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Image Entertainment presents
La Guerre Est Finie (1966)

"This is it. We'll get caught over this tiny detail."
- Diego (Yves Montand)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: February 27, 2001

Stars: Yves Montand, Ingrid Thulin, Geneviève Bujold
Other Stars: Dominique Rozan, Jean-FranąŖois Rémi, Paul Crauchet, Jean Bouise, Gérard Séty, Catherine de Seynes, Jacques Rispal, Jean Dasté
Director: Alain Resnais

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (Nudity, Adult situations)
Run Time: 01h:56m:07s
Release Date: January 30, 2001
UPC: 014381024623
Genre: suspense thriller

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

What is it about French films that always seem to end before I've finished watching them? For some reason I keep expecting more to happen than often does, and such was the case with La Guerre Est Finie (The War Is Over). Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, as it does cause one to reevaluate what one has just seen to try and make sense of things, but it does strike me as odd given my conditioning to tidy endings where all is resolved. Despite feeling somewhat abrupt, I do like this style for some strange reason.

French New Wave director Alain Resnais began his film career with a series of shorts highlighting artists and art related subjects. His 1948 Van Gogh received an Academy Award. In 1955 Resnais directed his chilling concentration camp featurette, Night And Fog. His first feature, Hiroshima, Mon Amour won the Cannes Film Festival International Critics Prize for its provocative ideas and innovative styling. The themes of memory, which play a recurring role in Resnais' films, were the center piece in his second film, L'Année dernière ą› Marienbad (Last Year At Marianbad), in which the male lead insists he has had an affair the previous year with a woman he just met. This preoccupation with memory returns in La Guerre Est Finie, as the story is conveyed through the central character in a series of thought like montages, piecing together the past from brief snippets of information, real or imagined. If you have never seen the film, skip the synopsis as it contains some unavoidable spoilers.

Yves Montand (Jean de Florette/Manon des Sources) is Diego, though when we meet him he is travelling under an alias, hoping to catch a train to Paris while fleeing Spain, where news has forced him to take this urgent trip. When they reach the police checkpoint at the border they are detained and questioned. He produces his passport, and supplies the police with his home phone number, a number which belongs to a family he knows everything about, but has never met. The young girl who answers plays the part of his daughter, though he can only imagine what she looks like. Back en route, things start to become explained, there have been arrests in Madrid, and Diego has to stop one of the leaders of their cause from going to Spain. In case the police follow up the border incident he finally heads to his fictitious home, to make arrangements for the passport to be available to the real Mr. Sallanches. Here he meets his daughter, Nadine (Geneviève Bujold in her debut performance), and an attraction is immediate. She asks his real name. He answers "Domingo". We next see him at his home, where his wife, Marianne (Ingrid Thulin) is busy with coworkers, some of whom are unfamiliar to Diego, who has been absent the past six months. His life is a series of deceptions, and he avoids complete disclosure even with his mate, suspicious of her friends. We will finally learn what he is up to, what this news has been, and what he will do about it, but there are many things left unresolved.

Camera movement and editing are everything in this film, and are used to great effect. For the first quarter of the presentation, a succession of scenes where the camera pulls out and immediately cuts to a push in first detaches the viewer then draws them in for the follow-up. Rapid cuts of disjointed information hint at possibilities occurring, as thoughts jump through one's mind. The camera sweeps around corners, down corridors, or follows the subjects through the streets with a noticable grace. There is a lot of confusion and mystique - we see faces of characters we aren't introduced to, or montages of a girl walking down the street, though she is actually several women as she passes by, as though the viewer is trying to imagine her appearance, and is auditioning characters for the role. We see bits of information about places that are known from text to the character, but are only his imaginings when seen. We are not given complete images, or complete information. Much is left to be inferred by the viewer. There is a disorientation, as when one hears only parts of a story, the gaps need to be filled in by the imagination. Sequences of the film have their dialogue narrated over by screenwriter Jorge SemprąÜn), giving the present the perception of being in the past. There are also two highly stylised love/sex scenes, though in the case of the first, we are not certain whether this is real or imagined. Such is the case with much of the film. This will either be appreciated for its style, or be frustrating, depending on your viewpoint.

La Guerre Est Finie is a very artistic piece, which will either resonate with the viewer or alienate them. While the ending felt somewhat ambiguous, I must say that I did enjoy the style more than the substance of this film, though as its images still haunt me, I'm sure my appreciation will grow with time.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.66:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: La Guerre Est Finie is presented in 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen, though it looks slightly over matted. The black and white image is a bit soft and perhaps a little dark, but is otherwise outstanding. Detail is well preserved, as is very fine grain structure. Aliasing is practically nonexistent. There is the odd bit of frame damage, but it is extremely limited, as are any other normal aberations like scratches or spots. A fine looking print.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoFrench, Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The mono French soundtrack is well presented, with only the odd bit of hiss or crackling now and then. Some distortion is present in extremely loud soundtrack areas, like the opening theme, which begins abruptly seven seconds into the picture, though fades in on the English dub track also available.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Packaging: Snapper
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The setup menu allows a choice of chapter selections, or audio in French with English subtitles or an English dub track.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

For arthouse and French New Wave fans, La Guerre Est Finie is a must have. The style and execution of the film are first rate, and this edition beautifully conveys the imagery of Sacha Vierny's stunning cinematography. While the lack of extras disappoints, the video and audio presentation doesn't. Mainstream audiences will probably find the film distracting and confusing.


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