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Mouchette is a young girl living in the country. Her mother is dying and her father does not take care of her. Mouchette remains silent in the face of the humiliations she undergoes. One night in a wood, she meets Arsene, the village poacher, who thinks he has just killed the local policeman. He tries to use Mouchette to build an alibi.
For more about Mouchette and the Mouchette Blu-ray release, see Mouchette Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on March 26, 2014 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Nadine Nortier, Jean-Claude Guilbert, Marie Cardinal, Paul Hebert, Jean Vimenet, Marie Susini
Director: Robert Bresson
» See full cast & crew
Mouchette Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, March 26, 2014
Robert Bresson's "Mouchette" (1967) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Artificial Eye. The only supplemental feature on the disc is the German documentary film "Zum Beispiel Bresson" a.k.a. "For Instance Bresson". In French, with imposed English subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
The titular character (Nadine Nortier) in Robert Bresson's Mouchette is a young girl who desperately wants to be loved. But in the village where she lives the girl is ignored by everyone – her alcoholic father never has time for her because he is always busy drinking, her terminally ill mother can't talk to her because she is constantly in pain, her teacher can't stand her, and her classmates prefer to stay as far away from her as possible.
Like a hurt animal that needs to lick its wounds, Mouchette frequently runs away from school and hides in the nearby forest. There the silence relaxes her and she temporarily forgets about her miserable existence.
At the local fair a boy finally treats Mouchette like a normal human being – he repeatedly smiles at her while hitting her bumper car. Later on Mouchette approaches the boy, but before she can talk to him her father appears and angrily pushes her away.
While walking through the forest, Mouchette gets lost. When the night comes down, Arsene (Jean-Claude Guilbert), a lonely epileptic with a serious drinking problem, discovers her. He takes Mouchette to his cabin and then confesses to her that he might have killed another man (Jean Vimenet) because they both desired the same woman. She agrees to provide an alibi for him when the police come asking questions, but instead of thanking her Arsene rapes her.
On the following morning, Mouchette returns home and shortly after her mother dies. When her angry father confronts her, she goes out to find milk for her baby brother. While walking around the village, Mouchette slowly comes to the conclusion that her life is worthless.
Based on Georges Bernanos' novel, Robert Bresson's Mouchette may well be the ultimate miserabilist film. Indeed, there is so much pain in it that is filmed with such pure intensity that by the time the final credits roll one truly feels as if one has witnessed the tragic collapse of a family member without being able to do anything meaningful to prevent it.
The film is broken into multiple uneven episodes, each capturing a small segment of Mouchette's misery. The overwhelming majority of the time Bresson's camera simply observes the girl as she absorbs the resentment around her. Occasionally she rebels, but her actions never have the desired effect and eventually she loses interest in being part of reality. And rightfully so, what's the point of existing until your time comes up?
Nortier, who was only 18 years old at the time when the film was shot and had no previous acting experience, is sensational as Mouchette. She rarely speaks, but her face is like an open book. She looks authentically fragile, appropriately naïve and defenseless. The rest of the characters in the film are also played by non-professional actors, the majority of them village farmers who had to balance daily work with acting.
Bresson shot Mouchette in the South of France with acclaimed Belgian cinematographer Ghislain Cloquet (Roman Polanski's Tess, Jacques Becker's Le Trou), who also collaborated with him on the equally impressive Au Hasard Balthazar.
Note: In 1967, Mouchette was screened at the Cannes Film Festival where it won OCIC Award (Robert Bresson), and at the Venice Film Festival where it won Pasinetti Award.
Mouchette Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.64:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Robert Bresson's Mouchette arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Artificial Eye.
The high-definition transfer is very strong. There is some extremely light noise that can be spotted during the nighttime footage towards the end, but the rest of the film looks very beautiful. Close-ups, in particular, boast very good depth (see screencaptures #1 and 3), making it extremely easy to see tiny details that are simply missing from the R1 DVD release of the film. Clarity and sharpness are also dramatically improved. There are no traces of problematic degraning corrections. Sharpening adjustments have not been applied either. Unsurprisingly, from start to finish the film has a solid and very convincing organic look. Overall image stability is excellent. Some extremely light surface scratches pop up here and there, but even the largest ones are almost impossible to see in motion (see screencapture #16). All in all, I am very pleased with the technical presentation of Mouchette as the improvements in image quality are indeed quite substantial. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray release. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Mouchette Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one standard audio track on this Blu-ray release: French LPCM 2.0. For the record, Artificial Eye have provided imposed English subtitles for the main feature. (They cannot be turned off from the disc's main menu or with the remote control).
Clarity and depth are excellent. Overall dynamic intensity is limited, but this should not be at all surprising considering the fact that the majority of Robert Bresson's films have very simple sound designs (music, in particular, has an extremely small role). The little dialog in the film is exceptionally crisp, stable, and easy to follow. Also, there is no distracting background hiss, pops, cracks, or distortions to report in this review. The English translation is excellent.
Mouchette Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Mouchette Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Mouchette is not only one of Robert Bresson's best films, but, in my opinion, one of the greatest French films ever made. It is very simple, indescribably pure and enormously moving. Once seen, Nadine Nortier's character truly cannot be forgotten. Artificial Eye's Blu-ray release of Mouchette is easily the best home video release of this film that I have seen to date. If you can play Region-B releases, I urge you to consider adding it to your collections as soon as possible. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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