The Round Up (La Rafle) (2010)
|Year Of Production||2010|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Rose Bosch|
Mathieu Di Concerto
Romain Di Concerto
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English (Burned In)||Smoking||No|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
It is not uncommon for Hollywood executives, in their constant struggle for world domination, to green light competing projects; witness, right now, the two Snow White movies about to hit our shores. So often there are two films or more with the same subject matter which inexplicably vie for our attention. Though European cinema rarely indulges in such competition, 2010 saw the release of two French films regarding the infamous Vel D'Hiv roundup.
Earlier this year I reviewed the release on a Blu-ray of Sarah's Key featuring Kristin Scott-Thomas. The review can be found here . Now, some months later, Madman Entertainment have released on DVD The Round Up a Rose Bosch directed film. Students of French wartime history or those who just like their war stories will perhaps pick up both. For the casual viewer, however, which is the preferable purchase?
As said, both films deal with the infamous Vel D'Hiv roundup. On 16 and 17 July 1942 Jews living in occupied Paris were arrested in a lightning operation and briefly interned at the Vel D'Hiv (Winter Velodrome) until they were shipped out to various camps, with many ultimately ending up at Auschwitz. The round up has remained contentious and a thorn in the side of the French soul for the reason that those doing the arresting were Frenchman albeit acting under the direction of their Nazi masters. No nation likes to think of itself as responsible for the deaths of its own citizens, particularly where there is the strong suggestion of earnest collaboration. Sarah's Key was a journey of discovery. Kristin Scott-Thomas, as a journalist in modern day Paris, was drawn to understand and investigate the dark story of the round up and the film swung between the past and the present. The Round Up has no modern context. All the story is told in the past. There are other differences. Whilst Sarah's Key told a story of one child's journey for life and escape, The Round Up tries to convey the bigger picture. Instead of the knock at the door which began the former film The Round Up takes us into occupied Paris in the period leading up to the 16th of July as the storm clouds gathered over the Jews. Each day another restriction is placed on the Jews until the situation reaches breaking point.
The leads in The Round Up are Gallic crossover stars Jean Reno (The Professional, Mission Impossible) and Melanie Laurent (Inglorious Basterds). Reno is a Jewish doctor who is arrested like the other Jews and thrown into hellish conditions in the velodrome. Laurent is the Protestant nurse who is shocked at the level of merciless barbarity meted out by her fellow Frenchmen and tends to the hordes of children interned with their parents.
The Round Up attempts, usually successfully, to present an ensemble story, top to bottom, from the Fuhrer discussing the Jewish Problem with Himmler down to the smallest child confused as to why the World seems to be falling apart. Perhaps it is too ambitious. Putting Hitler in a film is like putting any major historical character - every viewer is distracted by working out how authentically "Hitlerish" they look. It also leads to the inevitable simplification of the dialogue. So too with the scenes of those in the Vichy Government debating their actions.
The Round Up manages to tell well a compelling story and Laurent and Reno (who only enters the film a third of the way through) are engaging leads. There is also a small appearance by Sylvie Testud.
So, Sarah's Key or The Round Up? Probably the former, which is less obviously sentimental, although fans of French cinema won't be making a mistake by investing in both.
The Round Up was shot on 35mm film and displayed at the cinema in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. That aspect ratio has been preserved for this DVD release. It is 16x9 enhanced.
The film is sharp and pleasing to look at with a light filmic grain. The film is spread over a dual layer DVD and therefore has ample room to move without the necessity of heavy compression. For this reason the picture quality is good with only the tiniest evidence of compression when the concentration camp train in the distance sent clouds of smoke into the frame. Otherwise this is a transfer free of defects.
The colours are strong and accurate although, understandably, drab tones dominate throughout in keeping with the wartime setting.
There are subtitles in English which are burnt into the film.
The Round Up carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack running at 448 Kb/s.
The track is mainly in French but some German is also spoken. The track seems clear and easy to understand. The surround track is only used sparingly, the sub-woofer less so.
Music comes from a variety of classical and French sources, including time accurate songs. Perhaps the most moving moments are supplied via Phillip Glass's Violin Concerto as the streets of Paris are emptied.
There are no technical defects with the sound.
|Surround Channel Use|
The only extra is a Theatrical Trailer.
The Region 1 version of the DVD has a Making of featurette. That makes it a better buy for fans.
The Round Up is another excellent film about the Vel D'Hiv round up that manages to tell a very human story that is at once moving in the plight of the Jews and blood boiling at the French lackeys who suddenly turned on their neighbours.
The DVD looks and sounds good. The lack of extras is a disappointment.
|DVD||Cambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output|
|Display||Sony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Pioneer SC-LX 81 7.1|
|Speakers||Aaron ATS-5 7.1|