal with the situations on set and find ways to pass the time.
And with all the problems, will “Je Vous Present Pamela” ever be completed?
“Day for Night – The Criterion Collection #769” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:66:1 aspect ratio). The film features a good amount of grain looks good for its age. Colors are well saturated, skin tones look natural.
For the most part, watching the film in HD as skin tones are natural, black levels are nice and deep and no signs of DNR or any problematic issues such as scratches, jitter, etc.
According to the Criterion Collection, the film was “supervised by director of photography Pierre-William Glenn, this new digital transfer was created in 2K resolution on a Lasergraphics Director film scanner from a 35 mm interpositive at MPI in Los Angeles. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches and splices were manually removed using MTI’s DRS, while Digital Vision’s Phoenix was used for small dirt, grain, noise management, flicker and jitter.”
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
As for the lossless audio, “Day for Night – The Criterion Collection #769”. The French monaural soundtrack is crystal clear with no sign of hiss or popping.
According to the Criterion Collection, “the original monaural soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from the 35 mm magnetic track. Clicks, thumps, hiss, hum, and crackle were manually removed using Pro Tools HD, AudioCube’s integrated workstation and iZotope RX 4”.
“Day for Night – The Criterion Collection #769” comes with the following special features:
- Dreams of Cinema – (11:27) A new video essay by filmmaker ::kogonada exploring the many layers of director Francois Truffaut’s masterpiece “Day for Night”.
- Dudley Andrew – (20:36) Dudley Andrew talks about the Jean Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut’s argument.
- “Day for Night”: An Appreciation – (17:09) A 2003 documentary by film scholar Annette Insdorf analyzing “Day for Night”.
- Truffaut: A View from the Inside – (6:27) A 1973 behind-the-scenes documentary featuring footage of director Francois Truffaut working on the set for “Day for Night”.
- Interviews – Featuring interviews with Francois Truffaut, Pierre-William Glenn, Jacqueline Bisset, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Nathalie Baye, Bernard Menez, Dani, Yann Dedet, Martine Barraque
- Archival Footage – Excerpt from three television broadcasts: October 4, 1972 (newsreel footage, 2:49), June 8, 1973 (“Pour le cinema”, 11:09), January 3, 1974 (“JT nuit”, 2:01).
- Trailer – Theatrical trailer for “Day for Night”.
“Day for Night – The Criterion Collection #769” comes with a six-page fold-out insert with the essay “Are Movies Magic by” by David Cairn.
Francois Truffaut was a distinguished filmmaker who gave everything to cinema. He never sought notoriety, he never attacked his colleagues nor did he try to put himself in a negative and dire situation for the sake of earning money for a film. Although, he spared no expense of making use of people’s lives for the sake of creating art.
He was a filmmaker that did what he wanted, but respected the craft of cinema and through his film and also written oeuvre, his passion, his critique and his dedication to cinema has been widely recorded and presented to the public.
“Day for Night” is a unique film because it’s about the making of a film, its challenges and while not 100% self-reflective, one can see the film as Truffaut’s single film paying tribute to cinema but also inspirations and experiences he had from other films.
The film is also fascinating of how Truffaut is able to create all these sequences and manage them to create the film, the lives of cast and crew members during the production of a film. It’s a tricky storyline to create and make cohesive but by this time, Truffaut has directed and learned from cinema greats, has become a cinema great himself but yet, as we can see during the production of “Je Vous Present Pamela”, it’s not the film that he hoped to make.
The vision of the director can always be derailed by cast, crew, budget and many other situations and as we can see from the production of “Je Vous Present Pamela”, the director must go through many hurdles, especially in order to finish a film that is becoming different than what was written and envisioned.
It was a sign of the changes in cinema and for the director who continually had nightmares, one can understand the stress a filmmaker must endure of trying to manage the set, the cast and crew and to continually adapt for all negative situations and make compromises to one’s film.
And quite possibly show that creating a film and showing to the audience that the grass is not always greener on the other side.
The film features a wonderful cast and the performances by Jacqueline Bisset, Valentina Cortese, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Jean-Pierre Leaud and others are fantastic. Even Francois Truffaut did a very good job in his first credited role (his next credited role would be in the sci-fi film, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” as Claude Lacombe and in “The Green Room” as Julien Davenne).
As for the Blu-ray release, the film looks wonderful in HD. The film doesn’t look aged and there are no problematic issues with noise or artifacts. The losless audio is crystal clear ala French Monaural with no hissing or crackle. Special features include interviews but also documentaries that explore Francois Truffaut’s oeuvre but also the heated argument that led to the dissolution of the friendship between Truffaut and Godard.
Overall, “Day for Night” is a Truffaut masterpiece. For its time and a story that still is relevant today, a filmmaker presenting to the audience of the making of a film, the problems that can occur in production and how one’s goal to create a magnificent film, is not always the end product. Featuring magnificent performances from a stellar cast, Francois Truffaut’s “Day for Night” is a film that is highly recommended!
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