Masculin Féminin (Masculin Féminin: 15 Faits Précis) (Directors Suite) (1966)

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Released 8-Nov-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Short Film-Charlotte et son Jules By Jean-Luc Godard
Theatrical Trailer
Audio Commentary-Adrian Martin
Trailer- Directors Suite Trailers
Gallery-Poster- Original Poster Artwork
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1966
Running Time 100:46 (Case: 103)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Jean-Luc Godard
Studio
Distributor
Madman
Madman Entertainment
Starring Jean-Pierre Léaud
Chantal Goya
Marlène Jobert
Michel Debord
Catherine-Isabelle Duport
Eva-Britt Strandberg
Birger Malmsten
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $34.95 Music Jean-Jacques Debout


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

“At (the) movies the screen would light up and we’d shiver. But more often we’d be disappointed; Madeline and I would be disappointed. The images seemed old and flickery; Marilyn Monroe had aged terribly. We were sad. This wasn’t the film we’d imagined, the perfect film each of us carried within, the film we would like to have made, or perhaps even to have lived.”
Paul (Jean-Pierre Léaud) of Masculin, féminin (1966).

In 1965, two films directed by Jean-Luc Godard were released in France. In May of 1965 Alphaville, une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution (1965), a science-fiction film-noir tale of an alienated society in which free spirit and individualist concepts such as love, poetry and emotion are prohibited was released. To the other extreme in November 1965 Godard released Pierrot le fou (1965), the extraordinary Technicolor Bonnie and Clyde tale of Ferdinand Griffon/Pierrot (Jean-Paul Belmondo) who escapes his bourgeois marriage to be with Marianne (Anna Karina), a former lover who is on the run from Algerian hit men. Five months later in March 1966 Masculin, féminin was released in France. The film would challenge even Godard’s most committed supporters. Masculin, féminin is inspired by the two short stories, La Signe (1886) and La Femme de Paul (1881), by 19th-century French writer Guy de Maupassant.

The film opens with an astonishing shot of new wave icon Jean-Pierre Léaud who continuously fails to flip a cigarette in his mouth in one smooth motion. This simple action demonstrates Léaud's character of Paul is consciously replicating Jean-Paul Belmondo’s Michel Poiccard character trait and homage to Humphrey Bogart from Godard’s debut feature length film À bout de soufflé (1960). From this introduction we understand Paul is a romantic idealist whose dreams are unfounded by the callousness of the outside world; at age twenty-one Paul is living in an unbalanced world, between boy and man and between the life he wants and the life he lives. Having recently been discharged from national service in the French Army, Paul regards himself as a communist and like his highly-political friend Robert (Michel Debord), he is not involved in the trendy 60s scene heavily influenced by American culture. Yet Paul is in love with Madeleine, an emerging pop-star played by model and real life Yé-yé girl Chantal Goya. Madeline is depicted as a young woman scared of intimacy as she does not want to fall pregnant at a young age. She wants independence and freedom unlike Paul who wants commitment and marriage. Despite the odds Paul and Madeline try to have a relationship but they are disillusioned by their unkind surroundings. Recalling the events of 1965, Godard references the Malcolm X assassination, the events of the Vietnam War, Cosmonaut Aleksei Leonov becoming the first man to walk in space, Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited and Ian Fleming's Goldfinger (1964) which was released in France to great success. Furthermore Paul and Madeline are challenged ethically and morally as Catherine (Catherine-Isabelle Duport), one of Madeline’s roommates is in love with Paul while the other roommate Elisabeth (Marlène Jobert) is in love with Madeline.

Masculin, féminin is depicted in 15 ‘precise facts’ and each section presents a memorable montage, conversation or action. Yet despite the wonderful use of songs by Jean-Jacques Debout, whimsical sound by René Levert and image by Willy Kurant there is a stark coldness to the film as none of the characters are particularly heroic and with their youth comes painful naïveté. Perhaps only Léaud’s Paul is relatable to, but he is of a tragic existence somewhat distanced from everything he loves. Equally the women of the film are shown to be self-conscious and insular as they constantly groom themselves - unaware of what is happening around them. Masculin, féminin is an incredibly rich film which requires multiple viewings. It is challenging and affecting and despite the fact that it is 40 years old the issues it presents are incredibly significant to our modern times. The film depicts the sacrifices made when two enter a relationship, the differences between men and women and how the cruel politics and violence of the outside world can break the most positive of mentalities.

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Transfer Quality

Video

The picture quality is particularly commendable. The theatrical aspect ratio of the film was 1.37:1, and the PAL DVD transfer is presented in Full Frame 1.33:1. The low budget black and white film is detailed and is relatively clean and sharp, although Telecine Wobble is mildly noticeable - this may be due to the original filming technology and conditions. The print has not been damaged and some original film grain is visible. The optional English subtitles appear as a player generated white text outlined in black stream which remains clear and is a consistent translation of the onscreen dialogue. The transfer has been encoded at a high MPEG bitrate of 8.88 Mbps and as a result there are no incidents if MPEG compression artefacting.

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

Audio

The audio is French Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono and it remains clear without any evidential errors. The sound design by René Levert is somewhat complex and it has been replicated well on this DVD from the original soundtrack. There are a number of songs in the film written by Jean-Jacques Debout and performed by Chantal Goya.

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

Extras

Main Menu Audio & Animation

The main menu opens with a song performed by Chantal Goya with a menu similarly designed to match the Madman cover art. It is a practical menu with scene selections, subtitle and audio setup and extras selection.

Short Film

Godard’s short film Charlotte et son Jules (1958) (Charlotte and Her Boyfriend) is included as an extra on this release. The short film stars Jean-Paul Belomondo as Jules who wakes up to find his ex-girlfriend Charlotte (Anne Collette) in his apartment. Without giving Charlotte a chance to explain herself Jules launches into a tirade about Charlotte’s strengths and weaknesses, his loathe and love for her and why they should be together and why they shouldn’t. He speaks frankly of his attraction to her and somewhat surprises Charlotte with his brutally honest admissions but she remains quiet and when she finally has her say Jules is left stunned. An interesting detail is that Belmondo’s voice has been dubbed by Godard. This is a wonderful inclusion in this release and works well thematically with the main DVD feature film Masculin, féminin. The feature has a ‘fixed’ player generated English subtitle stream but it can be removed on selected DVD players. This feature has five chapter selections. (12:42)

Theatrical Trailer (2:02)

Audio Commentary

Adrian Martin, film critic for The Age (Melbourne) and Co-Editor of Rouge film journal provides an in-depth analysis of Masculin, féminin by focusing on the production background of the film and the thematic concerns of the film. This is an excellent commentary noting how the film was originally received on release and how the film has influenced a new generation of filmmakers.

Director Suite Trailers

The Director Suite previews begin with an anti-piracy warning which is followed by trailers for Le Temps du Loup (2003), La Chèvre (1981), Sanma no aji (1962) and To Vlemma tou Odyssea (1995).

Gallery

The gallery features the original theatrical poster with a section of a song performed by Chantal Goya.

R4 vs R1

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

The Criterion Collection release is unsurprisingly one of the best releases on the DVD market but the Madman release is equally recommended, particularly for the addition of Godard’s short film Charlotte et son Jules.

The R4 Madman release excludes:

The R1 Criterion DVD release excludes:

The transfer for the R1 release is noted as “a high-definition digital transfer, supervised by cinematographer Willy Kurant”. Equally the R4 release is noted as “an all new restored print.”

Summary

Masculin, féminin is a brutally honest portrayal of disillusioned youth, sex and politics. The local release is a praiseworthy addition to the growing Jean-Luc Godard Director Suite collection. Overall this is a highly recommended release for fans of Godard and French New Wave Cinema.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Vanessa Appassamy (Biography)
Friday, December 29, 2006
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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