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Une Chambre en Ville – The Criterion Collection #719 (as part of “The Essential Jacques Demy” Blu-ray + DVD Box Set) (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 10, 2014 by  



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“Une chambre en Ville” is a late Jacques Demy film from his oeuvre that features a return to a musical style that he is best known for, but also seeing a creative side in which the filmmaker tries to incorporate a major strike/riot that rivals the gang fight of “West Side Story”.  A tragic musical that is no doubt a fantastic inclusion to the Criterion Collection’s “The Essential Jacques Demy” Blu-ray and DVD box set.

Image courtesy of © 2014 The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Une Chambre en Ville – The Criterion Collection #719 (as part of “The Essential Jacques Demy” Blu-ray + DVD Box Set)

YEAR OF FILM: 1982

DURATION: 93 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:66:1 aspect ratio, Color, French 2.0 Surround with English Subtitles

COMPANY: THE CRITERION COLLECTION

RELEASE DATE: July 22, 2014

Written and Directed by Jacques Demy

Produced by Christine Gouze-Renal

Music by Michel Colombier

Cinematography by Jean Penzer

Edited by Sabine Mamou

Production Direction by Bernard Evein

Costume Design by Rosalie Varda

Starring:

Dominique Sanda as Edith Leroyer

Danielle Darrieux as Margot Langlois

Richard Berry as Francois Guilbaud

Michel Piccoli as Edmond Leroyer

Fabienne Guyon as Violette Pelletier

Anna Gaylor as Madame Pelletier

Jean-Francois Stevenin as Dambiel

In this musical melodrama set against the backdrop of a workers’ strike in Nantes, Dominique Sanda plays a young woman who wishes to leave her brutish husband (Michel Piccoli) for an earthy steelworker (Richard Berry), though he is involved with another. Unbeknownst to the girl, the object of her affection boards with her no-nonsense baroness mother (Danielle Darrieux). A late-career triumph from Jacques Demy, Une chambre en ville received nine César Award nominations and features a rich, operatic score by Michel Colombier.

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With the success that Jacques Demy achieved in his lifetime, by the early ’80s, there was a return to the past for the filmmaker, especially for his 1982 film “Une Chambre en Ville”.

Included in the Criterion Collection’s “The Essential Jacques Demy” Blu-ray and DVD box set which will include “Lola” (1961), “Bay of Angels” (1963), “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” (1964), “The Young Girls of Rochefort” (1967), “Donkey Skin” (1970) and “Une Chambre En Ville” (1982).

The film would feature another collaboration with actress Catherine Deneuve (“Belle de Jour”, “Repulsion”, “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg”, “The Young Girls of Rochefort”) and composer Michel Legrand. And would star Jean Marais (“Beauty and the Beast”, “Orpheus”, “Fantomas”), Jacques Perrin (“Cinema Paradiso”, “Z”, “The Chorus”), Micheline Presle (“A Chef in Love”, “Devil in the Flesh”) and Delphone Seyrig (“Last Year at Marienbad”, “The Discreet charm of the Bourgeoisie”).

The return to the past for “Une Chambre en Ville” would feature a return to the city of Nantes, the city where Jacques Demy grew up and filmed for his feature film “Lola” and also a return to a recitative style, in which all conversation is sung like his 1964 masterpiece “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg”.

But what makes the film much different for Jacques Demy is the fact that the film is more radical and reflects the social times of inequality.

A film that is set during the workers strike in Nantes in 1955, a young shipyard worker named Francois Guilbaud (portrayed by Richard Berry) lives in a room he rents from Madame Langlois (portrayed by Danielle Darrieux).

Madame Langlois is a widow who sympathizes with the strike workers despite coming from different worlds.  She is from an upper-class family, born a baroness but since the death of her son, and her husband’s death, she has become a caring landlord towards Francois.

Meanwhile, Francois is dating Violette Pelletier (portrayed by Fabienne Guyon).  Violette works in a shop and lives with her mother and wants desperately to marry Francois, but he doesn’t want to because of his financial situation.

One day, Francois is approached by a beautiful woman wearing only a fur coat, the woman is Edith Leroyer (portrayed by Dominique Sanda), a woman married to the owner of a TV shop and has been so disenchanted with life that she became a part-time prostitute.  She also happens to be the daughter of Madame Langlois, Francois’ landlord.

He has a one night fling with Edith and both fall in love with each other.  But Francois also finds out that Violette is pregnant.  Meanwhile, Francois becomes heavily involved in the workers’ strike.

VIDEO:

“Une Chambre en Ville” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:67:1 aspect ratio).  The film looks absolutely gorgeous in HD. The Blu-ray features beautiful colors, good amount of grain throughout the film and no signs of any scratches, discoloration or any problems with picture quality.

According to the Criterion Collection, “Approved by Mathieu Demy, this new digital transfer was created in 4K resolution on a Scanity film scanner from the 35mm original camera negative at Digimage-Classics in Paris, where the film was restored in 2K resolution. This 2013 restoration was undertaken by Cine-Tamaris and the Institut Lumiere, with the support of the CNC’s Archives francaises du film.”

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the lossless audio, “Une Chambre en Ville” is presented in French DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 soundtrack. The soundtrack for this film is primarily musically-driven and is crystal clear.  There is no sign of hiss, crackle or any problematic issues with the audio.

According to the Criterion Collection, “The original 2.0 surround soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from the four-track magnetic recording.”

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Une Chambre en Ville – The Criterion Collection #719” comes with the following special features:

  • Jacques Demy, A to Z – (1:01:07) A 2014 visual essay of all things Jacques Demy by film scholar James Quandt.
  • Jacques Demy at the Midnight Sun Film Festival – (16:14) A Q&A with Jacques Demy at Finland’s “Midnight Sun Film Festival” with moderator Peter von Bagh.
  • The World of Jacques Demy – (1:31:40) A 1995 documentary by filmmaker and Demy’s wife, Agnes Varda on the life and career of Jacques Demy.
  • Restoration Demonstration – (5:51) A featurette on the restoration of “Une Chambre en Ville”
  • Trailer – (1:31) The theatrical trailer for “Une Chambre en Ville”.

“Une Chambre en Ville” is the final film featured in the Criterion Collection’s “The Essential Jacques Demy” Blu-ray and a fitting musical to be featured in the set because of Demy’s return to Nantes, France and the return to a musical style in which conversations are all sung.

But where “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” was a film in which Demy set out to make audiences cry, for “Une Chambre en Ville” was about the tragedy of the workers’ strike of 1955.

In reality, the strike of 1955 in Nantes, Saint-Nazaire was the workers fighting against union bureaucrats, demonstrating in streets, occupying buildings and because the workers were fighting collectively for a pay raise without any true leader, the strike led to violence and a war between workers vs. bureaucrats.  Workers occupied factories, bosses called in the CRS and the workers fought against the CRS.

The film is no doubt dark and tragic.  Capturing a collective strike on the street of Nantes as hundreds of workers taking on the CRS (Compagnies Republicaines de securite), to see such a strike/riot converted to a musical is mesmerizing and unthinkable, but yet Jacques Demy was able to pull it off.

While many fans of Demy films will gravitate to his more vibrant musicals, “Une Chambre en Ville” does feature a different approach by Demy and the final ten minutes of the film are memorable.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is very good as there is no discoloration, nor are there any problematic issues.  Michel Colombier’s soundtrack and the songs are crystal clear and what will draw Demy fans to this release are its special features including Agnes Varda’s 1993 documentary “The Young Girls Turn 25” which is included in this release.

Overall, “Une chambre en Ville” is a late Jacques Demy film from his oeuvre that features a return to a musical style that he is best known for, but also seeing a creative side in which the filmmaker tries to incorporate a major strike/riot that rivals the gang fight of “West Side Story”.  A tragic musical that is no doubt a fantastic inclusion to the Criterion Collection’s “The Essential Jacques Demy” Blu-ray and DVD box set.

 






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