Jules and Jim (1962)

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Released 10-Sep-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Theatrical Trailer
Introduction
Filmographies-Crew-Francois Truffaut
Featurette-Francois Truffaut Talks About The Book 'Jules Et Jim'
Featurette-Francois Truffaut Discusses Some Scenes From His Film
Trailer-The 400 Blows, Cyrano De Bergerac, Cinema Paradiso
Trailer-Wages Of Fear
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1962
Running Time 101:31
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (87:46) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By François Truffaut
Studio
Distributor
Les FilmsDu Carrosse
Madman Entertainment
Starring Jeanne Moreau
Oskar Werner
Henri Serre
Vanna Urbino
Boris Bassiak
Anny Nelsen
Sabine Haudepin
Marie Dubois
Christiane Wagner
Michel Subor
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $34.95 Music Georges Delerue


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

     The third of François Truffaut's feature films, Jules et Jim has ignited debates on morality since its first screening, and in latter years, has been the launch pad for accusations of misogyny against Truffaut. The story is an adaptation of a semi-autobiographical novel by Henri-Pierre Roché, a bon vivant aesthete who came to writing late in life. As Truffaut says, "He did not start to write 'till he could no longer live." The director happened across the book in a second hand store when he was still a film critic, and its lyrical style and bold themes struck a resonant chord with him that apparently became irresistible. In spite of his own previous derisive comments about making films adapted from literary works, he struck a cordial correspondence with the author, and the story began its journey to the screen.

     This departure in source material for Truffaut is evident in the film. Just prior to viewing this, I reviewed Les Quatres Cents Coups, and the point of impact is vastly different. Gone here are the intensely intimate close-ups and the studies of people in their environment. In Jules et Jim, there is a more detached air, largely because the real environment in which this story plays out is in the minds and reactions of the protagonists.

     As Truffaut himself points out, this is a film where the narrator relays events that happened long ago. Rather than having the full emotional force of an experience that is fresh, it is the detached, vaguely amused reflection of something that happened which was very important, but now, with its sharp edges softened by time, can be seen in a broader context.

     Jules (Oskar Werner) and Jim (Henri Serre) met in Paris in the first decade of the 20th Century. The Austrian (Jules) and the Parisian (Jim) immediately struck a friendship of deep mutual admiration and appreciation. They immersed themselves in literature, arts, philosophy and all the luscious temptations Paris had to offer, both fleshly and aesthetic. The long skirts and prim manners of this Edwardian time could not hold back the vigour of early Bohemia. This was a brave new world, and the very city seemed to bristle with energy, confidence and potential. One night they attend a slide show of art works created in stone. The pair are immediately struck by a carving of a woman's face - the symmetry and suggestive expression being the epitome of desirable womanhood to both.

     And so, when they meet Catherine (Jeanne Moreau), both Jules and Jim are taken aback by her remarkable similarity to the statue. But their superficial attraction to her is rapidly extended into absolute adoration of this brightly burning butterfly who flits capriciously from moment to moment. As the two men identify themselves as Quixote and Pancho, she is Dulcinea - an elusive idea of love that utterly entrances them both. Together, the three of them form a magical bond, and their triangle forms an enchanted land around them. Jules, however, wants to have and keep this forever, and finally persuades Catherine to marry him. While this does not immediately destroy their idyll, the murder of Franz Ferdinand does, and the two men find themselves on either side of No Man's Land, terrified of killing each other.

     Both survive, and the three reconvene in an Austrian chalet, now joined by Catherine and Jules' little daughter, Sabine (Sabine Haudepin). Their unconventional arrangement appears successful, but the cracks are widening, as Jules reveals to Jim that Catherine is drifting from him, taking revenge lovers and slipping away. Rather than lose her entirely, he begs Jim to take her as his lover, so that he may retain some element of her, if only vicariously.

     The relationships become more entangled, more muddied by jealousies and insecurities, and finally play out to a final, shocking solution.

     I agree with Truffaut when he said that this is a morality play. Certainly, the morality is not conventional, with each player, as he points out, making it up as they go along. But they are trying to be honest, however hedonistic and chaotic that looks from the outside. It is truly a study of the nature of friendship and the character of love. For certain, it is a simpler route to uphold monogamy, resisting the very real temptations along the way. These three forwent the security and order of that well-worn path and opened themselves to the unbridled fury of Eros' darts. There was no security, no road map, no convention to cushion their falls. They lived their lives as shimmering ephemera, bound to passions that were greater than logic, or safety, or even life itself.

     Perhaps the charges of misogyny are undeserved in this film. Catherine is not deliberately untrustworthy per se - she has her own truths to which she remains faithful, but they are simply not conventional truths. Her last, conclusive act is shocking, but Jim's face shows an acceptance that suggests some complicity on his part. Her act is not a condemnation of women, it observes the action of one particular person. Even further, the scene in a Parisian café where Jim is introduced to Denise the silent girl, is completely and utterly shocking. To me, it is Truffaut exposing how women have been treated by men, and almost applauding Catherine for her defiant independence and self-determination.

     I really enjoyed this film. It explores big themes with an enquiring, non-judgemental tone, and the three leads are nothing short of magnificent. It is as defiant as its protagonists and still amazingly fresh. Merci, Monsieur Truffaut.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced, which is its original format.

     The vision is overall quite good, considering how old the stock is. Luminance, which is everything in a black and white film, was mostly very good, with the exception of a period in Chapter 14 at 36:53 where the vision pulses for a while. Fortunately, it does settle relatively quickly.

    There were a number of film artefacts present, and, of course, the archival footage was deliberately murky but, unlike Les Quatres Cents Coups, there were mercifully none of those pesky splice jumps to contend with.

     Subtitles are clean, legible and timely, and are well positioned on the screen, although there are a number of spelling mistakes, which is one of my major pet peeves.

     This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change placed at 87:46. It is handled very well and does not disrupt the viewing experience.

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

Audio

     The soundtrack overall is very sharp and rather shrill in places which can set one's teeth on edge a fraction.

     The only available audio track is a French Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

     Generally, the dialogue was pretty clear, but it was irritatingly shrill. There were cracks and pops and hisses throughout, although not to a point of dominance of the soundtrack. Audio sync was absolutely abysmal - so far out that at times it was difficult to discern who was supposed to be talking. This is a major frustration.

     Georges Delerue's original score is a little overblown for my tastes and hinted at melodrama which overshadowed the action in some instances.

     There was no significant sense of direction in the soundtrack, although there were occasional hints of subwoofer action at more dramatic moments.

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

Extras

Menu

     The menu design is static and silent, featuring a still shot from the film.

Theatrical Trailer (3:08)

     A veritable gobstopper of a trailer - laden with info and hyperbole!

Featurette - Introduction to Jules et Jim (4:42)

     There is a lot of really interesting information presented by a narrator who has the DULLEST voice to EVER have graced a commentary!

François Truffaut Filmography

     Four pages of chronologically listed films.

François Truffaut Talks About The Book, Jules et Jim (7:17)

     This is really interesting, and it is wonderful to see the man himself.

François Truffaut Discusses Some Scenes From His Film (8:58)

     Again, much to glean, and much to learn. A wonderful little insight into Truffaut and his sensibilities.

Umbrella Propaganda

     Trailers for:

R4 vs R1

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

     The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on:

     The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on:

     I would say that if all things are equal quality-wise, the extras on the R4 are far and away more meaningful.

Summary

     This was a bold film for its time and, in many ways, remains one still. It's dated now, but that could be seen as a plus. Its examination of love and friendship is unique and the three lead characters are utterly superlative in their performances. The transfer has some holes, but let's be forgiving - this is an old film. A lesson in filmmaking and thematic exploration.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Mirella Roche-Parker (read my bio)
Monday, February 09, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDSinger SGD-001, using S-Video output
DisplayTeac 76cm Widescreen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationTeac 5.1 integrated system
SpeakersTeac 5.1 integrated system

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