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French Cancan [UK Release] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Audio Codec: French LPCM 2.0 Mono (48kHz/24-bit)
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: B (Region-Locked)
  • Certification: PG
  • Discs: 2 (1 x Blu-ray + 1 DVD)
  • Studio: BFI
  • Run Time: 104 Mins.
  • Blu-ray Release Date: November 21, 2011
  • RRP: £19.99

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B005HPQ7IW[/amazon-product]

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.co.uk

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Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:5/5]

French Cancan marked filmmaker Jean Renoir’s triumphant return to filmmaking in France after leaving for Hollywood in 1940 and being away for 15-years. Fearing to return for reasons both professional and personal (he had since remarried in the United States without obtaining a legal divorce in France and was facing charges of bigamy from his first wife), Renoir would return, with great success. The son of the great Impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Jean Renoir’s Technicolor spectacular, French Cancan, would tell a story set in his father’s era, the Paris of the Belle époque.

It is a fictionalized account of the construction of the famous Moulin Rouge nightclub by owner Danglard (Jean Gabin), a character based on the real-life owner Zigler. Danglard discovers a beautiful young laundry girl, Nini (Françoise Arnoul), whom he decides is going to be the star attraction in his new show, a revival of the old French dance the cancan. Nini, meanwhile, is pursued romantically by the much older Danglard, a rich Baltic Prince (Gianni Esposito), and her young jealous boyfriend, a mere baker. These romantic entanglements and Danglard’s monetary woes place numerous impediments in the way of plans for the grand re-imagining of Paris’ nightclub scene for the less wealthy, to be embodied by the Moulin Rouge.

Renoir’s palette and set here owes much to his father and the rest of the impressionists such as Manet and Monet, while never making any direct allusions to their work. Meanwhile, in typical Jean Renoir style, French Cancan is a brilliant fusion of political satire, human drama, and complicated romance; at the heart of it all, a wholly desirable woman (in this case Nini) who throws men into tumult in pursuit of her affections due to her indecision, not unlike an earlier Renoir film, Boudu Saved from Drowning.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

The transfer for Blu-ray of French Cancan was done by Gaumont from the original 35mm Technicolor negatives and it is an impressive one. The AVC/MPEG-4 encodement without a doubt presents one of the most stunning restorations of a Technicolor film I have seen on Blu-ray to date. The detail is all there, greatly extended well into the backgrounds. There is very little source damage, flicker or wavering in the color reproduction. A thin layer of grain is present imparting a natural and, authentic look to the overall image. Contrast is superb and blacks are quite deep with only a very slight amount of crush evident.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Audio is provided in a LPCM 2.0 mono mix. There is some audible crackle that can still be heard in the louder musical passages, but for the most part it is rather clean and full with a good soundstage.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2.5/5]

We don’t get the usual heavy supply of extras with this release, but the two featurettes on-disc are well worth watching, and, of course, the booklet is a must-read.

The supplements supplied with this release:

  • The Show Must Go On! The Joys of Life by Jean Renoir (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:56:55) – Documentary on the making of French Cancan.
  • French Cancan Restored (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:05:42) – A look at the technical work that went into the restoration on the film.
  • DVD
  • Booklet: The 18-page illustrated booklet contains an essay on the film by David Thompson, Jean Renoir bio, a 1955 review of French Cancan by Ginette Billard, film credits and information on the transfer.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

The restoration of this amazing classic is nothing short of breathtaking, as is the famous grand dance scene that ends this marvelous and dazzling Technicolor joy. This is is one that is a must for fans of musicals, dance, comedies, and classic film in general.

Additional Screen Captures


[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B005HPQ7IW[/amazon-product]

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.co.uk

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

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