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Fox Lorber presents
"She awoke in us the springs of luminous sensuality."
DVD ReviewTruffaut's great coming-of-age classic, 1959's The 400 Blows (Les Quatre cents coups) was a poignant and moving study of adolescence. The two short films presented here bracket that film, but are thematically tied to it in very close ways.
Les Mistons (The Brats, 1957, 17m:19s) follows a pack of young boys who are fascinated by a young woman, Bernadette (Bernadette Lafont) and her fiancée (Gerard Blain). Unable to articulate their budding interest in the opposite sex in any other way, they take it upon themselves to torment her at every opportunity. But there comes a time when such pranks go too far.
Almost entirely told through voiceover by Michel François, this two-reeler already demonstrates the interest that Truffaut had in the emergence of identity. The boys here are sexually attracted to Bernadette, though they don't fathom why, and are acting as voyeurs and sniffing Bernadette's bicycle seat on some sort of primal impulse from deep within their reptile brains. Silly and obnoxious, the boys don't mean any harm, but circumstances combine to make one of their little tricks cause an emotional impact far beyond that intended. There is a wistfulness at the conclusion that speaks volumes of regret, obtained simply through the use of a shot of Bernadette walking slowly towards the camera. One wonders whether such films will have any impact whatsoever on those brought up in the 1980s and 1990s or thereafter, when there was no mystery to sex at all; this can hardly appear to be anything but quaint to them.
Antoine & Colette (1962, 29m:03s) is the second installment in the story of Truffaut's alter ego, Antoine Doinel. Part of an international anthology called Love at Twenty, the presentation here includes the full main titles of the feature plus Truffaut's contribution. Despite the title, Antoine (Jean Pierre Léaud again) is now 18 and working at a Philips LP record manufactory (speaking of quaint). He sees a young woman, Colette (Marie-France Pisier) and immediately falls in love with her. Despite befriending her and charming her parents, Anotine is still left out in the cold, in despair and humiliation as Colette rejects him as anything more than a friend.
Although Léaud hardly resembles himself from the movie three years earlier, he still turns in a fine performance here, alternately hopeful and despairing, clumsily groping at affection not provided by his parents. Pisier also makes for a good ice queen, inspiring affection but sparing none for Antoine. The importance of music in Antoine's life is further developed here; not only does he work making LPs, but when alone he plays them constantly, and he offers the first one he makes to Colette, who receives it with disdain. Bittersweet in its recollection of first love and the pain of it being unrequited, Antoine & Colette makes for an intimate yet meaningful statement.
The short running time, well under an hour, is disappointing. These films would have been better served as extras on a dual layer edition of The 400 Blows. They will, however, be essential for Doinel completists.
Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+
Image Transfer Review: Les Mistons is presented in the original full-rame. While only minor frame damage is present, the contrasts are quite high, blowing out the highlights and losing much shadow detail in darkness. Antoine & Colette looks much better, despite being nonanamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen. Fine detail is nicely present here, with a good range of grey levels. Occasional ringing is present, but it's not too obtrusive most of the time. Since this is a low-content disc, the bit rates are appropriately high, running between 7 and 8 Mbps.
Image Transfer Grade: B-
Audio Transfer Review: The 2.0 mono French tracks both are quite hissy and noisy. Occasionally loud crackles are present as well. The music on Antoine sounds somewhat tinny, though it does have decent bass output. The higher registers sound rather shrill. The oboe solo on Les Mistons on occasion sounds a bit warbly as well.
Audio Transfer Grade: C-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Subtitles/Captions in English
Cast and Crew Filmographies
10 Other Trailer(s) featuring The 400 Blows (Les Quatre cents coups), Jules and Jim (Jules et Jim), Two English Girls (Les Deux anglaises et le continent), The Last Metro (Le denier métro), The Woman Next Door (La Femme d'à côté), Confidentially Yours (Vivement dimanche!), The Soft Skin (La Peau douce), Bed & Board (Domicile conjugal) , Love on the Run (L'Amour en fuite), Stolen Kisses (Baisers volés)
Extras Review: There's not much here for extras. Filmographies are provided for Blain, Lafont, Léaud, Pisier and Truffaut. A "Tribute to Jean Pierre Léaud" turns out to be just a 3m:03s collection of snippets from all of the Doinel movies without any connective material or indeed anything identifying the films. The usual ten trailers from the Fox Lorber series are provided, in nonanamorphic widescreen (from 1.66 to 2.35:1 in ratio). There is conveniently a "Play All" button, which is the high point of the otherwise poorly designed menus that return the viewer to the Main Menu instead of allowing one to return to the Special Features page. English subtitles are burned in the films and the trailers.
Extras Grade: D+
Final CommentsAn all-too-brief pair of examinations of adolescent affection. The transfer's not bad, though the audio is quite noisy. Having nothing notable for extras, this disc feels like a set of extras in search of a main feature.
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