Mouchette (1967) (NTSC)
Featurette-Au Hasard Bresson (31:12)
Trailer-Original trailers for 4 other World Classic releases
|Year Of Production||1967|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Robert Bresson|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Unknown||French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.66:1|
|Video Format||480i (NTSC)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.66:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Life in her small French village is horrible for fourteen year old Mouchette (Nadine Nortier). With an alcoholic father (Paul Hebert) and an invalid, bedridden mother (Marie Cardinal), Mouchette has to care for her baby brother but is neglected and starved of affection; at a local fair when a boy smiles at her Mouchette’s father slaps her face and drags her away. At school she is humiliated by her teacher and ostracised by her classmates. One day after school Mouchette runs into the forest where she is caught in a storm. She is found by Arsene (Jean-Claude Guilbert); he is an epileptic and a poacher who is a rival with the gamekeeper Mathieu (Jean Vimenet) for the affections of local woman Louisa (Marine Trichet).
Arsene is drunk when he finds Mouchette and believes that he has just killed Mathieu in a fight after he was caught poaching. He asks Mouchette to provide him with an alibi and takes her to his cabin where he has a fit, and then rapes her. Can things get worse for Mouchette? Just after she gets home her mother dies leaving Mouchette at the mercy of her father and the other unsympathetic villagers.
Mouchette, based on a novel by Georges Bernanos, adapted for the screen and directed by Robert Bresson, is about alienation and desperation. The film opens with a bird being caught in a snare and slowly dying, a clear metaphor for the life of a young girl trapped within her family and her society. Other metaphors abound, such as the trucks that regularly pass by Mouchette’s house in the night and the hunt with injured animals at the end. As was his want Bresson utilises non-actors (whom he called “models” and insisted on a flat, almost expressionless delivery) and what amounts to vignettes showing village life, and indeed Mouchette’s life, with little dialogue and little music to create a minimalist, naturalistic feel. This is a bleak black and white film, but it is saved from being depressing by its matter of fact style and the fabulous performance of Nadine Nortier who, with little dialogue, ensues that her Mouchette retains an innocence and optimism despite the troubles the world is throwing at her, right until the heart wrenching conclusion.
Mouchette was nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1967 and although it lost out to Antonioni’s Blow-Up it is fabulous filmmaking by Bresson, an auteur who can take such bleak material and produce something so profoundly moving.
The DVD cover indicates that Mouchette is in the 1.77:1 aspect ratio; it looks closer to the original 1.66:1 ratio. It is NTSC and 16x9 enhanced.
This is a good looking black and white film. The forest and countryside look soft but close-ups are clear and detailed. Greyscales are good, blacks solid, shadow detail very good, brightness and contrast consistent. There is one light vertical scratch at 61:33 and bit of motion blur against branches or wooden windows but otherwise there are no obvious artefacts. The layer change at 63:46 created a pause just after a scene change.
English subtitles are provided in a clear white font. They can be removed via the remote.
Audio is French Dolby Digital 1.0 mono at 192 Kbps. The film was released in theatres with mono audio.
Dialogue is clear. Effects such as the thud of clogs on floors, birds’ wings, engines and thunder were crisp. The plaintive score by Jean Wiener is used sparingly. Hiss and crackle was not present. Obviously there is no surround or subwoofer use.
Lip synchronisation was fine.
|Surround Channel Use|
Original German title Zum Beispiel Bresson, this is an interesting black and white documentary shot on the set of Mouchette showing Bresson at work including directing the actors, as well as talking about his techniques and his ideas about cinema.
Original theatrical trailers for Jules & Jim (3:20), The Notte (3:10), The 400 Blows (3:57) and The Bicycle Thief (5:04).
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The US Region 1 Criterion DVD includes the extra we have and adds a commentary by film scholar Tony Rayns and a cine-magazine TV episode.
Mouchette is a tragedy, a film that Bresson said is a reflection of the misery, brutality and isolation of society in general. It is a powerfully moving film with a heart wrenching resolution, a stunning performance by a nonprofessional actress and a director in top form.
The print is fine for a 50 year old film, the audio is the original mono. The extra is good, and appreciated, although we miss out on the commentary available in Region 1.
|DVD||Sony BDP-S580, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||NAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||Studio Acoustics 5.1|