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The Criterion Collection presents
...And God Created Woman (1956)

"With that mouth, you can have anything you want."
- Eric Carradine (Curt Jürgens)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: August 04, 2000

Stars: Brigitte Bardot, Jean-Louis Trintignant
Other Stars: Curt Jürgens, Christian Marquand, Marie Glory, Georges Poujouly
Director: Roger Vadim

Manufacturer: CMCA
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (Suggested nudity)
Run Time: 01h:31m:00s
Release Date: July 18, 2000
UPC: 037429147825
Genre: foreign


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- A-AA- C+

DVD Review

The release of the late Roger Vadim's debut film Et Dieu... créa la femme (...And God Created Woman) marked the turning point in the rise to fame of Brigitte Bardot, then 21, and skyrocketed her to the status of international sex symbol. Bardot's character, Juliette Hardy, is introduced stretched "bottoms up" across the 2.35:1 frame in all her naked glory (though skillfully avoiding any "obscene" exposure). I'm sure this scene caused heart failure for more than one censor, and an equally impressive response from the male audience of the time. The film is often credited as Bardot's screen debut, though it is actually her seventeenth (according to the enclosed booklet). ...And God Created Woman revolutionized the foreign film market, and may have single-handedly bashed down the prudish standards of the cinematic world, and opened the doors to more risqué work for future filmmakers.

Bardot plays a young woman raised in an orphanage and, now in her late teens, causes quite a stir with her behavior, attracting the attentions of men. The first suitor we meet is the much older Eric Carradine (Curt Jürgens), a rich land baron set on building a new casino in town. His plans are being hampered by the Tardieu family that owns a small shipyard on the stretch of land he requires for his development. Michel, the eldest Tardieu son, returns home for the weekend from Toulon to discuss the situation and finds Juliette anxious to pair up with him. His intentions for Juliette, however, are very short term, and he spurns her by he leaving town without her. Juliette's guardians have had just about enough of her antics, and threaten to send her back to the orphanage. To keep her in town, Carradine pleas with Michel to consider marrying her, which he laughs off, but his naïve younger brother Antoine (Jean-Loius Trintignant) rises to the challenge and proposes. Despite being in love with his older brother, she accepts. When Michel is contracted to return home for good, the trouble starts for the newlyweds, and all the men in her life come to realize just what she means to them.

Vadim (Bardot's husband at the time) captures Bardot's pure sensuality without any cheap devices. The nude scenes are handled with tactfully placed props or camera compositions. There are several sequences where Bardot's seductive qualities are highlighted, especially in her dance numbers. There is no denying her sex appeal, and though the storyline is far from overshadowed, it is easy to be distracted by the presence of one of film's most beautiful women occupying the screen. The St. Tropez locations are beautifully shot, and Vadim's use of composition shines in this widescreen presentation. He makes full use of the wide aspect ratio, often with characters occupying the extremes of the shot, or, as in Bardot's first appearance, by filling the screen with her. ...And God Created Woman is a feast for the eyes in more ways than one.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Criterion did a new High Definition transfer from the 35mm interpositive elements at its original 2.35:1 ratio, and the disc is enhanced for 16:9 displays. The film was then extensively restored for the DVD format. There are very few aliasing artifacts or other anomalies in the picture, with the exception of a fair number of small scratches present in the image (although these are only noticible due to the otherwise pristine presentation). Colors are rich and earthy, and detail is excellent. Having the proper aspect ratio available is critical for this film, and it is truly breathtaking to watch. Criterion has once again done a fabulous job with an older film, and I could scarcely imagine this looking any better.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoFrenchno


Audio Transfer Review: The original French audio is also presented very well in Dolby Digital 1.0 mono. The sound is clean and clear, with very little hiss. The seductive musical soundtrack is rendered flawlessly, except for one technical glitch with this and a few other Criterion releases and my Toshiba 5109—the audio will not play if the film is started from the main menu. Instead, the disc must be played from the chapter listing.

We can be thankful that a dubbed track is not included—a listen to the accompanying trailer will demonstrate why. See my comments below regarding Criterion's wise decision regarding subtitles for this disc.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 21 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Restoration demonstration
  2. Color bars
Extras Review: Along with a dubbed theatrical trailer (which is a great example of how the film could have looked without restoration), Criterion provides a restoration demonstration showing before and after sequences of some of the 15,000 print defects removed for this release. It is easy to take the look of a film this old for granted and complain about the remaining flaws, but when allowed to see the original condition, one has a greater respect for the extent that Criterion has gone to deliver a very fine looking disc.

Criterion should also be given thumbs up for their inclusion of two subtitle tracks, one for 4:3 displays (which appear in the area beneath the picture) and a second for 16:9 displays (which appear with a black outline in the image area). This is a very welcome feature, one I wish had been included on some of Criterion's earlier widescreen releases.

Color bars are also included for calibrating the image, and an essay on Bardot, Vadim and the film is included in the trifold insert.

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

Roger Vadim's classic is presented wonderfully on this release, and Criterion does it again with a beautiful, director-supervised transfer and the restoration of this 1956 film. Bardot's onscreen presence is something that must be witnessed, and what better way to do so than with this fine addition to the Criterion Collection. Recommended.

 


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