342-348 Six Moral Tales

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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Tom Hagen
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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#201 Post by Tom Hagen » Sat May 23, 2009 7:24 pm

domino is right: this box is probably Criterion's single best release. I adore Cleo, and the Varda box is a lovingly-assembled release, but for me, the other titles compare disfavorably to the quality of the Rohmer films.

With that said, you can't go wrong with the quality of either box. And if you thumb through both threads, you will find posters here who worship either filmmaker with equally tremendous fervor.

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knives
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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#202 Post by knives » Sat May 23, 2009 8:03 pm

As others have said, it is just a matter of taste. I'd say the Resnais', my favorite from the French new wave, But if you prefer the flavor of Rohmer a sell on this set is a killing to have.
Last edited by knives on Tue Jul 27, 2010 2:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#203 Post by swo17 » Sat May 23, 2009 8:11 pm

james wrote:Yeah, I am waiting for the June sale, I already have $80 saved up. I definitely want to get 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her and was considering a box set. I didn't know about a B1G1 sale, but that would be amazing if there was something like that.
Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the DD sale typically does not extend to preorders.

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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#204 Post by James » Sat May 23, 2009 8:20 pm

swo17 wrote:
james wrote:Yeah, I am waiting for the June sale, I already have $80 saved up. I definitely want to get 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her and was considering a box set. I didn't know about a B1G1 sale, but that would be amazing if there was something like that.
Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the DD sale typically does not extend to preorders.
I don't think it does either, but it's only $20.
Last edited by James on Sat May 23, 2009 11:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Dr. Snaut
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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#205 Post by Dr. Snaut » Sat May 23, 2009 11:21 pm

I thought it extended to pre-orders that fell within the sale period. So pre-orders for the mid-June releases will apply to the sale. I guess that doesn't make them pre-orders though...

I hope my logic is correct, as I was hoping to pick up the Seventh Seal re-release and Last Years in Marienbad through the sale.

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ellipsis7
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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#206 Post by ellipsis7 » Tue Jul 27, 2010 5:06 am

Curious to see a comparison (Beaver?) between the CC and the AE SIX MORAL TALES sets...

MY NIGHT AT MAUDS (as MY NIGHT WITH MAUD, debatable as to which is a better rendering of MA NUIT CHEZ MAUD) on UK/IRL theatrical release, AE to release as a standalone DVD in October...

Nice poster...

Image

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Svevan
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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#207 Post by Svevan » Tue Jul 27, 2010 1:57 pm

Someone with better French can speak up, but I don't think that translation is debatable. "Chez" means, more or less, house; to render it "with Maud" is to imply a relation that is not inferred from the French, while leaving out the location. The location where this person spent his "nuit" is stressed in the French title.

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Matt
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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#208 Post by Matt » Tue Jul 27, 2010 2:01 pm

Svevan wrote:Someone with better French can speak up, but I don't think that translation is debatable. "Chez" means, more or less, house; to render it "with Maud" is to imply a relation that is not inferred from the French, while leaving out the location. The location where this person spent his "nuit" is stressed in the French title.
It's more commonly translated as My Night at Maud's, which I think is a more correct translation. But some other languages have to translate the original title as analogous to "My Night at the House of Maud", which is just awful, so a version of "My Night with Maud" would then be preferable. English, thank goodness, is a little more flexible and informal with the possessive.

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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#209 Post by PillowRock » Tue Jul 27, 2010 4:17 pm

While I am not fluent in French .....

As I understand it "chez X" translates more as "the place of X" or "X's place" than as "X's house". Chez can apply to something such as a place of business (for example a restaurant called "Chez Louis", or referring to going to the bar owned by Jean as going "chez Jean") as well as to a residence.

In any event, "at Maud's" is a better translation of "chez Maud" than "with Maud" is.

Of course, foreign territory titles aren't always anything remotely close to the translation of the original title. According to the DVD cover, the French title of Vivacious Lady is "Marriage Incognito". One could well argue that the French title is more descriptive of the situation in the movie, but it bears no similarity at all to the original English title.

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tenia
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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#210 Post by tenia » Tue Jul 27, 2010 4:26 pm

As a French person, I confirm that My night at Maud's is a perfect translation.
My night with Maud would mean Ma nuit avec Maud. In English as in French, you can clearly see that it's not at all the same implications for the narrator.

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#211 Post by HistoryProf » Sun Mar 13, 2011 4:00 am

portnoy wrote:In terms of the difficulty with the male protagonists, it's something I've had to deal with as well - I love La Collectionneuse and really liked Love in the Afternoon, but I just couldn't get past Brialy in Claire's Knee - he's such an unapologetic shit that I couldn't wait until I was through with him.
I picked this up in the FB 50% off sale - been wanting it for years now - and made it through everything over the course of the week. Not too much discussion of the films here, but I thought it was interesting that the one guy singled out for derision most was Jerome from Claire's Knee. He certainly wasn't likable, but both of the male leads in La Collectionneuse bugged me to such an extent that I really disliked the film by the time it finally ended. They were just so insufferable. Moving on to Claire's Knee was a relief after those two! I would love to hear a more specific defense of the film and its message - whatever it may be - from those here who singled it out as a favorite. I just didn't find anything redeeming in it at all. It seemed like all the minor faults of the other films were amplified in this one, particularly the lack of sincerity of the dialog. Maybe French people really talk like that, but it sure didn't feel organic on any level.

In the end, that was my biggest issue with really connecting with the set as a whole - the men were clearly little more than apes for Rohmer's thoughts, and mostly just artlessly delivered extemporaneous soliloquies about their weird experiments with intimacy. But the stand outs REALLY stood out: My Night at Maud's and Love in the Afternoon, with Night at Maud's being the best film by a mile for me. I just loved it's sincerity, and it worked far better than the other two feature length entries. I also quite liked the first two entries, but not on the same level as Night at Maud's. Their conversations succeeded in every way those in La Collectionneuse failed. My first instinct after watching them all is that My Night at Maud's is a genuine masterpiece, but La Collectionneuse was a mildly intriguing but ultimately insufferable failure. Love in the Afternoon is only slightly behind My Night at Maud's, and the other three all held their charms. All in all the experience of working through all the material was genuinely fascinating, and I'll look forward to revisiting them in the future for re-appraisal. I kept asking myself if it was worth holding on to the box, and vacillating back and forth. After Maud's I was certain...then wavered a bit...and ended up back at the decision it was a definite keeper.

Aside from wondering about defenses of La Collectionneuse, I did have one other thought I'd appreciate feedback on: It occurred to me that I probably would have gotten a lot more out of each of the films were I still in that early to mid 20s stage of failing miserably at love and still trying to figure out women, rather than being a happily married 40 year old consigned to the simple fact that "understanding" women is a hopeless quest. Perhaps this was what held back my immersion in the stories, feeling like they were more pseudo-intellectual/young philosopher writings born of that young adult stage where we have the hubris to believe we're actually going to find transcendent peace with a life partner - and want to talk all about our progress ALL THE TIME. Preferably while indulging in overpriced coffee drinks and clove cigarettes. I can clearly imagine myself at 24 after yet another heart-rending break up finding La Collectionneuse a revelatory catharsis.

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Re: Re:

#212 Post by knives » Sun Mar 13, 2011 4:05 am

HistoryProf wrote:
portnoy wrote: In terms of the difficulty with the male protagonists, it's something I've had to deal with as well - I love La Collectionneuse and really liked Love in the Afternoon, but I just couldn't get past Brialy in Claire's Knee - he's such an unapologetic shit that I couldn't wait until I was through with him.

I picked this up in the FB 50% off sale - been wanting it for years now - and made it through everything over the course of the week. Not too much discussion of the films here, but I thought it was interesting that the one guy singled out for derision most was Jerome from Claire's Knee. He certainly wasn't likable, but both of the male leads in La Collectionneuse bugged me to such an extent that I really disliked the film by the time it finally ended.
So would you say you don't like portnoy's complaint.

And actually I do like La Collectionneuse that best. I never really saw the men as horrible as much as self centered and more than a tad idiotic. They don't matter much anyway as the girl is the one I always tend to focus my attention on. She's the real protagonist as proven by her being the one who gets into the moral situation even if she's not the one doing the narrating. This movie is really one of the first examples of Rohmer using film as a medium to it's fullest.

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Re: Re:

#213 Post by Tom Hagen » Sun Mar 13, 2011 5:33 am

HistoryProf wrote:Aside from wondering about defenses of La Collectionneuse, I did have one other thought I'd appreciate feedback on: It occurred to me that I probably would have gotten a lot more out of each of the films were I still in that early to mid 20s stage of failing miserably at love and still trying to figure out women, rather than being a happily married 40 year old consigned to the simple fact that "understanding" women is a hopeless quest. Perhaps this was what held back my immersion in the stories, feeling like they were more pseudo-intellectual/young philosopher writings born of that young adult stage where we have the hubris to believe we're actually going to find transcendent peace with a life partner - and want to talk all about our progress ALL THE TIME. Preferably while indulging in overpriced coffee drinks and clove cigarettes. I can clearly imagine myself at 24 after yet another heart-rending break up finding La Collectionneuse a revelatory catharsis.
Rohmer was 47 and had been married for a decade when he made the film. Contrary to how you saw it, I sensed every bit of that maturity in this film as much as Maud's. I think you are approaching these films too much through the eyes of their individual protagonists.

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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#214 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sun Mar 13, 2011 2:06 pm

Collectionneuse is my least favorite Rohmer film (but I must say I generally prefer the later films overall to these early ones). The lead males were annoying -- and not especially interesting to me. The title character was more appealing -- but that wasn't enough to salvage things.

Liked Maud (both film and character) the most (and think the male lead made a poor choice). ;~}

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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#215 Post by Jean-Luc Garbo » Sun Mar 13, 2011 2:14 pm

If these guys got on your nerves, you'll certainly want to avoid The Mother and the Whore. Rohmer, by contrast, uses an irony that actively undermines the men by letting them talk so much. Jerome is the best example as he narrates and schemes the whole time on vacation while treating Claire as an experiment - in effect, failing to extend to her any empathy or sympathy at all. He uses language and philosophy as a shield to involvement in anything. Trintignant is especially guilty of this in Maud although he's a prig rather than a dick like Jerome. I can't think of a person who thinks Jean-Louis is better off with Françoise rather than Maud. His Pascalian prevaricating and eventual decision to go with Françoise tells us all we need to know about him. Collectionneuse takes it even further as the two men consider themselves above Haydée, but chauvinistically decide to go after her anyway. Rohmer shows all of these men acting in bad faith and extends to them no sympathy. All they do is pose and act superior, but they're just kids at heart. The attitudes of all these men may grate, but set it against Antoine Doinel and you'll see how Rohmer uses his leads as commentary on men of Doinel's ilk. Guys like this are alive and well today as hipsters which makes these films such delightful, ironic treats. I'd recommend watching these movies again as the acting stands scrutiny and reveals the core of the films. Rohmer just steps back and lets the characters do the work of elucidating the themes of the series at large and the films in particular. The booklet that Criterion produced is very useful and I'd say it works as a good introduction to Rohmer's universe here. Also remember the influence that Renoir had on Rohmer and things fall into place there as well.

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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#216 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sun Mar 13, 2011 2:42 pm

For some reason, I find that the jerky male leads in Hong's films do not cause me to dislike the films. Perhaps, because because Hong does not allow them to provide long-winded defenses of their bad behavior. Even if Rohmer intended these defenses to be self-undermining (which I can easily imagine to be the case), I don't enjoy listening to them. (I find the male lead in Claire's Knee so creepy that he kills that film for me). I can see what Rohmer is doing in these films -- but I vastly prefer the more female-centric later films.

Mother and the Whore never sounded like the kind of film I'd be likely to enjoy. ;~}

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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#217 Post by knives » Sun Mar 13, 2011 2:52 pm

You mean Sang-soo right? Just asking because the connection never entered my mind before.

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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#218 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sun Mar 13, 2011 2:57 pm

Yes -- HONG Sang-soo is another specialist in skewering outrageously poor male behavior towards women. But he doesn't have adult males chasing after young teen-agers -- the game/battle is usually more even-handed. I will note that my favorite Hong films also tend to be the ones that are most woman-centric.

(FWIW -- my favorite Rohmer is Green Ray -- which seems the polar opposite of the Moral Tales).

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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#219 Post by knives » Sun Mar 13, 2011 3:06 pm

Oh no, I do know about Hong Sang-soo, though I've only seen two of his films being indifferent to one and loving the other. I also agree that The Green Ray is Rohmer's best. Every time somebody tells me Rohmer just shot novels, or some other variation on that comment, I point to that great film. I don't have the problem that you do with these early films, but I do agree that he got better as he got along with some of his best work at the end of his life. If every director could go out with a film on the level of The Romance of Astrea and Celadon than we'd be living in a film paradise.

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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#220 Post by ellipsis7 » Sun Mar 13, 2011 5:07 pm

What is interesting is that Rohmer sets up this desire (a man committed to one woman starts to pursue another) but then these men frustrate and undo their intentions with their own foibles, hesitations, moral indecision, rather than from some outside judgement or ethical guidance... CLAIRE herself is a pretty vacuous individual, and reveals her immaturity and vulnerability in the rain sheltering sequence, where Jerome's touch on her knee is transformed from fetishisist wish fulfilment to something near a gesture of comfort and consoling, in fact a pretty lame and pathetic move, from which he recoils in surprise and learning... In Rohmer's oeuvre, and in this particular film, the character(s) played by Beatrice Romand stand out, here she is the teenage assertive, feisty and intelligent Laura, and we will see her through to full middle age in 1998's AN AUTUMN TALE as Magali the widowed wine producer in search of a mate.... That broad canvas of modern life and relationships seems to me Rohmer's great achievement...

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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#221 Post by zedz » Sun Mar 13, 2011 5:30 pm

I'm another Green Ray fanatic, but isn't Marie Riviere in that film just as deliberately annoying as any of Rohmer's male leads (with the twist being that we feel sorry for her)? Maybe the big difference with that film is that Rohmer gives us no escape from her - we have to empathise and make sense of her prickly neediness.

And I agree with the strong Hong / Rohmer connection (which is most explicitly spelt out in Night and Day), though unlike Michael I find a number of Hong's male leads more oafish and obnoxious than anybody in Rohmer's films. But they are generally less articulate / more oblivious, so you don't get the same extended self-justifications which tend to add a veneer of smugness to the characters in Rohmer's films.

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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#222 Post by Jack Phillips » Sun Mar 13, 2011 6:56 pm

zedz wrote:I'm another Green Ray fanatic, but isn't Marie Riviere in that film just as deliberately annoying as any of Rohmer's male leads?
Word.

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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#223 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sun Mar 13, 2011 7:09 pm

We _don't_ disagree on Hong's male leads -- they are often loutish beyond belief -- but their comparative inarticulateness (and lack of any propensity to rationalize their behavior) makes the _films_ that contain such characters less annoying (to me).

I so totally sympathize with Marie Riviere's character's plight that I find her "annoyingness" totally understandable (and even a bit endearing).

Beatrice Romand is the one saving grace of Claire's Knee in my book.

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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#224 Post by knives » Sun Mar 13, 2011 7:18 pm

I actually have found that inarticulateness to cause them to be more frustrating. This isn't a judgment call on the quality of the films that contain them, but it almost seems to me that they are more content with their inner hideousness. The Rohmer leads seem to try to rationalize horrible deeds which while making them no better, and in some cases worse, at least suggests they are being forced into a corner with their behavior. Rohmer pits them into situations where they have to examine themselves. This recent discussion has made me realize though that the colour films are my favorite of the three. I wonder what that says about me.

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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#225 Post by karmajuice » Mon Mar 14, 2011 1:04 am

Incidentally, I also finished this box set recently. I bought it during the B&N sale and have been taking it slowly (I tend to diversify the films I watch, so it takes me a while to get through boxed sets). I'm fond of all of the films, although My Night at Maud's, Love in the Afternoon, and Claire's Knee are my favorites. I saw Claire's Knee a few years ago and my estimation of it has grown considerably as I've come to understand Rohmer's style.

It's strange that I like the films so much, because I tend to be very critical of works which glorify one sex at the expense of the other. If the films have one major flaw, it would be this imbalance: the men are too shitty and the women are not shitty enough. I don't think that's quite true, though. Critical reactions to the film tend to paint them that way, as discussion here shows, but I feel differently. Whether I should be or not, I'm a bit more sympathetic toward the men than most, and a bit more ambivalent about the women.

Really, I think the only reason we can view the women in such a positive light is because we're not hearing their thoughts in voice-over. I imagine partner films for every six of these, where we get the woman's perspective rather than the man's, and I can only picture it being just as convoluted, contradictory, and self-serving as the man's. I'm not just picking this out of thin air, either -- it's part assumption, of course, but it comes from reading their expressions, observing what they do.

As for the men, they clearly have some unsavory characteristics. But much of their behavior is just rhetoric used to mask their uncertainties and vulnerabilities. That's not to say that this excuses their behavior; on the contrary, they should be more honest with themselves and with others. That's the ideal, anyway. However, I think it goes without saying that everyone does this to some degree. People construct codes to live by. Often this is done unconsciously -- instinctively -- but it's something we inevitably end up turning over in our heads, when confronted with situations which challenge said code. There may be something admirable about the way the men stick to their resolve. They always falter, and I don't always agree with their decisions, but that doesn't invalidate their efforts. It's also reductive to say that they "settle" for the less interesting women, in part because we see too little of these women to be any judge of that, but also because what we find seductive on the screen for an hour may not be so appealing in the long run (I'm thinking of Jean-Louis running into the twice-divorced Maud on the beach, while he and his wife seem not only content, but sensitive to each others' needs).

I'll illustrate these points with two particular examples from the films: Laura from Claire's Knee for the women, and Adrien from La Collectioneuse for the men.

I like the Laura character as much as anyone else and I chose her precisely because she's representative of the women (Chloe probably strikes me as the most suspect of the women; she reminds me of a friend's ex, who was irrational and emotionally manipulative, and glossed over these qualities with a veneer of "whatsoever-could-you-mean?" innocence).
When reading reactions to the film, I found that people tended to heap praise on Laura, calling her "wise beyond her years" and noting her independent spirit. I just saw a sixteen year old girl. An intelligent, precocious, interesting, and charming sixteen year old girl, but still young and naive, especially in matters of sexual politics. I don't think she's wise beyond her years. Virtually everything she says to Jerome has an air of maturity, put on because she wants to seem mature around the adult man she's crushing on, but in actuality her statements more or less resemble anything a half-way intelligent teenager might say. They are naive and idealistic musings, and while she seems firm in her resolve, I think she's less certain in her actions. Take her friend who appears later in the film, once Laura has been relegated to the background. While around him she seems much more naturally her age, fooling around and being rather silly, playing this game which lies between childhood innocence and adult flirtation. Whether she's feeling or feigning indifference toward him, I can't say.
And in any case, she's dumb enough to fall for Jerome, isn't she? I don't think she ever stops crushing on him, not entirely. The same could be said for all the women. Whatever admirable traits they may possess, they pursue these men.

I don't have much to say about Adrien. I only want to point out something. Throughout the film, he's a pretty insufferable character. He plays his mind-games, which he thinks the others are in on and which they may or may not actually be in on. He's cruel, obnoxious, self-involved, and above all, arrogant. Yet in the last shot, alone in this house, he is absolutely vulnerable. By way of his final words he expresses a need for something, a need which his social habits probably prevent him from attaining. I'm not saying this makes him a better person, I just think it gives us some perspective on the character.

Two more notes on Claire's Knee. . . more questions, really. First, I find pivotal knee-touching scene strangely affecting, although I can't say in what way it affects me. All I know is that I've been transfixed by it both times I watched the film and I wondered whether anyone else had a similar reaction. His intentions are less than admirable, and he's the one who made her miserable in the first place, but the moment has such a quiet intensity to it that I can't help feeling something. I just can't define what it is.
Second, I love how Aurora looks directly into the camera a few times. It's as if, like Jerome checking in with her, she's checking in with Rohmer, or perhaps the audience. But I was also wondering what people thought about Aurora's role in the film, as a female character who instigates and provokes Jerome's actions. I find their relationship fascinating and it adds an ambiguous layer to Jerome and what I think of him.

Finally, I just want to praise Criterion for such a lovely, comprehensive boxset. The extras were fantastic (loved the shorts), the essays were strong, and reading the films in short story format was a fascinating exercise. Without a doubt one of the best box sets I own. What a beaut!
Last edited by karmajuice on Mon Mar 14, 2011 3:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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