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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Jean De Florette
Jean De Florette
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Review by Aaron Beierle | posted January 29, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

"Jean De Florette" is a popular French film from 1986 that was actually released in two parts (the sequel, "Manon Of The Spring" came soon after). The story is simple, but director Claude Berri gives the tale an elegant, enjoyable feel and the performances are very respectable.

The film revolves around tax collector Jean (Gerard Depardeau, going from elegant foreign films to "102 Dalmatians", but anyways...), who inherits a farm from his mother. He moves out with his family, but unknown to him, his neighbors want the farm for themselves and do anything to drive him and his family away, even blocking the spring that feeds the farmland.

The film is certainly slow, but not in the way that I found it dull. The pace is deliberate, but allows the viewer to watch the events in a way that lets the story unfold seemingly more naturally. Performances are also excellent, from Depardeau to Yves Montand as the neighbor out to claim the land for his own. I was very engaged in the film during this, my first viewing of it, which makes it all the more unfortunate that MGM has not put together a very enjoyable DVD presentation.


The DVD

VIDEO: Bah. MGM decides to give another fine film a lackluster release. "Jean De Florette" is presented in the film's original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, but alas, it isn't anamorphic. The results are watchable, but remain pretty mediocre at best. Sharpness and detail are both average with some scenes fairing better than others - some scenes look noticably soft, while some dimly lit scenes remain a little bit murky.

There are additional problems throughout; the picture sometimes looks somewhat dirty with some minor marks that occasionally appear throughout the movie. Some slight pixelation is visible a couple of times, as well as some edge enhancement. During some of the scenes, the picture also displays some light grain.

Colors aren't terrible; some of the shots outside in the fields display natural, pleasant colors of the flowers and fields. Certainly nothing vibrant or remarkable, though. The biggest problem is for some with widescreen sets who will lose the bottom line of subtitles, since this is an French film with optional English subtitles. Although I wasn't previously familiar with this film, there seems to be a great deal of people who were eager for this release, and to present it like this will prove highly dissapointing for fans of this film, and several other catalog/foreign titles MGM is giving similar treatment to.

SOUND: The French stereo soundtrack is nothing impressive, but it gets the job done fairly well. Although I personally can't speak French, the dialogue seemed to be natural and clear. There is also the occasional, light ambient sound during the outdoor sequences - a bird chirping, etc.

MENUS:: Menus are non-animated, with very basic images serving as backgrounds.

EXTRAS: The trailer.

Final Thoughts:

Positive: Although I'd never seen the movie before, I enjoyed it quite a lot.

Negative: There was a time that I thought Disney wouldn't get its DVD act together, and they actually have begun to. MGM, on the other hand, is playing the game of "How Many DVDs Can We Release This Month?" and losing. Although "Jean De Florette" is only $19.99 (less at most stores), I think fans of the film would have paid more if some actual effort was put into the release rather than this DVD, which seems thrown together. The studio should simply spend more time per title and release less instead of doing a poor job - that, or give the rights to these films to another studio who will do a better job. In this case I will recommend the title, only because it's really a fine film and deserves to be seen, although buyer beware about the quality of the DVD

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