46 / BD 28 Le Silence de la mer

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peerpee
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#26 Post by peerpee » Fri May 25, 2007 8:57 pm

Gaumont have (amazingly) never released this in France. The version you're referring to is the French OOP Rene Chateau edition, which didn't have English subtitles, and which Gaumont had zero knowledge of.

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david hare
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#27 Post by david hare » Fri May 25, 2007 9:04 pm

:shock: Mybad!!!! The Rene Chateau is years OOP of course.

Indeed I wondered how you had managed with the print damage in the opening few minutes.

patrick
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#28 Post by patrick » Mon May 28, 2007 8:09 pm

This looks tremendous, I recently started diving into Melville's work after seeing Army of Shadows (I had only seen Le Samourai previously) and I believe I'm in love. Now if my copy of Le Cercle Rouge would show up in the mail...

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#29 Post by peerpee » Fri Jun 15, 2007 5:30 am

Finished copies in my hands, entering distribution channels today, well ahead of time. Very happy!

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#30 Post by BrightEyes23 » Fri Jun 15, 2007 5:48 am

can't wait for this. I'm a big fan of Melville and despite my tight budget and the poor purchasing power of the american dollar i just couldn't stop myself from pre-ordering this.
here's hoping amazon will ship my copy right away instead of waiting for the other title i ordered (Bamako) to release!

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MichaelB
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#31 Post by MichaelB » Thu Jun 21, 2007 5:51 am

I've just watched it, and it looks fabulous. The print isn't exactly pristine, but given the production circumstances I suspect it's the best we're likely to get - and damage is generally kept to a minimum (tramlines are very faint, for instance, and while there are flickerings of chemical damage around the edges of some frames, they're never distracting).

And I couldn't see the slightest sign of any transfer problems - it's correctly framed, the image is wonderfully rich and sharp, the soundtrack is entirely acceptable (given late 40s mono is never going to win any awards), the subtitles are idiomatic and typo-free - and conscientious enough to "translate" Shakespeare correctly by reverting to the original.

I haven't watched the Ginette Vincendeau discussion yet, but I've dipped into the booklet, which is typically superb - two long extracts from valuable Melville books, one of which has been out of print for decades.

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Awesome Welles
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#32 Post by Awesome Welles » Thu Jun 21, 2007 12:37 pm

This looks fantastic, it looks so clean! I can't wait to get it through my door. I hope HMV are quick about it.

My order just shipped from HMV, I can hardly wait, I've been waiting to see early Melville for ages.

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#33 Post by What A Disgrace » Sun Jun 24, 2007 3:00 pm

Mine shipped from CDWow, along with Painleve & Svankmajer sets, Mulholland Drive SE and Peeping Tom SE. A spectacular birthday package for me.

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TheGodfather
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#34 Post by TheGodfather » Mon Jun 25, 2007 6:33 pm

FSimeoni wrote:My order just shipped from HMV, I can hardly wait, I've been waiting to see early Melville for ages.
Just read the shipment e-mail from HMV as well. Already shipped on the 21st. Well before I thought it would ship.
This is gonna be one hell of a week for me

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Don Lope de Aguirre
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#35 Post by Don Lope de Aguirre » Mon Jun 25, 2007 7:28 pm

I have just watched this DVD :shock: What a film! Incredible... I am in awe of Melville, as always. Who would have thought that you could create such a powerful drama when two of the three principal characters completely refuse to engage in all dialogue! The scene when the soldier plays Bach's eight prelude and fugue is simply sublime... Melville very rarely reached such emotional depths again.

The image is (globally) very strong too though the sound displays a lot of very distracting hiss at some points. Additionally, the Vincendeau intro is very good (as usual for her).

Beau travail perpee!

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TheGodfather
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#36 Post by TheGodfather » Tue Jul 03, 2007 4:01 pm


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Tommaso
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#37 Post by Tommaso » Thu Jul 05, 2007 10:01 am

I watched this yesterday, not having seen any of Melville's other works apart from "Les enfants terribles", and was pretty much blown away by it (unsurprisingly). What I didn't know about were the unusual conditions surrounding the production, as detailed in the booklet and in the introductory video piece, and after learning about them, I was even more intrigued. How could anyone do a film like that without virtually no experience, no money and a cinematographer who had only done photographs and documentaries before? An unbelievable achievement, well preserved by one of MoC's most excellent transfers.

But the film also posed some questions that were not entirely answered for me by the (excellent) booklet. First about cinematic style: the essay says that Melville's use of light and darkness was extremely unusual for the time, and that he had to drop two cameramen before he found one willing to do the sometimes extremely dark shots. But was that lighting scheme really SO unusual at the time? The whole look of the film reminded extremely of Cocteau, who had done similar lighting schemes already in "La belle et la bete", three years earlier, and as there's even a direct reference to Cocteau in the narrative itself, the similarities seem no coincidence. Being more or less a Melville newbie, how does the style of this film relate to Melville's later work (apart from "Les enfants terribles", of course, which was virtually co-directed by Cocteau)?

Second, about the implications of the portrayal of the Germans in the film.

The character of Werner de Ebrennac, so the speculation goes in the booklet, might have been modelled at least partly on the author Ernst Jünger, who indeed was in Paris at the time, was a highly cultured man, and had a lot of friends among intellectuals there (again Cocteau, for instance). He published his diaries about these years after the war, and in them, there emerges a much more differentiated portrait of the German officers occupying France than we find in the film (including portraits of those later involved in the Stauffenberg attempt to kill Hitler). Jünger clearly was a strict conservative with a belief in militarist ideals (but not a nazi), and this stance brought him a lot of dismissals and attacks by the German left since the 50s, but apparently he was always accepted in France as someone who understood 'french' culture and a man who could think for himself.

So, if Ebrennac was indeed modelled on Jünger, why then does the film fall back to a pure black/white scheme when it comes to the portrayal of the Nazis in Paris, and factually disregarding historical time when mentioning Treblinka one year before its existence (as the booklet points out)? This was something that Melville put into the film, and is apparently not in the novel. Same goes for the flashback in which Ebrennac's girlfriend sadistically tears apart the mosquito after having praised all God's creation in the sentence before. This was the one scene in the film where I thought Melville (or Vercors) is stressing the point of the film so much that it becomes almost ridiculous. It also endangers the message of the film by making a pure caricature of the enemy and by seemingly demonstrating their 'inherent' or 'natural' evilness, as this moment occurs to happen totally unforced by the historical circumstances. I also can't recall (but I may be wrong) having ever heard of any plans of a 'total destruction of French culture' as are made by the nazis in Paris.

Don't get me wrong, I don't want this to be a 'political' point (even if I'm German), but an 'aesthetic' one. I know it's a book and film made with the intention of praising the résistance, but I cannot help feeling that the film falls into an unnecessary, purely 'propagandistic' stance and at least in those scenes loses the subtlety that it has otherwise. In this respect, the (seemingly inevitable) comparison made in the booklet between Ebrennac and Rauffenstein in "La grande illusion" may not really be to the point. Rauffenstein is by far the more conservative, 'manly' and militarist character (and he might have much more in common with Jünger as well), but Renoir's film is more openly 'humanistic'. But, as we have recently found out in our discussion about it, the difference may well be that between WWI and WWII.

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zedz
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#38 Post by zedz » Thu Jul 05, 2007 5:46 pm

Tommaso wrote: (apart from "Les enfants terribles", of course, which was virtually co-directed by Cocteau)
I'm pretty sure this is an old wives' tale that really only had currency way way back when Cocteau was a 'major director' and Melville was known primarily for this film (his other work either unseen by critics or dismissed as enjoyable genre stuff). Cocteau may have directed one scene. The fact that the legend is still fit to print after all these years is down to Melville's amazingly faithfulness to Cocteau's vision, as expressed in the novel and screenplay, but in terms of filmmaking style, it's quite different from Cocteau's own filmmaking.

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david hare
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#39 Post by david hare » Fri Jul 06, 2007 3:20 am

I'm pretty sure this is an old wives' tale that really only had currency way way back when Cocteau was a 'major director' and Melville was known primarily for this film (his other work either unseen by critics or dismissed as enjoyable genre stuff). Cocteau may have directed one scene. The fact that the legend is still fit to print after all these years is down to Melville's amazingly faithfulness to Cocteau's vision, as expressed in the novel and screenplay, but in terms of filmmaking style, it's quite different from Cocteau's own filmmaking.
Absolutely! It's both absurd and really offensive to both artists to suggest Cocteau co-directed Les Enfants. As an artist he clearly respected Melville, as did Meville him (viz the sublime Silence de la Mer hommage to Cocteau in Nicole Stephane's scarf.) To call Cocteau a co-auteur is an altogether different - and quite appropriate - thing. But Melville's staging blocking and direction of actors is altogether different to Cocetau's in, say Orphee, in which he uses higher angles for medium shots, differently rhythmed decoupage and a hundred other things. There's is always the messy spectre Cocteau directing Genet's Un Chant d'Amour, but even this doesn't stick if you simply view the movie.

On the subject of Les Enfants, I was rereading the sublime Janet Flanner (on the train to work) again in Paris was Yesterday. She mentions the very likely subjects of the Cocteau roman a clef - Jean and Jeanne Bourgoint. To quite the peerless Flanner, "Jean was a lover of Cocteau, who introduced him to drugs. He later became a Trappist Monk. Jeanne contracted gonorrhea on her wedding night and soon after committed suicide." Flanner discursively narrates the Cocteau tale thus:
"Youth - a subject utterly unknown, despite its having been successfully endured by all mortals who live to tell the tale - gave him a...strange land ... perfectly to his own liking, a horizon on which anything may happen ( and... does.)"

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Tommaso
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#40 Post by Tommaso » Fri Jul 06, 2007 6:51 am

davidhare wrote: To call Cocteau a co-auteur is an altogether different - and quite appropriate - thing. But Melville's staging blocking and direction of actors is altogether different to Cocetau's in, say Orphee, in which he uses higher angles for medium shots, differently rhythmed decoupage and a hundred other things.
You're certainly right in calling Cocteau a co-auteur rather than a co-director, and basically that was what I had in mind, although I remember reading somewhere (or was it on the commentary track of the bfi disc?) that Cocteau interfered with Melville's directing more than Melville would have liked, and at least tried to have the film made his way. I wouldn't compare "Enfants" to "Orphée" though, but it rather reminds me of the claustrophobic atmosphere in Cocteau's little seen 1948 film "Les parents terribles". I haven't seen that film for ages, but I seem to recall a far greater reliance on medium shots, close-ups and very 'tight' blocking than is usual in Cocteau. Wouldn't "Parents" be a great addition to the MoC catalogue, btw?

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david hare
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#41 Post by david hare » Sat Jul 07, 2007 9:18 pm

Les Parents is not a great success. Cocteau reproduces the claustrophobia but with it the predicatble baggage of kammerspiel filming. I don't think the mise en scene or indeed the writing itself comes anywhere near the ferocity of Les Enfants. And the two leads are not in the same class as Nicole and Edouard.

Depsite all of which Parents is still a fascinating work.

Another Cocetau "collaboration" in which the major auteur is really the director is of course the Bresson. In sharp contrast Cocteau really dominates the Delannoy directed L'Eternel Retour, down to the casting and atmosphere.

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Tommaso
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#42 Post by Tommaso » Sun Jul 08, 2007 10:58 am

I agree completely re:"Parents" and Melville's "Enfants" is by far the better film, but its total neglect in terms of dvd releases seems somewhat inexplicable considering that Cocteau still is somewhat of a 'cult' artist. The 'kammerspiel' atmosphere might make it particularly interesting as it clearly is something one wouldn't expect from Cocteau. And I think it's much better than "L'aigle à deux tetes", a film which heavy-handedly tries to bring one of his weakest plays to the screen (though, admittedly, it has some very great décors).

Your mentioning of "L'éternel retour" might bring us back to topic. This is a film as neglected as "Parents", perhaps, but for reasons that also reflect the immediate post-war situation and the German-French conflict. In this respect, its fate is the reverse of that of "Le silence de la mer". "Retour" was heavily criticized for what reviewers thought was its 'German' style, you know: the Tristan&Iseult theme and the VERY blond, short hair of Marais. It never recovered from that ill reputation, and as far as I know it has never been restored or even released on dvd in France (I have an unsubbed Korean dvd taken from a horrible, horrible print). But it's a film that deserves to be seen, and its transmutation of an ancient myth into modern times might make it a nice companion piece to "Orphée".

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#43 Post by Antoine Doinel » Sat Jul 21, 2007 3:39 am

Glenn Kenny blogs about this DVD release and three other Melville films.

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david hare
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#44 Post by david hare » Sat Jul 21, 2007 6:08 am

Sorry Tom - I have been distracted bigtime by other things.

Apparently one of the major items from 'Retour" which helped galvanize partem and post war France was Jean Marais's sweaters, which he wears throughout the movie, even the early fight scenes. (They remain unbloodied of course.)

Look this whole subject of Occupation period French cinema is given a beginning elsewhere on the forum. But we never got very far with it. One of the problems here, I think, was its confusion with the 50s Tradition de Qualite issue and the Right/Left Nouvelle Vague bizzo.. (And in the process I think we have scared off at least one if not two posters.)

I have NEVER seen l'Aigle - but after watching the Antonioni version I really relish it! Bad as it might be.

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Tommaso
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#45 Post by Tommaso » Sat Jul 21, 2007 9:45 am

Never mind, Dave, about the delay.

Ahm, what is wrong with those sweaters?! They look pretty stylish indeed, but what can they possibly have to do with alleged Germanic leanings? Okay, you'd rather wear them in Northern countries (i.e. Scandinavia rather than Germany) where it's colder than in France, but after all this IS an adaptation of Tristram and Iseult (which, if it can at all be located originally, is of Irish/Celtic origin). Probably they thought Wagner invented the story....
davidhare wrote:Look this whole subject of Occupation period French cinema is given a beginning elsewhere on the forum. But we never got very far with it. One of the problems here, I think, was its confusion with the 50s Tradition de Qualite issue and the Right/Left Nouvelle Vague bizzo.. (And in the process I think we have scared off at least one if not two posters.)
I can't remember that thread... perhaps it was started before I entered this forum about one year ago? But I guess what you mean. In Germany they have only lately begun to tackle films (i.e. discuss them as films, not to speak of the still very scarce dvd releases) made in the latter half of the 1930s, at least those that COULD be seen as endorsing Germanic values or even only traditions (Trenker's astonishing "Der verlorene Sohn" with its portrayal of pagan winter rituals comes to my mind immediately). And of course you could see a film like "Children of Paradise" as problematic because it clearly does not talk about the circumstances of the time and might be seen as escapist, and it might even be true. But that doesn't diminish any of its value, and ditto for "L'eternel retour".
davidhare wrote:I have NEVER seen l'Aigle - but after watching the Antonioni version I really relish it! Bad as it might be.
Well, I have never seen Antonioni's! I think the problem with "L'aigle" is not so much Cocteau's film, but simply his original play. The film makes the best of it, but cannot really save it. Still worth watching if you can get to see it somewhere. After all nothing Cocteau ever filmed is really bad. Just don't spend a fortune for that unsubbed Korean disc, it simply looks and sounds bad, although I'm glad it exists at all. The reason why the French avoid it despite it being a 'true' Cocteau film is probably quite similar as with "Retour", but here Cocteau seems really to endorse 'aristocratic' values (it's set in a fantasized 19th century Austria, though, but that doesn't seem to matter) much more than in "Retour". But the film was indeed made in 1947, and would clearly not fit into the climate, if "Silence de la mer" is representative for what people actually wanted to see at the time. But on the other hand, as I said before, no criticism by me of "Silence" either, it's definitely much better than "L'aigle", and in its own way almost as entrancing as "Retour" (which gets a lot of its interest from Marais and the magnificent Madeleine Sologne, of course).

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domino harvey
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#46 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jul 30, 2007 7:51 pm

Watched this the other day. This was a very respectful DVD package of a film I figured would never get released, massive props to peerpee and crew for this one. =D>

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denti alligator
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#47 Post by denti alligator » Fri Aug 24, 2007 12:36 am

Just watched this and was really impressed. I have a question about the transfer. I noticed a high degree of pixellation, especially in dark shadows (of which there are a lot). Now this might be my new display (though I doubt it, because other discs haven't shown this problem), or it might be the disc (is it possible I got a defective disc?), but I found it distracting. Am I alone in seeing this? Otherwise the picture is incredibly beautiful: very sharp, lots of detail. But in dark scenes (especially when the oncle goes down to hear who is playing the hamonium) the detail is lost to blotchy patches of dark that look very digital. It's not unusual for me to see slight amounts of this kind of pixellation in unfocused background shadows, but here it was more pronounced than usual.

The filmed discussion of Melville and Le Silence de la mer was excellent! I can't wait to dig through the very thick booklet.

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#48 Post by bluesea » Fri Aug 24, 2007 12:55 pm

That pixellation may be caused by a combination of your particular DVD player, and the disc. I have a Pioneer 50avi and it will on rare occasions produce the same artifact. I haven't viewed my la Mer disc yet, but will report back when I get a chance.

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#49 Post by denti alligator » Mon Aug 27, 2007 10:27 pm

I withdraw my remark about the pixellation. I had the backlight on my display set too high, which was emphasizing the existing (but normally mostly invisible) pixellation in shadows.

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#50 Post by Yojimbo » Fri Jul 04, 2008 10:57 am

I don't know whether this has been mentioned but as I was watching it I was struck by two things:
1), how untypical it was compared to the Melville of such as 'Bob', 'Cercle Rouge', and, to a lesser extent 'L'Armee Des Ombres' that I had come to know and love;
2). My favourite Bresson, 'Diary Of A Country Priest' has much in common with 'Silence' in terms of mood, pace, and feel, to such an extent that I wonder did it influence Bresson.

Also interesting that Melville gravitated more towards the Hollywood-influenced crime film shortly afterwards
(although I haven't yet watched 'Leon Morin: Pretre' so I couldn't comment on similarities with it.

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