Plein Soleil (Blu-ray) (Studiocanal)

pleinsoleil

Plein Soleil

Studiocanal /  René Clément / 1960 / France

Running Time: 118 minutes (01:57:44)

Region Code: Region B (Locked)

Certificate: PG

Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1

Codec: AVC

Image: Colour

Video: 1080p High Definition 

Audio: French DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 / English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (Dubbed Track) / German DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (Dubbed Track)

Language: French

Subtitles: Optional English / German

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Based on Patricia Highsmith’s 1955 psychological thriller novel, ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’, René Clément’s beautiful, sun-drenched adaptation, undoubtedly one of the most visually compelling works of 1960’s French cinema, marked the very first cinematic incarnation of Highsmith’s compelling tale, and now, fifty three years on from the film’s original release, Studiocanal present this beautiful new 4K restoration of the film (produced in association with the Cinémathèque Française) to mark the centenary of the great director René Clément’s birth.

The suave, yet impoverished young American Tom Ripley is hired by a wealthy American businessman to persuade his wealthy friend, Philippe Greenleaf (the businessman’s errant son), to return to the United States where he is to take over the family business.

Travelling to Italy, where Philippe is enjoying an open-ended ‘holiday’ with his glamorous fiancée Marge, Tom soon finds himself entranced by his friend’s flashy, untroubled lifestyle, and quickly losing sight of his initial task, spends his days and nights partying and frittering away copious amounts of money.

Eventually beginning to tire of his company, Philippe strands Tom in a dinghy during a trip on his luxury yacht; a mistake which will soon lead Tom down a dark path of fraudulence, duplicity and revenge.

In his first major film – the role that was to make him a star – the magnetic, ultra-cool Alain Delon is superb in the central role of Ripley, demonstrating early glimpses of the charismatic and hypnotic qualities that would only further develop over the course of his career. His transformation throughout the course of the film is perfectly executed and constantly challenges the viewers’ perception and acumen towards the character. Maurice Ronet is also excellent as Philippe, as is Marie Laforêt as Marge.

Listening to the interview with Delon (included as a special feature on the disc), he quickly affirms that René Clément was ‘the master’, an extraordinary ‘actor’s director’ who effectively made him the great actor he became; watching ‘Plein Soleil’, it is not difficult to see why.

With his Hitchcockian vision and astute directorial touch, Clément is undoubtedly amongst the more overlooked or under-appreciated filmmakers in 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s European cinema.

An uncredited director on Jean Cocteau’s sublime romantic fantasy-drama ‘La belle et la bête’ (1946), and the man responsible for such great works as the Academy Award-nominated ‘Jeux interdits’ (‘Forbidden Games) (1952) and ‘Gervaise’ (1956), Clément was at the height of his powers by 1960, and ‘Plein Soleil’ serves as a mere showcase for the great director to demonstrate his skills, combining elements and styles from an array of genres and film movements, and drawing on his previous works to create a top-notch psychological-noir-thriller of great pace, finesse and intrigue.

The ‘Plein Soleil’ or ‘Blazing Sun’ of the title is perfectly evoked courtesy of the stunning, sun-drenched cinematography from the great Henri Decaë’s (probably best known for his collaborations with French New Waves masters such as Jean-Pierre Melville, Louis Malle and Claude Chabrol), which captures the rich, shimmering vistas of the Mediterranean coastline with a remarkable fluidity and freedom.

The film is further complimented by the beautifully constructed, and gently ominous, score from the great Nino Rota, which subtly draws out and enhances the dark rhythms of the piece to great effect.

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Presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.66:1, this AVC encoded 1080p High Definition presentation from Studiocanal is actually very impressive, and whilst this may not be the finest blu-ray release we have seen from them, it is much better than the previously released screen shots that have been circulating around would suggest, which really don’t capture any where near the authentic quality of the image.

Colours are much richer and more vibrant than expected (the opulent blues of the Mediterranean are particularly vivd), skin tones or flesh tones are nicely saturated, the alluring quality of Henri Decaë’s cinematography is very well reproduced and there are no signs of any dirt, debris or damage to report.

Fine detail and facial detail are mostly very impressive indeed, with superb clarity presented at times, however due to the ever so slightly waxy quality of the image, it does tend to render a number of the images, particularly the close up shots, rather inconsistent and soft.

Yes there are some mild signs of DNR and corrections which do ever so slightly affect image depth and contrast levels, however in all honesty (not being overly familiar with previous presentations) I didn’t find these issues to be at all distracting from what is ultimately an excellent new 4K restoration of a visually striking film.

The lossless French DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio mix is very strong, clean and clear, offering crisp, stable and well-modulate dialogue, excellent levels of depth and fidelity, good dynamic range and a superb presentation of Nino Rota’s sumptuous score.

The release also offers two further audio options in the form of the dubbed English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 and dubbed German DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 tracks, however to get the strongest presentation and ensure a more authentic presentation I would always advise to go with the original French dialogue track.

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Special Features:

Featurette: René Clément at the heart of the New Wave

Interview with Alain Delon

Restoration comparison

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Overall:

With a superb performance from Delon at the centre of the piece, Clément’s complex and visually striking film proves an essential, if often underrated slice of 1960’s French cinema. An excellent, digitally restored new release from Studiocanal!

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Release Date: 9 September, 2013

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