8 Women (8 Femmes) (2002)
|Year Of Production||2002|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Francois Ozon|
Magna Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The stage origins of 8 Women show all too strongly. I was far from surprised to read that this film was adapted from a play. In fact, I don't think it was adapted far enough — it still feels a lot like a play that someone has simply pointed a camera towards (note the poses at the moment the murder is discovered, for example). At the same time, it's rather entertaining, although more than a little confusing.
I'm not sure how to describe this film. It is not a musical, really, although each of the eight women sings a song at some point. It's an isolated-house murder mystery, in part. There are comic elements. There are melodramatic moments (yeesh, some of the overacting!).
Let's start with those eight women of the title, who come together in this isolated-by-snow French country house. We have the lady of the house, Gaby (Catherine Deneuve). Then there are her mother, Mamy (Danielle Darrieux); her sister, Augustine (Isabelle Huppert); and her two daughters, Catherine (Ludivine Sagnier) and Suzon (Virginie Ledoyen). Gaby is married to Marcel (Dominique Lamure), but we get to see very little of him; his sister, Pierrette (Fanny Ardant), is more visible. And then we have the cook, Chanel (Firmine Richard), and the maid, Louise (Emmanuelle Béart).
François Ozon wastes little time in getting the story moving. After a fairly quick introduction to the family, in the context of Suzon coming home from university for Christmas, the murder of Marcel is discovered and we're off and running with the inquisitions, investigations, incriminations, and recriminations. They can't get the police because the phone has been cut, the car won't start, and the gates are blocked. All they can do is lash out at one another and uncover all manner of secrets. There isn't a person in the house without a plethora of skeletons in the closet. It would take pages to enumerate all the secrets that come out.
I really don't understand the songs. They feel shoe-horned into a performance that would work at least as well without them. Strange. Perhaps that is the purpose they serve: to increase the surrealism of it all.
I have been told that this film is satirising a number of aspects of French films from the period in which it is set (the 1950s). I can't tell — I don't think I have seen a French film from that period.
Once you understand that this film is a satirical melodramatic surreal comic murder-mystery musical, it makes perfect sense, sort of. It's certainly entertaining, with an interesting and unexpected resolution.
This DVD is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and is 16x9 enhanced (despite the cover claiming it to be 4x3 letterboxed — that's a silly mistake!). The original aspect ratio was 1.85:1, so this presentation is welcome.
The image is very good indeed, and is sharp and clear. We can count the scattering of freckles on Louise's face, for example. Heck, we can see the imperfections in the make-up on every woman's face. Shadow detail is limited, but more than adequate for this almost always brightly lit film. Film grain is never an issue. There is no trace of low-level noise.
Colour is intense, with lots of fully-saturated colours on display. The costumes are of the brighter-than-real-life kind we often see on stage, but rarely on film. There are no colour-related artefacts; even Pierrette's scarlet dress cannot induce colour bleed.
I didn't spot a film artefact — that's good, even if we'd pretty much expect to get a clean print of a film made last year.
There is quite a bit of aliasing, but it is rather mild. There's surprisingly little moire. There's some shimmer every so often on backgrounds, but it's not disturbing. There are no other MPEG artefacts.
The only subtitles are in English, but they are burned into the image — even if you understand French you cannot switch them off (which is shame). They are fairly large, easy to read, and well-timed to the dialogue. With my limited command of French, I cannot testify to their perfection, but I didn't detect any gross errors in translation.
The disc is single-sided and single layered. That means no layer change. The single layer seems perfectly adequate to hold the movie.
The soundtrack is provided in French. One track is Dolby Digital 5.1 448kbps, while the other is Dolby Digital 2.0 (not surround encoded) at 224kbps. I listened to the 5.1 track all the way through, and sampled the 2.0. For some reason, the 2.0 is quite noticeably louder. There are a couple of moments that sound like there's a hint of distortion, but it's faint.
The dialogue is clear, and I imagine it is easy enough to understand if you understand French. There are no obvious audio sync problems.
Krishna Lévy is credited with the original music, but some of the songs are not original.
I noticed exactly one directional sound effect from the rears. The surrounds are hardly used by this soundtrack, which is quite frontal, like the stage show it so resembles. The subwoofer gets nothing significant to do, either, but this is far from an action extravaganza, so it's not really required.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu is static, with music. I am unsure how it has been arranged, but if you stop the disc and start it again (or eject it and reinsert), you will get a different woman on the menu. I've seen at least five of the women on the menu — I imagine all eight are included. It's a neat trick.
This trailer, like so many, gives away far too much of the story. Don't watch it before seeing the film.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region 1 disc was released earlier this year. It is reported as being similar to this disc, but with a 2.0 soundtrack dubbed in English (no French sound at all). There's a German version that's reported to have a director's commentary, which would be a good thing, but it is probably in French (and there are no English subtitles...). There's an English version (in French with English subtitles) that reportedly includes an interview with the costume designer (that I would like to see) and a couple of music videos of numbers from the film — I haven't located a reliable review for a judgment on the transfer quality. And then there's a French deluxe version, with 3 DVDs and a CD — the film is provided on the first DVD with a commentary, and both Dolby Digital and dts soundtracks; the second DVD is full of extras; the third DVD includes the play that inspired this film — it sounds fabulous, but it's all in French (not even subtitles in English)... Si vous parlez français, c'est bon!
It looks like you have to get the R1 if you want an English dub. I'd recommend the R4, though, for the original French dialogue. If you understand French, then the French version would be the one to choose.
An odd, but amusing, film given a very good presentation on DVD.
The video quality is very good.
The audio quality is very good.
The extra is as basic as they come.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-S733A, using Component output|
|Display||Sony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Front Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5|