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Marius
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.19:1 Standard
  • French PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES

Marius

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Alexander Korda
1931 | 127 Minutes | Licensor: La Cinematheque francaise

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $0.00 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #882
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release Date: June 20, 2017
Review Date: July 10, 2017

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SYNOPSIS

Adapting his hit play Marius for the screen two years after its stage premiere, Marcel Pagnol turned his inimitable creative energies to the new medium of sound cinema, in a felicitous collaboration with the Hungarian-born director Alexander Korda, soon to be a leading light of British filmmaking. Young Marius and Fanny begin to recognize that their lifelong friendship has blossomed into romance, but their hopes of marriage are left unrealized when Marius cannot overcome his longing to go to sea, against the wishes of his adoring father, César, but with Fanny’s selfless encouragement. Pagnol and Korda bring a keening lyricism to this tale of lovers torn between devotion and the restless urge for adventure, a conflict that begins to shape their destinies in ways they could never predict.


PICTURE

The first film in Marcel Pagnol’s Marseille Trilogy, Marius (directed by Alexander Korda) 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 1.19:1. 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.

The end result for the film (and the set as a whole) is really remarkable, far surpassing my expectations. The clarity of the image is quite astounding, the source materials looking to have held up rather well over the years. A few shots can maybe go a bit fuzzy but most of the film delivers a sharp image, high in detail and smooth in motion. The restoration has been shockingly thorough and I was hard pressed to find any blemishes, just a few stray bits of dirt spread throughout. Contrast looks great, with nice whites and rich blacks, along with nice shifts in the grays in between.

The encode itself is also superb. Grain is rendered nicely, looking fine and natural, and there are no noticeable anomalies to speak of. Details pop and everything is clearly defined. Everything about this looks incredible and it’s hard to believe this film was released in 1931, it looks far newer than that.

9/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

The audio is presented in lossless PCM 1.0 mono and sounds surprisingly good with all things considered. I found some of the dialogue sounded a bit muffled (the supplements mention that there were sometimes issues recording Raimu) but since it is in French and comes with English subtitles it’s not so much of an issue. Volume levels and range are limited, and there can be a slight edge in the higher ends but the track is otherwise clean.

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 Marius.

Director Bertrand Tavernier first offers an introduction to the films in the set. The 20-minute discussion can be a bit dry but he explains the background to Pagnol’s plays and then the eventual film adaptations (though César was written exclusively for the screen). From here he talks a bit about Pagnol’s excitement over the film medium, at least when sound finally became a reality (and he was no longer limited by a stage) and talks a bit about the more cinematic elements found in the film versions.

Marcel Pagnol’s grandson Nicolas Pagnol next discusses the films and the process of restoring them. He also shares various stories about his grandfather, who was apparently quite good at charming his way through things (he was called a “charming liar”) and then shares stories about the productions of the films and then other stories about the films’ star, Raimu. Tavernier touches somewhat on these things but Pagnol expands on these items and proves to be a more interesting subject. It runs about 30-minutes.

Brett Bowles, associate professor of French film studies at Indiana University, next offers a visual essay on Pagnol’s Poetic Realism, examining the look of each film and how more cinematic each one became, with Fanny taking on a rather complex tracking shot (a little rough around the edges mind you) that could be seen as a precursor to the French New Wave, and then César’s more complex camerawork. He also looks at the successes of each film (César being one of the most anticipated films of the time) before going over the remakes and newer stage adaptations. It proves to be one of the more fascinating features in the entire set, though one should be warned that there are spoilers galore for each of the films so I recommend watching it after having seen each film.

A theatrical trailer for the Janus Films release of the new restorations then closes off the disc.

6/10

CLOSING

This disc offers an impressive opening to the set. The transfer and restoration are really incredible, well beyond what I would have expected for the film, and the supplements, for the most part, prove fascinating and invaluable.




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