The Last Battle (Le Dernier Combat) (Directors Suite) (1983)

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Released 17-Aug-2010

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Four Directors Suite trailers
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1983
Running Time 88:36 (Case: 90)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (48:44) Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By Luc Besson
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Pierre Jolivet
Jean Bouise
Fritz Wepper
Jean Reno
Christiane Krüger
Maurice Lamy
Pierre Carrive
Jean-Michel Castanié
Michel Doset
Bernard Havet
Marcel Berthomier
Petra Müller
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $34.95 Music Eric Serra


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 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

     I must admit that I had not been aware of Luc Besson's feature films prior to The Big Blue which was released in 1988. After viewing The Last Battle (Le Dernier Combat) and Subway, one can fully appreciate why the big Hollywood studios came 'knocking' on Besson's door to make films in English in the 1990s.

     The Last Battle is a unique debut film from a unique filmmaker. Luc Besson served as director, co-writer and co-producer (with actor Pierre Jolivet) on this film, and it was the beginning also of his collaboration with actor Jean Reno and composer Eric Serra. Although Besson had written Subway as a screenplay first, he decided that The Last Battle was the first movie he would make for technical reasons; it was easier to shoot it at the time in relation to budget. It was nominated at the 1984 French Cesar awards for 'best first work'.

     Adapted from the 1981 short film, L’avant dernier, which also starred the lead actors Pierre Jolivet and Jean Reno, The Last Battle tells the story of mankind's battle to survive a post-apocalyptic disaster that has rendered them mute, lacking fresh water and food. The men who have survived this experience battle to find women, who are scarce. The story is told from the point of view of only a few characters. Firstly Pierre Jolivet's character, 'The Man', is the protagonist of the film. We see him in the film's first scene with a blow-up doll. Dissatisfied with this sate of affairs, he proceeds to go to a local gang living in abandoned cars and steals their car battery. This sparks a strong reaction from the gang. In a world where electricity matters, The Man is forced to escape via his constructed plane to the countryside to find a woman.

     When he lands his plane, he finds another desolate place inhabited by two main characters, 'The Doctor' (Jean Bouise) and 'The Brute' (Jean Reno). It seems that The Brute pays The Doctor a visit on a regular basis with gifts of tinned food. He does so because he is aware of The Doctor keeping a woman in his guarded remains of a hospital. When 'The Man' enters this scenario, The Brute attacks him out of jealously, he does not want any competition for what he desires. The Man is critically wounded yet manages to escape via an underground manhole. The Man eventually finds an entrance to the hospital and The Doctor slowly treats his wounds. The Doctor introduces The Man to a woman he is keeping alive, locked up for her own safety. It seems The Doctor has saved this woman from The Brute. Will The Man succeed in his quest to establish a relationship with her, albeit at an animalistic level, or will The Brute put a stop to his plans?

     The Last Battle introduces its audience to a minimalist, dystopian society. Everything about it is minimal. There is no dialogue, barely any accompanying soundtrack, it is presented in stark black-and-white photography and the characters get by on very little resources. Yet despite this scenario, this film is rich in a metaphorical way; it will still leave you thinking days after you've viewed it.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Director Luc Besson and Cinematographer Carlo Varini shot this film in black-and-white with bright contrast. This was due to the apocalyptic nature of the story.

     The aspect ratio of The Last Battle is 2:35:1, 16x9 enhanced. The main feature is presented on a dual-layered DVD which is 4.97 gb in size. As the film is only 88 minutes long in this PAL transfer, the average bitrate is therefore quite good at 6.95 m/b per sec.

     The black-and-white photography is quite stark. It's no coincidence that Besson shot this film only during the daytime, using natural lighting. There are a few instances of film artefacts and film grain is present due to the original film stock used. Sometimes low level noise is evident due to dark background 'blacks'. Some scenes have minor edge enhancement also.

     Subtitles are available in white or yellow, but they aren't really needed here as there is no dialogue in this film.

     The RSDL change occurs at 48:44, during a scene change.

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

Audio

     Just like the photography and the story in general, the audio soundtrack is minimalist, relying mainly on natural sounds.

     The main audio track is a French (for the sake of argument as no language is spoken here!) Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded track encoded at 192 kbps. The audio is synchronised with what is heard on-screen.

     Music by Eric Serra is influenced by 1980s synthetic pop; it only is heard in battle scenes and a few other incidental scenes when his music is more mellow. Again, there are only a few minutes of it throughout the entire film!

     For a Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded track, the surround channel usage is quite good. There is good separation between channels. The rears kick in for natural wind effects at times. The subwoofer is not utilised in this soundtrack.

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

Extras

Theatrical Trailer

     The original theatrical trailer is presented from 1990; possibly this is the trailer for the film's American release. The trailer is not 16x9 enhanced.

Directors Suite Trailers

     Trailers are presented for Jean-Luc Godard's Vivre sa vie, Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Ali: Fear Eats the Soul and Luc Besson's The Big Blue and Angel-A.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 1 United States and the Region 2 United Kingdom Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment DVD releases are identical in specifications to the Madman Directors Suite Region 4 release of the film. The French Region 2 Film Office DVD release does not include a theatrical trailer like the aforementioned releases and its soundtrack is in MPEG-2 stereo.

Summary

    If you enjoyed The Road or The Book of Eli, then do yourself a favour and have a look at this debut feature from Luc Besson. For fans of Besson's work, no doubt you would have picked up the Blu-ray release from Madman's Directors Suite label already!

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Stivaktas (I like my bio)
Thursday, October 21, 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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