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Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne - Criterion Collection
Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne - Criterion Collection
Actors: Paul Bernard, Marķa Casares, Elina Labourdette, Lucienne Bogaert, Jean Marchat
Director: Robert Bresson
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
UR     2003     1hr 26min

A French woman introduces her ex-lover to a woman with a dark past. Genre: Foreign Film - French Rating: UN Release Date: 11-MAR-2003 Media Type: DVD


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Movie Details

Actors: Paul Bernard, Marķa Casares, Elina Labourdette, Lucienne Bogaert, Jean Marchat
Director: Robert Bresson
Creators: Philippe Agostini, Robert Bresson, Jean Feyte, Raoul Ploquin, Denis Diderot, Jean Cocteau
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Love & Romance
Studio: Criterion
Format: DVD - Black and White - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 03/11/2003
Original Release Date: 04/03/1964
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1945
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 26min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 5
Edition: Criterion Collection
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: French
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

10 Stars; a masterpiece; One of the great French films
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I hadn't seen this one before & now, thanks to Criterion, I've seen it 5 times in two weeks, that's how great it is, & that's how obsessed I am with Bresson's incredible, ultra-subtle style of speaking volumes with the unsaid, the unspoken in the images, or what Andre Bazin called the 'ellipsis.' This film actually was a popular success at the time & is Bresson at his most romantic within his already estabished less-is-more strategy; a more passionate version of his later more austere visual style, here it flows like a great piece of music, like something out of the best Mozart or Beethoven (the beautiful soundtrack is also similar to 19th century classical mixed with Ravelian modernity), & stands-up to any number of repeat viewings, long after the very simple story of manipulation & revenge & all the Cocteau dialogue itself is known by heart. The cinematography is a breathtakingly shaded, soft, almost silent-film-like black-&-white by Philip Agostini (Le Jour se leve, Rififi) & though the camera moves constantly you are never ever aware of it unless you look for it; it never draws attention to itself.The level of acting Bresson gets out of all four leads --Maria Casares, Lucienne Bogaert, Elina Labourdette & Paul Bernard-- is just spectacular, untouchable, unbelievably great. Maria Casares takes the cake though, she is just electrifying & oozes a level of mystery, mischief & upper-class-noir Bette Davis & Gloria Swanson never dreamed of (just compare this to the 'good girl' she played in 'Les Enfants du Paradis,' as Baptiste's wife). The print they transferred to DVD isn't perfect like certain other restored films of this period such as "Les Enfants Du Paradis," & has quite a few tracer lines & imperfections through it which they cleaned up to the extent they could. However, this is still an essential DVD purchase for anyone even remotely interested in the great films of French cinema, & Criterion is to be commended for making it available to the public at large, so they don't have to wait 5 years for rare screenings to experience true art & true artists at work."
More Cocteau than Bresson
Phoust | London, England | 04/15/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"`Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne' was directed in 1945 by: Robert Bresson (Diary Of A Country Priest, 1950; A Man Escaped,1956; Pickpocket, 1959; Au Hasard Balthazzar, 1966) The screenplay was adapted from the Denis Diderot short story `Jacques The Fatalist' by poet, artist and director Jean Cocteau (La Belle Et La Bete, 1946; Orphee, 1949). This seems an odd coupling because their work as directors is in complete contrast and because of the dialogue it makes this film feels more like a Cocteau film. This is however was only Bresson's second film and what would be determined as Bressonian, his lack of theatre and visually austere style, would only be developed in his subsequent the film of the 1950s.

Bresson used actors (he would later use non-professional or `models') in this film the most notable being Maria Caseras (Le Enfants Du Paradis, 1945; Orphee,1949) whom astute critics at the time compared to Joan Crawford who had just starred in `Mildred Pierce' (1945,Curtiz) and the following years `Possessed' (1946, Bernhardt). It is that manipulative femme fatale role that is the defining quality of this, which could be considered, French film noir.

Cinematography was by Philippe Agostini who had shot the now famous poetic realist `La Jour Se Leve' (1939, Carne) a cinematic movement that was instrumental in the development of American film noir. He would later work on `Le Plaisir' (1952, Ophuls) and `Riffifi' (1955, Dassin) both being stylistically brilliant films.

`Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne' may in the end be good Cocteau but not so good Bresson.
Not for Bresson fans only
Phoust | 04/29/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Although the later, experimental Bresson films are great in their own right, this early film should appeal to everyone
who enjoy beautifully made conventional cinema. Jean Cocteau's
dialogue is witty, elegant, musical, stylized yet psychologically insightful. The scenes are as elegant, economical, and lucid as in the best of the well-made play tradition. Any playwright or screenwriter could take lessons from this film. Bresson brings his usual interest in religious issues (free will and the evil of the attempt of one person to have control over another) to the melodramatic story--melodramatic in the best sense, too, bringing to mind Henry James, Tennessee Williams, and Euripides. Maria Casares (the Poet's Death in Cocteau's "Orpheus") is brilliant--even iconic-- as a Dark Lady motivated by love to commit an awful (psychological) act of revenge. The gamine actress who becomes her unwitting instrument is rather irritating at first, but gradually grows on one in subsequent viewings. Besides his interest in spiritual issues, Bresson also brings an overall austerity of style to the film--which he abandons only in the final scene, whose lush cinematography (reminiscent of the cinematography in Ingrid Bergman's very similar sickbed scene at the climax of Hitchcock's "Notorious") heightens the amazing
emotional/spiritual impact of the finale. Lyrical, psychological,
classical, spiritual, deeply emotional--this film is one-of-a-kind."
Worth owning for much re-visiting
Ian Muldoon | Coffs Harbour, NSW Australia | 07/28/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"For consistency of tone, measured pace, and assured craft, this is a very fine film. I think of the word EXQUISITE. I think of the word LOVE. I think of the word FRANCE. I remember some lines from this film -There is no such thing as love, just the proof of love-To own and revisit and so to be reminded of what the best of cinema has to offer."