Une Femme Mariée (1964)

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Released 18-Aug-2009

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Audio Commentary-Audio commentary by Dr. Adrian Martin, Monash University
Theatrical Trailer-Original theatrical trailer
Trailer-Four Directos Suite trailers
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1964
Running Time 91:24 (Case: 94)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (57:16) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Jean-Luc Godard
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Bernard Noël
Macha Méril
Philippe Leroy
Christophe Bourseiller
Roger Leenhardt
Margaret Le Van
Véronique Duval
Rita Maiden
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $34.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame French Dolby Digital 2.0 (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 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English Alternate Subtitles
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes, a few references to advertising
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    If you've never seen a Jean-Luc Godard film before, don't start with Une Femme Mariée: Suite de fragments d'un film tourné en 1964 (or, in English, A Married Woman: Fragments of a film shot in 1964 in Black and White). For that matter, don't start with any Jean-Luc Godard film during his Dgiza Vertov group period where his films where largely political essays and definitely don't start with film like 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her or Week End with it's final title reading: "End of Cinema". No folks, you really want to be starting at the beginning, not the end don't you? So in categorising Une Femme Mariée in the body of Jean-Luc Godard's work, one must define it as an experimental film which looks forward to other later period films that Godard made which further explored ideas used in this film.

    Starting with his first film in 1959, Breathless until 1967's Week End, Godard was known as a pioneer of the French New Wave movement, a rich era of cinematic history which allowed young French filmmakers to define their interpretations of European art cinema, influenced by Italian neo-realism and classical American cinema. These influences can be seen in Godard's seminal works such as Breathless, Vivre Sa Vie, Contempt, Pierrot Le Fou and Masculin Feminin. Around 1966-67, Godard began to reject these influences and instead started to make films that were more political essays without a traditional narrative structure. He had certainly rejected American culture by 1967. You can see references to American cinematic culture in Breathless (e.g.Humphrey Bogart), European cinematic culture in Vivre Sa Vie (e.g. Carl Theodor Dreyer's 1928 film The Passion of Joan of Arc) but by 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her in 1967, Godard had begun to reference only himself and his political ideals, using his films as social criticism. It's in this type of film structure that we find Une Femme Mariée. The film may be translated A Married Woman in English, but that was only after the censor forcibly changed it from The Married Woman. And you can understand why this was done. A woman committing adultery behind her husband's back should not be symbolic of the average French woman in 1960s French cinema.

    So why did Jean-Luc Godard seek to make such a provocative film? Well, firstly his marriage to actress Anna Karina was failing due to her infidelities. Secondly, he wanted to look at the differences between men and women in relationships and thirdly, he wanted to criticise modern French consumerism, something that he would further explore in 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her.

    If you are familiar with Godard's film from 1959 to 1967, then you, like me, will be able to appreciate the many stylistic and plot references to Godard's other films that you see in Une Femme Mariée. Otherwise, check out Godard's films during this era and then have a look at Une Femme Mariée.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Une Femme Mariée was unavailable on home video and DVD for a long time. The French company Gaumont has done a recent restoration on the film and it looks absolutely pristine!

    The aspect ratio of Une Femme Mariée is 1:33:1. All of Jean-Luc Godard's films shot in the 1960s in black and white use a full-frame transfer. The colour films typically used a 2:35:1 aspect ratio.

    The visual quality of this restored transfer is superb. I only picked up very marginal aliasing at 11:21 and 74:45.

    The contrasts in this black and white film, especially the subtle white-on-white shots are really well photographed by cinematographer Raoul Coutard. This transfer has great shadow detail and the various tones of the black and white transfer are very sharp and clear.

    There are practically no film artefacts which is remarkable for a film of it's age. I spotted three very minor artefacts at 74:56, 83:57 and 84:01.

    Madman Entertainment have again continued their industry-leading practice of providing a choice of subtitles in a muted yellow or white colour and these are easy to follow.

    The RSDL change occurs at 57:16, during a scene transition.

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

Audio

    As this film was made on a low budget, shot in two months to be shown at the 1964 Venice Film festival, there is no musical score in the film, although Godard does use snippets of classical and contemporary French pop music in the film. Godard's 1960s films never contained great audio transfers, dialogue in his films can be sometimes deliberately hard to decipher.

    There are two audio tracks on the DVD. Firstly, the main French soundtrack is a Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track encoded at 224 kbps. Dr. Martin's audio commentary is in English and it is also encoded in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono at 224 kbps.

    Dialogue can be muffled in this film at times. This is a deliberate creative decision on Godard's behalf. There is even a scene where dialogue is translated on-screen in French! The subtitles in English means that unless you are French speaking and you play the film without subtitles, you would not be aware of any audio issues!

    Music is mainly limited to samples of Beethoven's music and some samples of French pop songs that were popular at the time of the film, 1964.

    There is no surround channel usage because the original French soundtrack is in mono.

    The subwoofer is also not utilised due to the mono soundtrack.

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

Extras

Audio Commentary by Dr. Adrian Martin, Senior Research Fellow, Film and Television Studies, Monash University and Co-editor of ROUGE magazine

I have reviewed quite a few DVD releases by Madman Entertainment's Directors Suite label that feature a commentary by Dr. Adrian Martin and honestly I am running out of accolades in my appreciation of them. The recent Region 1 release by The Criterion Collection of Godard's 1967 film, 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her actually uses his commentary that he did in 2006 for the Directors Suite release of the same film in Region 4. This is one of the few instances that I have seen a company like Criterion license a commentary that was made for another Regional release. Personally, Dr Martin's commentaries are equal to the commentaries that the English film historians Tony Rayns and Peter Cowie tend to do, thoroughly informative and full of background knowledge on the subject at hand.

    Dr Martin mentions facts such as the lead character being played by Macha Méril and not Godard's lead actress at the time, and wife, Anna Karina and the low budget of the film, made in 2 months for the 1964 Venice Film Festival. The film contains paradoxes in that although the sub-title mentions fragments of a film, it's not as fragmented as Made In USA or Masculin Feminin, it uses conventional editing and it looks forward to 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her. Dr Martin also compares the theme of consumption to Michelangelo Antonioni's film The Red Desert and it's theme of industrialisation. In Une Femme Mariée characters speak in monologue but in this case one is not sure if what is said are the view of the characters or the actors that portray them. For example French critic and filmmaker Roger Leenhardt plays a character named "Intelligence" in the film. He has a lengthy monologue on the idea of comprehension and intelligence which should probably be perceived as Leenhardt's real-life views.

    There are also references to other French New Wave films such as Francois Truffaut's 1964 film, Soft Skin and Godard's previous and later films. For example, the many shots of body parts in the film allude to Godard's 1963 film Contempt. Characters speaking in monologue is featured in 1962's Vivre Sa Vie and the whispering narration of the main character Charlotte throughout the film of course echoes 1967's 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her. Obscure facts such as Rita Maiden's poor acting in the film and the image of Alfred Hitchcock at the airport cinema on the billboard are mentioned. When Charlotte meets her lover Robert to see Hitchcock's Spellbound they instead see Alain Resnais' Night and Fog which is another reference to the atrocities that occurred at Auschwitz in Poland (the atrocities of Auschwitz is mentioned a few times in the film). Dr. Martin states that both films deal with unwanted or unreliable memories and the problems these cause. The photo-shoot at the pool that Charlotte attends is presented in negative, another allusion to pop culture. The film ends suddenly, just as it begins, with references to body parts and what makes up a woman inside. Dr. Martin concludes that the film was made to deliberately not be defined by stereotypical film genre, hence the lack of traditional narrative. Godard would develop this idea further by dispensing with plot and narrative altogether in the similarly-themed anti-consumerist film, 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her.

Theatrical Trailer

The original theatrical trailer is meant to provide a quick summary of the film without dialogue. It goes for 3:50.

Trailer

Also included are four trailers for other Directors Suite titles: The Son by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Vivre Sa Vie by Jean-Luc Godard, The Marriage of Maria Braun by Rainer Werner Fassbinder (available in the BRD Trilogy box set by Directors Suite) and There's Always Tomorrow by Douglas Sirk.

R4 vs R1

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

   Une Femme Mariée has been released twice recently in Region 1 in the United States after being unavailable on home video or DVD for a long time. The first release was by Facets in 2005 and the second was by Koch Lorber in 2009. The 2005 release by Facets contains an English dub but the video transfer is nowhere near as defined and sharp as the 2009 Koch Lorber release. Both Region 1 releases contain no extras.

    The Region 2 United Kingdom release by Masters of Cinema contains the same exemplary video transfer as the Region 4 release. An 80 page booklet is the main extra which includes a lengthy round-table discussion on the film by Luc Moullet, Bill Krohn and Craig Keller, an in-depth look into the film by Bill Krohn, Macha Méril's recollections on the film and other commentaries on the film, including Jean-Luc Godard's commentaries on films that influenced Une Femme Mariée.

    The Region 4 release contains the superlative audio commentary by Dr. Adrian Martin and is the only Regional release world wide with an audio commentary as an extra. Personally, I would settle for the Region 4 release, but the Region 2 version of Une Femme Mariée is of a similar quality in terms of DVD production.

Summary

    The many references to body parts and underwear in Une Femme Mariée reflects Jean-Luc Godard's view in the film that individuals are considered as things. This idea is related to Karl Marx's anti-capitialist concept of commodity fetishism. Godard would take the idea of loose narrative structure and political and social criticism further in the late 1960s with his Marxist films he made as part of the Dgiza Vertov group from 1967 to 1972.

    If you are familiar with Jean-Luc Godard's film work then I highly recommend this film. If not, check out some of Godard's other films prior to watching Une Femme Mariée.

    Overall, this DVD release by Madman Entertainment's Directors Suite label is another superb example of the commitment by Madman to World Cinema and quality DVD production via the very fine transfer and quality extra of Dr Adrian Martin's analysis of the film.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Stivaktas (I like my bio)
Friday, October 09, 2009
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S550 (Firmware updated Version 019), using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA46A650 46 Inch LCD TV Series 6 FullHD 1080P 100Hz. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony STR-K1000P. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationSony HTDDW1000
SpeakersSony 6.2 Surround (Left, Front, Right, Surround Left, Surround Back, Surround Right, 2 subwoofers)

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