Take Me To The River on Blu-ray & DVD Feb 5Phantom From 10,000 Leagues (1956) on Blu-ray & DVD Jan 5Condemned on DVD & Blu-ray Jan 5Broad City: Season 2 on DVD Jan 5McHale's Navy: The Complete Series on DVD No 17Return to Sender on Blu-ray & DVD Sep 29The Phantom of the Opera with Lon Chaney Blu-ray & DVD Oct 13

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

Jennifer Esposito Is Your Newest NCIS Agent in Season 1...
Critics Are Split on Ghostbusters Reboot ...
'Respect is key': The Game, Snoop Dogg lead march to LA...
Kristen Stewart's Sheer Dress At 'Equals' Premiere -- S...
"A Slow Slipping Away"-- Kris Kristofferson's Long-Undi...
Fox News' Roger Ailes Sued for Sexual Harassment by Ous...
Garrison Keillor Retires from 'Prairie Home Companion' ...
Jennifer Aniston is Pregnant: Star Steps Out in Loose D...
Hiddleswift Is One Big Song Promotion -- A Theory...
Elvis Presley's daughter Lisa Marie Presley files for ...

Microsoft Store

Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif

Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

The Criterion Collection presents
Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne (1945)

"Is there nothing more to life than carrying the burden of one's past mistakes?"
- Agnès (Elina Labourdetti)

Review By: Jon Danziger  
Published: March 10, 2003

Stars: Maria Casarès, Paul Bernard, Elina Labourdetti, Lucienne Bogaert
Director: Robert Bresson

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 01h:25m:47s
Release Date: March 11, 2003
UPC: 037429173626
Genre: foreign

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A A-B+B C+

DVD Review

In his marvelous book, Transcendental Style in Film, Paul Schrader (yes, the author of Taxi Driver) elevates Bresson along with Ozu and Dreyer to his pantheon of cinematic poets; while the other two have been reasonably represented on DVD releases so far, Bresson's films have been completely absent. Criterion sets about the task of justifying that wrong with this disc, Bresson's second feature, in which his mature style is taking shape. It's a marvelous film, derided in its time, years later finding its audience and earning the respect it so justly merits.

It's a chamber piece, essentially, featuring just four characters. Hélène (the sloe-eyed Maria Casarès), feeling neglected by her lover Jean (Paul Bernard), suggests that perhaps it's time that they go their separate ways; her ploy doesn't work as intended, and she's thunderstruck when he takes her up on the offer. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, as we all well know, and Hélène's revenge is potent and chilling. She swoops in to save Agnès (Elina Labourdetti) and her mother (Lucienne Bogaert) from poverty, removing them from a life of decadence, and cloistering them in a small apartment. Agnès has been working in a nightclub as a "dancer," clearly here a 1940s euphemism for prostitute; Hélène vows to help her keep to the straight and narrow.

Hélène sees to it that Jean and Agnès cross paths, and of course he falls madly, deeply in love with Agnès—he's convinced that she's virginal, an innocent, and his rapaciousness, his need for her, leads to his reckless pursuit. He thinks he's got an ally in Hélène, but she's not that evolved, and is all too happy to push him down the primrose path of delusion, obsession and social mortification.

Bresson adapted the story from Jacques le fataliste, by eighteenth-century encyclopaedist Denis Diderot; the dialogue is by Jean Cocteau, so it's hard to know to whom to credit the film's many virtues and peculiar style. Some of the dialogue can be overwrought—Agnès makes repeated declarations like, "Destiny is tragic, but I prefer a fate we choose to one forced upon us"—but Bresson and Cocteau have succeeded in thoroughly modernizing Diderot's tale, and Bresson's camerawork is especially noteworthy. He's fond of tracking shots, and the camera moves sinuously around the room; similarly, it's a marvelously lit film, framing the expressive actors' faces artfully without calling too much attention to the technical filmmaking elements. The eighteenth-century pedigree will be obvious to those who have seen or read Les Liaisons dangereuses, or any of the several recent film adaptations of that book.

Jean's quest to see just and only what he wants in Agnès brings to mind James Stewart in Vertigo, as well, and even the denouement of this story bears a passing resemblance to Hitchcock. But Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne is interesting not merely for the influence it exerted; it's a taut, pungent little tale, about the problems inherent in the notion of redemption, and about the darker angels of our nature. Especially noteworthy, besides Philippe Agostini's peerless cinematography, are the four central performances. Casarès smolders as Hélène and Bernard is both jaded and goofily earnest as her principal victim. (Even if he's done Hélène some dirt, it's hard not to be touched by his genuineness about the Agnès he believes in: "I love her. I'm losing my head. I'm capable of anything.") Their final confrontation, with him pinned in his car as she spews her venom, is one of the most harrowing and understated scenes you're likely ever to see.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Criterion has taken great care in bringing this film to DVD, but it still bears the scars of wartime France. Many scratches remain and the light level can be uneven, but the cinematography is truly glorious; there's more than a little of Atget evident in the street scenes especially.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: As with the picture, the sound has been cleaned up a good deal, but there's still some hissing that's evident. It's nicely modulated and surprisingly clear, however, given that it's a mono track from nearly sixty years ago.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. stills gallery
  2. insert booklet with essays by François Truffaut and David Thomson
Extras Review: The stills gallery features photographs taken for publicity purposes and on location, including a few from some deleted scenes, which I'm assuming are lost to us now; original French poster art is included as well. The accompanying essays are brief but illuminating, especially the excerpt from Truffaut's The Films in My Life.

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

An advertisement for the great things to come from Bresson as well as a lovely film in its own right, Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne looks handsome and well restored on this disc. Perhaps it's a harbinger of more Bresson on DVD, he offered hopefully to conclude his review.


Back to top

Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search


Get FREE Shipping on all orders at TimeLife.com! - 120x90


Microsoft Store


television, jennifer esposito, blue bloods, ncis, mark harmon. duane henry, wilmer valderrama, michael weatherly, bull, movie, ghostbusters, comedy, chris helmsworth, melissa mcarthy, kristen wiig, celebrity, rap, game, shoop dogg, jayceon terrell taylor, alton sterling, kristen stewart, equals, jonathan simkhal, nicholas hoult, music, kris kristofferson, country music hall of fame, alzheimers, lyme disease, fox news, gretchen carlson, fox and friends, steve doocy, roger ailes, the real story with gretchen carlson, radio, garrison keillor, a prairie home companion, jennifer anniston, baby bump, justin theroux, taylor swift, tom hiddleston, calvin harris, lisa marie presley, michael lockwood, riley and benjamin keough, danny keough, michael jackson, nicolas cage, tom affleck, boston fan, bill simmons, hbo show, any given wednesday, tom brady, deflategate, hamilton, lin-manuel mianda, periscope, heart tweet machine, hamilton mixtape, cable, hbo, curb your enthusiasm, larry david, bernie sanders, saturday night live, maya and marty, christina grimmie, murdered, plaza live, before you exit, marcus grimmie, nashville, cmt, president brian phillips, the tonight show, jimmy fallon, president obama, the roots, hillary clinton, tim mcgraw, faith hill, maggie mcgraw, humble and kind, ellen degeneres show, titi pierce, coldwell banker robbins & free realty, hairspray live!, tracy turnblad, york theatre company, john waters, jennifer hudson, harvey fierstein, martin short, derek hough, j.k. rowling, harry potter and the cursed child, noma dumezweni, emma watson, judd apatow, paul freig, melissa mccarthy, romance, history channel, roots, remake, anika noni rose, t.i., malachi kirby, josh duhamel, transformers, fergie, black eyed peas, axl, double dutchess, abc, music city, grand ole opry, chip esten, lennon stella, the voice, alisan porterm, christina aguilera, ceelo green, ariana grande, sia, the little big town, 2016 billboard music awards, pink, just like fire, pamela neal, warrior princess, send my love (to your new lover), billboard music awards, adele, patrick daughters, bryan cranston, lbj, all the way, melissa leo, frank langella, todd weeks, hard sell, kristin chenoweth, wicked

On Facebook!
Promote Your Page Too



Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store