Casque d'Or Blu-ray Review
Coming in with a Region B locked Disc with a 1.33:1 1080p transfer that looks great. The first thing that struck me was the impressive depth the image had, surprising for a film of it's age. Blacks are strong and bold, and detail is really quite incredible given how old the source is. There are no signs of DNR or edge enhancement, indeed, it would seem the image has been left largely untouched. Testament to the quality of the original.
With so much material of it's age, the majority of footage would have been shot within the confines of the studio. Becker is bold in that he unshackles himself from that and takes the shooting to some outdoor locations. This was an expensive move, and one that could have been seen as a negative one if it hadn't gone so well, but it did go well, and the movie's image genuinely benefits from some natural lighting. The opening shot with the boats along the river is perfectly framed, and somehow feels like you can almost see the colour of the trees and water underneath the black and white. Of course, you can't, but something about natural daylight with films from this era plays tricks on the mind, and welcome one's at that too.
Texture is, well it's all quite soft really. Everything is kind of flat and smooth looking, but this isn't uncommon really with this type of material. That being said, the detail in other areas is impeccable. Shadows are extremely well defined, foliage is crystal clear, even the road surfaces that Marie and Manda walk along is fantastic, you can pick out the individual stones as they head towards the church, crunching underfoot.
There's quite a degree of softness to the picture - of course completely intentional, but there's also a good deal of grain to the image too. I know that some can see grain as a negative, and if you belong to that camp, you're unlikely to be impressed with Casque d'Or. I personally think it looks great, and certainly didn't ruin any enjoyment I had for the film.
There's some slight issues towards the beginning of the movie with some clipping and a touch of unruly banding, but it settles very quickly and I couldn't spot anything else detrimental throughout the whole movie. Folks, if you can, This deserves a big screen, but I also tested it on a smaller display, and although not quite as impressive, still looks fantastic.
Another worthy video presentation from Studio Canal.
Rather amusingly, the background on the front end of the disc is how I would imagine the world would look if I were to put a pair of women's french frilly undergarments over my head. It's also just about the pinkest menu I've ever seen.
With a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 uncompressed audio track, boasting both French language and German language, it's not easy to pick faults given it's age. It serves the movie perfectly well, though stand out qualities are few and far between too.
Typically the mono audio track is simple, yet effective. Dialogue stands out well, and there's no problems with artifacting or any unexpected crunching in the high frequencies. You do tend to expect some with movies from this era, and though there is a little distortion at times, it's really nothing at all to moan too much about.
Music is fitting whilst remaining subtle. It's not overused. In fact, during the fight scene, where you would expect there to be a big musical cue, Becker opts to let the fight play out in silence. Good decision in my view as it adds to the tension and ensuing gravity of the situation.
Not a great deal else to mention here. Perfectly acceptable, though quite unremarkable.
Very light on the extras front with a single solitary item that, although interesting, isn't going to convince anyone on the fence about buying this Blu-ray one way or another.
At the Heart of Emotions – The Legend of Golden Marie - It's a half hour documentary with various soundbites from French Cinema experts talking about the film to a short clip of Jean Renoir discussing the movie and how it's directed.
Casque d'Or is a a poetic tale of a doomed romance. Based on a true story, it follows Georges Manda and Marie as they fall in love, and struggle to escape a seedy underworld of crime syndicates that they find themselves in. Confidently directed, and with an exemplary cast, it's undoubtedly the perfect fodder for a Saturday afternoon matinée. Though a tragic love story, it's also peppered with hope, fun, revenge and treachery. Everything a good example of French Cinema should have.
The Blu-ray package boasts excellent picture, but other than that it falls slightly short, especially on the extras front. Don't let this put you off though, if French cinema, or even just a good story driven oldie is your thing, you could do far, far worse.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £22.99
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