Director Roger Vadim's second feature with then-wife Bridget Bardot, "The Night Heaven Fell" continues the director's famously risque storytelling. Although what was then racy now seems relatively tame, I can certainly see where films like "Night Heaven Fell" caused a stir back then. The film stars Bardot as Ursula, a convent girl (I didn't know convent girls dressed like that.) who is vacationing in Italy with her aunt and uncle.
Ursula falls for local criminal Lamberto, but when the stranger kills her uncle in self-defense and seduces her aunt, the two find themselves on the run in the mountains. At 93 minutes, "The Night Heaven Fell" really doesn't offer that much of a plot, and what plot there is to the film never manages to gain much interest. The two fall in love, but the film really never gives us much reason why, nor do the two have great chemistry with one another. It's obvious that this was simply intended as a showcase for Bardot, who does have a strong presence and a gorgeous figure (which is shown off here), but not much more than that.
The film does offer fairly strong performances from the leads and supporting cast, as well as some gorgeous cinematography and locations. Still, although I was never bored with the film, the characters and plot remain slight and never really drew my interest completely.
VIDEO: This is the first DVD release that I've seen from Home Vision Entertainment. Widely known as the distributor of the Criterion Collection, the company has apparently begun releasing their own line of films, starting with Bardot's "Plucking the Daisy" and "The Night Heaven Fell". Unlike Criterion, Home Vision does not go into the same in-depth detail about the transfer and the elements used. The booklet simply states that "the best available elements" were used, and that a scene in chapter 18 has been re-instated after being cut from the picture.
The film is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and often, the presentation appears fine, although there are some problems that should be discussed. Sharpness and detail are generally very good; the picture appeared fairly well-defined for a movie of its age. Problems did arise in terms of print flaws - although the picture did not frequently suffer from them, I did notice some minor marks, speckles and a few scratches on occasion throughout the picture. Scenes occasionally showed some light grain, as well. Some minor edge enhancement was also visible, but I didn't see any pixelation or other problems.
Colors appeared generally solid, although they did appear slightly unnatural now and then. Overall, this is a respectable transfer, but not without some mild concerns.
SOUND: The film is presented in mono audio. As with all older mono tracks, the real concern is the audio quality. Audio quality here is fine; although the film's sound effects are sometimes rather cheesy, both sound effects and dialogue (although I can't say that I understand French) come through clearly and don't sound thin or hollow.
MENUS:: An enjoyable, but fairly basic main menu. Some light animation introduces the main menu, which also has music in the background.
EXTRAS:: Bardot filmography and trailers for "Night Heaven Fell", "Plucking the Daisy" and "...And God Created Woman".
Final Thoughts: Although "The Night Heaven Fell" wasn't without some positive elements, there are better Bardot films. Home Vision presents the DVD with a fairly good anamorphic transfer and enjoyable mono audio, but only a couple of minor supplements. For Bardot fans only.