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La nuit de Varennes(1982)
A picaresque story of the coach and party that followed hard on the one which tried to transport Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette to safety in 1791.
For more about La nuit de Varennes and the La nuit de Varennes Blu-ray release, see La nuit de Varennes Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on April 19, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Jean-Louis Barrault, Marcello Mastroianni, Hanna Schygulla, Harvey Keitel, Jean-Claude Brialy, Laura Betti
Director: Ettore Scola
» See full cast & crew
La nuit de Varennes Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, April 19, 2010
Nominated for Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, Italian director Ettore Scola's "La nuit de Varennes" a.k.a "The Night of Varennes" (1982) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of French distributors Gaumont. The supplemental features on the disc include a long interview with director Ettore Scola and the film's original French theatrical trailer. In French or Italian, with optional English, French SDH and French subtitles. Region-Free.
Ettore Scola's La nuit de Varennes recreates the final days of Louis XVI, who has secretly left Paris where the Revolution is already underway. The news soon reaches a stagecoach with a few fascinating travelers in it who, without knowing, are heading in the same direction Louis XVI is. One of them is Restif de la Bretonne (Jean-Louis Barrault, Royal Affairs in Versailles), a famous for his dirty novels writer; Tom Paine (Harvey Keitel, Bad Lieutenant), a radical American intellectual; Madame Adelaide Gagnon (Andrea Ferreol, The Last Metro), a wealthy widow; Countess Sophie de la Borde (Hanna Schygulla, The Marriage of Maria Braun), a loyal to the King Austrian beauty; Virginia Capacelli (Laura Betti, Teorema), an aging Italian opera singer; and an obnoxious judge. Along the way, the travelers are joined by Casanova (Marcello Mastroianni, La dolce vita), the great lover, who wants to get out of the country.
The travelers begin discussing the news. Then, they begin arguing. Some of them are convinced that without Louis XVI France would be a stronger state. Tom Paine argues that it is time that the people of France took what rightfully belongs to them. Countess Sophie de la Borde, however, is unsure. Louis XVI is France. Without him, there would be no state; the barbarians would take over. Restif de la Bretonne thinks that change could be good, as long as no one gets hurt. Virginia Capacelli needs more time to think about what is happening - after the change, would people still go to the opera? Casanova could not care less. He has had a great life. Once he even dined with Louis XVI. All that he wants now is peace and quiet.
Soon, Countess Sophie de la Borde and Virginia Capacelli ask Casanova to tell them about his sexual escapades. All the women he has loved, what were they like - rich, poor, beautiful, not so beautiful? Were there any men in Casanova's life? Were they good looking? Were they good in bed?
The films of Italian director Ettore Scola are practically impossible to see in North America. They are often screened at Cannes, Berlin and Venice, but, for whatever reason, North American distributors have shown little interest in promoting them. I find this so sad. Scola truly is one of the last great living Italian directors from that special generation of filmmakers who transformed Italian Cinema during the 50s, 60s and 70s.
Scola's La nuit de Varennes relies on an exceptionally strong script where humor and politics are mixed to perfection. Substantial portions of the film are comprised of long conversations where a variety of social and political themes are addressed. Some of the events seen in the film are fictional; other, however, are factual.
La nuit de Varennes is a period film, but the majority of the observations its main characters produce have a strong contemporary flavor (you would be surprised to see how the film ends). There are also a variety of different predictions in it about the future of Europe, some of which have already materialized.
The acting is excellent. Mastroianni's Casanova is arguably one of the best ever. In La nuit de Varennes his body looks weak, but his mind is razor-sharp, and the manner in which he conquers the hearts of his companions is absolutely brilliant. Ferreol's emotional collapse at the end is also very convincing. Schygulla is terrific as the loyal but disillusioned beauty who despises the Revolution. Keitel also fits well in this film, though we never get to hear his real voice.
La nuit de Varennes Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.66:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Ettore Scola's La nuit de Varennes arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of French distributors Gaumont.
Recently restored by Gaimont, La nuit de Varennes looks very good in 1080p. Fine object detail is excellent, contrast levels pleasing, and clarity consistent throughout the entire film. The color-scheme is notably warm, favoring softer than usual but natural looking yellows, greens, blues, browns and blacks. Edge-enhancement is not a serious issues of concern; neither is macroblocking. The daylight scenes, for example, look very strong, conveying pleasing depth and clarity. The nighttime scenes, and particularly the inn scenes, where most of the conversations about Louis XVI and Casanova take place also look convincing. During a few selected scenes, however, I noticed some extremely mild noise corrections. There are no serious stability issues that I noticed while viewing La nuit de Varennes. I also did not detect any disturbing scratches, cuts, splices, or warps. All in all, this is a very strong presentation of an excellent film, which has been extremely difficult to locate and see during the years. (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. Please note that there is no PAL or 1080/50i content preceding the disc's main menu).
La nuit de Varennes Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: Italian DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 and French DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. For the record, Gaumont have provided optional English, French and French SDH subtitles for the main feature.
Even though the Italian audio track is marked on the disc as "version originale", I really believe that it is up to you to decide which audio track you would want to see the film with, because the overwhelming majority of the actors in it actually speak French, not Italian. I believe that regardless of which track you select, your viewing experience would be equally pleasing.
The French DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track sounds very good. The dialog is crisp, clean and exceptionally easy to follow. Armando Trovajoli's wonderful baroque score also sounds lovely; I particularly enjoyed the long bassoon solos that are heard while the main characters in the film travel through the French countryside. For the record, I did not detect any disturbing pops, cracks, or hissing to report in this review.
I tested only a couple of scenes with the Italian DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track and thought that technically it was on par with the French DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track. As far as I am concerned, Gaumont's did a terrific job with both of them.
La nuit de Varennes Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Un monde nouveau - an exclusive interview with director Ettore Scola. In Italian, with optional French subtitles. (32 min, PAL).
Bande annonce- the original French theatrical trailer for the film. In French, not subtitled. (4 min, 1080p).
La nuit de Varennes Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
If you enjoy intelligent, dialog-driven films, do not miss Ettore Scola's La nuit de Varennes. I guarantee you would have a terrific time with it. The Blu-ray disc herein reviewed, courtesy of French distributors Gaumont, looks and sounds very good. It contains the film's Italian and French versions, it is English-friendly, and Region-Free. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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