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Au Revoir Les Enfants(1987)
An autobiographical account of the filmmaker's childhood friendship, at a Catholic boarding school in 1944, with a Jewish boy the headmaster is trying to save by hiding him under a false name.
For more about Au Revoir Les Enfants and the Au Revoir Les Enfants Blu-ray release, see Au Revoir Les Enfants Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on March 3, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Gaspard Manesse, Raphaël Fejtö, Francine Racette, Stanislas Carre de Malberg, Philippe Morier-Genoud, François Berléand
Director: Louis Malle
» See full cast & crew
Au Revoir Les Enfants Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, March 3, 2011
Winner of Golden Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival, Louis Malle's "Au revoir les enfants" (1987) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. The supplemental features on the disc include the film's original theatrical trailer; teaser; video interview with film critic Pierre Billard; video interview with actress Candice Bergen; edited audio recording of a speech director Louis Malle presented at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles; and short video essay by professor Guy Magen from University of Paris. The disc also arrives with a 22-page illustrated booklet. In French, with optional English subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "locked".
The majority of director Louis Malle's Au revoir les enfants takes place in a small Catholic boarding school not too far away from the village of Fontainebleau. This is a quiet place where things have not changed much since the beginning of WW2. German soldiers are often seen in the area, but they are always friendly and polite.
Three Jewish boys are secretly enrolled into the school. No one but the headmaster, Father Jean (Philippe Morier-Genoud, Cyrano de Bergerac), and the teachers know their true identities. The boys quickly settle down and classes begin. For awhile it looks like it will be just another year of fun.
12-year-old Julien Quentin (Gaspard Manesse), Malle's surrogate, befriends one of the Jewish boys, Jean Bonnet (Raphael Fejto). They spend a lot of time talking and playing together. Both, however, quickly realize that they have plenty of secrets which they are unwilling to share.
Eventually, Julien discovers that Bonnet is a pseudonym - and begins to understand his friend. As time goes by, he experiences some of his fears, and a lot begins to make sense. Then one day Gestapo officials arrive in the area and close the school. The headmaster, Jean and the other two Jewish boys are arrested.
Based on events from director Malle's childhood years, Au revoir les enfants tells a simple but devastating story. It is simple because it is painfully familiar, its ending beyond predictable. It is devastating because it is seen through the eyes of an innocent boy who is prematurely forced to enter the adult world and face an entirely new, enormously cruel reality. The shock and disbelief he experiences are overwhelming, the sense of helplessness absolutely frightening.
There are two key reasons why Au revoir les enfants works so well. First, the atmosphere in the film is outstanding. Director Malle's camera visits every little corner of the school; there is a way of life in it that makes sense and feels familiar. Friendships are formed and prickly rivalries created. Even though Nazi soldiers are repeatedly seen wandering around, there is a feeling in the air that nothing could go wrong.
Second, the story is not overdramatized. The boys are not martyrs and the Nazi soldiers are not clowns. They don't like each other, but until the Gestapo officials appear they manage to coexist.
Naturally, the film has a remarkably personal tone. It aims to recreate a tragic, life-changing experience, but never attempts to idealize it. There is nothing to be learned from it; there are no populist messages, and absolutely no angry words. Forgiveness is also not sought because nothing could have been changed, and no one could have been saved.
The young actors are fantastic, especially Manesse, who is remarkably relaxed and confident. The best scenes in the film are the ones where he looks straight into the camera but remains silent. His big beautiful eyes reveal so much more than words could.
Note: In 1988, Au Revoir, les Enfants earned Oscar nominations for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen (Louis Malle). The film also won seven Cesar Awards, including Best Film and Best Director.
Au Revoir Les Enfants Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.66:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Louis Malle's Au revoir les enfants arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion.
The following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray disc:
"Supervised and approved by director of photography Renato Berta, this digital transfer was created on a Spirit Datacine in 2K resolution from the original 35mm camera negative, and color corrected on a Specter Virtual Datacine with Pandora color correction. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitter, and flicker were manually removed using MTI's DRS system and Pixel Farm's PFClean system, while Digital Vision's DVNR system was used for small dirt, grain, and noise reduction.
Telecine supervisors: Renato Berta, Lee Kline.
Telecine colorist: Richard Deusy/Scanlab, Saint-Cloud, France."
Fine object detail and color reproduction are dramatically improved. The darker scenes from the Catholic school, for instance, do not convey the same blocky patterns that appear on Criterion's SDVD release of Au revoir les enfants. Background noise has also been substantially reduced. On the other hand, the daylight scenes look crisp and clear; there are no artifacts or heavy ringing either. Light edge-enhancement occasionally pops up here and there (see screencapture #7), but it is never distracting. I also noticed traces of various small noise corrections, but the film's grain structure is indeed kept intact. Lastly, there are absolutely no serious stability issues to report in this review. I also did not see any large damage marks, scratches, warps, or stains. To sum it all up, there are substantial upgrades in practically every key area we address in these reviews and no serious transfer-specific anomalies that I could spot. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Au Revoir Les Enfants Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: French LPCM 1.0 (with portions of German). For the record, Criterion have provided optional English subtitles for the main feature.
The following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray disc:
"The monaural soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from a 35mm magnetic track. Clicks, thumps, hiss, and hum were manually removed using Pro Tools HD. Crackle was attenuated using AudioCube's integrated workstation."
The French LPCM 1.0 track has marginally better depth, perhaps also fluidity, in comparison to the French Dolby Digital 1.0 track from the SDVD release of Au revoir les enfants, but their dynamic amplitudes are practically identical. The dialog is crisp, clean, stable, and exceptionally easy to follow. There are no disturbing pops, cracks, or hissings to report in this review. I also prefer the slightly smaller optional English subtitles from the Blu-ray release.
Au Revoir Les Enfants Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Au Revoir Les Enfants Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Based on events from director Louis Malle's life, Au revoir les enfants is a quiet but powerful film about childhood friendship. It is superbly acted and thoroughly absorbing. I must admit, however, that I would have preferred to see either the French director's arguably best film, Le souffle au coeur (Murmur of the Heart) or his hauntingly beautiful Ascenseur pour l'échafaud (Elevator to the Gallows) get Criterion's Blu-ray treatment first. Let's hope that both are not too far behind. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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Au Revoir Les Enfants Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Criterion Blu-ray in March: Epstein, Leigh, Malle, Schertzinger, ... - December 16, 2010
The Criterion Collection has announced five titles for Blu-ray release in March. On March 15, the independent studio will release two acclaimed international titles: the deeply personal drama Au revoir les enfants (Louis Malle, 1987) and the family epic Yi Yi (Edward ...
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