02/10/2016  
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

Ryan Reynolds Says Having a Daughter was Dream Come Tru...
Oscars Nominees Luncheon Class Photo of 2016 Revealed ...
Bernie Sanders confirms: 'I am Larry David'...
Breaking News: James Corden to Host the 2016 Tony Award...
Marty Balin Remembers Paul Kantner: 'He and I Opened Ne...
House of Cards season 5 renewal announced, showrunner B...
Joseph Fiennes plays Michael Jackson in British TV 'roa...
Nate Parker's 'The Birth of a Nation' a powerful film...
Chris Rock, Oscar host who really seems to hate the Osc...
Matt Damon Praises The Oscars For Voting Process Change...





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
La Bęte humaine (1938)

"If I get violent, it's because I love you."
- Roubaud (Fernand Ledoux)

Review By: Jon Danziger  
Published: February 13, 2006

Stars: Jean Gabin, Simone Simon, Fernand Ledoux, Julien Carette
Director: Jean Renoir

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 01h:40m:53s
Release Date: February 14, 2006
UPC: 037429173824
Genre: foreign


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

DVD Review

Jean Renoir is vast, he contains multitudes. In addition to all his celebrated accomplishments as the old master of French cinema, a look at this DVD suggests that he's the grandfather of film noir, too. This is pretty pulpy, almost sensational stuff for a filmmaker of Renoir's elevated reputation; and it comes with a literary pedigree as well, as it's based on a novel by Emile Zola. It's a movie about the bad thoughts that can hide behind a pretty face, and, as much as anything else, it's a true love story about a man and his train.

Jean Gabin is the very personification of French film history, and he's front and center here, as Lantier, an engineer on the line between Paris and Le Havre. The movie's visceral opening sequence shows Lantier and his partner, the womanizing Pecqueux, laboring intensely to make this gargantuan, smoke-belching piece of machinery glide smoothly along, the dirty hard work that undergirded the effortless elegance of train travel, if you could afford a first-class ticket. They reach their destination safely, but mechanical problems keep the engineers waylaid in Le Havre for longer than they'd care to stay. Soon thereafter we meet the slinky Severine (Simone Simon) and her older husband, Roubaud (Fernand Ledoux), who seems to know that wearing the cuckold's horns is his fate—he just hadn't expected that the other party in the affair would have been his wife's godfather, Grandmorin.

Crazed with rage, Roubaud vows to exact his vengeance, and he does so by luring an unsuspecting Grandmorin onto a locomotive—Severine is his partner in crime, and all goes according to plan until, just as Roubaud is finishing the deed, Severine encounters Lantier, her stranger on a train. When Grandmorin's corpse spills out of his cabin and Lantier swears he didn't see a thing, his unholy bond to Severine is firmly established.

What follows are all sorts of permutations on infidelity, as Lantier gets ensnared in Severine's web as he wrestles with his own conscience—it's not the stuff we think of when the director comes to mind, so if you need to preserve your elevated sense of Renoir's aesthetic based exclusively on great films like Grand Illusion, stay away, because this one will puncture those notions. It's also at times almost more about the social fabric of French society on the eve of the Second World War; the anxiety is palpable, and it's almost as if you can feel the storm clouds brewing. Renoir was unrivaled as a social critic among film directors; you can trace some of Robert Altman's best work back to a film like this.

And technically, the filmmaking is little short of breathtaking. Renoir's sense of composition is exquisite, and his modulation of gray levels must have been the envy of still photographers of the period. But he never gets woozy with technique, and the story chugs along like, well, a train rumbling down the tracks, a stern morality tale of sorts that relishes its soapiness. It won't make you rethink the whole Renoir canon, and won't replace The Rules of the Game at the top of the pyramid, but is probably more of a crowd pleaser than the Renoir we've come to know.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

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


Image Transfer Review: The transfer is a crisp and strong one, though there seem to be frequent problems with the source material. A handful of frames seem to be missing, giving some of the scenes and unpleasant staccato quality, and every now and again you can make out imperfections that even Criterion's capable technicians could not eradicate.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoFrenchno


Audio Transfer Review: Limited dynamics, as you might expect with a film of this vintage, but it sounds fine on this mono track.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 23 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Documentaries
3 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. image gallery
  2. accompanying booklet
  3. color bars
Extras Review: Decades after making the film, Renoir filmed an introduction (06m:18s) which you probably shouldn't watch until after seeing the feature, for it's full of plot spoilers. He's very much the grand old man of French cinema here, and reports, without embellishment, that he cranked out the script for this movie in twelve days. In a 2004 interview (11m:21s), Peter Bogdanovich situates this in the context of the French films of the time, and discusses its place in Renoir's career. A 1968 French television show (24m:00s), Adapter Zola, is all about the suitability of the novelist to the screen; Renoir is among those interviewed, and this film is discussed extensively by Zola scholars and screenwriters, as is Fritz Lang's Human Desire, also based on a Zola novel.

Best of all, though, is a clip (07m:00s) from 1957, Renoir reunited with Simon—the director and leading lady set about to re-create her work in a climactic scene in the film, and even if the environment is highly artificial (with a studio audience and twenty years after the fact), it's an extraordinary opportunity to get a glimpse of Renoir working, wheedling and cajoling, flattering and disciplining, setting about to get just what it is that he wants and needs for his movie. Also on the disc are an original trailer, and a gallery of stills from the set and posters from around the world. The accompanying booklet merits perusing, as well—it features an essay on the film by Geoffrey O'Brien, a 1991 Sight and Sound article by Ginette Vincendeau, and reminiscences on the shoot from production designer Eugčne Lourié.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

There's no pretense here, and Renoir has made a movie that's steamy in at least a couple of ways. Gabin is in fine fettle, and if Simone Simon batted her eyes at you, you'd fall in line, too—a welcome addition to the Criterion Collection.

 


Back to top

Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search

DVD REVIEW ARCHIVE


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

 



Microsoft Store

Keywords

movie, ryan reynolds, deadpool, blake lively, james, shrimpie, celebrity, academy awards class photo, beverly hilton, leonardo dicaprio, brie larson, sylvester stallone, lady gaga, bernie sanders, larry david, anderson cooper, television, cbs, tony awards, james corden, the broadway league and the american theatre wing, music, jefferson airplane, paul kantner, marty balin, doors, netflix, house of cards, president frank underwood, kevin spacey, robin wright, comedy, michael jackson, joseph fiennes, nate parker, the birth of a nation, sundance film festival, nat turner, d.w. griffiths, movies, academy awards show, chris rock, will smith, white chicks, icymi, matt damon, the martian, cheryl boone isaacs, iggy pop, josh homme, gardenia, the late show, stephen colbert, post pop depression, academy award controversy, charlotte rampling, 45 years, cheryl boone, glenn frey, eagles, don henley, post-beach boys california pop, disco, punk, rock and roll hall of fame, david bowie, alan rickman, cancer, cameron crowe, rolling stone, ride along 2, ice cube, kevin hart, buddy-cop action-comedy, debbie harry, chris stein, blondie, heros, ricky gervais, jeffrey tambor, mozart in the juncle, aziz ansari, mr. robot, quentin tarantino, china box office, $32.1 million, walt disney, lip sync battle, beyonce, channing tatum, jena dewan tatum, paula abdul, spike tv, premieres, shades of blue, jennifer lopez, nbc, angel from hell, my diet is better than yours, abc, adele, 26, 7.44 million album sales, amc, the walking dead, frank darabont, glen mazzara, pbs, downton abbey season 6, gareth neame, sophie mcshera, paul copley, nichola burley, michelle dockery, the bachelor, bachelorette, ben higgins, alex michel, aaron buerge, andrew firestone, bob guiney, game of thrones, george r.r. martin, the winds of winter, song of ice and fire, kanye west, facts, bill cosby, steve harvey, miss universe, cosby show, george lucas, charlie rose, star wars: the force awakens, disney, star wars, harrison ford, mark hamill, carrie fisher, aging, sports, basketball, meadowlark lemon, wilt chamberlain, u.s. army, basketball hall of fame, clown prince of basketball, ritz theater, nathaniel rateliff, night sweats, blues band, denver, nathaniel rateliff & the night sweats.

On Facebook!
digitallyOBSESSED!
digitallyOBSESSED!
Promote Your Page Too

Visit:

Zarabesque.com

Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

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