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A small group of French students are studying Mao, trying to find out their position in the world and how to change the world to a Maoistic community using terrorism.
For more about La Chinoise and the La Chinoise Blu-ray release, see La Chinoise Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on November 18, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Writer: Jean-Luc Godard
Starring: Jean-Pierre Léaud, Anne Wiazemsky, Juliet Berto
» See full cast & crew
La Chinoise Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, November 18, 2012
Winner of Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival, Jean-Luc Godard's "La chinoise" (1967) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of French distributors Gaumont. The supplemental features on the disc include original trailer for the film; video interviews with actor Michel Semeniako, second assistant director Jean-Claude Sussfeld, writer Denitza Bantcheva, assistant director Charles L. Bitsch, and writer, historian, and film critic Antoine de Baecque. In French, with optional English and French SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-Free.
A group of French students gather in a small suburban apartment in Paris and begin discussing the future of their country. They are all radical Mao sympathizers, convinced that the Revolution which will change everything for the better is just around the corner.
As the discussion intensifies, different opinions emerge. Veronique (Anne Wiazemsky, Au Hasard Balthazar, Rendez-vous), the most passionate amongst the students, insists that a spark is needed for the youth to rise up. Then she confesses that she would not mind placing a bomb in her university to provide the spark. There will be loses, she explains, but the cause is worth it.
Guillaume (Jean-Pierre Leaud, The 400 Blows, Stolen Kisses), Veronique's boyfriend, isn't convinced that this is the correct way to start the Revolution. Terrorism could be considered only if all other options are exhausted. To prove his point, Guillaume often recites passages from stacks of books scattered around him. He also confesses that he wants to be blind - so that he could learn to listen better and improve his communication skills.
Henri (Michel Semeniako), who wears glasses and prefers to speak only when he is absolutely certain that he has a point to make, quietly observes Veronique and Guillaume. He very much dislikes his country's current Finance Minister, Mr. Michel Debre, and believes that the human sciences ought to be used as Karl Marx intended - as political instrument exposing the flaws of society.
Yvonne (Juliet Berto, Celine And Julie Go Boating, Mr. Klein), a former prostitute, believes that 1967 France is like dirty dishes - it needs to be cleaned up. In addition to being convinced that the Revolution can get the job done, Yvonne also believes in true love and romance.
Kirilov (Lex de Bruijin) is a disillusioned painter who believes in terror. He is also convinced that a bombless revolutionary isn't a revolutionary. The only true extremist amongst the students, Kirilov plans to assassinate a visiting Soviet Cultural Minister.
Jean-Luc Godard's La Chinoise is a fascinating collage of ideas complimented by endless references pointing to Brecht, Althusser, Marx, Mao Zedong and his Cultural Revolution, and even the Algerian Revolution. Some of the observations offered by the students are quite interesting to analyze as they sum up rather accurately the different causes that inspired the Paris riots of 1968. Particularly interesting are also the comments about Stalin, Lenin and Marx, and America's presence in Asia.
But La Chinoise is not a political statement – it sheds light on political ideas and philosophies but does not endorse them. While Godard clearly sympathizes with his characters, he also repeatedly exposes the flaws of their arguments. Comedic elements, for instance, are present in every sequence where revolutionary action is discussed. The smart use of different colors, and red in particular, also gives the film a very unusual edge.
The film is broken into various chapters, each highlighting the key themes that will be addressed in them. In all of them camera movement is extremely limited. At times Godard also turns the camera away from the students so that the viewer can focus on their statements rather than on their behavior. Quick intercuts with music snippets are also very effectively used throughout the film to enhance specific themes.
Ultimately, however, trying to describe and summarize what La Chinoise is about and what it attempts to accomplish is rather pointless. As cliché as it may sound, this is a film that must be experienced but not necessarily fully deconstructed in order to be appreciated.
Note: In 1967, La Chinoise was nominated for the prestigious Golden Lion Award and won Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival.
La Chinoise Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Jean-Luc Godard's La Chinoise arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Gaumont.
Some denoising corrections have been performed, and occasionally there are traces of these corrections that could be spotted, but the film has a far more pleasing look than Bande à part. Most close-ups convey decent depth and with a few small exceptions clarity is good. Contrast is also stable. Color density and saturation are very similar to those observed on Criterion's release of Weekend, though brightness levels appear to have been slightly elevated here. Furthermore, excluding the denoising corrections mentioned earlier, the one area where sizable improvements could be made is compression (see screencapture #1). There are no large damage marks, cuts, debris, or stains. Edge-shimmer is also nowhere to be seen. To sum it all up, the presentation is far from perfect, but I don't find it disappointing. The distracting smearing from Bande à part isn't an issue here and there are no traces of serious sharpening corrections. Naturally, if Gaumont would have used a raw transfer, La Chinoise would have looked as impressive as Weekend. (Note: This is a Region-Free Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you will be able to play it on your PS3 or SA regardless of your geographical location. For the record, there is not problematic PAL or 1080/50i preceding the disc's main menu).
La Chinoise Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: French DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. For the record, Gaumont have provided optional English and French SDH subtitles for the main feature.
The film does not have a prominent music soundtrack. Unsurprisingly, dynamic movement is quite limited. The dialog, however, is very crisp, clean, stable, and easy to follow. Also, there are no pops, cracks, distortions, or audio dropouts to report in this review. The English translation is excellent.
La Chinoise Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
La Chinoise Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Gaumont's presentation of Jean-Luc Godard's La Chinoise is far more convincing that their presentation of Bande a part. While it is clear to me that the film could have had a much more convincing organic look, it is also very obvious that this is a serious upgrade in quality over previous DVD releases of the film. At this time, my advise is to consider picking up a copy of La Chinoise if you could find it on sale. RECOMMENDED.
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