Very Long Engagement, A (Un Long Dimanche de Fiançailles) (2004)

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Released 7-Jun-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Director)
Trailer-Soundtrack Promo
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-A Year At The Front
Featurette-Before The Explosion
Featurette-Parisian Scenes
Theatrical Trailer
Teaser Trailer
Deleted Scenes-With Optional Commentary
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 128:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Warner Home Video
Starring Audrey Tautou
Gaspard Ulliel
Jean-Pierre Becker
Dominique Bettenfeld
Clovis Cornillac
Marion Cotillard
Jean-Pierre Darroussin
Julie Depardieu
Jean-Claude Dreyfus
André Dussollier
Ticky Holgado
Tchéky Karyo
Jérôme Kircher
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music Angelo Badalamenti

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Audio Commentary 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
English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
German Audio Commentary
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    There was some controversy when it was declared that A Very Long Engagement (in French: Un long dimanche de fiançailles) would not be considered as a 'French film' because it had been partly financed by Warner Independent Pictures. Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet in several interviews asked how a film shot in France, with French actors, dialogue, crew and most importantly, sensibility, could not be considered French. Watching the film I am inclined to agree with him. This is certainly a French film, although it nods its head to Hollywood (or at least the Hollywood of yesteryear) perhaps a little more than most.

    The French believe they do romance better than anyone and for the most part, who could disagree? They have given us Paris after all, and the French language, which seems eminently suited to expressions of passion and affection. And now they have given us this film, a grand romantic epic that traverses the French countryside before, during the after the First World War. I heard one critic describe it as a cross between Amélie (Jeunet's previous collaboration with lead actress Audrey Tatou) and Saving Private Ryan. I'm not sure I particularly like or agree with that statement, although I can understand some of the sentiment, if only because the film is an odd mix of moods and styles. It mixes the violent barbarism of trench warfare with an innocent, almost childlike romance and the inexplicable visual and emotional insouciance that characterised much of the French take on Nancy Drew, Amélie. Jeunet actually mentions in the audio commentary that Saving Private Ryan was an inspiration for the war scenes, and often references other American films, which helps to explain the somewhat cosmopolitan feel of the film.

    The film opens soberly, amidst the driving rain and mud of the trenches in France during the Great War. We are introduced to the French forces as they huddle in the cold and wet, and then the film begins flashing back and forth. We are introduced to a host of peculiar characters, which include the naive but dashing young Manech (Gaspard Ulliel), whose relationship with Mathilde forms the emotional undercurrent of the film. He is being escorted around as a mental invalid - and gradually we learn how he has come to be in his predicament. Scenes between Mathilde and Manech establish the closeness of their relationship, which helps when they are separated and she begins her search for him. It is this quest which provides the narrative thrust of the film, which builds to a quietly devastating climax that I will not divulge.

    A Very Long Engagement is a film that is by turns enchanting, perplexing and confronting. If you like a good romance, enjoy French films or are just looking for something a little different, I warmly recommend it.

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Transfer Quality


    This epic visual film thankfully looks terrific, helped by a transfer that is fantastically clean, presented correctly in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 with 16x9 enhancement.

    Sharpness is uniformly good whilst not quite achieving greatness and there is scarcely anything to complain about in terms of levels of shadow detail.

    The colour palette is rich and diverse, with no obvious bleeding or noise. Skin tones are realistic.

    There is a little grain and mild edge enhancement. MPEG artefacts are noticeable but not a major problem, whilst aliasing occurs only occasionally.

    The print was almost completely clean - there were no disconcerting film artefacts to speak of.

    This is a great transfer.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    We have a choice of two soundtracks - the original French Dolby Digital 5.1 or German Dolby Digital 5.1. Obviously you will need to engage the English subtitles, which are well rendered.

    Dialogue is at all times easy to hear (if not understand).

    There were no reportable instances of distortion.

    Audio sync was brilliant.

    The surrounds and subwoofer are not engaged in an overtly spectacular fashion, but both tracks provide wonderful depth and ambience to the film. Bass resonates wonderfully, and a few scenes are just made by the presence of well constructed surround sound. The musical score is wonderful.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Audio Commentary with director Jean-Pierre Jeunet

    There are few commentary tracks better than this one - it is engaging, interesting, full of anecdotes and is told by a director obviously passionate about his craft. The commentary is in French but the English subtitles work very well.

A good swag of extras on the second disc have been included. Note that they are all in French, with English subtitles provided where needed.

Featurettes (3)

Deleted Scenes (14)

    Fourteen scenes, all fairly well presented with optional commentary that offer a mix of new and extended material from the film.

Trailers (2)

    Two nicely presented trailers, one in English which was made for the international market.

R4 vs R1

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

    We miss out on:

    Region 1 misses out on:

    Go for the cheaper version, although the PAL formatting of our release will likely give a better picture (added resolution).


    A Very Long Engagement (Un long dimanche de fiançailles) is a wonderful film.

    The video, audio and extras are fantastic.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Scott Murray (Dont read my bio - it's terrible.)
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDYamaha DVR-S100, using Component output
DisplaySony 76cm Widescreen Trinitron TV. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD Player, Dolby Digital and DTS. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationYamaha DVR-S100 (built in)
SpeakersYamaha NX-S100S 5 speakers, Yamaha SW-S100 160W subwoofer

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