Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

Discuss DVDs released in the Eclipse and Essential Art House lines and the films on them.
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Jeff
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Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#1 Post by Jeff » Mon Apr 16, 2012 1:50 pm

Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

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Though little known outside of France, Jean Grémillon is a consummate filmmaker from his country’s golden age. A classically trained violinist who discovered cinema as a young man when his orchestra was hired to accompany silent movies, he went on to make almost fifty films—which ranged from documentaries to avant-garde works to melodramas with major stars—in a career that started in the mid-1920s and didn’t end until the late 1950s. Three of his richest films came during a dire period in French history: Remorques, starring Jean Gabin, was begun in 1939 but finished and released after Germany invaded France, and Lumière d’été and Le ciel est à vous were produced during the occupation. These are character-driven dramas that reveal either a society on the precipice of doom or people breaking free of societal limitations; humane, entertaining, and technically brilliant, they show Grémillon to be one of cinema’s true hidden masters.

Remorques

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Jacques Prévert cowrote this atmospheric tale of the romantic trials of a tugboat captain, played by the iconic French star Jean Gabin. For André and the other members of the Cyclone’s crew, existence is harshly divided between the danger of the stormy seas and the safety of life at home with their patient women. When André meets temptation in the form of the alluring Catherine (Michèle Morgan) during a risky rescue, he comes perilously close to betraying his wife (Madeleine Renaud) of ten years. The haunting Remorques is distinguished by beautiful tracking shots and cunning special-effects work.

Lumière d'été

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A shimmering glass hotel at the top of a remote Provençal mountain provides the setting for a tragicomic tapestry about lives on the edge. This Jacques Prévert and Pierre Laroche–scripted tale of an obsessive love pentangle—whose principals range from artist to hotel manager to dam worker—was banned from theaters for the duration of the occupation for its dark portrayal of the hedonistic excesses of the ruling class. Today, it is often singled out as Grémillon’s greatest achievement.

Le ciel est à vous

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In this soaring romantic drama, the wife (Madeleine Renaud) of a former fighter pilot (Charles Vanel) who is preoccupied with his glory days in the sky during World War I, falls in love with the idea of flying herself. This soon becomes an obsession, and she undertakes a lofty feat: the longest solo flight ever made by a woman. A warm look at a working-class family as well as a triumphant tale of determination, Le ciel est à vous was one of Grémillon’s most successful films, and can be interpreted as a necessarily stealthy portrait of nonconformity.

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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#2 Post by isakborg » Mon Apr 16, 2012 1:58 pm

At last!

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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#3 Post by movielocke » Mon Apr 16, 2012 2:15 pm

So what do the titles translate as?

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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#4 Post by swo17 » Mon Apr 16, 2012 2:17 pm

Stormy Waters
Summer Light
The Sky Is Yours

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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#5 Post by HerrSchreck » Mon Apr 16, 2012 2:35 pm

Nice to see this finally arrive, as this is the fulfillment of a longstanding promise made by Criterion when introducing the Eclipse line. I do think the release title a little bit funny . . it's almost presupposes that there have been other releases which have taken care of the main body of his work, allowing us to now examine this secondary subet of work I find his pre occupation work far more important and exciting. . GUEULE DAMOUR, PETITE LISE, MALDONE, DAINAH. . . but I'm not going to nitpick as tis is a fabulous release by anybody's yardstick.

Grem in an english friendly edition! Bravo Crterion! Great work!

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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#6 Post by Tommaso » Mon Apr 16, 2012 3:34 pm

Yeah, I surely share the sentiment all the way round. That is, I'd have much rather liked to see at least "Petite Lise" and "Maldone", too. But still, very great that Grémillon finally gets some international exposure.

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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#7 Post by zedz » Mon Apr 16, 2012 4:06 pm

Hoorah! This is probably the best period to toe-dip into Gremillon, and there are no duds in this set.

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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#8 Post by swo17 » Mon Apr 16, 2012 4:15 pm

For the uninitiated, there's some good discussion of these films in the filmmakers forum here.

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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#9 Post by domino harvey » Mon Apr 16, 2012 5:27 pm

Glad I never settled for the fan-subbed third generation circulating versions of some of these!

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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#10 Post by PillowRock » Mon Apr 16, 2012 5:52 pm

HerrSchreck wrote:I do think the release title a little bit funny . . it's almost presupposes that there have been other releases which have taken care of the main body of his work
On the other hand, to me the period specific title of a first release implies the intent to release another set or sets covering another period or periods. It's essentially the same thing as using a title such as "Gremillon Volume 1".

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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#11 Post by zedz » Mon Apr 16, 2012 5:56 pm

PillowRock wrote:
HerrSchreck wrote:I do think the release title a little bit funny . . it's almost presupposes that there have been other releases which have taken care of the main body of his work
On the other hand, to me the period specific title of a first release implies the intent to release another set or sets covering another period or periods. It's essentially the same thing as using a title such as "Gremillon Volume 1".
It certainly beats "Jean Gremillon, Okay? Now Shut Up!"

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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#12 Post by HerrSchreck » Mon Apr 16, 2012 6:11 pm

I'd love for you to be right, PillowR believe me. Personally I would have preferred, "Jean Gremillion: A Retirement Gift."

And domino, aren't these on Hulu? Just saying, if you really wanted to see these I mean over the years and years we've been waiting.
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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#13 Post by swo17 » Mon Apr 16, 2012 6:19 pm

The backchannel copies of Remorques and Le ciel were pretty decent. What could really use the CC scrub-up are La petite Lise and Pattes blanches.

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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#14 Post by Gropius » Mon Apr 16, 2012 6:44 pm

swo17 wrote:Stormy Waters
A more literal translation of Remorques would be something like Towropes; Tugboats would also work.

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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#15 Post by Tommaso » Mon Apr 16, 2012 6:52 pm

domino harvey wrote:Glad I never settled for the fan-subbed third generation circulating versions of some of these!
These versions were certainly only stop-gaps, but still they were a godsend in the face of the complete ignorance that labels outside of France have hitherto shown towards Grémillon. I'm glad to replace them with this new release, of course, but don't say anything against fan subs: I've just had the pleasure of seeing Autant-Lara's "Marguerite de la nuit" with such subs, and certainly CC wouldn't have subbed that one any better.

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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#16 Post by domino harvey » Mon Apr 16, 2012 6:56 pm

I did not mean to impugn fansubs, they're the difference between being able to enjoy most good French films and not, since so few titles get picked up for distro outside of France and those within are rarely English subbed on the disc

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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#17 Post by david hare » Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:44 pm

domino harvey wrote:Glad I never settled for the fan-subbed third generation circulating versions of some of these!
I take offence at that and so would others here.

As you well know these fansubbed p2ps were the only way anyone could get them out and get them subbed.

AS far as it goes the simple fact that these are going Eclipse confirms clearly the elements for the transfers are still totally unrestored and will not be very much better. It was my own (dreadful) TV copy of Lumiere that did the rounds until now, and the subs were very far indeed from "Fan" - they were from the Andrew McKibbon team at SBS Australia whose French subtitling was and is unparalleled

Edit: I see Tom jumped in.

I stilll take offence at the implication that what Knappen, Fred Patton, I and others have done elsewhere over the years is somehow inferior and unworthy of repsect.

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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#18 Post by domino harvey » Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:46 pm

Jesus Christ, I only said it to differentiate that there was never any official release with English subs. I didn't say the subs were bad or invalid or whatever. I don't think being glad I get to see these in the best quality version makes me any kind of villain, but I'm sure someone will stop in and join in the unnecessary pile-on soon enough

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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#19 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:51 pm

domino harvey wrote:I'm sure someone will stop in and join in the unnecessary pile-on soon enough
Paging mfunk.

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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#20 Post by david hare » Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:53 pm

It is unnecssary and you made it that with your ill considered insult to the existing state of affairs.
No more from me.

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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#21 Post by perkizitore » Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:21 pm

domino harvey wrote:Glad I never settled for the fan-subbed third generation circulating versions of some of these!
I am willing to give you a pass because copies of many rare films are sourced from dreadful second-generation VHS or battered prints, but you are a Karagarga member and you could easily have checked the PQ and subs of these titles before making such a comment (often the 'fansubs' are much better than the image quality of many films, especially silents).
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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#22 Post by david hare » Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:42 pm

I'm posting this as a correction to Crit's own precis for Remorques which Jeff reprints above:

Jeff, regarding the Remorques annotation in your header, it is really more correct to attribute principal screenwriting credit to Pierre Laroche rather than Prevert. As you may ( or not) know Prevert walked out of the shoot early in the piece, just after war broke out declining to undertake any more work on a project he thought was "trop religieuse". Laroche took over virtually from scratch and wrote the lion's share, with Grem himself. There is a temptation to attribute the tone of the film to Prevert, even if only for publicity purposes but I think it's mistaken: the "Prevertian tone" is more prominent in Lumiere although even here I consider what Grem is trying to do formally is to take on "poetic realism" and rework it into a kind of surreal melodrama, bending genres in response to the new social order of Occupation.
Prevert's own work after the war and during the reconstruction period belies someone deeply at sea, completely unable to come to terms with the gravity of what had passed. Les Portes de la Nuit is the piece that clearly exposes the inability of even he and Carne in the last film they made together to grasp any sort of new form which might be able to reflect from the toxic aspects of the Vichy regime, instead they resort to dismissively light hearted villain character sketches, and pointless comedy moments with turgid reliance on older pre war fantasy tropes to glue the film together. Grem had clearly pointed a way through the war years with these three great films on offer, and he takes it to an apex in the sublime Pattes Blanches.

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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#23 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Apr 16, 2012 10:54 pm

Domino, your sub titles çomment was %%%not good

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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#24 Post by Jonathan S » Tue Apr 17, 2012 4:51 am

david hare wrote:I stilll take offence at the implication that what Knappen, Fred Patton, I and others have done elsewhere over the years is somehow inferior and unworthy of repsect.
If it helps (and I mean this entirely positively, not to "pile on domino") I'd like to express my immense thanks to you and all the hard-working subtitlers who have made - and I hope will continue to make - so many vintage films available in English-friendly editions. In recent years, they have allowed to me to see far more films I'd long wanted to see, and discover other gems I didn't even know about, than all the DVD labels in the world. It's not of course about money (I nearly always buy the official English-friendly releases, if on factory-pressed discs) but sheer accessibility. I only regret that in the digital age my technical (and linguistic) skills are not up to contributing anything in return. But I like to think it's some kind of karma for all the rare tape-sourced European silents I've made available (some of which I know have formed the basis for fansubbed editions) and in a number of cases laboriously "scored" when a VCR was - and for me still is - the only way to do that!

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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#25 Post by MichaelB » Tue Apr 17, 2012 5:41 am

Jonathan S wrote:If it helps (and I mean this entirely positively, not to "pile on domino") I'd like to express my immense thanks to you and all the hard-working subtitlers who have made - and I hope will continue to make - so many vintage films available in English-friendly editions. In recent years, they have allowed to me to see far more films I'd long wanted to see, and discover other gems I didn't even know about, than all the DVD labels in the world. It's not of course about money (I nearly always buy the official English-friendly releases, if on factory-pressed discs) but sheer accessibility.
Very much seconded. As a specialist in central/eastern European cinema, I simply couldn't have seen a huge number of titles if it hadn't been for dedicated and often anonymous fansubbers. And while I too make a point of buying official releases (I reckon I must own a copy of every British DVD release of a Czech/Polish/Hungarian/Romanian film as well as plenty of discs originating from those countries), realism dictates that the overwhelming majority of these films will never see the light of day on a DVD label at all and many that do will never get official English subtitles.

And of course another bonus of fansubs is that they can be corrected - both for grammar/typos and timing. Obviously that's not an issue with a Criterion release, but I'd love to have that freedom with a Facets disc!

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