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Cesar
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.37:1 Standard
  • French PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES

Cesar

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Marcel Pagnol
1936 | 140 Minutes | Licensor: La Cinematheque francaise

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $0.00 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #884
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release Date: June 20, 2017
Review Date: July 20, 2017

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SYNOPSIS

In the final chapter of The Marseille Trilogy, Marcel Pagnol returns his compassionate gaze to his weathered characters as they discover the possibility of reconciliation and the durability of love. Leaping forward twenty years, the trilogy continues with the death of Fanny’s husband, Panisse, and the discovery of her secret by her son, Césariot. The young man resolves to track down his biological father, Marius, whose life has been fraught with calamity and poverty. The only film in the trilogy written expressly for the screen and directed by Pagnol, César resolves the protagonists’ star-crossed destinies with the garrulous wit and understated naturalism that have made this epic love story a landmark of humanist filmmaking.


PICTURE

The third and final film in Marcel Pagnol’s Marseille Trilogy, César (directed by Pagnol himself) comes to Blu-ray through Criterion’s new exclusive box set, delivered on a dual-layer disc in the film’s original aspect ratio of 1.37:1. This new high-definition 1080p/24hz presentation comes from a new 4K restoration scanned from the original 35mm nitrate negative, a 35mm safety duplicate negative, and a 35mm safety duplicate positive.

César ends up looking different in comparison to the other films, more than likely due to advances in filmmaking technology at the time and different film stock, and it comes off quite a bit sharper than the others. As impressive as the presentations are for the other two films in the set (particularly Marius) the source can still limit them a bit. Because of the better source details here are more distinct and more clearly rendered, with improved textures and depth. The digital transfer itself, like the other presentations in the set, is just about perfect, looking stable and filmic with distinctly rendered grain, which is a bit tighter and finer here in comparison to the two other films. The black and white image also presents excellent contrast levels, with strong blacks and excellent shadow detail.

The restoration work has also been quite thorough, just like the other films. The image has a few minor marks and the image can shift a bit during transition but the picture is otherwise pristine. Again, like the other films, it’s really hard to believe the film was made in the 30s.

9/10

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AUDIO

The audio for the film was recorded on location and this can limit the lossless PCM 1.0 monaural presentation in places but on the whole the track is clean. Dialogue sounds fine for the most part but because of the on-location audio recording there are places where it’s muffled. The track can be a little flat but I still found music and effects decent and other than some background noise the audio is free of any significant damage.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Criterion’s Marseille Trilogy box set presents all three films on their own dual-layer discs and each disc comes with their own selection of special features. This review will only focus on the features found on the disc for César.

César ends up presenting the shortest batch of supplements, relying more on archival material. A 1967 4-minutee interview segment from French television about actor Orane Demazis opens the supplements here, Demazis recalling her work on Marius and working with Raimu. Criterion also digs up a 7-minute television segment featuring actor Pierre Fresnay talking about Raimu, the man and the actor, on the 10th anniversary of his death, with nothing but fond things to say about the man (other supplements mention how Raimu was unimpressed with Fresnay at first, but there is no sign or mention of that here). There’s also an intriguing 11-minute segment from a French television program on actor Robert Vattier, who played M. Brun in the trilogy. Amusingly the piece shows a number of people on camera recalling M. Brun but they have trouble recalling the actor.

The most interesting inclusion on the disc, though, is a 1935 short 12-minute “documentary” by Pagnol called Marseille, which is about the port town, the notes describing it as a prewar genre type known as the “documentaire romance.” The segment ends up feeling more like some sort of marketing piece for the films than an actual documentary but is still worth viewing.

The disc then closes with a 2-minute piece on the restoration of the films. This proved to be a bit disappointing as little is shown about the work that went into this. Some material is shown but I actually would have loved more before-and-after material.

On their own the supplements are slim but enjoyable enough, and taken within the context of the set as a whole they’re actually a nice way to close off the supplements.

6/10

CLOSING

The supplements are worth going through though easily the weakest batch in the set, but this disc offers the best presentation of all the films.




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