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Tom Ripley is sent to Europe by Mr. Greenleaf to fetch his spoiled, playboy son, Philippe, and bring him back home to the States. In return, Tom will receive $5,000. Philippe toys with Tom, pretending he will go back home, but has no intentions of leaving his bride to be, Marge, and honoring his father's wishes. After some time passes, Mr. Greenleaf considers the mission a failure and cuts Tom off. Tom, in desperation, kills Philippe, assumes his identity, and lives the life of a rich playboy. However, he will need all his conman abilities to keep Philippe's friends and the police off the trail.
For more about Plein soleil and the Plein soleil Blu-ray release, see Plein soleil Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on July 17, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Alain Delon, Maurice Ronet, Romy Schneider, Marie Laforêt, Erno Crisa, Frank Latimore
Director: René Clément
» See full cast & crew
Plein soleil Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, July 17, 2013
Rene Clement's "Plein soleil" a.k.a "Purple Noon" (1960) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of StudioCanal. The supplemental features on the disc a brand new interview with Alain Delon, Dominique Maillet's documentary film "Rene Clement au coeur de la Nouvelle Vague", and a restoration demonstration. The release also arrives with an elegant booklet with photographs from the film, as well as notes on the restoration and writings on the film by film scholar Denitza Bantcheva. In French, with optional French SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
Alain Delon is Tom Ripley, a handsome but poor American who is in Rome to convince his wild and extravagant friend Philippe Greenleaf (Maurice Ronet, The Swimming Pool, Elevator to the Gallows) to go back home to San Francisco. If he succeeds, Philippe's father, a wealthy businessman, will pay him $5000.
Philippe isn't cooperating, but Tom isn't complaining. The two party as much as they can and spend without worrying that they will ever run out of money. Occasionally, Marge (Marie Laforet, Because, Because of a Woman, How Not to Rob a Department Store), Philippe's beautiful fiancee also joins them. Marge does not particularly like how Philippe treats Tom, but Tom also annoys her because he often imitates Philippe.
One day, Philippe invites Tom and Marge on his expensive yacht and they head to Taormina. Soon after, Philippe pulls a prank on Tom but it goes wrong and unleashes a string of unfortunate events.
Based on Patricia Highsmith's novel, Rene Clement's Plein Soleil a.k.a Purple Noon is a classic European thriller that works for a number of different reasons. The tension that enters the film after the yacht trip, for example, is well maintained essentially until the final credits roll. The direction in which the film should be heading is obvious, but the manner in which the narrative evolves is far from predictable.
Another reason is Delon. Looking irresistibly handsome, the Frenchman's character transformation is easily one of the very best from his large body of work. It is the type of performance that very effectively alters the viewer's initial perception not only of his character but the entire film. Such great performances could be seen in Hitchcock's best thrillers.
Then there is also legendary cinematographer Henri Decae's (Francois Truffaut's The 400 Blows, Jean-Pierre Melville's Le Samourai) beautiful lensing of Purple Noon. Shot on location mostly around Ischia Island and Procida Island in the Tyrrhenian Sea, the film is so beautiful that at times it feels almost unreal. There is one particular sequence where Philippe's yacht is seen from afar entering a small port that is absolutely stunning.
The film is also complimented by an excellent soundtrack composed by the great Nino Rota (Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita, Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather). The music is barely noticeable while watching the film, but after it ends the viewer remembers many sequences precisely because of the beautiful music themes.
Released in 1960, Purple Noon was the film that instantly placed Delon on the radar of many big European directors. Soon after, he would appear in Luchino Visconti's Rocco and His Brothers(1960) and The Leopard (1963), Michelangelo Antonioni's L' Eclisse (1962), and Melville's Le Samourai (1967).
Notes: During the years Purple Noon has influenced a number of different directors, including Martin Scorsese. The late Anthony Minghella also directed The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), a loose remake starring Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jude Law.
Plein soleil Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.66:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Rene Clement's Purple Noon arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of StudioCanal.
The presentation is disappointing. Unlike Criterion's recent Blu-ray release of Mr. Clement's classic film which uses a high-definition transfer that was created in 2K resolution from the original camera negative, StudioCanal's release uses as a foundation a new 4K restoration. Unfortunately, this new French release is vastly inferior to Criterion's release.
Traces of moderate to very heavy filtering corrections are easy to see throughout the entire film. Unsurprisingly, detail and especially image depth often suffer a lot. There are sequences where shadow definition and contrast are also very problematic (see screencapture #10). The filtering corrections have also destabilized the film's color-scheme. The blacks, in particular, are often replaced by large blocks of gray (see screencapture #12). The ultra-fine grain which high-quality 4K scans typically produce is also lost (compare screencapture #3 with screencapture #6 from our review of the Criterion release). The only good news is that the film looks remarkably healthy - there are absolutely no debris, cuts, damage marks, stains, or scratches. All in all, it is very unfortunate that a decision was made to filter the high-definition transfer because even with the applied corrections it is very easy to see that the 4K restoration was excellent. StudioCanal's Blu-ray release of Purple Noon could have been a special one. Instead, it is an enormously frustrating one. (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).
Plein soleil Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one standard audio track on this Blu-ray release: French DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. For the record, StudioCanal have provided optional French SDH subtitles for the main feature.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track is as impressive as the LPCM 1.0 track provided on Criterion's release of Purple Noon. Depth is very good and there is also a nice range of nuanced dynamics. Nino Rota's soundtrack, in particular, benefits a lot from the enhanced dynamics. The dialog is exceptionally crisp, clean, and easy to follow.
Plein soleil Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Plein soleil Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
This new French Blu-ray release of Rene Clement's classic film Plein Soleil is a frustrating one. I feel very uncomfortable criticizing it because it is clear to me that it was meant to be a special one - included on it is a terrific new video interview with the great Alain Delon and a fantastic new documentary film by Dominique Maillet. If you want the best current presentation of Plein Soleil, you should try to obtain the Criterion release. However, if you reside in a Region-B territory, keep in mind that it is Region-A "locked". StudioCanal's release I can recommend only for the supplemental features.
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