Homme qui aimait les femmes, L' (Man Who Loved Women, The) (1977)

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Released 22-Sep-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Theatrical Trailer-1.85:1, not 16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 2.0 (0:36)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1977
Running Time 114:09
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By François Truffaut
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Charles Denner
Brigitte Fossey
Nelly Borgeaud
Geneviève Fontanel
Leslie Caron
Case ?
RPI $36.95 Music Maurice Jaubert


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
German
French
Italian
Spanish
Danish
Polish
Greek
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, during credits

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    This next instalment from the World Cinema Collection from Fox Home Entertainment sees me heading to my third country in as many films. It also sees me heading back a little bit in time, at least in comparison to the previous two DVDs reviewed from the collection. All the way back to 1977 in fact, the year of such luminary films as Star Wars: A New Hope and Close Encounters Of A Third Kind. Obviously it was a year dominated by science fiction, but there were still directors out there making the more gentle films that might not draw as much attention, films which were certainly not as loud and certainly cost a whole lot less to make. I doubt whether the budget on L'Homme qui aimait les femmes would have covered the coffee and donut bill on those science fiction classics, but director François Truffaut would hardly have been worried by that. Yes, rest assured that this is the original version of the film and not the appalling American remake The Man Who Loved Women made in 1983 and starring Burt Reynolds. Cue comments regarding the prostitutional tactics of Hollywood and the ripping off of foreign films...

    L'Homme qui aimait les femmes would in itself hardly rank as one of the director's greatest works, falling some way being the likes of Les Quatre cents coups in that particular list. However, very little that acclaimed French director/actor/writer François Truffaut did was less than intriguing or essential viewing. His canon may not be very large in comparison to some directors but it was a worthy one and his death in 1984 from a brain tumour was one of the saddest days ever for French film.

    One of the recurring themes in his films was women and that was perhaps no greater evidenced than in L'Homme qui aimait les femmes - a film dealing almost entirely with one man's need for women. Bertrand Morane (Charles Denner) is the man and the tale he has to tell is done in a narrative style. It begins at the end - at his own funeral - and thus is also done in one prolonged flashback. The mourners at his funeral solely comprise women and we proceed to learn the truth about his need for women and the length he goes to meet them. We also learn of the unusual nature of this by no means love-and-leave-them type person. After another rather eccentric encounter that sees him trying to locate the owner of a rather nice pair of legs, and one that results in him bedding a girl from the car rental agency where his pair of legs hired a car, Bertrand decides to write a book to document his life and the women in it. We then are taken back through his relationships with some of the women in his life (including his mother for you psychoanalysts out there). There are, of course, some notable highlights such as Delphine (Nelly Borgeaud) who has a predilection for liaisons in rather public places. But his life might yet take a decidedly odd turn - true love and the end of his Casanova ways - when he meets the editor of his book, Geneviève (Brigitte Fossey). But surely a leopard cannot change its spots?

    Whilst I have several François Truffaut films in my DVD collection, time has managed to conspire against actually watching them at this time. So this is actually the first time I have ever seen one of his films. This is important as his reputation as one of the leading lights of the New Wave movement in Europe produces an expectation of film style that might be hard to either live up to or overcome depending upon what side of the fence you sit with respect of experimentation in film. In this instance I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw. Not that this involves any significant experimentation other than the way the story is presented. The narrative, flashback style is actually rather effective in this instance and provides a very sympathetic point of view. Charles Denner does a very decent job in the lead role, especially as he hardly comes across as the sort of bloke that would typify a womaniser - which really is the whole point. Most of the female roles are relatively minor in the overall scheme of things with really only two of them having any significant impact - these being those mentioned above. Nelly Borgeaud and Brigitte Fossey both do good jobs in their roles, but overall it is fair to say that neither would be troubling the judges at any awards ceremony. One of the big things about the film is how 1970's this really looks and feels. In that respect, the film has not suffered the years lightly and if you thought the 1970's a nightmare from a fashion point of view then this is unlikely to convince you otherwise.

    Not the greatest film ever made and very much a piece of its time, but nonetheless way better than the American remake (nothing unusual about that). Regrettably we don't have too many opportunities to see François Truffaut films in Region 4 so in that respect the film is very much welcome. I cannot help but feel though that this is perhaps not one of the best ways to start the World Cinema Collection.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Given the relative age of the film compared to the earlier two reviewed in the Collection, it is hardly surprising that the transfer does not suffer the comparisons well at all. This is a little wearing on the eye overall and it is to be regretted that some restoration work has not been expended on the film. It also does not help that this is not sourced from a decent interpositive.

    This transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.66:1, a ratio surprisingly well utilised in Europe but really nowhere else. The transfer is not 16x9 enhanced.

    Straight out you know this is not going to be as easy a ride as L'Ultimo bacio from a visual perspective. The transfer starts out with a somewhat softish edge to it and this continues throughout the film. Whilst this was perhaps not so unexpected, it does detract away from the film just a little as it robs the transfer of the absolute detail that it does on occasion need. Definition remains decent enough however. Clarity is decent although the transfer is well afflicted with grain at times, some of which gets rather nasty looking. The grain is virtually constant throughout the transfer and is perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the whole thing. Shadow detail is also quite adequate.

    The colours are a little underdone, again reflecting the age of the film somewhat. There is little in the way of bright colours in the film and that contributes somewhat to an at times austere look - no doubt striven for, even if I don't especially agree with it or indeed like it. I am guessing that the opening and closing credits are supposed to have that shadowed look to them but it really is a little off-putting. It for all the world looks like gross colour bleed. With the generally underdone tones, this does not suffer at all from oversaturation but it is also not a vibrant transfer either - and that might have been a suitable recompense for the underdone nature of things.

    There is a major loss of resolution in a pan shot at 2:50 but I am guessing that this is inherent in the source material as opposed to being indicative of MPEG artefacting. There are numerous indicators of film-to-video artefacts in the transfer, and whilst only one is outrageously obvious, the overall effect is definitely wearing. Aliasing is the main issue, with examples cropping up in the car at 1:20, a handle at 22:06, the typewriter at 29:49, the cat basket at 37:49 and the lamp at 47:15. The really obvious problem is the single instance of moiré artefacting in the jacket at 87:03: glaringly obvious, it really detracts from the film at that point. There is a constant supply of film artefacts in the transfer, with specks, scratches and dirt all rather obvious at times. The big problem, though, is the dirty great reel change markings that crop up at 17:06, 36:37, 55:08, 75:37 and 96:30. They are really intrusive and in the end the ultimate destroyer of the transfer, as it indicates that this is sourced from a release print rather than an interpositive. Very disappointing indeed.

    This is a dual layered DVD, albeit with no indication of any layer change point during the film. Admittedly this is not a sure guide on my system and there are certainly black scene fades where a layer change could have been hidden.

    There are a few subtitle options on the DVD, but of course I only checked out the English for the Hearing Impaired efforts. They seem to be quite reasonably accurate, although my French is rather rusty.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are four soundtracks on the DVD, being a German Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack, a French Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack, an Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack and a Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. Since this is a French film, I only bothered to check out the French soundtrack - which interestingly is the number 2 soundtrack on the DVD (the German soundtrack is number 1).

    Another dialogue driven film and the dialogue is quite well handled and quite easy to understand. There are some indications of audio sync problems but I am guessing that these are in reality some less than stellar ADR work.

    The original score comes from Maurice Jaubert and a quite decent effort it is. I cannot say that it really made a significant contribution to the film, but neither did it draw any unwanted attention to itself.

    The soundtrack reflects the age of the source material in many ways and whilst being quite reasonable, hardly provides anything truly memorable. There is just the slightest indication of background hiss here and there, but that is hardly a major issue. I have more problems with the slightly congested sound that does not allow the dialogue to bloom at all. At the end of the film I felt that the audio had been something approaching the audio equivalent of a rainy Sunday afternoon - damp and dreary and boring.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Another disappointing extras package.

Menu

    Nothing memorable really but at least better than functional. Given that all three DVDs reviewed in a row are featured in the World Cinema Collection, it is a little surprising that a common approach to the menus has not been adopted.

Theatrical Trailer (0:36)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, it is not 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Poorish quality demonstrating a very soft nature, being rather grainy and being well blessed with film artefacts throughout. This would appear to be the US trailer given the English titling and voice over.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The only review of the Region 1 release I could find suggests that it is similar in content to the Region 4 with only some variances in language and subtitle options. That review indicates a similar standard in audio and video, meaning there is nothing overwhelmingly in favour of either version.

Summary

    A decent enough film but presented on a DVD that leaves something to be desired. It is rather sad that a more original source could not have been used for the mastering and equally that some greater care was not taken in the compression. Worth while checking out but not in the same class as the last two DVDs from the World Cinema Collection.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Friday, August 22, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1600, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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