Delicatessen Blu-ray Review
‘Delicatessen’ is presented in widescreen 1.85:1 with MPEG-4 AVC coding.
I always remember how dark this movie appeared on DVD, with a lot of the detail partially obscured by the dim and highly stylised nature of the presentation (not to mention the heavy mist which is present in the outdoor portions). I’m pleased to report that Studio Canal have done this transfer the justice that it deserves and really have brought out the best from the complex source material. The grain content can get quite boisterous at times, especially during the outdoor segments, but overall it adds to the texture of Clapet’s dark environ.
The colour palette, which is based almost solely on sepia tones such as gold and yellow and other pastille tones, feels rich and full bodied, serving to bring the imagery to life. This was, I always felt, a facet that was somewhat lacking in the DVD release and I’m glad that it has been corrected here. Contrast ratio produces some solid blacks but it’s somewhat off reference standard (and also definitely restricted by the strange colouring choices). Shadow detail is very impressive for the duration, with no detail lost in the plentiful gloomy scenes.
The image quality is reasonable sharp and well defined for the duration but the budgetary nature of the production does expose some flaws. That being said, the overall pros most certainly outweigh the cons and this is a very detailed image overall, exposing many facets that I had not previously noted; which, for this reviewer, always makes watching a movie a much more rewarding experience. For example, as the torrent floods the building, there are plenty of items on show, which duly wash through the house. Facial close-ups are impeccable and really serve to expose the limitations that the stylistic choices at times have on the image quality; but this is an observation and the disc will not be marked down for this.
Despite its short comings (such as the deliberately soft outdoor scenes), this BD release is the best that this movie has ever looked and is awarded a solid seven for its efforts.
Please note that this is a Region A+B release
‘Delicatessen’ comes with a 2.0 dts HD Master Audio surround track.
I often wonder, when I see uncompressed stereo mixes, “What is the point? I mean, you have all those extra channels at your disposal, so why not make use of them? I suppose that it’s all down to how the movie is presented, and this one certainly did not disappoint with its active stereo mix, but I could not help thinking that this is a wasted opportunity. There’s plenty going on in the front soundstage for the duration and this is a busy track to say the least. Vocals are crystal clear for the duration but there were a few crackles noted; for example, when the old granny screams as she spots the spider dangling overhead. There also seemed to be a strange hissing noise on the track, which was especially noticeable during the quieter portions, but this was generally not a distraction and became unnoticeable as the movie progressed.
The front soundstage is impressively expansive, creating a very wide sound field, with droplets of water leaking from the rood and falling all around. Steerage is also very accurate, with the voices coaxing Aurore to meet her maker, drifting from left to right sound field. Bass reproduction is above average, with the assault on Julie’s bedroom bringing out the best from the woofers. The flood scene at the movie’s close is a standout and was quite impressive, considering that only the front two channels were employed.
The score plays a major role in this movie, with the musical set pieces relying on the cast to act in harmony with the music. The scene where Julie and Louison play the viola and the musical harp (respectively) is very well represented, with the high range frequencies recreated to perfection. The Hawaiian music scene during which Louison and Madame Plusse test out the bedsprings is also a work of genius, forming a bond between with image and the accompanying audio mix.
Overall, although I’m disappointed that we did not get a 5.1 mix, this track does the source material justice and comes recommended.
As is normally the case with Studio Canal releases, there’s plenty of additional supplements to delve into. The finished BD (I am working on a pre-production copy) will also contain a booklet by Adam Woodward, who gives his thoughts on the movie. We’ve also got a brand new documentary, which always earns bonus points in my book (but the lack of HD content does not impress).
Audio Commentary - In this feature length commentary track, Jean Pierre Jeunet (one half of the directing duo) gives his thoughts on the movie. He talks candidly about the entire filming process, providing anecdotes from the set. He comments on all of the actors, the dedicated team who worked on the project and some of the difficulties experienced during the shoot. This is a highly interesting and worthwhile track and a must for all fans of the movie (subtitles are included).
Main Course Pieces (SD 65mins) - This whopper of an extra feature basically takes a retrospective look at every aspect which made bringing ‘Delicatessen’ to the silver screen possible. There are interview portions with Jean-Pierre Jeunet (director), Dominique Pinon and Claudie Ossard (producer), who all provide their experiences from the set. Plenty of critics, directors, writers and other admirers of Jeunet’s work expand on what aspects of ‘Delicatessen’ makes it so unique and what has made it stand the test of time (including comparisons to other modern movies). There is some overlap with the commentary track but this is essential viewing. I have to say that I love retrospective documentaries, as they add something brand new to the movie, and also make a nice addition to the BD release.
Making Of: Fine Pork Cooked Meats (SD 13mins) - This is basically a behind the scenes documentary, that takes a look at the filming process for some of the scenes. Interesting, although a little short lived.
Jeunet’s Archives (SD 8mins) - This feature includes some of Jeunet’s personal tapes of the casts’ auditions, rehearsals and other backstage footage. It’s strange to see to the actors out of (wacky) character in the strange semi-constructed environ of Clapet’s residence and I’ll bet that Jeunet is glad he recorded this process for prosperity.
Trailers (SD) - Included here, for your viewing pleasure, are the original theatrical and teaser trailers for the finished product.
‘Delicatessen’ was released in 1991 and was directed by Jean Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro. In their highly ambitious and spellbinding debut feature, the pair convincingly recreate a post apocalyptic setting, where food supplies are at critical levels. Focusing on a desolate and decrepit tenement building, we’re introduced to Clapet (Jean Claude Dreyfus); butcher and landlord who has a Sweeny Todd poster on his bedroom wall! When the latest janitor, Louison (Dominique Pinon), arrives on the scene, it seems as though his days are numbered until Clapet’s daughter, Julie (Marie-Laure Dougnac), takes a distinct interest in ex-circus performer. With a cast comprising some the best, yet completely wacky, actors that France had on offer at the time, the plot creates a fantastical world that sucks you into romance, peril and a timeless battle of good versus evil and pins you there for the duration. One of those movies that everyone should see at least once, ‘Delicatessen’ comes highly recommended.
As is usually the case with Studio Canal’s releases, they most certainly have done the transfer on this movie justice. The semi dark veil which obscured previous releases has been lifted, with detail and colour shining through. The dts HD Mater Audio 2.0 surround track is somewhat of a wasted opportunity in my opinion, although the stereo mix most certainly is more than adequate. With a well fleshed out extras portion, which includes a brand new documentary, there’s nothing to stop you from picking up this excellent Blu-ray release.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.99
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