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Un long dimanche de fiançailles(2004)
Set in France near the end of World War I in the deadly trenches of the Somme, in the gilded Parisien halls of power, and in the modest home of an indomitable provincial girl and her relentless search to find her fiancée, who has disappeared. He is one of five French soldiers believed to have been court-martialed under mysterious circumstances and pushed out of an allied trench into an almost-certain death in no-man's land. All an investigation into the arbitrary nature of secrecy, the absurdity of war, and the enduring passion, intuition and tenacity of the human heart.
For more about Un long dimanche de fiançailles and the Un long dimanche de fiançailles Blu-ray release, see Un long dimanche de fiançailles Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on December 10, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Audrey Tautou, Gaspard Ulliel, Dominique Pinon, Marion Cotillard, Jodie Foster
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
» See full cast & crew
Un long dimanche de fiançailles Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, December 10, 2009
Gallic director Jean-Pierre Jeunet's "Un long dimanche de fiançailles" a.k.a. "A Very Long Engagement" (2004) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Warner-France. Amongst the supplemental features on the disc are: an audio commentary by director Jean-Pierre Jeunet; a behind the scenes featurette; making of; gallery of deleted scenes and more. With the exception of the audio commentary and the trailers, all of the supplemental features arrive with optional English subtitles. Region-B "locked".
I find the films of Gallic director Jean-Pierre Jeunet incredibly difficult to describe with simple words. Visually, they are so unique that it is practically impossible to compare them to other films as well. If one wants to compare the director's latest film to another film, the best one could do is compare it to one of his previous films.
A Very Long Engagement reunites director Jeunet with Audrey Tautou, the star of his best known film, Amelie. Here the beautiful actress plays a young country girl, Mathilde, who believes that her lover, Manech (Gaspard Ulliel, Strayed), is still alive, even though everyone around her tells her otherwise.
The story of the film begins in 1917 - WWI has just ended and hundreds of thousands of Frenchmen have sacrificed their lives for their country - and most of it is told as a collage of flashbacks. First, we learn why Manech and four other French soldiers – Six Sous (Denis Lavant, Lovers on the Bridge), Ange Bassignano (Dominique Bettenfeld, The Return of James Battle), Benoit Notre-Dame (Clovis Cornillac, Giles' Wife), and Bastoche (Jerome Kircher, My Place in the Sun) – have been sentenced to death: they have deliberately mutilated themselves hoping that their wounds would convince their superiors to send them back home. Before they arrive at Bingo Crepuscule, a frontline military camp where they will be executed, we also learn about their personal lives before they were drafted in the French Army.
Once at Bingo Crepuscule, the five soldiers are released. The camp commander (Tchéky Karyo, Dobermann) feeds the men and orders them to leave the area. Almost immediately, a fierce battle begins and most everyone at Bingo Crepuscule is killed, including Manech and his convicted comrades.
Mathilde is informed about Manech's death, but deep inside her heart she feels that Manech is still alive. Everyone around her, including her family, attempts to explain to her that there is no way the French Army records can contain inaccurate information, but Mathilde isn't convinced. She hires a private detective, Germain Pire (Ticky Holgado, French Twist), and asks him to help her find Manech. Meanwhile, another woman, Tina Lombardi (Marion Cotillard, La vie en rose), begins tracking down and executing a group of survivors who knew the five sentenced to death soldiers.
Based on Sébastien Japrisot's novel, A Very Long Engagement contains equal doses of drama, thriller and romance. Unsurprisingly, its story is unusually complex, and demanding utmost concentration.
Paying close attention to everything that happens in A Very Long Engagement, however, is not an easy task. The film is like a giant moving canvas where an invisible painter constantly keeps adding up with his brush to the already intoxicatingly beautiful visuals, making it pretty much impossible for the audience to concentrate on its story. The marquee color manipulations, for example – one of director Jeunet's many great tricks – are truly overwhelming.
Similar to Amelie, in A Very Long Engagement all of the key characters are lonely people. They dream about immaterial things – a special look, a gentle touch, a kiss - and keep trying to remember the times when they had a soul mate.
Ironically, this is also what the actual film is missing – its other half, the one that would have made it look complete. Yes, everything in A Very Long Engagement is beautiful and elegant, even the bombs the German planes drop over the French soldiers; but all of this beauty is devoid of life.
In 2005, A Very Long Engagement won five Cesar Awards, including Most Promising Actor (Gaspard Ulliel) and Best Supporting Actress (Marion Cotillard). During the same year, the film was nominated for Oscar Awards for Best Achievement in Art Direction (Aline Bonetto) and Best Achievement in Cinematography (Bruno Delbonnel).
Un long dimanche de fiançailles Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Jean-Pierre Jeunet's A Very Long Engagement arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Warner-France.
This Blu-ray release represents a very serious upgrade over the SDVD set Warner released in France a couple of years ago. Detail is excellent, clarity fantastic and contrast consistent throughout the entire film. It is the color-scheme, however, that impresses the most - the lush yellows and rich blacks A Very Long Engagement is known for look stunning in 1080p. Edge-enhancement and macroblocking are not a serious issue of concern. There are no disturbing digital artifacts plaguing the transfer either. When blown through a digital projector, A Very Long Engagement also looks pleasingly stable. Finally, there are absolutely no disturbing scratches, debris, cuts, or stains that I noticed while watching the film. All in all, this is a fantastic presentation of a unique film that should impress even the most demanding of its fans. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free player in order to access its content).
Un long dimanche de fiançailles Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. For the record, Warner have provided optional English and French SDH subtitles for the main feature. When turned on, they appear inside the image frame.
The audio treatment is impressive. The numerous battle scenes, for example, convey some terrific surround effects as well as excellent bass activity. On the other hand, the dialog is clean and exceptionally easy to follow. Award-winning composer Angelo Badalamenti's lovely music score also benefits tremendously from the loseless audio; the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track gives it depth and acoustic fluidity that certainly isn't present on the DTS 5.1 track found on the SDVD release of the film. Finally, I did not detect any disturbing pops, cracks, or hissings to report in this review.
Un long dimanche de fiançailles Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Bande-annonces - two trailers, French (2 min) and international (2 min), and an international teaser (1 min).
Scenes Coupees - a gallery of 14 deleted scenes, with an optional commentary by director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, and optional English and French SDH subtitles.
Tableux Parisiens - the tech crew discusses the unique Parisian locations that were used for the beautiful panoramic Parisian scenes seen in the film. With optional English and French SDH subtitles. (14 min).
Avant que tout explose: L'hopital de Combples - a look at the special effects, and specifically the massive hospital explosion, seen in the film. With optional English and French SDH subtitles. (13 min).
Une annee au front: Les coulisses du tournage - a behind the scenes featurette focusing on different aspects from the the film's production history. With optional English and French SDH subtitles. (14 min).
Commentary - an audio commentary with director Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Not subtitled in English.
Un long dimanche de fiançailles Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Warner's Blu-ray release of Jean-Pierre Jeunet's A Very Long Engagement represents a notable upgrade over previous SDVD releases of the film. In addition, with the exception of the audio commentary and the trailers (two of which are in English), all of the supplemental features are English-friendly. Yes, this one is very, very easy to HIGHLY RECOMMEND.
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