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Kino on Video presents
Let Joy Reign Supreme (Que la fête commence...) (1974)

Regent Philippe d'Orléans: You believe in God now?
Abbé Dubois: No, no, no. Not yet...but when I'm Pope, who knows?

- Philippe Noiret, Jean Rochefort

Review By: Nate Meyers  
Published: November 17, 2004

Stars: Philippe Noiret, Jean Rochefort, Jean-Pierre Marielle
Other Stars: Christine Pascal, Malfred Adam, Marina Vlady, Nicole Garcia
Director: Bertrand Tavernier

Manufacturer: RVD
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nudity, sexuality, brief language)
Run Time: 01h:54m:11s
Release Date: October 05, 2004
UPC: 738329037420
Genre: foreign


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ B-B+B- D+

DVD Review

Bertrand Tavernier's Let Joy Reign Supreme... (Que la fte commence...) is a gorgeous production filled with dazzling sets, costumes, and photography. Considering its strengths, which also include sharp dialogue delivered by interesting characters, it is easy to overlook some of its more severe flaws, such as overly obvious themes that don't go anywhere.

In 1719, France is in a state of unrest following the reign of King Louis XIV. The King has been dead for four years and Regent Philippe d'OrlŽans (Philippe Noiret) is the uncrowned ruler of France. As he presides over the monarchy, awaiting for Louis XV to assume power when he becomes an adult, d'OrlŽans must contend with a small group of malcontents in Brittany. Led by the incompetent Marquis de Pontcallec (Jean-Pierre Marielle), these Bretons seek to form their own republic with the aid of Spanish troops. While the Bretons prepare for war with the Parisians, d'OrlŽans is caught up in personal and sexual intrigue. His daughter has just died from, according to the doctor, gluttony. While attending her funeral Mass with his new concubine, Emilie (Christine Pascal), d'Orléans clearly established that he has nothing but contempt for the Church.

Church corruption is a major part of the script (written by Tavernier and Jean Aurenche). The embodiment of it is found in AbbŽ Dubois (Jean Rochefort), an atheist who regularly engages in orgies with d'OrlŽans and other members of the royal court. The banter between the Regent and the AbbŽ is full of grace and wit, particularly as Dubois pleads to be appointed Archbishop. This is strictly a power mover, for Dubois admits that saying mass bores him. When his request is denied by D'OrlŽans, Dubois turns to the British. They agree to support Dubois' promotion to Archbishop, but only if he puts an end to the rebellion in Brittany.

The film is a mixture of comedy and historical drama. The comedy is the highlight, especially in the scenes involving the Marquis' misbegotten revolution. The efforts of the Bretons to wage a war with less than a dozen men, as well as the Marquis' marriage to a woman who speaks a seemingly unknown language, are perfect examples in situational comedy. Jean-Pierre Marielle's performance as the Marquis hits all the right notes, conveying a semi-delusional demagogue who fails to realize the gravity of the situation he's caught up in. Equally impressive are Philippe Noiret and Jean Rochefort. Noiret (perhaps best known for his role in Cinema Paradiso) is the anchor of the film, bringing just the right amount of humor and sorrow to the role of Philippe d'OrlŽans. There is a look on Noiret's face throughout the film that suggests a man who is worn down by age and tired by his own debauchery. The scenes between d'Orléans and Emilie never feel erotic, with Tavernier's direction opting for a more realistic portrayal of a man at the end of his rope, more interested in the young beauty for her naïve outlook than her carnal qualities. Rochefort's portrayal of Dubois is one note, but when the actor hits the note of a scheming priest as well as Rochefort does, it's tough to complain.

The historical aspect of the film is also impressive, with Pierre Guffroy's production design and Pierre-William Glenn's cinematography creating a vision of 18th-century France that brims with authenticity. The music, which was composed by the real life Philippe d'OrlŽans, also contributes to creating a vivid experience, making the events shown on screen feel more like a documentation of history than a movie. Tavernier's direction and the script successfully hit the right tone of the actual events and characters of that historical period, but it also does not fully develop the supporting cast. Apart from the three leading men and Emilie, none of the characters stand out and feel buried in Jacqueline Moreau's gorgeous costumes. The script certainly is historically accurate, but it never fully makes for a complete drama.

Part of this probably stems from the thematic elements in play here. Stories about corruption in high society and religious hierarchies are old. The freshness of stories like The Age of Innocence and Vanity Fair is lacking here, with the script failing to shed any new light onto the subject matter of high society in the 1800s. There also is a massive shift in tone in the film's closing sequence, in which Tavernier uses the events on screen to tie the story of Philippe d'OrlŽans to the French Revolution. Such a case is, historically speaking, next to impossible to make. This can be forgiven, but the drastic switch from entertaining historical drama to dark historical allegory ends the film on a sour note.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Kino has remastered the film in a 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer. The colors are astounding, particularly reds, which never bleed. Detail of the sets and costumes is surprisingly strong, but depth is not as evident. Skin tones are accurate and contrast is strong. Blacks look nice, with good detail and texture. Dirt and grain are barely noticeable, showing evidence of a solid restoration performance.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoFrenchno


Audio Transfer Review: The original French mono sound mix is preserved here, with clear and clean sound emanating from the front sound stage. There is nothing dynamic about this mix, but the sound effects and ambient noise are well mixed with the dialogue. The sound is a little soft towards the end, but not enough to be distracting.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Stills Gallery—a collection of nine stills from the film.
Extras Review: Extras are pretty slim here, with the original theatrical trailer presented in 1.85:1 widescreen. There are no subtitles for the trailer, but a surprising amount of nudity is displayed (just goes to show how much more liberal those Europeans are with their bodies than we are). As for the subtitles on the featured film, they are optional and accessible via remote control, as well as through the menus. The subtitles are clear and easy to read, with excellent pacing for those who want to appreciate the image as well as read the subtitles. There is a Stills Gallery containing nine alternate angle shots from the film. There is nothing of particular value here. Finally, there are filmographies of actor Philippe Noiret and director Bertrand Tavernier, which amount to what one would expect, a list of their movies.

Extras Grade: D+

 

Final Comments

Let Joy Reign Supreme... (Que la fte commence...) is presented with a lovely anamorphic widescreen transfer and sufficient mono sound. The extras are nothing extraordinary, so it's the quality of the film that makes this a marginally recommended title.

 


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