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Jour De Fete(1949)
Once a year, the fair comes to the sleepy French country town of Sainte- Severe- sur- Indre. The locals poke fun at their postman, François, and, having got him drunk, they lead him to a tent to watch a short educational film. The film is promoting revolutionary methods of improving mail delivery in the United States. François decides that he can use some of the ideas to improve his productivity...
For more about Jour De Fete and the Jour De Fete Blu-ray release, see Jour De Fete Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on February 15, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Jacques Tati, Guy Decomble, Paul Frankeur, Santa Relli, Maine Vallée, Robert Balpo
Director: Jacques Tati
» See full cast & crew
Jour De Fete Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, February 15, 2013
Jacques Tati's "Jour de fete" a.k.a. "The Big Day" (1949) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of the British Film Institute. The release contains the 1949 Thomsoncolor version and the alternative 1964 version of the film; original trailer; Jacques Tati's first short film, "L'ecole des facteurs" (1947); Rene Clement's short film, "Soigne ton gauche" (1936); and Nicolas Ribowski's short film, "Cours du soir" (1967). The release also arrives with an illustrated booklet featuring film notes and credits. In French, with optional English subtitles for the two versions of the film. Region-B "locked".
Jacques Tati's first feature film follows the deeds of an ambitious postman (played by the director himself) living and working in a small French village. The majority of the time the camera simply observes Francois from afar as he rides his bike and stops for a few seconds to give or collect letters. Francois rarely speaks, and when he does, it is virtually impossible to figure out what it is that he is saying.
During a local fair, Francois watches a short film about the American postal system that quickly inspires him to change his delivery methods. Encouraged by some of his customers, he pushes himself to work twice as fast in order to maximize his efficacy. Very soon, however, his desire to impress the villagers causes all sort of serious problems and places him right in the middle of some absolutely hilarious situations.
Jour de fete is structured as a collage of short episodes, each having the postman facing some sort of a minor challenge. The manner in which he deals with them is often quite amusing as the logic he follows is, to say the least, surprising. Though at times it may seem like some of these episodes are too casual, Tati's concentration is indeed quite remarkable.
The music and different sound effects are used only as decoration. Some of the very best gags, for example, have Tati mumbling something while his body does all of the meaningful talking. He spins, jumps, runs, and gestures in ways that allow the viewer to figure out exactly what is on his mind.
The small portions of the film where the postman is missing are notably slower and feel like extracts from a documentary feature about life in rural France. Occasionally either a narrator or a secondary character would quickly describe what is taking place in front of the camera. As soon as the postman reappears, the tempo picks up again.
Tati shot Jour de fete in 1949. Initially, it was meant to use the new Thomsoncolor process and thus become the first French color film. However, well aware of the risks the process involved, Tati also shot Jour de fete with a second camera, in black and white. The black and white version of the film was the one that premiered in 1949.
The BFI's Dual Format Edition of Jour de fete contains two versions of the film: the 1949 Thomsoncolor version, running at approximately 79 minutes (01.19.57), and the alternative 1964 version, running at approximately 81 minutes (01.21.59). The 1964 version features additional scenes, hand-tinted footage, and English commentary by N. F Simpson said by David Saire. The restored color version of the film also includes a short prologue in which it is quickly explained where and how Jour de fete was shot by Tati in 1949.
The new restoration of Jour de fete was completed by Sophie Tatishcheff and Francois Ede. According to information provided in the booklet included with thie Dual Format Edition of Jour de fete, the color version of the film was transferred in high-definition from a new interpositive element provided by Les Films de Mon Oncle.
Jour De Fete Blu-ray, Video Quality
The BFI's Dual Format Edition of Jacques Tati's Jour de fete contains two versions of the film, both encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted 1080p transfers: the 1949 Thomsoncolor version, running at approximately 79 minutes (01.19.57), and the alternative 1964 version, running at approximately 81 minutes (01.21.59).
Please note that the screencaptures included in our review appear in the following order:
1. Screencaptures #2-14: Thomsoncolor version.
2. Screencaptures # 15-22: 1964 version.
Both versions of Jour de fete need serious restoration work. The Thomsoncolor version, in particular, is plagued by multiple damage marks, scratches, debris, and even small warps. The color-scheme is also very unstable, though admittedly there are different inherited limitations that contribute to the instability. Contrast fluctuates, with many of the nighttime sequences looking disappointingly flat. One of the most serious issues, however, is the presence of the inherited vertical lines (a byproduct of the Thomsoncolor process). Combined with some of the flicker, warps, and debris mentioned earlier, many of the daylight sequences look disappointingly weak. Finally, there are some transition issues as well.
Portions of the 1964 version look rather good (see screencaptures #17 and 18). There is decent depth and even pleasing clarity. Healthy grain is also visible. Elsewhere, however, there are various rather large damage marks and edge wear. Contrast fluctuations are also present. Contrast is uneven but the majority of the time it is far better than that observed on the Thomsoncolor version. To sum it all up, there is a lot of room for serious improvements in virtually every single area we address in our reviews on both versions of Jour de fete. (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).
Jour De Fete Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Each of the two versions of Jour de fete arrives with a French LPCM 2.0. track. For the record, the BFI have provided optional English subtitles for each version.
The lossless track enhances Jean Yatove's score quite well. The strings sound fuller and better rounded while the flute solos have the appropriate crispness. Some light background hiss remains and occasionally there are even small pops, but the narration and dialog are easy to follow. The English translation is good.
Jour De Fete Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Jour De Fete Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I think that at this point it is probably best to wait for a new restoration of Jacques Tati's legendary Jour de fete. The two versions of the film included on BFI's Dual Format Edition show significant wear which, in my opinion, could be minimized with modern digital tools. I believe that stability could be dramatically improved as well. So, if you really want to have this film in your collections now, my advice is to look around and see if you could find it on sale. Otherwise, I would suggest that you wait. RENT IT.
Jour De Fete: Other Editions
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Jour De Fete Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Jacques Tati's Mon Oncle and Jour De Fete Heading to Blu-ray - August 10, 2012
The British Film Institute has revealed that it is planning to release Dual Format Editions of two classic films directed by Jacques Tati: Jour De Fete (1949) and Mon Oncle (1958). Street date for the two releases is October 22.
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