La Grande Bouffe (1973)
Featurette-The Films of Marco Ferreri
|Year Of Production||1973|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Marco Ferreri|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Unknown||French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.70:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.66:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Those familiar with the films of the late Italian film director, Marco Ferreri will know that he never backed away from controversy. In fact, nearly all of Ferreri's films have some element of controversy, this was one of the factors that made him such an interesting filmmaker. Ferreri is more obscure than most of the highly noted Italian directors and for that reason, he remains somewhat underrated.
One of Ferreri's most popular and controversial films is the 1973, Italian/French co-production, La Grande Bouffe. The film brought four of Europe's most loved and respected actors together in a most unusual way.
The bizarre and surreal premise of La Grande Bouffe sees four middle-aged men from seemingly enviable backgrounds gather at a beautiful and quiet mansion somewhere in suburban Paris. A truckload of extravagant food arrives for what appears to be a long weekend of gastronomic indulgence. However, it's soon revealed that the men are in fact, there to eat themselves to death.
The owner of the mansion is a respected judge, Philippe (Philippe Noiret). His guests and fellow suicide participants include TV producer Michel (Michel Piccoli), airline pilot Marcello (Marcello Mastroianni) and of course, no such event would be possible without a master chef, Ugo (Ugo Tognazzi).
On the second day, the men meet a motherly schoolteacher, Andrea (Andréa Ferréol) from the neighbouring school and an infatuated Philippe invites her to dinner that night. The highly sexed Marcello is also missing his daily dose of the opposite sex, so for the second night of the feast the four men are joined at the table by three young prostitutes as well as the schoolteacher.
The feast, which began in a rather polite and restrained manner, descends into an orgy of gluttony and sex over the next few days. The prostitutes soon become tired of this pointless over indulgence and decide to leave the house, but Andrea chooses to stay. She quickly loses any inhibitions and becomes a comforting mother figure as well as sexual partner to all the men.
Within a few days though, these brilliant gourmet delights begin to lose their desirability as their excess intensifies. With the warm and guiding assistance of Andrea, the men draw closer to their inevitable destiny.
Reminiscent of many Luis Buñuel films, La Grande Bouffe is an uncompromising satire on politics and bourgeois society. Naturally, the humor in the film is very dark and often exaggerated (Michel's constant farting a case in point). The film is sure to deeply offend many people and is therefore not really a film for the masses. Personally, I believe the passage of time has diminished the shock value of the film, however this is obviously not the opinion of Australian censors, who have retained the original R certificate for the DVD release.
La Grande Bouffe was a huge worldwide success, winning the FIPRESCI Prize (Fédération Internationale de la Presse Cinématographique) at Cannes in 1973. It has remained a cult favorite in arthouse cinemas around the world since its initial release and is a pivotal film in the career of Marco Ferreri.
Those patient people who have been waiting for La Grande Bouffe to finally get a local release will be quite pleased with the video transfer, it certainly exceeded my expectations.
The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.70:1, which is 16x9 enhanced. This is very close to the film's correct aspect ratio of 1.66:1.
Generally, the transfer displays an outstanding level of sharpness and clarity. A degree of film grain was noticeable throughout the film, especially in darker scenes, but there is little doubt that this is probably inherent in the source material. In general, blacks were bold and clean. Shadow detail was excellent throughout.
The warm and vibrant colours of the interiors contrast well against the cold and drab blues and greys of the exteriors. These colours are all beautifully balanced and appeared very natural, even though they do exhibit that subtle seventies look.
There were no MPEG artefacts noticed in the transfer. Film-to-video artefacts were well controlled and didn't present as an adverse issue. A high quality print was used in the transfer. The result being a remarkably clean transfer, free from irritating film artefacts.
English subtitles are available. These are removable and were easily legible in bold white.
This is a single sided, dual-layered disc. The layer change occurs at 94:45 and while it was easily noticed, it wasn't at all disruptive.
The audio transfer has remained faithful to the original source.
There is one audio track available on the DVD, French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s).
Although it's not always easy to assess dialogue quality in foreign films, there didn't appear to be any adverse issues in that area. The same applies to audio sync, which also appeared to be accurate.
The original music in La Grande Bouffe is credited to Philippe Sarde. Music is used quite minimally, but a common theme runs through the film.
The surround channels and subwoofer were not used.
|Surround Channel Use|
The main menu is static, 16x9 enhanced and features a looped soundbite from the film.
This informative documentary was made in 2007 by Umbrella Entertainment especially for their exclusive Marco Ferreri DVD releases. This is basically a discussion with Rolando Caputo (Lecturer at La Trobe University, Melbourne and Editor of Senses of Cinema) about the life and films of Ferreri. The discussion is nicely balanced with scenes from many of Ferreri's films and provides excellent insight into the life of the man, unknown to many. Recommended viewing.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
There is a R1 edition of la Grande Bouffe that was released by Image Entertainment way back in May 2000. This edition is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and has no extras, which obviously falls well short of the local release.
A more recent UK, R2 edition is also available. This was released in August 2006 and features the film in the correct aspect ratio of 1.66:1. It also has two extras - a gallery of images from the film and a small masterclass featurette on how to make Crepe Suzettes in the style of the film.
Although the masterclass extra sounds quite interesting, the local Umbrella release still seems the clear winner.
This bold attack on bourgeois society stands as one of Marco Ferreri's most controversial and enduring films. After more than thirty years, the film still has the ability to divide an audience and remains an important film in world cinema.
Finally La Grande Bouffe receives the local release it deserves - one that does the film great justice.
The video and audio transfers are both very good.
The extras may be minimal, but the informative featurette is a real bonus.
|DVD||JVC XV-N412, using Component output|
|Display||Hitachi 106cm Plasma Display 42PD5000MA (1024x1024). Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.|
|Amplification||Panasonic SA-HE70 80W Dolby Digital and DTS|
|Speakers||Fronts: Jensen SPX7 Rears: Jensen SPX4 Centre: Jensen SPX13 Subwoofer: Jensen SPX17|