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The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie(1972)
Several bourgeois friends planning to get together for dinner experience a succession of highly unusual occurrences that interfere with their expected dining enjoyment.
For more about The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie and the The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie Blu-ray release, see the The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on July 15, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Fernando Rey, Paul Frankeur, Delphine Seyrig, Bulle Ogier, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Stéphane Audran
Director: Luis Buñuel
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The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, July 15, 2012
Winner of Oscar Award for Best Foreign Language Film, Luis Buñuel's "Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie" a.k.a "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie" (1972) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Studio Canal. The supplemental features on the disc include the film's original French theatrical trailer and an introduction by Professor of Film Studies Peter Evans. In French, with optional English, German, and French SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
The plot of Luis Buñuel's The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie is deceivingly simple. A group of people, all representing the upper middle class, repeatedly gather for a meal but never manage to eat it because they are interrupted by strange events. They try to improvise and act with a certain style reflecting their status, but only further complicate things and ultimately frustrate each other even more. The key characters are the Senechals (Jean-Pierre Cassel and Stephane Audran), the Thevenots (Paul Frankeur and Delphine Seyrig), Florence (Bulle Ogier), and Don Rafael (Fernando Rey).
In the first act, the Thevenots, Florence and Don Rafael visit the Senechals expecting a great dinner, but are shocked to discover that their friends aren't ready because they were expecting them a day later. Everyone then heads to a nearby bistro, but are again disappointed after they are told that there is a funeral wake for the owner in one of the bistro's back rooms.
Things get even more bizarre when Don Rafael, who serves as an Ambassador for the great state of Miranda in Paris, begins dealing large amounts of cocaine. Occasionally, using his rifle right from his office, Don Rafael also tries to get rid of left leaning elements that may or may not want to see him dead.
In another sequence the friends once again gather at the Senechals and discover that their hosts are not around. While they try to figure out what is happening, the Senechals quietly exit the house and head to the bushes to finish what they have started in their bedroom. Meanwhile, their guests become seriously concerned - incorrectly assuming that because the Senechals are not present their house is soon to be raided by the police - and quickly disappear.
Perhaps the best sequence in the entire film is in the second half where the friends gather for dinner again, but discover that they are on a large stage with strange lines to recite which no one seems to remember. The audience begins booing the friends as they struggle to figure out what is happening.
As it is the case with many of Buñuel's films, dreams play an important role in The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie. Here they constantly overlap with reality and allow Buñuel to play with the viewer's expectations (just as he does with the expectations of the main characters). Needless to say, there are some truly outstanding twists.
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie is essentially a flawless film. It is not as outrageous as The Phantom of Liberty, but Buñuel's lambasting of the hypocritical values and absurd rituals of the bourgeoisie is very effective. The film's visual style, which brilliantly supports the rich symbolism, is also terrific.
The script for the film was written by Buñuel and the legendary Jean-Claude Carriere, arguably one of Europe's greatest screenwriters. Carriere also collaborated with Buñuel on his acclaimed Belle de jour, The Milky Way, The Phantom Of Liberty, and the Spanish director's final film, That Obscure Object of Desire.
Note: In 1973, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie won Oscar Award for Best Foreign Language Film (France).
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.67:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Luis Buñuel's The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Studio Canal.
I've done some direct comparisons with my DVD release of Luis Buñuel's masterpiece, part of the The Luis Buñuel Collection which Studio Canal (formerly Optimum Home Entertainment) released back in 2007, and can categorically state that the film has never looked as good as it does on this new 40th anniversary Blu-ray release. There are substantial improvements in every single area we address in these reviews.
Though the film has not received the same treatment Jean Renoir's La Grande Illusion did, detail and clarity are indeed leaps and bounds better than those of the DVD release. The indoor footage, in particular, is free of the macroblokicing and edge-enhancement patterns that routinely pop up throughout the film. There are no distracting traces of sharpening corrections either. Grain is visible from start to finish, but it isn't always perfectly resolved. This isn't to imply that there are any serious anomalies, but occasionally some light grain fluctuations are indeed noticeable. Color reproduction is good - the variety of soft reds, yellows, blues, and browns are stable and natural. This being said, there is certainly some room for improvement. During the transitions from one memory to another some light scratches are visible (see screencapture #3). Where there is an abundance of direct light, a whiff of extremely light edge-enhancement tries to sneak in as well (see screencaptures #12 and 19). However, these are essentially the only concerns I have with the presentation. To sum it all up, while the film occasionally reveals its age, it most definitely has a pleasing organic look, and when projected, it remains notably stable. I am pleased and look forward to Studio Canal's Blu-ray release of Luis Buñuel's That Obscure Object of Desire. (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).
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.
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are three audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: French DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, German 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 for the main feature.
The lossless French track serves the film very well. There is no prominent music score here but the dialog has plenty of depth and does not suffer from problematic distortions. Additionally, there is no strong background hiss creeping in. I did not detect any serious pops and cracks to report in this review either. The English translation is very good. (I should also mention that I never knew that an official English dub was made for this film. I've owned it on various formats but never encountered the dub track included with this release).
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie is an intelligent and brilliantly filmed satire of the bourgeoisie by one of the greatest directors of all time, Luis Buñuel. Studio Canal's technical presentation of the film is good, on par with the one Buñuel's Belle de jour received. It would have been nice to see a better selection of supplemental features, but if this is the only way to get the rest of the Spanish director's films which appeared in Optimum Home Entertainment's now out of print box set (The Phantom of Liberty, Tristana, The Milky Way, The Diary of a Chambermaid, and The Young One), I would be perfectly happy. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Luis Buñuel's The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie Detailed - June 11, 2012
Studio Canal have detailed their upcoming Blu-ray release of director Luis Buñuel's The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, starring Fernando Rey, Delphine Seyrig, Bulle Ogier, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Stéphane Audran. The film will be available for purchase online ...
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