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Les amants de Montparnasse(1958)
Biographic movie about the last year of the famous Italian painter Modigliani. Modigliani, a poor painter in Paris of 1919, falls in love with a daughter from a wealthy family. Her parents are against their relation and stop financial help.
For more about Les amants de Montparnasse and the Les amants de Montparnasse Blu-ray release, see Les amants de Montparnasse Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on January 19, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Gérard Philipe, Lilli Palmer, Lea Padovani
Director: Jacques Becker
» See full cast & crew
Les amants de Montparnasse Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, January 19, 2013
Jacques Becker's "Les amants de Montparnasse" a.k.a "Modigliani of Montparnasse" (1958) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of French distributors Gaumont. The only supplemental feature on the disc is a documentary film Dominique Maillet, featuring different interviews with Anouk Aimee, Francoise Fabian, script supervisor Sophie Becker, and film historians Denitza Bantcheva and Olivier Curchod. In French, with optional English and French SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-Free.
Gerard Philipe (Fanfan La Tulipe) is the legendary painter Amedeo Modigliani. He is young, handsome, broke, and most of the time seriously drunk. Early into the film he makes love to his part-time lover, Beatrice Hastings (Lilli Palmer, Body and Soul), beats her up and leaves. She does not mind. In fact, she seems to enjoy Modigliani's dark side. They meet again when he is sober but he can't remember what he has done to her.
Modigliani paints his portraits only when he is drunk. Only then he feels inspired, capable of creating rather than imitating. His best friend Zboro (Gerard Sety, Van Gogh) occasionally helps him out with money because he rarely has enough even for food. If he sells a painting, he immediately spends the money in the neighborhood's bistro.
One day Modigliani meets Jeanne (Anouk Aimee, 8½, A Man and a Woman) and his life changes. She is much younger than him, elegant, smart, and also interested in art. He offers to walk her home and she agrees. Before they reach her place, he is convinced that she is the girl he has been waiting for his entire life. But in the weeks that follow Modigliani falls seriously ill. The doctor warns his friends that unless he moves to the south he will soon die.
Soon after, Modigliani moves to Nice. He befriends some of the local prostitutes and draws portraits for their clients to make ends meet. Eventually, Jeanne also arrives in Nice, but the two struggles enormously. The owner of a local gallery organizes a special event to promote Modigliani's work and sell some of his paintings to wealthy collectors, but no one seems terribly impressed and willing to spend money on them. Another art dealer, Morel (Lino Ventura, Army of Shadows, Greed in the Sun), announces that people will begin understanding and appreciating Modigliani's art only after he dies.
For years Jacques Becker's Modigliani of Montparnasse was virtually impossible to see on this side of the Atlantic. I was also never able to locate an English-friendly release outside of North America. Needless to say, I view Gaumont's new Blu-ray release of Modigliani of Montparnasse as a small miracle.
The film is edgy but beautiful. Modigliani's difficult life is chronicled with a sense of balance, bringing the ugly and the beautiful together but not glamorizing any of the two. For example, none of the women he was involved with are given too much time in front of the camera, even though there are legendary stories, some quite dark, about the way he treated them. His alcohol dependence also isn't used to overdramatize important parts from his life story.
The great French actor Gerard Philippe was only 35 when the film was completed in 1958. He died a year later. During the shooting of the film he was already seriously ill and had to take multiple breaks to rest. One of the most heartbreaking sequences in the film is the one where the sick Modigliani heads to a popular café to sell some of his sketches so that he and Jeanne can buy something to eat. Philippe is astonishing in it. He looks brittle, deeply hurt and disillusioned, perhaps like his character sensing that the end might be near. His eyes are so beautiful yet so sad.
The film is beautifully lensed by the legendary cinematographer Christian Matras (Jean Renoir's La Grande Illusion, Luis Bunuel's The Milky Way). The camera is always close to Gerard Philippe, studying his facial expressions. Anouk Aimée and especially Lilli Palmer also look very beautiful next to him.
Les amants de Montparnasse Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.66:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Jacques Becker's Modigliani of Montparnasse arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of French distributors Gaumont.
There are traces of denoising corrections throughout the entire film. However, Modigliani of Montparnasse looks far more pleasing than Antoine et Antoinette. In fact, excluding the darker sequences where the denoising corrections become painfully obvious (see screencapture #16), in motion definition seems quite good. Where there is plenty of light, clarity and even image depth are also pleasing. Color saturation is decent, but it is easy to tell that without the denoising corrections it would have been substantially better. There are no traces of sharpening corrections. Also, there are no damage marks, large specks, cuts, warps, or stains. There are no serious stability issues to report in this review either. To sum it all up, Modigliani of Montparnasse is yet another beautifully restored by Gaumont classic film - and this time it really does show - which has been unnecessarily degrained. Fortunately, in motion the film looks quite good. (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 no problematic PAL or 1080/50i content preceding the disc's main menu).
Les amants de Montparnasse Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one standard audio track on this Blu-ray disc: French DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0. For the record, Gaumont have provided optional English and French SDH subtitles for the main feature.
It is easy to tell that the audio has been carefully cleaned up and then stabilized. The dialog is very crisp and well rounded (there are no sudden spikes or drops in terms of dynamic movement). Also, there is absolutely no problematic background hiss. There are no pops, audio dropouts, or distortions. Paul Misraki's score shines where it should. The English translation is excellent.
Les amants de Montparnasse Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Les amants de Montparnasse Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Jacques Becker's Modigliani of Montparnasse is without a doubt the best film I have ever seen about the life of the great artist. It has been recently restored by Gaumont in France, and though it does not look as good as it can on Blu-ray, I assure you that this is very much a release worth owning as the film was virtually impossible to track down for years. I also do not think that we will see a North American release any time soon. RECOMMENDED.
Les amants de Montparnasse Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Two Jacques Becker Films Heading to Blu-ray - June 14, 2012
French distributors Gaumont will add two films directed by Jacques Becker to their Classics Collection: Antoine et Antoinette a.k.a Antoine and Antoinette (1947) and Les amants de Montparnasse a.k.a Modigliani of Montparnasse (1958). Both films will be available ...
Les amants de Montparnasse Blu-ray Screenshots
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