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A timeless evocation of childhood innocence corrupted, René Clément’s Forbidden Games tells the story of a young girl orphaned by war and the farm boy she joins in a fantastical world of macabre play. At once mythical and heartbreakingly real, this unique film features astonishing performances by its child stars and was honored with a special foreign language film Academy Award in 1952.
For more about Forbidden Games and the Forbidden Games Blu-ray release, see Forbidden Games Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on January 23, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Director: René Clément
Writers: Jean Aurenche, Pierre Bost, François Boyer, René Clément
Starring: Georges Poujouly, Brigitte Fossey, Amédée, Jacques Marin, Lucien Hubert, Suzanne Courtal
» See full cast & crew
Forbidden Games Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, January 23, 2013
Winner of the prestigious Golden Lion Award for Best Film at the Venice Film Festival, Rene Clement's "Jeux interdits" a.k.a. "Forbidden Games" (1952) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of StudioCanal. The supplemental features on the disc include alternate opening and ending, as well as a documentary featuring film historian Denitza Bantcheva and actors Brigitte Fossey and Laurence Badie. In French, with optional English, German, and French SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
It is 1940 and the Nazis have invaded France. Many have packed their most valuable possessions and left their homes. 5-year-old Paulette (Brigitte Fossey, François Truffaut's The Man Who Loved Women) and her parents are also on the road. They have left Paris and are heading to the countryside, hoping to find a safer place to live.
While the family crosses a small bridge, Paulette's dog runs away, scarred by the approaching fighter planes. She immediately goes after him. Her parents abandon their belongings and go after her. Moments later, Paulette's parents and her dog are killed.
In the chaos, an elderly man grabs Paulette and hands her to his wife. He also throws Paulette's dead puppy into the river. The little girl once again runs after him. She does not quite understand what dead means. The dog is her only valuable possession and she desperately needs it.
In the nearby forest Paulette meets Michel (Georges Poujouly, Elevator to the Gallows), who is looking for one of his family's calves. He takes her back to their farm, where she is fed and asked about her parents. Paulette calmly explains that they are dead. This is all Michel's family needs to know – for the time being, Paulette will stay with them.
In the days and weeks that follow Michel and Paulette become like brother and sister. They argue and play together. Michel also teaches Paulette the things girls like her should not how to do – like feeding the chickens. Paulette pays attention and tries to memorize what she is told. But it isn't easy.
One day, Michel and Paulette bury a dead mole and then decide to build their own cemetery so that they could also bury the many dead birds and animals they have seen laying around. The project presents a difficult dilemma – they will need a lot of crucifixes to place on top of the graves which they do not have. Eventually, Michel finds a solution, but reignites an old feud between his family and the Gouards, the unbearably noisy neighbors.
The beauty of this legendary film by French director Rene Clement comes from its plainness. At times Forbidden Games looks almost like a documentary feature – the camera simply observes Paulette and Michel as they become closer and closer and try to make sense of the world they must live in. There are many powerful sequences in the film but not even a whiff of melodrama.
Fossey's performance is extraordinary. In fact, she is so good that it is virtually impossible to believe that she could have been taught how to (re)act in some of the film's most dramatic sequences. Take for example the one where Michel is punished by his father. He screams and the camera looks at Paulette – her facial expressions are real, her tears are definitely real.
There is some light humor in the film but there is always this feeling that death is around the corner. Michel and Paulette can feel its presence and in their own way eventually come to accept that it is something natural. This, apparently, was one of a few reasons why Forbidden Games caused a scandal when it premiered in 1952.
Forbidden Games was lensed by Robert Juillard, who also collaborated with Clement on his adaptation of Emile Zola's masterpiece Gervaise, with Maria Schell, François Périer and Jany Holt. (This film is now available on DVD from StudioCanal in the United Kingdom. It is part of The Rene Clement Collection).
Forbidden Games Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.36:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, René Clément's Forbidden Games arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of StudioCanal.
The Blu-ray's main menu can be set in one of the following languages: English, French, or German. This leads me to believe that the high-definition transfer the release uses is identical to those used for the French and German Blu-ray releases of Forbidden Games.
The basics are intact. Despite some minor contrast fluctuations, detail and clarity are very pleasing. The outdoor sequences also convey very good depth (see screencapture #5). Color saturation and stability are also pleasing, though there are portions of the film where some extremely light fluttering could be spotted around the edges of the frame. There are no traces of excessive degraining. Also, there are no traces of problematic sharpening corrections. Needless to say, the film has a very pleasing and very convincing organic look. A few very small vertical lines and tiny flecks occasionally pop up here and there, but there are no large cuts, warps, or stains to report in this review. Compression is good. To sum it all up, StudioCanal's Blu-ray release of Forbidden Games represents a very solid upgrade in quality over Criterion's R1 DVD release of the film. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Forbidden Games Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two standard audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: French DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 and German DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. For the record, StudioCanal have provided optional French, English, and German subtitles for the main feature.
There is some extremely light background hiss that occasionally makes its presence known, but overall the dialog is appropriately crisp and stable. The range of nuanced dynamics is very limited, but this should no be surprising for a film from the early 50s. Depth and fluidity, however, are very good. The English translation is excellent.
Forbidden Games Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Forbidden Games Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
If you reside in a Region-B country, I strongly encourage you to consider adding to your collections Rene Clement's Forbidden Games. It is one of greatest films from the '50s. This beautiful Blu-ray release, courtesy of StudioCanal, is part of The Rene Clement Collection. The other films in the collection are Gervaise (1956), The Deadly Trap (1971), and And Hope to Die (1972), but they are available only on DVD. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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Forbidden Games Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Forbidden Games Blu-ray - October 25, 2012
StudioCanal have officially announced that they will release on Blu-ray director Rene Clement's Jeux interdits a.k.a Forbidden Games (1952), starring Georges Poujouly, Brigitte Fossey and Amédée. The release will be available for purchase online and in shops across ...
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