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Le Quai Des Brumes(1938)
A military deserter finds love and trouble (and a small dog) in a smoky French port city.
For more about Le Quai Des Brumes and the Le Quai Des Brumes Blu-ray release, see Le Quai Des Brumes Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on August 26, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Jean Gabin, Michel Simon, Michele Morgan
Director: Marcel Carné
» See full cast & crew
Le Quai Des Brumes Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, August 26, 2012
Winner of Best Director Award at the Venice Film Festival, Marcel Carne's "Le quai des brumes" a.k.a "Port of Shadows" (1938) arrive son Blu-ray courtesy of Studio Canal. The supplemental features on the disc include a short introduction to the film by Prof. Ginette Vincendeau; excellent new documentary about the production history of the film and legacy of its stars; and new video interview with Serge Toubiana, director of La Cinematheque Francaise, and restoration supervisor Camille Blot-Wellens. In French, with optional English, French SDH, and German subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
Jean (Jean Gabin, La Grande Illusion, Love Is My Profession), a military deserter, arrives in Le Havre looking to board the first ship that will get him out of the country. While wandering around, he is approached by a local drunk (Raymond Aimos, Wooden Crosses), who directs him to a cheap bar on the docks where he could spend the night. The place is owned by a bubbly old man (Edouard Delmont, Jean Renoir's Toni) with a big hat who does not mind helping outcasts.
In the bar, Jean meets Nelly (Michele Morgan, Obsession, The Fallen Idol), a beautiful young girl, who is also on the run. The two talk about the things that separate men and women and the mistakes they make when they fall in love. By the morning hours, the two are already attracted to each other. They decide to take a walk to the docks, where they meet local thug Lucien (Pierre Brasseur, Eyes Without A Face) and his goons who have been looking for Zabel (Michel Simon, Boudu Saved From Drowning, L'atalante), Nelly's creepy guardian. Lucien begins harassing Nelly, but Jean steps up and he quickly disappears into the night together with his men. Before they part ways, Nelly sneaks some money in Jean's pocket.
When later on he discovers the money, Jean immediately decides to buy Nelly a gift. He heads to a nearby shop, which turns out to be owned by Zabel. When the surprised Nelly appears, Zabel quickly realizes that she is already madly in love with Jean, and that he is on the run. Zabel offers him a drink and a deal - if Jean gets rid of Lucien, he would give him enough money to get a new passport and help him leave the country. But Jean rejects his offer and walks away. Outside Zabel's shop, Nelly and Jean arrange to meet again at the docks.
Soon after, Jean dumps his uniform and gets a new passport. He also arranges to get on a ship bound for Venezuela. On the night before he leaves, he makes love to Nelly in a cheap hotel. In the early morning hours, on his way to the docks Jean is spotted by Lucien.
Marcel Carne's Le Quai Des Brumes a.k.a. Port of Shadows is a stunningly beautiful film about an impossible love. It is based on the famous novel by Pierre Dumarchais and scripted by the legendary Jacques Prevert, who also collaborated with Carne on his Children of Paradise, a film many consider one of the greatest ever made.
The atmosphere in the film is incredible. While Jean wanders around Le Havre most of the time there is a very heavy fog. Almost immediately after he meets Nelly a sense of fatalism enters the film as well. This type of tense atmosphere is quite common in some of the best American noir films from the early 1940s. In France, during the 1930s this particular style of filming became known as "poetic realism".
Shortly after its premiere in Paris in 1938, Le Quai Des Brumes was screened at the Venice Film Festival, where it went on to win the Best Director award. Despite its success, back home the film was quickly banned, and later on recut. The French censors thought that the film was too "depressing, morbid, immoral and unfortunate for youth". While there are indeed some quite obvious pessimistic overtones in it, particularly during the second half, Le Quai Des Brumes is easily one of the most romantic films Carne directed.
Gabin and the young Morgan look incredible together. The latter has some of the most beautiful eyes to have ever looked in a film camera. The sequence at the end of the film where the two exit the hotel and she looks at him while holding his arm could melt even a heart of stone. Stunning film.
Le Quai Des Brumes Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.37:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Marcel Carne's Le Quai Des Brumes arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Studio Canal.
The following information was provided by the producers of this Blu-ray release:
"Quai des Brumes had a difficult start in life. Adapted from the Pierre MacOrlan (one of Pierre Dumarchais' many pen names) novel by Jacques Prevert, the script was vetted by the army before shooting began. The film was then cut by producer Gregor Rabinovitch who asked Marcel Carne to remove everything that was "dirty". When war was declared in September 1939, the film was banned because it was judged "immoral, depressing and distressing for young people". However, the Comite d'Organisation de l'Idustrie Cinematographique, created in August 1940, allowed the film's re-release in January 1941.
So this film, that had been so highly praised by the public on its release in May 1938, was re-worked several times. The original negative is incomplete but, fortunately, a preservation copy made in 1938 meant it was possible to create a version closer to the edit done by Marcel Carne before the film's theatrical release.
Restoring the film involved cleaning up the original negative and making a new preservation copy, which was scanned in 2K and completed using the 1938 print. The grading was done using the original version."
Studio Canal's restoration and reconstruction efforts have produced what is undoubtedly going to be the definitive version of Le Quai Des Brumes. This new and complete presentation of the film eliminates a number of issues from previous releases of the film and fills various small gaps. At the same time it also rebalances the film's color scheme and contrast levels (though a few of the inserts from the 1938 print are still easy to identify).
Generally speaking, detail and image depth are very good. Where light isn't restricted, most close-ups convey very pleasing depth (see screencapture #9). In the panoramic shots clarity is also improved. More importantly, the nighttime sequences, where the fog fills up the screen, no longer look flat - the film now has a very pleasing organic look and the variety of grays are greatly improved. Additionally, the fine grain has been retained, and for the most part it is surprisingly well resolved. On the other hand, there are absolutely no traces of overzealous sharpening. There are a few frames that are missing, as well as a few uneven transitions, but overall the film looks solid and notably healthy. For the record, there are no problematic large cuts, debris, edge stains, and marks. To sum it all up, Studio Canal have literally given this most beautiful film a new life. Clearly, it has never looked this good before. (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).
Note: The disc's adjustable main menu - the interface can be set in English, French, or German - indicates that this Blu-ray release is also meant to be sold in Germany and France. Naturally, the German and French releases should look identical to the UK release.
Le Quai Des Brumes 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, Studio Canal have provided optional English, German, and French SDH subtitles (with the descriptive text appearing in red) for the main feature.
The audio restoration and reconstruction work is just as impressive. The restorers have thoroughly cleaned up the audio and made sure that there are no transition gaps between the footage from the original negative and the inserts from the 1935 print. The audio has also been rebalanced. Unsurprisingly, there are no sudden audio dropouts or spikes. Maurice Jaubert's beautiful score has also benefited tremendously - the music now gradually enters and then exits key sequences. The dialog is crisp, clean, and easy to follow. The English translation is very good.
Le Quai Des Brumes Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Le Quai Des Brumes Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Port of Shadows is one of my favorite films and I could not be any happier with its transition to Blu-ray. As far as I am concerned, Studio Canal's new restoration and reconstruction efforts have produced the film's definitive presentation. I just hope that a local distributor picks it up because it will be a crime if American film aficionados did not see it. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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