Une Partie de Campagne (Directors Suite) (1936)

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Released 15-Mar-2010

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Audio Commentary-by Anna Dzenis and Rick Thompson, lecturers at La Trobe Uni
Featurette-Making Of-Un Tournage a la Campagne - a documentary
Featurette-La Direction d'acteur par Jean Renoir
Booklet-an essay on the film by Ian Johnston, film writer
Trailer-Directors Suite trailers
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1936
Running Time 38:45 (Case: 40)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (43:22) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Jean Renoir
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Sylvia Bataille
Georges D'Arnoux
Jane Marken
André Gabriello
Jacques B. Brunius
Paul Temps
Gabrielle Fontan
Jean Renoir
Marguerite Renoir
Case Amaray-Opaque-Secure Clip
RPI $34.95 Music Joseph Kosma


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (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 No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    A Day in the Country (the English translation for Une Partie de Campagne) was Jean Renoir's 17th feature as director. It was originally intended as an eight day shoot at the village of Bourron-Marlotte, but the film never turned out as planned. There are a variety of reasons for why the film was unfinished. Firstly, we need to acknowledge the time in which the film was made, during the summer of 1936 when the socialist political party, The Popular Front, was voted into government and introduced work reforms in France that included better working conditions and pay for working-class people. With the advent of paid holidays for workers and 40-hour weeks, I believe that Jean Renoir, in this period of his cinematic career, used Guy de Maupassant's original short story from the late 19th century to evoke a time when people were less burdened by work commitments and valued their leisure activities just as much.

    Renoir took his crew to Bourron-Marlotte to shoot on location. He took his family members also to work and holiday; his common-in-law wife at the time, Marguerite Houlle, and his son, Alain, act in the film, while his nephew Claude was the head cinematographer. The screenplay Renoir adapted required hot, summer days. Unfortunately, it rained for most of July and August, and the eight days turned into two months. The film's producer, Pierre Braunberger, was forced to stop production after Renoir effectively abandoned the project after signing a contract to shoot his next film, The Lower Depths. How far was the project from being completed? This is difficult to say as one couldn't imagine that the studio schedule planned for two days to include the Dufour family scenes at their shop in Paris or the scenes where Henri learns about Henriette's marriage to Anatole would have added significant time to the film. Nevertheless, what we have, a 40 minute short film, is now ironically considered by modern day film critics as one of Renoir's best films since it came from the most creative working period of his life, from the mid 1930s until The Rules of the Game in 1939. Renoir himself had thought the film would never be released. By the time Pierre Braunberger arranged Marguerite Houlle to edit the film from the 4 and 1/2 hours of film stock shot, it was already 1946 and Renoir had long since committed to his Hollywood film career.

    Une Partie de Campagne tells the story of the Dufour family. Monsieur Dufour is a shop-owner who plans a trip to the country with his wife, his daughter the beautiful Henriette, and her fiance Anatole. During their visit two local men, Henri and Rodolphe, plan to spend time with Madame Dufour and Henriette while Monsieur Dufour and Anatole go fishing. Henri and Henriette's romantic escapade by the river creates a void in them both, as they realise years later the missed opportunity they experienced by parting. Sylvia Bataille, who plays Henriette, is the lead actress of the film, and indeed Braunberger and Renoir intended to use the film to make her a star. It was not to be, as Bataille's film career was over by 1950, perhaps due to her marriage to noted French psychoanalyst, Jacques Lacan.

    Madman Entertainment's Directors Suite label has produced an outstanding DVD for Une Partie de Campagne, replete with quality extras. If you are a fan of Jean Renoir's work then this DVD comes with an easy recommendation to view and buy to add to your film collection.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer of Une Partie de Campagne is on par with the French Region 2 2-disc Studio Canal release from late 2005.

    The aspect ratio of the film is 1:33:1 full-frame. It is not 16x9 enhanced for widescreen televisions.

    The main feature takes up 1.8 gb of space on the dual-layered DVD-9 disc which, with the extras, is stacked at 7.8 gb in size overall. The average bitrate is 6.21 m/b per sec. The film looks reasonably sharp for its age. There are some minor instances of low level noise and film grain but these do not detract from the overall good video transfer on display.

    The highlight of the video transfer is Claude Renoir's cinematography which benefited from his uncle, Jean's, insistence upon shooting on sunny days. The cinematography is not over-exposed, rather there is a light and relaxed tone to the visual setting of the film.

    There are film artefacts present throughout the main presentation. These are usually minor and mainly consist of specks of dust, dirt and scratches; again these do not detract from the overall video quality of the transfer. Most of the artefacts occur at the beginning of the film during the credits. There are some minor instances of telecine wobble present too.

    Subtitles are provided in English in white or yellow. These can be chosen from the Setup menu or 'on-the-fly' from your DVD remote.

    The RSDL change occurs during the documentary of the making of the film, not the main presentation itself. It occurs at 43:22.

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

Audio

    The audio transfer of the film is clear and distinct. It is in excellent condition.

    Both the French main soundtrack and the audio commentary track are encoded with a Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track at 224 kbps each.

    Dialogue is easy to follow and is synchronised.

    Joseph Kosma's score for the film is orchestrated to reach a melodramatic crescendo at different parts of the film. The gradual rise in pitch and dynamics of the main theme reminded me of the main theme from Alain Resnais' Last Year at Marienbad. This was Kosma's first film score; he would go on to score more of Renoir's films in the future, both before and after World War Two.

    As the main soundtrack is mono, there is no surround channel usage present.

    The subwoofer is not utilised either.

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

Extras

Audio Commentary by Anna Dzenis and Rick Thompson, lecturers in Cinema Studies at La Trobe University

    Rick Thompson dominates this commentary, not through dialogue but rather by his authoritative summations to the points that Anna Dzenis raises. Early on Rick Thompson even quietly corrects Anna Dzenis' comment on Renoir's father and his vocal delivery is more fluent than Dzenis who tends to pause a lot more in her sentences. Regardless, this is still an informative commentary with details like Jean Renoir's father, the painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir's, paintings in the country referenced as well as the cinematography contrasting indoor and outdoor scenes.

Un Tournage a la Campagne - a feature length documentary on the making of the film (85:37)

    This is the same documentary available on the French Region 2 Studio Canal release. It is edited from 4 and 1/2 hours of unused material and donated by the producer Pierre Braunberger to the Cinematheque Francaise. This 85-minute behind the scenes featurette was compiled by Alain Fleischer in 1994 for that year's Cannes Film festival. The footage shows synchronised sound with Renoir's voice instructing and guiding the actors.

La Direction d'acteur par Jean Renoir - A revealing demonstration of Renoir's working method (21:40)

    In 1968, Renoir appeared in and directed this short film which shows him directing the actress Gisele Braunberger in a scene from a Rumer Godden novel, Breakfast with Nicolaides. Shot in a half-day, the film's direction credit is sometimes given to Mrs. Braunberger.

Booklet - an essay on the film by Ian Johnston, film writer

    Ian Johnston gives a detailed account into the production of Une Partie de Campagne, focusing mainly on Jean Renoir's involvement with the project but also discussing Guy de Maupassant's original short story, Pierre Braunberger's role as producer and Sylvia Bataille's experience as the lead actress.

Directors Suite trailers

    Four trailers are included for Jean Renoir's The River, Jacques Tati's Mr Hulot's Holiday, Yasujiro Ozu's Early Summer and Alexander Sokurov's Russian Ark.

R4 vs R1

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

    Une Partie de Campagne has previously been released in Region 2 in France and the United Kingdom.

    The Region 2 United Kingdom release by the British Film Institute includes an audio commentary by film historian Philip Kemp, 32 minutes of discarded takes, 8 minutes of screen tests and a text biography on Jean Renoir. Subtitles in English are forced with this release.

    The Region 2 two-disc French release by Studio Canal includes the 85-minute documentary, Un Tournage a la Campagne, a 5-minute introduction to the film by Jean Renoir, an 8-minute interview with the producer Pierre Braunberger, an 8-minute featurette on their memories of the film from the technicians, 14 1/2 minutes of screen tests and a 52-minute discussion on the film by Les Cahiers du Cinema critics Jacques Aumont, Pascal Bonitzer, Jean-Louis Comolli, Serge Daney, Jean Narboni, Jean-Pierre and Sylvie Pierre Oudar.

    The French Studio Canal release has the best extras but contains no English subtitles. Therefore the best DVD of Une Partie de Campagne for English-speaking audiences is the Region 4 Directors Suite release.

Summary

    Not only does Madman Entertainment's Directors Suite label provide its fans with a very decent video and audio transfer of Jean Renoir's unfinished gem, Une Partie de Campagne on this DVD, they also have stacked it with an academic commentary, two great featurettes and a 16-page essay on the film.

    This DVD must be seen as the best DVD release by Directors Suite this year, equal to their similarly fantastic 2009 release of Jean Vigo's films. For fans of Jean Renoir's work, this DVD is a must-have addition to your film collection.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Stivaktas (I like my bio)
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S550 (Firmware updated Version 020), 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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