Focus on...

Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne (Criterion, 2003) asked Kate Elmore, producer of Criterion's Les Dames DVD [ cover scan ] to give us her opinion on the quality of the DVD and of the underlying film elements. This is further to a March 6 2003 News item and DVDBeaver's review. Many thanks to Kate for promptly responding to our inquiry.

To      : Trond Trondsen,
From    : Kate Elmore, Criterion
Date    : Wed, 19 Mar 2003 17:48:55 -0500
Subject : Les dames...

We too are disappointed with the condition of the film elements for
Bresson's Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne. I can assure you that our digital
transfer was done to the same exacting standards as any of our others, but
that the existing film elements are in unfortunate shape. What you see on
our disc is a an accurate, reproduction of the image as it survives in
duplicate elements.  No amount of digital restoration could solve the
problems inherent in the material, and, as is our policy in such cases, we
refuse to overprocess the image and sound, removing what remains of the
character of the original film (grain, texture, depth), simply for the sake
of making a "cleaner" picture. Using a fairly light hand, we removed the
worst of the dirt, especially around the opticals and reel changes, but
there is very little we can do about the softness inherent in the surviving
dupes or the shifting (film weave) that commonly results from warping of the
reels. As for the sound, we did manage to improve it somewhat, but again,
the original sound elements have not been well preserved.

We certainly hope that other film elements, in finer condition, may be found
in the future, so that a full film restoration can be undertaken and the
picture saved. If nothing else, the flaws inherent in the elements should
remind us all of the perishable nature of the medium and of the importance
of restoration and preservation efforts. Digital recording is not enough.
The celluloid itself needs to be cared for and protected, and in this case,
it has not been kindly treated. If something better turns up, as happens
from time to time, we will certainly be proud to make it available.  But for
now, we feel confident that we have made Les Dames look as good as it can,
given the state of the film.

Best wishes,


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