Beau Serge, Le (Directors Suite) (1958)

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Released 18-Feb-2009

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation-Full Frame
Theatrical Trailer-An Autum Afternoon (Sanma no aji) (1962)
Theatrical Trailer-Offside (2006)
Theatrical Trailer-The Wind Will Carry Us (Bad ma ra khahad bord) (1999)
Theatrical Trailer-Wings of Desire (Der Himmel über Berlin) (1987)
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1958
Running Time 94:36
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Claude Chabrol

Madman Entertainment
Starring Gérard Blain
Jean-Claude Brialy
Michèle Méritz
Bernadette Lafont
Claude Cerval
Jeanne Pérez
Edmond Beauchamp
André Dino
Michel Creuze
Claude Chabrol
Philippe de Broca
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Émile Delpierre

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 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
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

Claude Chabrol, the most commercial and perhaps most important director to come out of the French New Wave, seems to forever be hidden behind the imposing shadow of Alfred Hitchcock in film theory. The greater part of English language literature dedicated to Hitchcock usually portrays Chabrol as simply an imitator of his preferred director. But behind this popular belief is something more, as Chabrol alongside his Cahiers du cinema colleagues elevated Hitchcock's reputation through their writings and great interest in the cinema of Hitchcock.

Hitchcock equally responded to the new found enthusiasm for his work in France and compared himself to "(the) other young filmmakers," and even stated the then forthcoming production of Psycho (1960) would be of the resulting influence of the French New Wave. Can admiration for another director work overshadow one's own directorial career? In the case of Chabrol it seems so.

Richard Neupert notes Chabrol's Cahiers du cinema cohorts - François Truffaut, Eric Rohmer, Jacques Rivette and Jean-Luc Godard "regularly pastiched (Hitchcock's) work, (however) they rarely simply tried to be Hitchcock. They wanted to become auteurs in their own rights, so adapted lessons from Hitchcock, Bazin, Renoir and others into their new, experimental film styles". Neupert also proclaims "Hitchcock's influence is clear in each of Chabrol's fifty-plus film". As Chabrol rejected the experimental and the avant-garde, his films were commercial, accessible and somewhat classical in structure. As such the question of Hitchockian influence rather than inspiration has become a relentless subject in the English language literature concerning the director's wide and varied career.

Subsequently Robin Wood and many of the later academic authors approached their analysis of Chabrol in relation to Hitchcockian influence, particularly in regards to Le Beau Serge (1958) and Les Cousins (1959) as two male protagonists in both Le Beau Serge and Les Cousins "share or exchange some guilt". The 'transfer of guilt' is the unifying conceptual idea behind the writings of Rohmer and Chabrol in their book 'Hitchcock' - they state in the forward "the idea of "exchange," which we find everywhere in his work, may be given either a moral expression (the transfer of guilt), a psychological expression (suspicion), a dramatic expression (blackmail - or even pure suspense), or a concrete expression (a to-and-fro movement)."

Chabrol's directorial debut Le Beau Serge was released not because of his artistic aspiration, but purely because the production required a limited budget, "From the scenarios I was carrying around in my head, I chose the one which was a sure thing not to go over budget catastrophically: Le Beau Serge, which I directed, free as the air, in eight weeks."

Le Beau Serge would be considered the first film of the French New Wave and also received much attention critically and commercially - the film received the prime à la qualité from the C.N.C. and was shown out of competition at the 1958 Cannes Film Festival. Le Beau Serge would also mark the beginning of Chabrol's eventual loss of religious faith. Shot in stark black and white, the exploration of the despair of alcoholism in Le Beau Serge depicted what would become unique to Chabrolian universe - the estrangement and boredom one can feel in their own (imprisoning) sanctuary.

Le Beau Serge was born from Chabrol's youth; it was a self financed, self-written, neo-realist film, shot on location in Chabrol's home village with a small budget of 32 million old francs. Chabrol not only created a real backdrop to his narrative but included many autobiographical elements within the film as Chabrol was a practicing Catholic, a Parisian student returning to his provincial roots and he and his wife had experienced the death of a child - events which are reflected in Serge and Francois own intertwined narratives.

Francois (Jean-Claude Brialy) left his hometown and his best friend Serge (Gérard Blain), in France's Creuse region a decade ago. Upon returning to his familiar environment Francois (who is seeking solace in his hometown, after suffering from a near fatal illness in Paris) see's Serge and calls out to him, but Serge pays no attention and stumbles past him.

"What's happen to Serge?"

As Francois settles into the town he begins to learn what happened to his friend Serge, who was once an aspiring architect, but now is nothing more than the town drunk.

"Things didn't turn out the way we expected them too"

But as Francois tries to help his friend, he finds himself entangled in the town's sense of despair, which he in his youth felt he had to escape from, but now as an adult feels he has to conquer.

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Transfer Quality


The restored transfer of Le Beau Serge most likely had an original aspect ratio of 1.37:1. The DVD transfer of Le Beau Serge is presented 1.33:1 Full Frame.

The black and white film overall looks quite good for its age. Chabrol's natural and languid camera movement remains smooth and the image remains clear and crisp, with good shadow detail.

Telecine wobble is mildly evident, as well as film grain and film artefacts throughout the course of the feature film.

The English subtitles are a decent translation of the French dialogue and from the Main Menu, the viewer can select whether they would like the subtitles in a yellow or white font, which I think is pretty neat!

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


The DVD features the original mono soundtrack, which is also like the image, very good quality. Dialogue remains clear and audible and there are no obvious errors.

The film features a score composed by Émile Delpierre, which draws upon the melodramatic themes of the film.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Main Menu Animation & Audio

The Main Menu features an animated version of the cover-art. There is access to the 12 scene selections, subtitle set up options and a series of trailers. The minimal design of the main menu and cover-art are unique to the thematic concerns of the film and French New Wave. It is nicely produced.

Theatrical Trailers

After an anti-piracy warning the following trailers can be accessed:

R4 vs R1

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

There is no current information regrading other DVD releases of this title


Claude Chabrol's rare directorial debut receives a welcomed release locally. While there are no features on this DVD, image and sound are commendable and the ability to choose the colour of the subtitles is great!

Ratings (out of 5)


© Vanessa Appassamy (Biography)
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Review Equipment
DVDOPPO DV-980H, using HDMI 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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