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Le Quai des brumes [StudioCanal Collection] [UK] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (24Hz)
  • Audio Codec: French DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono (48kHz/16-bit), German DTS-HD Master Audio Mono 2.0 (48kHz/16-bit)
  • Subtitles: English, French, German
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: B (Region-Locked)
  • Certification: PG
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: StudioCanal
  • Blu-ray Release Date: September 10, 2012
  • RRP: £24.99

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4.5/5]

Marcel Carné’s controversial 1938 adaptation of the Pierre Mac Orlan novel Le quai des brumes would set the groundwork for the Hollywood film noir films of the 1940s and 1950s that were yet to come. It’s starkly filmed with high contrast black and white cinematography by Eugen Schüfftan and a melancholic wartime romantic tragedy at its heart. The film stars the famous Jean Gabin, who made a career of playing these world weary idealists dragged down by a world crumbling around him. Gabin is Jean, a French soldier who has deserted and arrives in the misty port town of Le Havre with plans to leave the country by hopping a ship to Venezuela. While in Le Havre, Jean tarries a while in civilian clothing in a local tavern along with a stray dog that follows him around. There he meets the fetching and enigmatic young Nelly (Michèle Morgan) and her would be protector, an eccentric artist named Zabel (Michel Simon). It isn’t long before Jean finds himself embroiled in a dangerous feud for Nelly’s affections between himself, Zabel, and the violent Lucien (Pierre Brasseur). It’s a confrontation that may prove fatal and keep Jean from fulfilling his plans for getting out of France. Overwhelmingly gloomy, and filled mystery, realism, and pure romance, Le quai des brumes is every bit the equal of some of the often referenced romances of the era such as Casablanca.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Le quai des brumes underwent an extensive restoration and reconstruction from the original camera negative to bring it back to something that closer resembles the originally intended “director’s cut” before it was banned, censored, re-worked, etc., etc. Some scenes unavoidably look a little rough since they have been spliced back in from safety copies, but overall this is a strong effort that looks natural and doesn’t suffer from an overuse of DNR. Contrast is good, even if shadows could have been just a bit darker to my eyes.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

The sound has also been reconstructed and is provided in a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (48kHz/16-bit) format. The issues with the original recording and source can still be heard in some audible clipping and hiss throughout, but there really isn’t much more that could have been done about that without doing further harm to the sound.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2.5/5]

If you want to learn more about this film, these featurettes and other extras are a rather high quality way to do so.

The supplements:

  • On the Port of Shadows (1.78:1; 1080i/50; 00:44:10) – This is a wonderful documentary on the background of Le quai des brumes.
  • Introduction to Le quai des brumes by Ginette Vincendeau, Professor and Film Critic. (1.78:1; 1080i/50; 00:06:24)
  • Restoring Le quai des brumes (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:10:34)
  • Booklet: An essay on the film by Ginette Vincendeau

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

Le quai des brumes is a magnificent film that oozes style, drama, romance and gloom. It’s every frame is flawlessly composed as its dialogue reaches nearly poetic heights. This is the beginnings of film noir, and it doesn’t get much better than this. This StudioCanal Collection release restores the film to its “director’s cut,” or something quite close to it, and that makes it all the better.

Additional Screen Captures

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Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

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