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Two of the giants of film-acting come together as a married couple living in crisis: Marcello Mastroianni (La dolce vita, 8-1/2) and Jeanne Moreau (Jules et Jim, Bay of Angels). He is a renowned author and “public intellectual”; she is “the wife”. Over the course of one day and the night into which it inevitably bleeds, the pair will come to re-examine their emotional bonds, and grapple with the question of whether love and communication are even possible in a world built out of profligate idylls and sexual hysteria.
For more about La Notte and the La Notte Blu-ray release, see La Notte Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on October 4, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Director: Michelangelo Antonioni
Writers: Michelangelo Antonioni, Ennio Flaiano, Tonino Guerra
Starring: Jeanne Moreau, Marcello Mastroianni, Monica Vitti, Bernhard Wicki, Rosy Mazzacurati, Maria Pia Luzi
» See full cast & crew
La Notte Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, October 4, 2013
Winner of Golden Bear Award for Best Film at the Berlin International Film Festival, Michelangelo Antonioni's "La Notte" (1961) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. The supplemental features on the disc include an original Italian trailer for the film; exclusive new interview program featuring film critic Adriano Apra and film historian Carlo di Carlo; and exclusive new video interview with Giuliana Bruno, a professor at Harvard University's Department of Visual and Environmental Studies. The release also arrives with an illustrated booklet featuring an essay by critic Richard Brody and a 1961 article by director Michelangelo Antonioni. In Italian, with optional English subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "locked".
Our first impression is that Lidia (Jeanne Moreau, The Trial, Mademoiselle) and Giovanni (Marcello Mastroianni, Casanova '70, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow) exist in an unusually cold and lonely world. Our second impression is that they are both hiding something.
After the couple leaves the hospital where their best friend (Bernhard Wicky, Paris, Texas) is dying, we begin to understand what it is that they are hiding – it is the indifference that is slowly collapsing their marriage. They try to be kind to each other, but both feel that they are no longer in love.
They decide to attend two parties. The first is small but overcrowded. In the busy vestibule, Lidia quietly observes Giovanni while he is congratulated by strangers who have read his new book. She knows that she should be happy for him, yet she can't wait to leave. The noise, the people, the pretentious talk… it is too much for her.
The second party is one which at first they both seem reluctant to attend. It is in the wealthiest suburb of Milan, in the lavish home of a man with many powerful friends. It is bigger than the first party but more relaxed. It is the type of party middle-aged men with a lot of money and their spoiled wives would attend. Lidia and Giovanni both know that they don't belong there, but they also realize that being out and amongst other people is a lot better than being alone in their chic apartment.
During the party, Giovanni meets Valentina (Monica Vitti, Red Desert, L'Avventura), while Lidia is approached by an impeccably dressed man. They both flirt and then try to behave as a couple, and then flirt again. Giovanni is completely overwhelmed by the beautiful Valentina, as he was years ago when he met Lidia. For a short moment, Lidia also allows the impeccably dressed man to hold her in his arms.
By the early morning hours, Lidia and Giovanni already know that this may have been their last night out together.
La Notte (The Night), the second film in Italian master Michelangelo Antonioni's Trilogy of Alienation, is a slow and notably moody piece that chronicles the final hours of two people who have been slowly drifting apart. During the course of a single night, they discover how they feel about each other.
The third important character in the film is the Italian upper-class. During the party, Antonioni's camera carefully observes the seemingly happy guests as they form small groups and entertain each other. They try to be polite and energetic, but many of them look bored. The only time they truly come alive is during a silly game where the men get caught up in a betting frenzy. This is where it is made clear that like Lidia and Giovanni's romantic relationship the upper-class' relationship with reality is irreparably broken.
Fluid camerawork and a trendy jazz score make La Notte an indescribably elegant film, but its heart is cold. Yet it is not a pessimistic film, rather one that truthfully captures alienation and the loneliness that comes with it.
La Notte Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Michelangelo Antonioni's La Notte arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion.
Unsurprisingly, the basic characteristics of the high-definition transfer are very similar to those of the high-definition transfer Eureka Entertainment used for their Blu-ray release of La Notte in the United Kingdom. Depth and clarity are consistently pleasing, even during the heavy rain footage (see screencaptures #3 and 5). Contrast and sharpness levels are also stable. There are no traces of problematic degraining corrections. Compromising sharpening adjustments have not been performed either. However, compression is superior. To be perfectly clear, the chroma noise effects from the Region-B release are missing. This is very easy to see if one compares screencaptures #8 from our reviews of the two releases. On the bottom left end of the building you can see the greenish chroma effects which are simply missing on the Criterion release. There is a similar difference if you compare screencapture #19 with screencapture #5 from our review of the Region-B release (see Jeanne Moreau's back). Lastly, overall image stability is very good. Also, there are no large cuts, debris, stains, or warps to report in this review. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" release. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
La Notte Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one standard audio track on this Blu-ray release: Italian LPCM 1.0. For the record, Criterion have provided optional English subtitles for the main feature.
The lossless track opens up the film in all the right places. The occasional jazzy tunes are well rounded and crisp, while the dialog is consistently crisp and very easy to follow. Also, there are no sudden spikes or drops in dynamic movement. Background hiss been removed as best as possible. There are no audio dropouts or distortions.
La Notte Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
La Notte Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I am convinced that those of you who have been patiently waiting for La Notte to appear on Blu-ray will be very pleased with Criterion's upcoming release. In North America, there was never a competent DVD release of this wonderful film so the Blu-ray release is indeed a very important upgrade. Let's hope that in 2014 Criterion will also bring to Blu-ray the other two films in Michelangelo Antonioni's Trilogy of Alienation, L'Avventura and L'Eclisse. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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