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The French Lieutenant's Woman
The Criterion Collection
(Blu-ray)

review by Zach B.

 



MPAA Rating: R

Running Time: 123 Minutes

Starring: Meryl Streep, Jeremy Irons, Leo McKren

Screenplay by: Harold Pinter
Based on the novel by: John Folwes

Directed by: Karel Reisz

 


Studio: Criterion

Retail Price: $39.95

Features: Ian Christie Interview, The South Bank Show, Emotional Uncertainities, Carl Davis, Trailer

Specs: 1.85:1 Widescreen Screen 1080p High Definition, English Uncompressed Mono, English Subtitles, Chapters (16 Chapters)

Released: August 11th, 2015






The French Lieutenant's Woman is presented in 1080p High Definition, with the widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Save for a few specks and dirt pieces, the film's new 2K digital restoration looks gorgeous. The grain hits a sweet spot in giving the transfer a very film-like appearance, while fleshtones look very nice. Detail is incredible, and color saturation is fantastic. The image really pops out here, especially in the lush exterior scenes. This is a very pretty transfer that will please all who watch it, though I imagine long time fans of the film will be especially enraptured.




The French Lieutenant's Woman features an uncompressed English Mono track.  It's a very straightforward track as you can imagine, but it gets the job done. Sound effects come in crisp and clear, especially the outdoors-y sound effects. Dialogue is always easy to hear, and the Carl Davis score sounds lovely. Fidelity is fairly good, too. Nothing sounds muddled, and overall it is a sharp mono track.

English subtitles are included.


 


There are a few goodies here. Leading the charge is an Interview with Ian Christie. Christie, a film scholar, gives a terrific primer about the film and the book. He discusses the work of John Fowles, how the book was considered unfilmable and the collaboration between screenwriter Harold Pinter and Karel Resiz. Christie discusses how Pinter went about the adaptation, how he thinks the film has fallen through the cracks since its release and its themes and character. A must watch.

The South Bank Show is another fine treat. This was a show that aired in the United Kingdom, and this is a 51 minute segment that features John Folwes, Resiz and Pinter. It is from 1981, and is quite a time capsule and features plenty of insights about the film and book, as well at the artists speaking. It is a little dry, but still a good watch.

Emotional Uncertainities is a 31 minute documentary produced by Criterion about the film. It features interviews with Jeremy Irons, Meryl Streep and editor John Bloom. The three talk about the book and how the film differs, as well as their experiences working with the filmmakers and themes of the story. Clips from the film and stills are included admist the talking heads. Really interesting recollections can be found here.

Carl Davis is also given his own interview that lasts 21 minutes. Davis discusses how he met Karel Resiz, and how he got hooked into The French Lieutenant's Woman. Davis discusses the original intentions of the score when he was brought in, and how his work evolved from there. Davis even plays a few samples. Wonderful and engrossing.

Finally, the movie's Trailer is included, as well as a lovely essay from film scholar Lucy Bolton.



The French Lieutenant's Woman
is quite a film, from its impeccable direction, unique screenplay and striking performances from Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons. Criterion has issued a wonderful package for this film: the restored film and sound track are excellent, and the supplements are very satisfying. This release is not to be missed.