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Jacques Demy's crystalline debut gave birth to the fictional universe in which so many of his characters would live, play and love. It's among his most profoundly felt films, a tale of crisscrossing lives in Nantes (Demy's hometown) that floats on waves of longing and desire. Heading the film's ensemble is the enchanting Anouk Aimée as the title character, a cabaret chanteuse who's awaiting the return of a long-lost lover and unwilling to entertain the adoration of another love-struck soul, the wanderer Roland (Marc Michel). Humane, wistful, and witty, LOLA is a testament to the resilience of the heartbroken.
For more about Lola and the Lola Blu-ray release, see Lola Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on December 31, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Anouk Aimée, Marc Michel (I), Jacques Harden, Elina Labourdette, Corinne Marchand, Alan Scott
Director: Jacques Demy
» See full cast & crew
Lola Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, December 31, 2012
Jacques Demy's "Lola" (1961) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of French distributors Arte Video. The supplemental features on the disc include original trailer for the new restoration of Lola; restoration featurette; extracts from two interviews with Anouk Aimée conducted by Agnes Varda; video interview with French director Benoit Jacquot; excerpt from an episode of the French TV program Cineastes de notre temps; and more. In French, with optional English and French SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
The men and women in this film often smile, but they are all lonely. They all spend time dreaming of being loved by someone special. If fate gives them a chance, they all admit that they wouldn't hesitate leaving everything behind to have the type of life they always wanted.
Lola (Anouk Aimee, Un homme et une femme, La Dolce Vita) is a beautiful cabaret dancer and the mother of a seven-year-old boy named Yvon. She lives alone but most of the time young men share her bed. Lately, she has been seeing Frankie (Alan Scott, Vertigo for a Killer), a handsome American sailor who has been giving her whiskey and cigarettes in exchange for her kisses. Lola knows that it is only a matter of time before Frankie goes back to Chicago, but does not mind being the girl he wants her to be. He reminds her of Michel (Jacques Harden, Gervaise), the only man she truly loved but could not keep.
Roland (Marc Michel, Le Trou, La ragazza di Bube) has recently returned home after spending some time on the road. But he has just lost his dead-end job and is now once again considering leaving Nantes. When a shady pharmacist offers him a job which will take him to Johannesburg, South Africa, he immediately accepts. Then, in a bookstore Roland meets a young girl who reminds him of the only woman he ever loved - Lola. Later on, Roland accidentally meets Lola, looking as beautiful as he remembers her. They arrange to meet and Roland slowly begins to realize that leaving Nantes again may not have been such a good idea.
Meanwhile, the girl from the bookstore and Frankie meet. They spend some time together and talk about their lives. She is learning English, he is learning that true love isn't easy to find. Before they part ways, both realize, in their own ways, that under different circumstances they could have been happy together.
Jacques Demy's debut feature film is like a giant puzzle in which fates are closely intertwined. Occasionally, the different characters in the film sense that they are following predetermined paths, but they can't see the big picture. We can, and as the film progresses we realize that the cycles they have roles in are virtually identical.
The center piece in the puzzle is the beautiful Lola, whose heart belongs to a man who left her years ago. Lola is seen through the eyes of three different characters, each finding a different kind of beauty in her. Roland, the dreamer, is Demy, wanting more out of life, ready to travel the world but feeling that he belongs in Nantes.
Lola has the pure energy the great Nouvelle Vague films have. Visually, however, it is closer to Vincente Minnelli's classic musicals. It is not as well polished but it overflows with the same type of optimism that is present in Minnelli's best works. It was beautifully lensed by the great cinematographer Raoul Coutard ( Jean-Luc Godard's Vivre Sa Vie, François Truffaut's Jules et Jim).
Because the film's budget was so small, Demy was forced to shoot it without sound (including the famous song by Anouk Aimee). Demy hoped that the soundtrack would be composed by Quincy Jones, but had to settle for a score by a little known at the time French composer named Michel Legrand (The Swimming Pool, The Thomas Crown Affair).
Lola Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Jacques Demy's Lola arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of French distributors Arte Video.
According to information provided by Arte Video, the original negative for Lola, Jacques Demy's debut feature film, was destroyed in a fire around 1970. In early 2000, a new internegative was produced from a print found at the British Film Institute. The process was coordinated by Archives francaises du film, while the production work was supervised by Agnes Varda with the support of legendary cinematographer Raoul Coutard, Lola's director of photography. In 2012, Lola also underwent complete digital restoration, which was used as a foundation for the new high-definition transfer this Blu-ray release uses. The color grading was supervised by Mathieu Demy.
The restoration work was carried by:
1. Cine-Tamaris (Agnes Varda, Rosalie Varda, Mathieu Demy, Cecilia Rose)
2. Fondation Technicolor pour le Patrimoine du Cinema (Severine Wemaere)
3. Fondation Groupama Gan Pour le Cinema (Gilles Duval)
4. Technicolor Restoration Services - Los Angeles (Tom Burton, Danny Albano, Joe Zarceno, Dennis O'Neil, Bob Schneider, Danielle Cantwell, Jason Fabbro)
5. Technicolor Sound Services - Los Angeles (Andrew Giacumakis, Marty Vites)
The newly restored Lola does not impress. It is obvious that at some point either during or after the restoration was completed specific digital corrections were performed to make the film look smoother, and the final result now reminds of Pathe's problematic release of Marcel Carne's Children of Paradise. To be clear, there are traces of moderate to very strong filtering corrections throughout the entire film, some causing select darker sequences to almost completely collapse. For example, take a look at screencapture #10 where the fine detail is eliminated by the overwhelming filtering. Elsewhere contrast is also seriously destabilized by the filtering (and for the record, this has absolutely nothing to do with Raoul Coutard's unique use of light and shadow in the film), with heavy digital artifacts also becoming quite prominent (see screencapture #19). Some of the daylight sequences also look disappointingly flat. Healthy shadow definition, in particular, is virtually non-existent (see screencapture #16 and 18). Lastly, there is a small amount of motion smearing as well. All in all, considering how impressive Arte Video's release of Les demoiselles de Rochefort was (a film which was also restored by Cine-Tamaris), I have to admit that I was not expecting to see such an underwhelming presentation of Lola. (Note: 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).
Lola Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one standard audio track on this Blu-ray disc: French DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (with small portions of English). For the record, Arte Video have provided optional English and French SDH subtitles for the main feature. When turned on, they split the image frame and the black bar below it.
The lossless track is solid. The dialog is consistently crisp, stable, and very easy to follow. There are no distortions or audio dropouts. Legendary composer Michel Legrand's score also benefits from the lossless treatments, with the violins and flutes in particular sounding notably rich. The English translation is very good.
Lola Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Lola Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Considering the amount of very important people involved with the restoration of Jacques Demy's Lola, I have to admit that the final result is indeed quite underwhelming. However, after watching the supplemental features on the disc, I am under the impression that the restorers, as well as Mathieu Demy, definitely tried to preserve the film's organic look. This leads me to believe that some additional corrections were made later on, perhaps after the restoration was completed. Whatever the case, a lot of grain was removed from this film, and it definitely shows. Naturally, I cannot recommend Arte Video's Blu-ray release of Lola.
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Lola Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Jacques Demy's Lola Heading to Blu-ray - September 5, 2012
French label Arte Video has revealed that it is planning to release on Blu-ray acclaimed director Jacques Demy's Lola (1961), starring Anouk Aimée, Marc Michel and Jacques Harden. The preliminary release date set by the label is November 21.
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