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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Zinoviev
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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#26 Post by Zinoviev » Tue Apr 17, 2012 1:37 pm

MichaelB wrote:[Obviously that's not an issue with a Criterion release, but I'd love to have that freedom with a Facets disc!
Agreed on Facets, but I wouldn't go so far as "Obviously" re: Criterion. Plenty of typos in CC's subtitles -- Mon Oncle and Everlasting Moments come to mind. ("Truck" for "trunk" in the former, whose/who's in the latter). My favorite printed gaffe is in the Devil and Daniel Webster booklet, which claims D.Web. served as secretary of state under Benjamin Harrison (no mean feat, considering Harrison was elected 36 years after the death of Daniel Webster).

Carping, trifling details, I'm sure some will say, but this kind of thing bugs me a hell of a lot more than lackluster cover art.

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HerrSchreck
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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#27 Post by HerrSchreck » Tue Apr 17, 2012 2:40 pm

I would heartily second all the comments in praise of fansubs. If you'll notice, my first comment after domino's comment has been edited. I originally pointed out the fact that 2 out of the 3 films in question are hard subbed by professional subtitlers via very rare television broadcasts. But I bit my tongue because I like to keep that world out of public view . . especially on a board devoted to one of the most pricey arthouse labels in the world. As someone who has participated in the process of subtitling some of those films, I can say that first of all, notwithstanding any qualitative issues, it is an awful lot of work which should cultivate nothing but extreme gratitude in those who use those subtitles. Secondly, if not these Grems, what films will you actually use backchannels for? Rips of only the highest quality which necessarily have been taken illegally from commercially available disks, using srt subs ripped from ' official' VOB's?

We may call them FANsubs, but even professional subtitlers are fans. A great many individuals who participate in this process are very busy phd's, professors of film and language, preservationists, and critics who are taking time out from their busy schedules to contribute to this world that they love so much. without their efforts, I-- and I dare say a great number of individuals in and out of the profession of cinema-- would be a great deal less educated, and far more frustrated in my inability to see and understand so many of the films that I love.

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MichaelB
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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#28 Post by MichaelB » Tue Apr 17, 2012 3:00 pm

HerrSchreck wrote:We may call them FANsubs, but even professional subtitlers are fans.
I still have very fond memories of the formidable translation feat that critic-subtitler Tom Milne pulled off with Starewicz' The Tale of the Fox. There was no written script - or at least he couldn't get his hands on one - so he had to translate the dialogue (plus several song lyrics) by ear from the decidedly lo-fi soundtrack, recorded some time in the 1930s on a less than generous budget.

This was a professional job, but it was also an obvious labour of love - and although Milne is much less known for his subtitles than he is for his criticism, it's probably his most lasting contribution to film culture.

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whaleallright
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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#29 Post by whaleallright » Tue Apr 17, 2012 3:13 pm

Michael, are those the subs available on the French DVD? (Marvelous film, by the way.)


Among other reasons, this Eclipse release is good because it means that French film courses in American (and English) universities can now include one of these titles. Not to knock the Clouzot, but Le Corbeau has long been the go-to film for teaching French film under the Occupation, because of its supposed coded allegory but also because it's been in print on home video for yonks.

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MichaelB
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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#30 Post by MichaelB » Tue Apr 17, 2012 3:20 pm

jonah.77 wrote:Michael, are those the subs available on the French DVD? (Marvelous film, by the way.)
I don't know - they were commissioned by the BFI in the early 1990s, and feature on their VHS release, but that's the only copy I have.

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knives
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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#31 Post by knives » Tue Apr 17, 2012 4:35 pm

The American DVD release is sourced from a '90s restoration (down to the subtitles) and assuming only one occurred at the time I'm sure we're still working off of the same labour of love.

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zedz
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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#32 Post by zedz » Tue Apr 17, 2012 4:59 pm

HerrSchreck wrote:As someone who has participated in the process of subtitling some of those films, I can say that first of all, notwithstanding any qualitative issues, it is an awful lot of work which should cultivate nothing but extreme gratitude in those who use those subtitles.
Oh my yes. I've only ever translated subs for two films, and even though they were both reasonably straightforward and the process was enjoyable enough, there was a real sense of 'when is this going to end?'

This is also probably the place to observe that, if you have enjoyed these films in other ways over the past several years, you should feel obliged to shell out for the Eclipse set. It's all very well to enjoy the free ride, but if nobody buys a ticket when they're finally up for sale, the buses will stop running altogether.

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Sloper
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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#33 Post by Sloper » Wed Apr 18, 2012 5:40 am

knives wrote:The American DVD release is sourced from a '90s restoration (down to the subtitles) and assuming only one occurred at the time I'm sure we're still working off of the same labour of love.
Sorry to take this discussion further off-topic, but what DVD release are you referring to knives? I'm only aware of the French DVD, and having looked again just now can't seem to find an alternative (except a PAL VHS, which presumably has Milne's subs). I'd be happy to be wrong about this, though.

The English subs on the French DVD are serviceable, but (if memory serves) often seem to have been written by a non-native English speaker, so I doubt they're by Milne. More frustratingly, it has a commentary by Starewicz's granddaughter - in French, with no subs of course. I can catch the odd word and it sounds fascinating...

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MichaelB
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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#34 Post by MichaelB » Wed Apr 18, 2012 5:45 am

zedz wrote:Oh my yes. I've only ever translated subs for two films, and even though they were both reasonably straightforward and the process was enjoyable enough, there was a real sense of 'when is this going to end?'
Last year, when I was commissioned to write this piece about Cold War spy thrillers from both sides of the Iron Curtain, I was sent half a dozen unsubtitled DVDs with translations in various electronic and printed forms. Naturally, I decided to try to stick subtitles onto them, but gave up very quickly when it became clear that it would be a massive undertaking - in the end I just watched them on my MacBook with two windows, one showing the film and the other scrolling the translation.
This is also probably the place to observe that, if you have enjoyed these films in other ways over the past several years, you should feel obliged to shell out for the Eclipse set. It's all very well to enjoy the free ride, but if nobody buys a ticket when they're finally up for sale, the buses will stop running altogether.
Seconded, obviously. For similar reasons, I'm making a point of buying the Czech New Wave set, even though I have five out of six of the films in legitimate copies (though one of them, Facets' The Joke, more than lives up to its title as far as transfer quality and subtitling are concerned!).

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knives
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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#35 Post by knives » Wed Apr 18, 2012 10:04 pm

Sloper wrote: Sorry to take this discussion further off-topic, but what DVD release are you referring to knives? I'm only aware of the French DVD, and having looked again just now can't seem to find an alternative (except a PAL VHS, which presumably has Milne's subs). I'd be happy to be wrong about this, though.

The English subs on the French DVD are serviceable, but (if memory serves) often seem to have been written by a non-native English speaker, so I doubt they're by Milne. More frustratingly, it has a commentary by Starewicz's granddaughter - in French, with no subs of course. I can catch the odd word and it sounds fascinating...
Oops, misread that as The Cameraman's Revenge.

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Ashirg
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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#36 Post by Ashirg » Mon Jul 16, 2012 10:20 pm


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ptatler
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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#37 Post by ptatler » Sun Jul 22, 2012 8:49 am

SO. Finished the set last night and my only complaint is that there isn't another Gremillion set I can chase it with. I can't believe I've had this gaping hole in my viewing for so long. LUMIERE D'ETE should always be mentioned when discussions of all-time greatest films come up. I'm still processing the films (writing a review for GreenCine) but - man alive! - this set is a blessing.

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Drucker
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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#38 Post by Drucker » Mon Jul 30, 2012 8:48 am

Film Forum in NYC is doing a "French Old Wave" series of films and there are 4 by Gremillion on it:

Lumiere D'Ete and Le Giel Est A Vous on September 11; Remorques and L'Etrange Monsieur Victor on September 13th.

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Cold Bishop
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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#39 Post by Cold Bishop » Mon Jul 30, 2012 8:59 am

And Gueule d'amour August 29th. :wink:

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Matt
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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#40 Post by Matt » Mon Aug 13, 2012 10:45 pm

Having finally picked myself up off the floor, I can try to gather my thoughts after my first viewing of a Grémillon film, Remorques. What a hell of a film. Between the life-and-death crises at sea and the emotional turmoil on land, it's a wonder these characters don't all just fling themselves off the end of the pier. I'm reminded of Only Angels Have Wings in the rich mix of male camaraderie, honor and duty, lack of sentimentality in male-female relationships, and fatalism. There's a roughness to the filmmaking (surely a symptom of the conditions under which it was made), but there's also a remarkable restraint and sensitivity in ceretain scenes where it would be quite tempting to go over the top.

I think I can't wait to watch the next one. I may just have to stay up late tonight.

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jorencain
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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#41 Post by jorencain » Mon Aug 20, 2012 7:12 am

I made my way through this set over the weekend, and it is hands down my favorite Eclipse release. I'm blown away at the consistency of greatness in these three films. I may be wrong, but it seems that "Remorques" and "Lumiere d'ete" are more acclaimed than "Le ciel est a vous," but even the latter film rose to greatness. The "inspirational" (and potentially lighter) storyline is there, but it feels so rooted in reality and Charles Vanel is so convincing in his love for his wife, that I completely bought into it. I love the line after they discuss the dangers of flying and Therese says that she wants to go for the world record...Vanel says something like," To say yes or no: which would be a greater demonstration of my love?" He's so torn, and this, of course,
SpoilerShow
leads to the guilt he feels while she goes missing.
I was also surprised by "Lumiere d'ete" and the dark path it traveled. I think it was mentioned in the liner notes, but this film makes a great companion to "Rules of the Game," as it touches on some of the same themes and follows a similar trajectory towards its bleak ending. These were the first Grémillon films that I've seen, and I can now join in the chorus of, "We need more Grémillon on DVD/blu!" I could go on and on about these films; I would call all three of them "masterpieces."

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swo17
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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#42 Post by swo17 » Fri Sep 07, 2012 8:05 pm

It almost seems perverse watching Grémillon films on DVD... Anyway, I'm pleased to report that even though these films are nowhere near HD reference level quality, they still looked very pleasing upscaled and run through my projector (demonstrably better than the HD stream of Le ciel est à vous that I caught on Hulu earlier this year). Most notably, there are a lot of nice shots of rolling, ominous fog (shades of von Sternberg) that come off rather well here.

It's funny, these are all very fine, exceptionally well made films that will now serve for many as an introduction to Grémillon, though they only scratch the surface of the weirdness that for me exemplifies his best work. Yet they're probably still as good of an introduction as anything else. One thing that struck me during my most recent viewing (mild spoilers follow) was a visual metaphor common to the first and third films, that of a failing rope. In Remorques, Gabin's venturing out into stormy waters in a tugboat is obviously intended to parallel his venturing out from the safety and security of his marriage, and the rope that fails in this instance is indicative of selfish motives that manifest themselves only after one party has gotten what they want out of a relationship.

In Le ciel est à vous, the metaphor is less obvious, but incredibly apt upon reflection. I am referring to the piano that the movers attempt to lift to a second story in the beginning of the film. Here we have a precious object (representing the dreams of one member of the family) that is momentarily placed in harm's way (not coincidentally, by leaving the ground) to achieve some end that seems worthwhile at the time, but that will instantly be considered a lapse in judgment if it fails to work. I've already commented about this before, but it's one of the most fascinating elements of the film to me--that thin line between heroism and foolhardiness, the final assessment of which essentially boils down to whether or not you happen to beat the odds against you. I also love all the other internal contradictions in the film, such as how the mother is celebrated for living out her dreams, but is only able to do so after crushing her daughter's.

I could probably also pull the final setpiece from Lumière d'été into this discussion (though those are more cables than ropes) but I'll leave that for someone else.

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Matt
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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#43 Post by Matt » Fri Sep 07, 2012 9:04 pm

What Grémillon outside of this set should I be watching?

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Cold Bishop
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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#44 Post by Cold Bishop » Fri Sep 07, 2012 9:19 pm

If these 40s works are his most mature and elegant, then his late silents/early talkies are the most stylistically daring and audacious: Maldone and La petite Lise are both bonafide masterpieces

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swo17
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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#45 Post by swo17 » Fri Sep 07, 2012 10:04 pm

Those, plus very strong recommendations for Daïnah la métisse (out in France with no subs, though the appeal is largely visual--see for example the cap that zedz recently posted in the L'Argent thread, or my caps here) and Pattes blanches, which you might be able to find on VHS. Gueule d'amour is another good one more in the vein of the Eclipse set, again starring Jean Gabin.

stroszeck
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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#46 Post by stroszeck » Fri Sep 07, 2012 11:46 pm

I'll make a hearty recommendation for La Dolorosa. Absolutely visually stunning.

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Sloper
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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#47 Post by Sloper » Sun Sep 09, 2012 5:09 am

swo17 wrote:One thing that struck me during my most recent viewing (mild spoilers follow) was a visual metaphor common to the first and third films, that of a failing rope. In Remorques, Gabin's venturing out into stormy waters in a tugboat is obviously intended to parallel his venturing out from the safety and security of his marriage, and the rope that fails in this instance is indicative of selfish motives that manifest themselves only after one party has gotten what they want out of a relationship.
I hadn't noticed that connection between Remorques and Ciel, but you're right; and in this regard there seemed to be a scene or a bit of dialogue missing at the end of the latter film, resolving that particular strand of the plot...

So here's a question: why did they translate 'Remorques' as 'Stormy Waters' when it seems to mean something more like 'Tow-ropes'? Neither title is especially wonderful in English, but the latter is certainly more accurate and more appropriate to the central theme of the film, which seems to be 'the ties that bind' - how easily some of them can be broken, and how impossible it is to break others; the burdens other people place on us, the relentless pull of fate, the weight of guilt and obligations. Wonderful film, especially the early scenes; for me it all got a bit overwrought once the exaggeratedly scummy husband entered the picture.

This was even more true of Lumiere d'ete, which I have to say was the biggest load of tosh I've seen in a long time; again, beautiful imagery throughout, and again the early scenes had me totally hooked; but, again, I found it hard to take any of it seriously once the ludicrous plot started to thicken. And Pierre Brasseur, whose performance style fits so well into Les Enfants du Paradis, is almost unwatchable here. I'd happily have hurled most of these characters into a mine-ridden quarry. I'll try and watch it again soon, though, as this seems like a film you really have to be in the right mood for.

Le Ciel est a Vous is easily my favourite for the moment, perhaps because it's the lightest and the least self-important, but at the same time the most profound - the characters here have ten times more authenticity than the ones in the previous film. (Obviously it's going for a different kind of effect, but still.) This film felt like it should have been about twice as long as it is - I wish we had more time to savour the relationship between Vanel and Renaud, and to explore the complex interactions between the parents and their children (and the mother-in-law, and the piano teacher) in more depth. As a side note, Michael Koresky's essay on the sleeve, though interesting and informative, seems a little too bent on making this film out to be a work of 'resistance' - straining credulity a bit, don't you think? But I'll reserve other comments until I've watched these again...

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david hare
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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#48 Post by david hare » Sun Sep 09, 2012 5:34 am

Sloper, if you want total unfettered tosh , swathed in the deluxe tones of Tradition de qualite, try L'Etrange Madame X. Twaddle in high gear. A completely impersonal assignment.

Matt I heard Gueule d'Amour had been screened on TCM? Other than backchannels this and every other Major Grems are simply not around legally in English friendly versions. Gueule is probably his masterpiece, indeed Schreck and I area recording a commentary track for it next week in Berlin, where it was primarily shot (barring four location scenes early in the picture.)

If you fell off your chair with Remorques you may well go through the floor with this.

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Matt
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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#49 Post by Matt » Sun Sep 09, 2012 10:33 am

Gueule was indeed shown on TCM just over a year ago. I had it on my DVR and then cheerfully deleted it after several months, unwatched, because I thought SURELY Criterion would be releasing it any day now. I never learn. It does sound like my likely next viewing.

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zedz
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Re: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

#50 Post by zedz » Sun Sep 09, 2012 5:41 pm

Sloper: Lumiere d'ete is silly, but I happen to think it's transcendently so, taking all sorts of melodramatic conventions and dialling them up to 11 in a very arch and self-reflexive way.

As for Le ciel est a vous as a 'resistance' film, this is a long-established critical approach, and I believe it was based on the film's actual reception during the war: a case of the audience reading the film in a different way from what the occupation forces expected or intended. How much of this was intentional or otherwise on Gremillon's part is an open question.

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