Betty Blue (37°2 le Matin): Director's Cut (AV Channel) (1986)

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Released 12-Sep-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Theatrical Trailer
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Awards
Notes-Soundtrack CD
Trailer-The Monkey's Mask; Mullet; Paris, Texas; Amores Perros
Trailer-The Dinner Game
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1986
Running Time 177:06
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (100:25) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Jean Jacques Beineix
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Jean Hughes Anglade
Beatrice Dalle
Case Click
RPI $34.95 Music Gabriel Yared


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None French Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.59:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 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

    Betty Blue (French title: 37°2 Le Matin) is a brutally honest and painful drama about the relationship between Zorg (Jean-Hugues Anglade), a mild-mannered, easy going and unambitious young man who writes detective novels in his spare time, and the passionate, beautiful and wild Betty (Béatrice Dalle). It is a loose adaptation of a book (supposedly based on real life characters) by Philippe Djian. The French title, loosely translated as "37.2°C in the morning" supposedly refers to the body temperature in the morning of someone with a slight fever which may become a real fever by the end of the day.

    I remember watching this film at the Valhalla cinema in Glebe during the film's initial theatrical run, and was profoundly moved by it. It was widely acclaimed by critics in its time as a masterpiece that would surely gain "cult film" status. Although it was popular amongst the Bohemian crowd it did not quite reach the exalted status of "cult film" that it was perhaps striving for. What is presented on this DVD is an extended "director's cut" version of the film specially edited by director Jean-Jacques Beineix in 1991. It is almost three hours in length. So, what is it about and is it worth it?

    The opening titles feature white titles on a blue background with playground music playing in the soundtrack. Once that's over, we get the infamous copulation scene where Zorg and Betty are having the time of their lives (supposedly the couple were actually making love for real) in front of a print of the Mona Lisa (who seems to be smiling down on them).

    Zorg is living in a dilapidated house, doing odd jobs for the owner of a group of beach bungalows (Claude Confortès). The owner does a deal with Zorg: he will allow Betty to live with Zorg (rent free) provided he and Betty repaint all the bungalows for nothing. When Betty finds out about the deal, she goes completely berserk and burns the whole house down, so they are forced to flee to a riverside hotel owned by Betty's friend Lisa (Consuelo De Haviland).

    Betty discovers that Zorg has written a novel in his spare time. She is very impressed when she reads it and is determined to get it published so that Zorg will be rich and famous.

    The rest of the film chronicles the adventures of the two and the friends they meet along the way. These include Lisa and Eddy (Gérard Darmon), as well as the albino redhead Bob (Jacques Mathou) and his nymphomaniac wife Annie (Clémentine Célarié).

    Betty becomes increasingly more and more manic-depressive as the film progresses and Zorg is not quite sure how to handle her. The last half of the film becomes increasingly morbid and you need a strong disposition and the right frame of mind to enjoy it. Even though the director's cut features almost an extra hour of footage, the film does not seem long at all.

    Watching the film again after many years has not diluted the power and symbolism of the story which is masqueraded by a deceptively simple and meandering storyline. Betty seems like a parable of the human flawed condition, and shades of her are to be found in some of the other characters.

    Incidentally, there is quite a lot of nudity in this film, so if you are not comfortable with that I suggest you may want to avoid this film.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This is a 16x9 enhanced mail-slotted widescreen transfer. The measured aspect ratio seems to be around 1.59:1, which compares quite well to the intended aspect ratio of 1.66:1.

    Given that the film is now about 15 years old, plus the fact that it is nearly three hours long and crammed onto a dual layered disc, I would not have expected a perfect transfer, and I did not get it. However, I was pleasantly surprised that the transfer was better than I expected.

    Given the age of the film source, it is no surprise that the print looks somewhat grainy, though the graininess is not coarse enough to be distracting. Colours have also slightly faded over the years but overall colour saturation levels were good.

    Surprisingly, there weren't a lot of MPEG artefacts, apart from posterization here and there (which can also be related to the graininess).

    There is an English subtitle track, which is turned on by default. As my French is limited to that gleaned from watching 'Allo 'Allo episodes, I relied on the subtitle tracks extensively but cannot comment on how accurate they are.

    As mentioned earlier, this is a single sided dual layered disc (RSDL). The layer change occurs at 100:25, and is reasonably well placed as there is only a slight pause on Betty.

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

Audio

    There is only one audio track on the disc: French Dolby Digital 2.0 (224 Kb/s).

    The audio track is like the film in that it definitely shows its age, sounding slightly muffled and boomy and crackly in parts. Some loud passages seem slightly distorted.

    I did not detect any audio synchronisation issues and I suspect that if I understood French I would have no difficulty in understanding the dialogue.

    The music by Gabriel Yared is one of the highlights of the film, sounding quite wistful and melancholic.

    As this is a stereo sound track, there is no rear surround or subwoofer activity.

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

Extras

    There has been some attempt at including extras on this disc but most of them are text-based. Incidentally I noticed that the blurb on the back of the DVD quotes the plot summary from the IMDB verbatim - it would have been nice for this to be acknowledged.

Menu

    All menus are 16x9 enhanced. In addition, the main menu features animation and background audio.

Theatrical Trailer (1:43)

    The trailer is presented in 1.66:1 with no 16x9 enhancement and Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

Biographies-Cast & Crew

    This features short biographies and filmographies (presented as a set of stills) of Jean-Jacques Beneix (director), Béatrice Dalle ("Betty") and Jean-Hughes Anglade ("Zorg"). Interestingly, the profile for Jean-Jacques Beneix also include a text transcript of an interview with the director presented as a sequence of stills. The profile for Béatrice Dalle only includes a filmography.

Awards

    This is a single still showing all the awards that the film has been nominated for. It did not win any of them.

Notes - Soundtrack CD

    This is a single still providing the album cover and track listing for the soundtrack album.

Trailer - The Monkey's Mask (1:31); Mullet (1:57); Paris, Texas (2:02); Amores Perros (2:08); The Dinner Game (1:34)

    Apart from Mullet, which is presented in 2.35:1 letterboxed, and Amores Perros which is in 1.33:1, all the trailers are presented in 1.66:1 letterboxed. The video transfer quality of the trailers ranges from mediocre to good.

R4 vs R1

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

    As far as I know, this title is not yet available in Region 1.

Summary

    Betty Blue is a powerful but tragic story of a relationship between two young people, presented in a special three hour director's cut (Version Intégrale). It is presented on a DVD with flawed, but acceptable audio and video transfers. The extras are mainly informational stills and trailers.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Saturday, October 20, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-626D, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW10HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (203cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-3300
SpeakersFront and rears: B&W CDM7NT; centre: B&W CDMCNT; subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Anthony H (read my bio)

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