Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris (1975)

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Released 26-Jul-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Musical Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Interview With Edie Landau (Executive In Charge Of AFT)
Featurette-Ely Landau: In Front Of The Camera
Trailer-American Film Theatre Trailer Gallery (10)
Notes-AFT 2nd Season Brochure
Notes-A Letter From Ely Landau
Notes-'Jacques Brel & Jacques Brel Is Alive And Well And Living ..
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1975
Running Time 93:16 (Case: 90)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Denis Heroux
Studio
Distributor
3DD
Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Elly Stone
Mort Shuman
Joe Masiell
Jacques Brel
Annick Berger
Moni Yakim
Bernard Lafontaine
France Lombard
Sophie Haroux
Nico Sirakos
Jean Schianno
Rena Quivrin
Paule Tanneur
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Jacques Brel
Mort Shuman
Franacois Rauber


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

Denis Heroux ’s Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris is a culmination of American experimental musical theatre and the classic French chansons of legendary Jacques Brel. Belgian born Brel's richly diverse, uncompromising and lyrical songs provide a euphoric and tragic framework for this flamboyant film.

The late American songwriter Mort Shuman reinterpreted and translated the songs for English speaking audiences after he discovered the artistry of Jacques Brel during a visit to Paris. The subsequent off-Broadway musical Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris showcased selected works composed by Brel for an Anglophile audience.

Shuman would also star along with Elly Stone and Joe Masiell in Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris which would be one of the longest running off-Broadway musicals in history. In fact, the musical is to reopen in March 2006 in New York.

In this film Mort Shuman’s various treatments of the songs were endorsed by Jacques Brel who also appears in the film singing one of his many signature songs, "Ne Me Quitte Pas” in a powerful minimalist and genuine performance which reinforces his appeal as an international icon.

The downfall of the production is that the mastery of Brel is somewhat lost in the translations of the songs which are reduced to repetitive chorus lines. The authenticity of the darkness, romanticism, bitter irony, intelligence, struggle of day to day life and humour which Brel explored in his works are undeveloped in the film production. Rather, the songs have been interpreted into cabaret flamboyance.

The reworked songs are creatively produced but the delivery by the cast members is largely disappointing. Heroux overproduces the show with various erratic experimental costumes, scenery and surrealist situations which prove more of a distraction then enhancing the significance and importance of the songs.

Nevertheless the fact the show continues to appeal to large audiences demonstrates the enduring legend of Jacques Brel. For many this production will be an introduction to the works of Brel, who was also a renowned actor and director. Fortunately for those who wish to further be immersed in Brel’s talents a trilogy of DVDs released by Universal Music titled Comme Quand On Etait Beau contain the full repertoire of Jacques Brel remastered in DTS.

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Track Listing

1. Madeline
2. Marathon
3. My Childhood
4. Statue
5. Brussels
6. Jackie
7. Timid Frieda
8. Taxicab
9. Oldfolks
10. Alone
11. I Loved
12. Funeral Tango
13. Bachelors Dance
14. Amsterdam
15. Ne Me Quitte Pas
16. Desperate Ones
17. Son Of
18. The Bulls
19. Marieke
20. Last Supper
21. Mathilde
22. Middle Class
23. Song of Old Lovers
24. Next
25. Carousel
26. If Only We Have Love

Transfer Quality

Video

As expected the video quality is below par but is tolerable.

This DVD has been released by Umbrella Entertainment and is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

The picture quality is noticeably soft and the colours are washed out. As a result the overall picture is unnatural and inconsistent.

Colour bleeding is a prominent fixture throughout the transfer.

The print incurs numerous film artefacts, in particular dust spots, and ultimately lacks sharpness and definition and appears dim. Also, black is non existent due to the softness of the image.

There are no subtitles presented on this DVD.

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

Audio

The only audio track available on this disc is a Dolby Digital 2.0 track which is adequate but not optimal as it lacks scope and range. It is clear and there are no apparent issues with lip-syncing. It is evident that most of the performances are mimed, apart from for Jacques Brel’s rendition of “Ne Me Quitte Pas”.

The surround channel and subwoofer usage is subtle and the majority of this soundtrack is spread across the front rather than being all-encompassing.

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

Extras

The DVD contains a number of extra features

Main Menu

The main menu is animated with soundtrack

Interview with Edie Landau (22:26)

The Executive in charge of the American Film Theatre, Edie Landau, explains the beginnings, happenings and ultimate failure of American Film Theatre.

AFT Second Season Message (6:13)

A vintage filmed message from Ely Landau from 1974 expressing gratitude to those who subscribed to American Film Theatre. The producer briefly reflects on the initial aim of the company, that of preserving theatre on screen.

AFT Trailer Gallery

Trailers are included for Three Sisters (2:41), Lost In The Stars (2:05), The Maids (2:57), Luther (2:28), Rhinoceros (1:50), The Iceman Cometh (2:37), The Man In The Glass Booth (2:27), A Delicate Balance (3:19), The Homecoming (2:29) and Butley (2:53).

AFT Second Season Brochure

The programme notes contains articles on Brel - Who Is Jacques Brel?, the filmmakers and their original staging - On Eric Blau and Denis Heroux, and the musical tradition in general - Roger Greenspun on Movie Musicals.

A Letter from Landau

A vintage document sent to potential ATF subscribers.

Jacques Brel and Jacques Brel Is Alive And Well And Living In Paris

Notes by Michael Feingold, the Chief Theatre Critic for the Village Voice, which covers the life of Brel. Also includes background information on the performers in the stage and film versions of the production.

R4 vs R1

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

The Region 1 DVD is identical to the local release. I would favour the local release for affordability and accessibility.

Summary

Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris is an inventive experimental piece of cinema based on the works of Jacques Brel for English speaking audiences.

The DVD is satisfactory but is below par technically.

With the release of this title, a new audience will hopefully be introduced to and develop an appreciation and enthusiasm for the work of Jacques Brel.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Vanessa Appassamy (Biography)
Monday, December 05, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1910, using DVI output
DisplayPanasonic PT-AE 700. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationYamaha DSP-A595a - 5.1 DTS
Speakers(Front) DB Dynamics Polaris AC688F loudspeakers,(Centre) DB Dynamics Polaris Mk3 Model CC030,(Rear) Polaris Mk3 Model SSD425,(Subwoofer) Jensen JPS12

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