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A Man Escaped [Criterion Collection] Blu-ray Review

a-man-escaped-criterion-blu-ray-coverU.S. Release

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: French LPCM 1.0  
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All
  • Rating: None
  • Running Time: 101 minutes
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • Blu-ray Release Date: March 26, 2013
  • List Price: $39.95

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3.5/5]

 

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(The below 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]

title

A Man Escaped (Un condamné à mort s’est échappé ou Le vent souffle où il veut) is based on the diary of Andre Devigny, a World War II prisoner. This 1956 film noir, directed by Robert Bresson presents a grim but inspirational story that unfolds during the German occupation of France. Fontaine (François Leterrier), a French Resistance fighter, is captured by the Nazis, then beaten, handcuffed, and imprisoned.  Eventually, he is transferred to cell 107 on the top floor of the jail. With some ingenuity, using a pilfered spoon, Fontaine is able to remove enough boards from the cell door to enable him to exit his cell, wander the hallway, and return without rousing suspicion. Another prisoner, trying to escape, Orsini (Jacques Ertaud) fails in his effort because his home-made rope does not have the requisite grappling hooks for traction. Fontaine, learns from this experience and fashions his own rope out of bedclothes, frame wires and hooks. After being told that he will be executed, Fontaine gets a teenaged French cellmate, François Jost (Charles Le Clainche), who had become a soldier in the German army. Fontaine eventually confides in Jost and agrees to take the boy with him. The ropes hold and the pair succeed in escaping from the prison.

Video Quality

[Rating:3/5]

bars

Working from a 1956 master negative, the restoration team used an ARRISCAN film scanner in 2K resolution. Noise, dirt, streaks and other anomalies were removed using MTT’s DRS and Pixel Farms’s PFClean. Image Systems’s Phoenix got rid of the smaller dirt, grain, and noise. The final product is still a bit grainy but perfectly watchable.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3/5]

door

Representative of films of this era, the 24-bit remastering used Pro Tools HD and an AudioCube workstation to get rid of noise, crackle and other artifacts. In spite of these efforts, the LPCM mono soundtrack remains somewhat boxy and constricted.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3.5/5]

knock

There is a good offering of supplemental material:

  • Bresson: Without a Trace, a 1965 episode of the television program “Cinéastes de notre temps” in which the director gives his first on-camera interview.
  • The Essence of Forms, a forty-five-minute documentary from 2010 in which some of Bresson’s collaborators and admirers, including actor François Leterrier and director Bruno Dumont, share their thoughts about the director and his work
  • New visual essay with text by film scholars David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson
  • Trailer
  • Collectible booklet with an essay on Bresson and this film by cinema scholar Tony Pipol

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

talk

This film was released merely a decade after the end of World War II and, in France, the memories of war atrocities, the corrupt Vichy government, and the valiant French freedom fighters were still quite vivid. A Man Escaped appears to be a simple story of one man’s efforts to avoid a death sentence and gain freedom, but director Robert Bresson (himself a former German prisoner of war) has actually crafted an allegory of the determination of a nation, (France) to outmaneuver its foe (Germany).  Using sparse dialogue, and an economy of action, Bresson’s cameras turn inward, focusing on the smallest of details that comprise the limited universe of the prisoner Fontaine.  An atmosphere of suspense pervades the unfolding drama: will Fontaine escape or will he be executed? The supporting cast, consisting of mostly nonprofessional actors, is completely credible. While the subject matter may prove heavy sledding for many viewers, those willing to give this film a chance will be rewarded by witnessing a small masterpiece, the very antithesis of Hollywood WW II epics like The Great Escape.

 

Additional Screen Captures

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BestBuy.com:
A Man Escaped - B&W - Blu-ray Disc

Purchase A Man Escaped [Criterion Collection] on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

bed

blood

chain

boy

 

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BestBuy.com:
A Man Escaped - B&W - Blu-ray Disc

Purchase A Man Escaped [Criterion Collection] on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3.5/5]

 

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