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Un amour de Swann(1984)
Elegant and educated bachelor, Charles Swann, moves in the most powerful and fashionable circles of Paris in the 1890's. When he falls in love with Odette de Crecy, a courtesan, his friends warn him against marriage. Proving himself a silly and socially-foul goose, Swann ducks his social responsibilities, Odette ensnares him, and he is gently but firmly cast out of society amidst everyone's great politeness.
For more about Un amour de Swann and the Un amour de Swann Blu-ray release, see Un amour de Swann Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on October 2, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Director: Volker Schlöndorff
Writers: Peter Brook, Jean-Claude Carrière
Starring: Jeremy Irons, Ornella Muti, Alain Delon
» See full cast & crew
Un amour de Swann Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, October 2, 2012
German director Volker Schlöndorff's "Un amour de Swann" a.k.a "Swann in Love" (1984) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of French distributors Gaumont. The supplemental features on the disc include an original French trailer for the film and a long documentary film with cast and crew interviews. In English, with optional French and French SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-Free.
Charles Swann (Jeremy Irons, The Mission, Damage) is a wealthy and sophisticated man who stays active in the Parisian high society. He isn't particularly fond of the games men and women play but likes their atmosphere. Closely observing the personal triumphs and failures of the players has also taught him many important lessons.
One day, Swann meets Odette (Ornella Muti, The Most Beautiful Wife, Forbidden Passion), and shows an uncharacteristic for him weakness - her beauty and vulgarity arouse him. Baron de Charlus (Alain Delon, The Swimming Pool, Zorro), Swann's best friend and a skillful player, immediately notices and warns him to be careful. But Swann ignores the warning and begins a casual affair with the young woman. Soon after, he falls madly in love with her.
The more time Swann spends with Odette, the more fascinated he becomes with her veiled in secrecy past. Eventually, he discovers that she may have been a courtesan who serviced men but preferred to see women. This further enhances his desire for her. It also compromises his image amongst the players.
When the Duchesse de Guermantes (Fanny Ardant, Beyond the Clouds, Callas Forever), who has long admired Swann, is informed about Swann's affair with Odette, she immediately decides to make a move. However, much to her annoyance, Swann, whose mind is already completely fixated on Odette, casually ignores it. Almost immediately, unhealthy rumors about Odette appear, and Swann is warned that because of her past he may not be welcomed at certain events.
Meanwhile, Madame Verdurin (Marie-Christine Barrault, Cousin cousine, Manuela's Loves), a dangerous woman with many powerful friends, decides to further complicate the already shaky relationship between Swann and Odette. Because of his neutrality and tendency to view women as objects, Madame Verdurin does not believe that Swann deserves Odette.
Having never before failed to conquer a woman's heart, Swann becomes confused and then suspicious of Odette, who has already started avoiding him, as Madame Verdurin has suggested. His exhausted mind also begins playing tricks on him.
Volker Schlöndorff's take on Marcel Proust's famous story has the right tone and atmosphere and certainly the proper attention to detail. The progressions of the relationships between some of the main characters are slightly altered, but the description of Swann's condition is indeed accurate - his infatuation with Odette essentially borders a medical condition which gradually destabilizes him but at the same time allows him to properly see the decadent world he belongs to.
There are long sequences where it seems like the camera observes Swann's struggles to control his obsession in public from afar, but it actually allows the viewer to get a sense of the bourgeois code he must respect. So, as much as this is a film about an unusual love affair, it is also a fascinating examination of class, morality, and values.
Swann in Love is deftly lensed by the great Swedish cinematographer Sven Nykvist (Sawdust and Tinsel, Fanny and Alexander). The entire film has a 'chamber' look of sorts; it is elegant, quite exquisite but never overwhelmingly lush and vivid. The costumes and decors are outstanding. The tremendously beautiful hats the women wear are also quite extraordinary.
Note: In 1985, Swann in Love won Cesar Awards for Best Production Design (Jacques Saulnier) and Best Costume Design (Yvonne Sassinot de Nesle).
Un amour de Swann Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.66:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Volker Schlöndorff's Swann in Love arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of French distributors Gaumont.
Similar to the majority of the releases that have appeared in Gaumont's Classic Collection, the high-definition transfer used for this release was apparently struck from a newly restored master (I assume that the overwhelming majority of these are done in 2K for Gaumont's library and then archived). The basics here are intact - the majority of the close-ups convey good depth and detail, clarity is pleasing, and the larger panoramic shots boast decent fluidity. Color reproduction does not disappoint either. There is a good range of warm and natural blues, greens, browns, and grays, and stable blacks. As usual, the most pleasing aspect of these transfers is the complete lack of harsh sharpening corrections. This being said, once again there are traces of extremely light denoising corrections (see screencapture #7). Clearly, detail isn't seriously compromised and the film does have a stable organic look, but there is simply no need for these corrections. Still, this is indeed a very strong release that represents a major upgrade in quality over the out of print the defunct HVE produced some years ago. (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).
Un amour de Swann Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two standard audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: French DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 and English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. For the record, Gaumont have provided optional French and French SDH subtitles for the main feature.
I've noticed that various French sites list the French audio track as the 'original' one (version originale francaise), but this simply isn't true. There were DVD releases of the film that had only the French audio track, but the film was actually shot in English, and the European actors were later on overdubbed (some dubbed their own lines), again in English. In fact, while watching the film it is pretty easy to see that they utter their lines in English.
The English lossless track is very good. Swann in Love has a very unique, very tense soundtrack which greatly benefits from the lossless upgrade - the strings sound well rounded yet quite vibrant, while the occasional piano motifs truly shine. The dialog is crisp and stable, but optional English subtitles for this film are a necessity as some of the actors have rather thick accents.
Un amour de Swann Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Note: The supplemental features on this release are perfectly playable on North American players, including the PS3.
Un amour de Swann Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Volker Schlöndorff's adaptation of Marcel Proust's Swann in Love takes some liberties, but it has the right tone and atmosphere - which is an enormous accomplishment considering the fact that it is virtually impossible is to translate Proust's words and ideas into visuals. The film has a terrific cast and it was lensed by the legendary Swedish cinematographer Sven Nykvist. Excluding a small reservation I have (see the video section), Gaumont's presentation of the film is indeed very good. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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