Jacques Brel Is Alive And Well And Living In Paris DVD Review
PictureThe picture is quite soft with not much detail, but reasonably clean. There are the usual flaws that you commonly find in older prints but they don't mar the picture and in a way add to the atmosphere. I believe these AFT releases have been cleaned up substantially as their trailers are very scratchy with hairs and dirty marks popping up all over the place. This film's picture is not that bad. There's little evidence of edge enhancement and compression artefacts aren't obstrusive either. But it does have plenty of grain, and the colours have that distinctly over-saturated seventies feel. It's a nice vintage picture nonetheless.
SoundThe sound is nothing to write home about. Especially since it's a musical. A surround sound mix could have been spectacular. The mono mix may have been remastered though, as it is clear with both the musical score and voices coming through cleanly. There's little hiss or distortion when turned up loud.
ExtrasThe trailers are fun to watch as are the promotional reels giving a sense of the fun and daring (and pompousness) that Ely Landau and his cohorts must have felt with regards to their experimental project. There's also informative text pages about this film and it's siblings from the American Film Theatre, but I find the omission of a commentary to be a sad state of affairs. Being such a complex project centred round a complex man there was plenty for the cast and production team to talk about. An archival interview or a present day one with someone connected to the film wouldn't have hurt either.
VerdictFor anyone who has an interest in musicals or experimental filmmaking this is a DVD to acquire for the collection. Musicals aren't my cup of tea but this film has a lot of originality and verve. It's a fitting tribute to a remarkable fellow and a quirky piece of cinema. Oui!
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