Laura (1979)

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Released 13-Apr-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Trailer-Camille 2000, Tess
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1979
Running Time 85:06
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By David Hamilton
Studio
Distributor
TFI International
Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Maud Adams
Dawn Dunlap
James Mitchell
Pierre Londiche
Thierry Redler
Maureen Kerwin
Gunilla Astrom
Katia Kofet
Louise Vincent
Luciano
Bill Millie
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $24.95 Music Patrick Juvet


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.56:1
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes, even the doctor smokes in hospital
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    The French film Les ombres de l'été (released in English-speaking countries as Laura) remains a very controversial film. Indeed, it was released in some countries with the title Shattered Innocence. While the film is described as being a "girl's journey through innocence, beauty and sensuality", the question still remains - is it child pornography, or is it art?

    English photographer (French resident) and self proclaimed "master of erotica" David Hamilton (of Bilitis and Tendres Cousins fame), originally made his name photographing pubescent girls, in their early teens, in erotic poses. He has a clear fascination with the naked bodies of girls aged about 14 to 16, and seems to have successfully built a career on that.

    In what is perhaps a semi-autobiographical film, Paul Thomas Myler (James Mitchell) is a famous sculptor, living in a small coastal village in Southern France. One day while sitting on the beach he sees a beautiful 15 year-old girl, Laura (played by 16 year-old Dawn Dunlap), emerging from the sea like Venus.

    After watching Laura in her ballet class, Paul discovers that she is the daughter of one of his former girlfriends, Sarah (Maud Adams). Sarah has since married, but when she spots Paul she is keen to rekindle a sexual relationship with him, but Paul is now far more interested in . . . well, the next generation.

    Paul wants to make a sculpture of Laura, but her jealous mother, Sarah, will only let him work from photographs. Sarah takes a series of nude photos of her daughter and gives them to Paul.

    Paul starts the sculpture, but is blinded in a fire and abandons it. Laura secretly visits him and convinces him to finish the sculpture. As he can no longer see, she encourages him run his hands (and tongue) over her naked body, and thus, he finishes the sculpture by touch.

    Along the way, there are very lengthy scenes of girls in their early teens frolicking about nude. For example, after their ballet class, all the beautiful young girls strip off their clothing and lovingly wash each other in a steam room, kissing and giggling.

    However, to be fair to Hamilton, he claims “A distinction must be made between eroticism and pornography; the media have blurred the disparity to an unforgivable degree. For those intelligent enough to recognize the difference, erotica will continue to hold a unique fascination. Social evils should not be confused with the pursuit of true beauty.”

    So is it art or pornography? I guess that's up to the viewer.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The very grainy transfer is presented in a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.56:1. It is not 16x9 enhanced.

    David Hamilton is known in some photographic circles as "Mr Soft Focus" due to his oft-imitated style. As you might imagine, the image is extremely soft throughout. While the black level is reasonable, the shadow detail is poor. For example, consider the complete lack of detail in the dark interior of the artist's studio at 31:31.

    The colour has suffered with age, and often looks a little washed out or faded.

    This is a very grainy transfer, and MPEG artefacts are present in the form of pixelisation. There are no problems with film-to-video artefacts. A theatrical print seems to have been used as the source material, and just about every type of film artefact appears throughout, ranging from dust and scratches to reel-change markings and hairs.

    No subtitles are present.

    This is a single-sided, single-layer disc, with the feature divided into 13 chapters.

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

Audio

    The audio is limited, but it does the job. The only option is English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo.

    The film has been crudely dubbed into English, with American accents, and the dialogue quality and audio sync are awful throughout.

    The musical score is credited to Patrick Juvet, and while it is simple and minimal, it helps set the mood for the story.

    The stereo audio is not surround encoded, and thus there is no surround sound presence or LFE activity.

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

Extras

    Not surprisingly, there are few extras.

Menu

    A simple menu, it is static with audio.

Umbrella Trailers

    Trailers for other erotic romps:

R4 vs R1

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

    Laura is zoned for all regions. Fortunately, our version is PAL.

Summary

    Laura is all eroticism and style, and has very little substance.

    The video quality is poor.

    The audio quality is very limited.

    There are few extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Saturday, July 01, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayGrundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
SpeakersSony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
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