Jules and Jim – The Criterion Collection #281 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
February 6, 2014 by Dennis Amith
A magnificent release from the Criterion Collection and a Blu-ray release that Truffaut fans will want to own! It’s a classic film that can definitely be appreciated by the new generation of movie fans who have discovered French nouvelle vague but most importantly, wanting to discover the wonderful films in Francois Truffaut oeuvre. Highly recommended!
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TITLE: Jules and Jim – The Criterion Collection #281
RELEASE OF FILM: 1962
DURATION: 105 Minutes
BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Colors, 2:35:1 Aspect Ratio, French Monaural, Subtitles: English
COMPANY: MK2/The Criterion Collection
RELEASED: February 6, 2014
Based on a novel by Henri-Pierre Roche
Directed by Francois Truffaut
Adaptation and Dialogue by Francois Truffaut and Jean Gruault
Music by Georges Delerue
Cinematograpy by Raoul Coutard
Edited by Claudine Bouche
Jeanne Moreau as Catherine
Oskar Werner as Jules
Henrie Serre as Jim
Vanna Urbino as Gilberte
Boris Bassiak as Albert
Anny Nelsen as Lucie
Sabine Haudepin as Sabine
Marie Dubois as Therese
Hailed as one of the finest films ever made, Jules and Jim charts, over twenty-five years, the relationship between two friends and the object of their mutual obsession. The legendary François Truffaut directs, and Jeanne Moreau stars as the alluring and willful Catherine, whose enigmatic smile and passionate nature lure Jules (Oskar Werner) and Jim (Henri Serre) into one of cinema’s most captivating romantic triangles. An exuberant and poignant meditation on freedom, loyalty, and the fortitude of love, Jules and Jim was a worldwide smash in 1962 and remains every bit as audacious and entrancing today.
The book overwhelmed me. If I ever succeed in making films, I will make ‘Jules and Jim’”. – Francois Truffaut (1955)
Francois Truffaut, one of the founders of the French New Wave, has come off a string of successful films from his 1959 hit “The 400 Blows” and the 1960 film “Shoot the Piano Player”. But in 1962, Truffaut was in love with Henri-Pierre Roche’s semi-autobiographical novel “Jules et Jim” and having known Roche (as Roche was heavily involved in artistic avante-garde in Paris and the Dada movement), an adaptation of the novel was created.
The film did well in France and eventually captivated critics and viewers and help establish the careers of Jeanne Moreau (“Elevator to the Gallows”, “The Lovers”) as the quintessential Nouvelle Vague actress and also would show Truffaut’s diversity as a director.
Having been released by the Criterion Collection on DVD back in 2005, “Jules and Jim” will now be released on Blu-ray and DVD combo in Feb. 2014.
“Jules and Jim” takes place before, during and after World War I. Jules (played by Oskar Werner, “Lola Montes”, “The Spy Who Came from the Cold”) and his best friend Jim (played by Henri Serre, “Concorde Affair”, “The Mandarin”, “House of 1000 Pleasures”) love having fun, flirting with women and both share an appreciation of the arts and the Bohemian lifestyle.
But their lives change when the two meet the Catherine (played by Jeanne Moreau), a woman full of life, lives her life the way she wants, free-spirited and eventually captures the attention of both men.
Catherine loves Jules and she loves Jim but she loves them differently. Eventually, both men have their fling with Catherine but Jules is the one that marries Catherine and both move to Austria. Eventually, the two men go to war fighting for opposing countries but eventually their friendship comes to fruition as Jules and Catherine have a young daughter named Sabine. But the problem is their marriage is not happy. Catherine being a free-spirited woman has had numerous sexual flings but one man that she wants is Jim.
Jules doesn’t mind if Catherine has sexual relations with Jim as long as she doesn’t leave him forever. As Jim and Catherine continue to have their sexual relations and all four live together… but with Catherine being a free-spirited woman, can Jim please Catherine? Will he be able to tame her wild side? What about Jules, who lives his life loving Catherine, knowing that she is with his best friend?
“Jules and Jim” is a story about the ultimate and complex love triangle brought to the screen with such tremendous detail capturing the 1900′s (around the teens) in France but capturing the vitality of the three free-spirited individuals Jules, Jim and Catherine.
“Jules and Jim″ is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:35:1 aspect ratio), black and white. I wrote back when the original DVD was released, about how beautiful this film would be if released on Blu-ray.
Once again, the Criterion Collection has delivered with a beautiful picture quality featuring blacks and whites that are well-contrast. Scenes that were somewhat fuzzy on the previous DVD release featured much more clarity that you can see details much, much clearer.
For the most part, the picture quality is great for a film that was created back in 1962. I didn’t notice any damage, artifacts or any blurriness. If anything, this is the best version of “Jules and Jim” that I have seen!
According to the Criterion Collection, “This new digital transfer was created on a 2K Spirit DataCine from the 35 mm original camera negative at Digimage in Joinville-le-Pont, France, in consultation with director of photography Raoul Coutard.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Jules and Jim – The Criterion Collection #281″ is presented in French LPCM 1.0. Dialogue and music are clear through the center channel, I didn’t notice any significant hiss or crackle during my viewing.
According to the Criterion Collection, “The original monaural soundtrack was restored at 24-bit from 35 mm magnetic tracks and the sound negative. Both image and sound were restored at Digimage.”
“Jules and Jim – THE CRITERION COLLECTION #281″ comes with the following special features:
- Audio Commentary by co-writer Jean Gruault, Truffaut collaborator Suzanne Schiffman, Editor Claudine Bouche and film scholar Annette Insdorf – Audio commentary featuring behind-the-scenes information on the making of certain scenes by those involved with the film to examining certain scenes via film scholar Annette Insdorf and more.
- Audio Commentary Jeane Moreau and Truffaut biographer Serge Toubiana – A touching commentary as Jeanne Moreau reminisces of watching “Jules and Jim” over 40 years later and commenting on various scenes along with Serge Toubiana.
- Excerpts from “The Key to Jules and Jim” – (23:41) The following are excerpts from the 1985 documentary based on Henri-Pierre Roche and the people in his life that inspired his semi-autobiographical book “Jules and Jim”.
- Truffaut on Roche – (7:12) A brief interview from the French program “Bibliotheque de poche” (1966) with Francois Truffaut who talks about meeting Henri-Pierre Roche and being inspired by his novel.
- Truffaut on Truffaut: Cineastes de notre temps (1965) – (8:55) An interview with Francois Truffaut who discusses “Jules and Jim”.
- Truffaut on Truffaut: L’Invite du dimanche (1969) – (32:01) Interviews with Francois Truffaut and Jeanne Moreau from “L’Invite du dimanche” on Oct. 1969.
- Truffaut on Truffaut: Truffaut and Roud (1977) – (9:35) An interview with Truffaut with NY Film Festival director Richard Roud for the TV program “Camera Three” from Oct. 1977.
- Truffaut on Truffaut: AFI’s Dialogue on Film (1979) – (29:00) A seminar conducted by Francois Truffaut at the American Film Institute from 1979.
- Truffaut on Truffaut: Truffaut and Philippe (1980) – (28:02) Claude-Jean Philippe interviews Francois Truffaut about “Jules and Jim” for his radio show series “La Cinema des cineastes”.
- Raoul Coutard – (19:16) An interview with cinematographer Raoul Coutard (2003 in Paris) talking about his experience on “Jules and Jim”.
- Jean Gruault – (20:48) Co-writer Jean Gruault talks about working with Truffaut. The complete interview from 1986 at the Cinematheque Francaise in Paris that was originally intended for Rainer Gansera’s documentary “Working with Truffaut”.
- Robert Stam and Dudley Andrew – (23:24) NYU professor of cinema studies Robert Stam and Yale professor of comparative literature and film studies Dudley Andrew have a conversation in regards to Truffaut and “Jules and Jim” recorded in 2004.
- “Jules and Jim” Theatrical Trailer – (3:08) The original theatrical trailer.
“Jules and Jim – The Criterion Collection #281″ comes with a 34-page booklet featuring the essays “On Jules and Jim” by John Powers, “Henri-Pierre Roche Revisited” by Francois Truffaut and “Notes on Jules and Jim”. The Blu-ray and DVD combo comes with a slipcase and an amaray disc holder for all three discs.
“Jules and Jim: is perhaps Francois Truffaut’s most beautiful film ever made. The film showcases its fun and vibrant nature on the opening credits but don’t be fooled, this is not a film that is about three people having an open relationship, this is a film about friendship and relationships over the years and the finality of ones love when one really loves someone but knowing that they can’t be with that person. What else can you do?
For the most part, “Jules and Jim” is definitely the antithesis of Eric Rohmer’s “Six Moral Tales”. In fact, “Jules and Jim” was criticized for its amorality by the Legion of Decency. But I am not surprised. You have three people with a woman having a relationship with both men. Adultery is a theme and conservatives can only be sickened by Catherine’s free-spirited ways and wonder about her daughter Sabine. While others can see this film and not focus much about the amorality but three people who care for each other but are torn by the way of life that they are used to. The film was not made to showcase amorality, the film was to showcase Henri-Pierre Roche’s life with his best friend and a woman that he cared about. It is a love story but in Truffaut’s film, it’s a tragic love story.
Jules is a man who loves Catherine but has not been the man to please her through marriage. Very well reserved, she is his life but is not the man to tame her wildest desire. That is where Jim comes in. Catherine and Jim are sexually connected but unlike Jules, can not have a family with her. Thus a conundrum as she loves both men for different reasons and these men happen to be great friends with each other.
Aside from the story’s conundrums, one can’t help but enjoy the setting of when this film takes place. Although shot in the ’60s, this is France during the teens. Featuring an artistic style with three intriguing characters, “Jules and Jim” shows us a different side of Francois Truffaut, outside of Antoine Doinel but showcasing a woman that embodies nouvelle vague. If Godard’s muse Anna Karina showed that free-spirited style in “Pierrot le fou”, Jeanne Moreau shows another free-spirited style through Catherine who has lived on through the decades with people still entranced by the song “Le Tourbillon”.
As for the Blu-ray release, “Jules and Jim” looks so much better on Blu-ray. Having owned the original 2005 Criterion Collection DVD, the clarity of the film is much better in picture quality and the sound seems cleaner. But for the most part, this is the best version I have seen of this classic Truffaut film. For those who owned the original DVD release and wonder if there is anything new, aside from picture and audio quality, the special features are the same, while there are less essays compared to the 2005 DVD release.
Also, for those who never owned the original DVD release is in for a treat. Especially if you are a Francois Truffaut fan as this is one of the Criterion Collection releases that is loaded with special-features. For anyone who has loved the film, this release features interviews, audio commentary, scholar essays and also a look at the true story that inspired this film adaptation. For the most part, this is a complete set for those who are passionate or curious about “Jules and Jim”.
Overall, a magnificent release from the Criterion Collection and a Blu-ray release that Truffaut fans will want to own! It’s a classic film that can definitely be appreciated by the new generation of movie fans who have discovered French nouvelle vague but most importantly, wanting to discover the wonderful films in Francois Truffaut oeuvre. Highly recommended!
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