Hail Mary (Je Vous Salue, Marie) (1985)

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Released 15-Mar-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Short Film-Le Livre De Marie (The Book Of Mary)
Trailer-Casanova, Orlando, BreakingThe Waves,AShort Film About Love
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1985
Running Time 75:56 (Case: 105)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Jean-Luc Godard

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Myriem Roussel
Thierry Rode
Philippe Lacoste
Manon Andersen
Malachi Jara Kohan
Juliette Binoche
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Johann Sebastian Bach
AntonŪn DvorŠk
John Coltrane

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

††††Jean-Luc Godard's retelling of the Virgin birth met with storms of controversy around the world, resulting in attempts to have it banned here in Australia and in numerous other countries. Like similar controversies surrounding films like The Last Temptation of Christ, when all is said and done it appears to be much ado about very little. Godard shifts the New Testament narrative to the 1980s: Mary is a basketball player working at her father's petrol station. Her boyfriend Joseph drives a taxi, spending his spare time engrossed in books. Gabriel reveals to both that Mary will have a baby by God, even though she has never slept with a man - including Joseph. Mary struggles to accept God's strange gift while Joseph deals with jealousy and his unrequited desires. Intercut with their story is the adulterous affair of Eva and her lover, an ultimately empty and unfulfilling relationship.

††††The accusations of blasphemy stem, no doubt, from the many scenes showing Mary naked or even her cold emotional response to God's apparent miracle. Frankly, there is very little to take offence to and the film's R classification seems just a little over the top. Neither does Godard belittle Christian belief or scripture: in fact Hail Mary captures all that the protagonists of the Christian story must have felt. Perhaps bringing such a holy narrative down to earth and imbuing it with a degree of emotional reality causes more distress for some than any other element of the film.

††††Godard's style is somewhat disconcerting. Reflecting the isolation Mary might have felt (from society and God), the film is emotionally cold and distant, its pacing slow and its camera work still. The sound design in particular is designed to alienate the audience, as music fades in and out at seemingly random moments. Ambient effects (bird calls, wind, and so on) sound obviously "fake" and at times the soundtrack cuts to complete silence. The effect is disconcerting and the film is never allowed to feel real. Godard cuts from Mary tossing in her bed, mulling over her situation to shots of the elements, of the moon, sky, and water: a juxtaposition of the natural and unnatural. Each of these elements are open to personal interpretation, I'm sure. Hail Mary is most affecting as contemplation and meditation. The film is not often considered among Godard's best and is, sadly, famous largely for its censorship history. Still, Hail Mary is certainly thought-provoking and challenging and worth seeking out.

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Transfer Quality


††††This is a very acceptable transfer from Umbrella. Hail Mary is transferred in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

††††Sharpness is very good and detail is also excellent. At rare moments, shadow can be a little murky. Some fine grain is visible throughout. Blacks are deep and usually solid. Low level noise is limited. Colours are not vivid and occasionally washed out, but on the whole natural and accurate.

††††I noticed no obvious compression issues. Small, unobtrusive film artefacts are present, but the transfer is generally very clean.

††††Subtitles are forced, in a yellow font, but well-placed and unobtrusive. This is a single layered disc.

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


††††The monaural audio is satisfactory and well transferred. Audio is presented in French Dolby Digital 2.0 (mono).

††††Dialogue is clean and audible, except where deliberately muffled by Godard or competing directly with the score. Audio sync is accurate. The track has limited dynamic range and exhibits a little hiss. There is naturally no surround or subwoofer activity.

††††Godard's use of music in the film is a little alienating and no doubt designed to keep the audience slightly disoriented. Music by Bach and DvorŠk is played at odd moments, as though audio was being turned up and down randomly. Obviously non-diagetic bird sounds and other noises (and even complete silence) also play at odd moments. Godard refuses to let his audience connect with the film as reality.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Short Film

††††Le livre de Marie (26:38) - A short film directed by Anne-Marie Miťville, Godard's editor on Hail Mary. Much more straightforward than Godard's film, Le livre follows Mary's response to her parent's separation. 4x3, forced yellow subtitles. Video is clean but a little soft and the colours are quite subdued. Audio sounds a little flat with some crackle now and then. Can only be selected to play before the main feature: the transition between the films is very abrupt.


††††Frederico Fellini's Casanova (1:49); Orlando (1:14); Breaking the Waves (1:59); A Short Film About Love (2:08)


    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

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

††† Hail Mary does not appear to be available in Region 1.


††† A thought-provoking modernisation of the birth of Jesus, Hail Mary is intriguing far beyond its undeserved reputation for blasphemy.

††††The video and audio transfers are very good.

††††As is usually the case, Hail Mary is presented with the short film, The Book of Mary.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Adam Atkinson (read my bio)
Monday, June 12, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-S336, using Component output
DisplayLG Flatron Widescreen RT-28FZ85RX. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationYamaha RX-V357
SpeakersDB Dynamics Belmont Series: Fronts: B50F, Centre: B50C, Rears: B50S, Sub: SW8BR

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