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International Le Jour se Leve/Daybreak Studio Canal (1 Viewer)

david hare

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david hare
I've had the German disc of this for a week now, UK and French release of the same disc scheduled for November.

I can only say run don't walk to order it. After Canal and Lab Eclair's superlative 2012 2k restoration of Carne's 1938 masterpiece Quai des Brumes/ Port of Shadows I wondered how they would make do with their 2014 4k restoration of Le Jour se Leve, another masterpiece for which there is no O-Neg. I can only say they've performed miracles, based on the primary use of a "marron" (effectively a brown nitrate internegative) which Canal found at the last minute. There is a copiously detailed restoration documentary on the disc (subtitled like all the extras) which is mandatory viewing for everyone with the slightest interest in the art of film preservation. This restoration is so acutely and copiously attuned to the spirit of the filmmakers one can now see things in the lighting and photography that were previously just not visible even in 35mm archive prints. The movie was shot by DP Curt Courant with short lenses for the CUs and he employs a battery of lighting techniques (Philippe Agostini as lighting cameraman) for these shots, including keylights on eyes with backgrounds leeching from dark to light to blackness again, some of the longest lap dissolves in cinema history, for which the optical contrast popping from second gen shots has been almost totally eliminated, and an extraordinary technique in the two shots for the leads in which Courant pulls the focus slightly back from the eyes to provide maximum sharpness to the flat plane of the shot (clothes, arms, ) while the faces take on a kind of illuminated "glow". At this point I suspect Carne and his team were basically showing the American masters of CU and MCU like Lee Garmes and Ernest Haller their own stuff, and what stuff it is! The thing about this astonishing restoration is this is all so tangibly visible.
I cannot find a fault, (nor would I want to) with the image. The disc is just superb, and the 4k is currently screening theatrically in the UK. I would rate this 4K at the same level as the flawless Sony 4k of Lady from Shanghai. And in this case the Canal BluRay is right up there without the persistent problems that slightly tarnished the Welles discs. I would in fact call this for the BD and single restoration job of the year, and that in a year filled with outstanding work. So far at least. For me if maybe not so much for others but certainly for aficionados of the Golden Age of French cinema and the apex of "Poetic Realism" itself a forerunner to the Noir canon this movie is at the peak of French cinematic patrimony. It was the ultimate collaborative work of scenarist and poet Jacques Prevert, Carne at his own personal peak I believe, and the great designer Alexandre Trauner. The team would go on to make during the war Les Visiteurs du Soir and Les Enfants du Paradis (sadly in a totally botched Pathe BD presentation) but Daybreak I believe is their masterpiece.
 

Dick

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I have the DVD and will be ordering the Blu. It's a fantastic, highly under-seen (nearly unknown in the U.S.) thriller with a heart.
 

bujaki

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Both films used to play constantly in repertory theaters in NY in the '70s, Those were the days...
The first time I saw Les visiteurs du soir was in the government-sponsored channel in Puerto Rico, sometime in the mid-'60s. I was entranced. And of course, I fell in love with Arletty.
 

david hare

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In that case I think you will be delighted to know this restoration returns a brief nude shot of Arletty in the shower, which was cut by the Vichy censors in 1941! Her breasts are fully visible but she is mercifully clutching a sponge to her nether regions. (As one would if Jean Gabin walked into the room I suppose. He said.... )
 

bujaki

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Thanks for the tip, David. I honestly don't know what I'd do if Gabin walked into the room. A trio, perhaps? :D
 

david hare

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Have you ever seen Duvivier's fabulous early pre Noir film, La Bandera (1935) with Gabin as the mec on the lam in Spain joining the Spanish foreign legion after killing his girlfriend's bit on the side in Paris?

In an early scene in a Barcelona waterside dive we get bare breasted flamenco dancers , petty crims and very VERY obvious drag queens (with tough truck drivers' faces, stubble etc) all hanging off Gabin's arms. It has to be seen to be believed. He clearly loves the attention. Later after joining the legion there's one other legionnaire character with a strange American accent who seems to be an acrobat or similar, who obviously has a crush on Gabin and keeps sitting on his face! He spends a lot of the time mincing around and acting the big girl, but fights like a trouper of course. I kid you not! Not readily available unless you speak French and can access Warner France DVDs (Excellent glowing transfer) from fnac.
 

david hare

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What's the transfer of the new "Cinema Libre" US disc like? I wonder if it's a retread of an old NTSC release by some label called "Vanguard" which is probably OOP (from ca. 2000.) La Bandera is one of several 30s Duviviers restored by CNC which have been released on PAL DVD by Warner France, all looking wonderful. There have been various copyright stumbling blocks over the years, many relating to legal claims by the Estate of the screenwriter Charles Spaak. French "Intellectual Property" laws are amongst the most restrictive and obstructive in the world. Beatrice Welles personally makes use of them to keep everything she possibly can under lock and key. I know there were court cases a few years ago in which copyright issues with the Spaak estate were finally settled in France, at least, but may not have been for the rest of the world. Which is possibly one reason Duvivier' completely amazing body of work in the 30s is virtually unknown outside France and not that well known there these days. There are more than a dozen films starting from 1930 ("David Golder" one of the first French talkies) which are as remarkable a body of work as Renoir, or Carne or Clair. I certainly rate him at that very high level.
 

Nick Beal

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I watched (and really enjoyed) the StudioCanal restored Blu-ray of LE JOUR SE LEVE tonight and, although I was once again blown away by the movie itself, I was distinctly underwhelmed by the restoration. It's great to have
the deleted scenes restored (including the scene featuring a naked Arletty) but the picture quality itself seemed mediocre at best with a noticeable absence of grain. It simply looked over-restored. Interestingly, in the restoration comparison documentary there was a 'before restoration and after' shot of the alley running by Francoise's house and IMO the unrestored image looks better. It's sharper, more vibrant and has grain. The restored shot looks bland in comparison.
For me, this is reminiscent of the recent controversy regarding the Kino WHITE ZOMBIE Blu which included a
complete unrestored print as an 'extra' which was considered superior to the restored main feature. It's a shame that something similar wasn't available on the Studiocanal disc and I'm very surprised at the seemingly universal praise that this restoration has received. LE JOUR SE LEVE deserves better.
 

david hare

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I'm glad you still like the film at least.

I simply do not find a problem with the grain management, in fact I think it's possibly one of the most consistently preserved grain images I've seen. It's certainly "finer" than the restored Quai des Brume from Canal.

Grain is the air that breathes life into film so it's always important. When I first watched this I had some misgivings about what I perceived as "softness" in some CUs and medium three shots - particular example Arletty with Gabin in the Music Hall watching the show. On closer examination these shots are a product of very specific photographic techniques, with very short lenses and highly artificial lighting. The older DVD (Which wasn't bad, but clearly from dupe elements) always presented these isolated shots with very bad density problems and image fluctuation, including the long shot of the alley running along Francoise's house, in which the sides of the image are "blurred". Indeed a lot of the DVD looks like this with sometimes centered, sometimes off centered "blurring". This has all been cleared now up thanks I believe to the discovery of the "marron" (dupe lavender nitrate neg) which gave the restorers a near first gen element to work from at last. I view everything on a 120 inch diagonal 4:3 screen (1.2 gain) with an Oppo 93 and a Sony VPL HW50ES (a gorgeous beast of a thing.)

Clearly the inserted two minutes of cut footage is from a dupe, multi gen and relatively weak 35mm element which only survives from 1941 Vichy censor cuts in a "missing" archival print.

I am disappointed you didn't enjoy it more.
 

Douglas R

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Nick Beal said:
I watched (and really enjoyed) the StudioCanal restored Blu-ray of LE JOUR SE LEVE tonight and, although I was once again blown away by the movie itself, I was distinctly underwhelmed by the restoration. It's great to have
the deleted scenes restored (including the scene featuring a naked Arletty) but the picture quality itself seemed mediocre at best with a noticeable absence of grain. It simply looked over-restored. Interestingly, in the restoration comparison documentary there was a 'before restoration and after' shot of the alley running by Francoise's house and IMO the unrestored image looks better. It's sharper, more vibrant and has grain. The restored shot looks bland in comparison.
For me, this is reminiscent of the recent controversy regarding the Kino WHITE ZOMBIE Blu which included a
complete unrestored print as an 'extra' which was considered superior to the restored main feature. It's a shame that something similar wasn't available on the Studiocanal disc and I'm very surprised at the seemingly universal praise that this restoration has received. LE JOUR SE LEVE deserves better.

I agree. I thought the picture quality was extremely disappointing - there's no getting away from the fact that the image is very soft. Having recently watched the superb CABINET OF DR CALIGARI restoration, I couldn't help comparing how bland LE JOUR SE LEVE looks in comparison. OK maybe it's not a fair comparison because unlike CALIGARI the restoration team didn't have the original negative to work from and no doubt they did the best with what they had. Nevertheless, a Blu-ray should surely be judged on what, ideally, the film could and should look like?
 

Tama

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I watched my U.K. release.

Also watched the 14 minute Restoration featurette which was very informative explaining the condition of this film. Original negative no longer exist so they used a combination of different elements including a Brown Nitrate. They also explained that mold had started to accumulate and needed to be treated but not so much in a way that it would severely effect the middle images of the frames. And throughout the film it was easy to see the quality shift. It reminded me a lot of Sony/Criterions It Happened One Night.

I read a link to another review elsewhere were it seemed to that reviewer to have been digitally scrubbed (DNR'd) But I'm not sure I'd agree with that statement after making comparisons to films like Children of Paradise and Madame De released through Criterion.
 

david hare

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Tama, there is absolutely no issue with DVNR being overzealously applied. Nor has there been any aggressive dust busting at mastering stage. They also had to deal with multi gen positive dupe prints to reassemble shots and sequences in which the grain was ferocious, as a result of several gens of duping. So they have come up with a fine grain management for the restored image which is almost ethereal to my eyes and absolutely superb in effect. The "softness" some people are complaining about is a result of two things: some of it is pure photographic technique in which Curt Courant has pulled very short lenses in the medium shots slightly back from faces to create an ipresssion of - literally - soft focus, and some of it is a technical trade off between the ultra refined grain management (to reflect the quality of first gen nitrate, like the Capra you mention) and s slightly less than ideal apparent sharpness for some of the shots.
Any so called "critic" who considers this DVNRed doesn't know what he's/she's talking about.
In terms of fidelity to the original first generation prints, their treatment of audio is so outstandingly thorough you can now hear the slight bumps and thuds of the camera mechanisms during live to film dialogue scenes, and occasional creaks and bumps from the studio sets contracting and expanding with the temperatures under the lights during shooing. I think Canal's restoration team has applied a similarly thorough and respectful treatment to the visual quality as well. This to me is a masterful restoration, easily the equal of Grover Crisp's work on It Happened and Only Angels.I should add I am viewing this on a 120 inch screen. I think "softness" issues would be manifestly more evident on this if they were there but IMO this restoration is as close to perfect as the elements allow, nothing at all like the appalling over-filtered and DVNRed botch of Les Enfants du Paradis.

FYI the original Madame de was ruined at the first 2k scan stage in which someone decided to alter all the parameters on the scanner at Lab Éclair ( not for the first time.) They then got "creative" with opportunistic filtering and a battery of other completely wrong headed digital tools including high frequency filters, to the point they had so destabilized actual pixel information the images of things like tree trunks and horse heads looked like mosaic tiles on acid. And skin and facial details became smoothed out in an orgy of filtering and DVNR in combo. As you know I was one of the people who raised a storm to get this withdrawn and rescanned by Gaumont, who then reissued it the following year from a corrected 2k. It's still not perfect I have to say.
 

Tama

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David Hare I agree. Just wanted to bring up some examples in case for others who may have read that review or thought the same. :)
 

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