Written by: Michael Den Boer on February 17th, 2017
Theatrical Release Date: France / Italy, 1968
Director: François Truffaut
Writers: François Truffaut, Jean-Louis Richard, Cornell Woolrich
Cast: Jeanne Moreau, Michel Bouquet, Jean-Claude Brialy, Charles Denner, Claude Rich, Michael Lonsdale, Daniel Boulanger
BluRay released: January 20th, 2015
Approximate running times: 107 Minutes
Aspect Ratios: 1.66:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD Mono French, DTS-HD Mono English
BluRay Release: Twilight Time
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: OOP
Synopsis: Julie Kohler (Jeanne Moreau) goes from the happiest moment of her life marrying her childhood sweetheart to the darkest moment when he is gunned down on the steps of the church after their wedding ceremony. Julie now in a deep depression now lives with her mother and after a failed suicide attempt she finds strength in her hatred for the men who killed the man she loved. Her quest for revenge soon becomes an obsession as she tracks each man down. She seduces each man before she disposes of them in clever and unique ways. Will she be able to eliminate all the names in her little black book before the police find out about her diabolic scheme?
The Bride Who Wore Black would mark the first of François Truffaut’s homage’s to the cinema of Alfred Hitchcock. It was also only the second time that Truffaut had worked with color. With the first film he shot in color being his first English language film Fahrenheit 451.
Frequent Alfred Hitchcock collaborator composer Bernard Herrmann composes a score that is reminiscent of his work he did for Hitchcock. There is a scene that takes place early on in which the lead character Julie is walking on the platform at a train station that is clear nod to Hitchcock’s Marnie.
When we are next introduced to Julie she in dressed in a beautiful evening dress and Roul Coutard’s soft lighting makes her look angelic and not of this earth. This moment bears a strong resemblance to a scene in Vertigo when Scottie witnesses Judy’s transformation into the beautiful Madeleine Elster. The way the camera moves and the shots are set up through out are shot in a more subjective way that involves the viewer more.
Jeanne Moreau is one of France’s greatest actresses and she gives the performance of a lifetime as an icy cold scorned woman who is never impulsive as she meticulously completes her cycle of revenge. The choice of using Jeanne Moreau is an interesting choice since it goes against the grain since Hitchcock frequently cast blondes in the lead. Truffaut’s could have hired someone like Catherine Deneuve who perfectly fits the Hitchcock prototype instead he makes an inspired choice with Jeanne Moreau who delivers in an extraordinary performance.
The structure of the narrative is told in a non-linear way through a series of flashbacks. And by telling the story this way works as Truffaut gives the viewer just enough info to get them by until the next reveal. Hitchcock always had a ‘MacGuffins’ plot devices that drive the plot. The ‘MacGuffin’ in Truffaut’s The Bride Who Wore Black is even more shocking as we finally learn the truth behind the groom’s death. The film ends with a twist ending that would put a smile on the face of the master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock. Truffaut rarely made pictures that would fall into a specific genre and with The Bride Who Wore Black, he directs one of the best homage’s in the history of cinema.
The Bride Wore Black comes on a 50 GB dual layer (39.4 GB) BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. The image looks crisp, colors and flesh tones look accurate and black levels remain strong throughout. Grain remains intact and there are no issues with DNR or compression.
This release comes with two audio options., a DTS-HD mono mix in French (with non-removable English Subtitles) and a DTS-HD mono mix in English. Both audio tracks sound, clean, clear and balanced throughout. The more ambient aspects of these mixes are well represented and range wise both sound robust when they need too. With Bernard Hermann’s score, really benefiting from these audio mixes. It should be noted that the English language track also comes with English subtitles and these are a different then the subtitles provided for the French language track.
Extras for this release include, an option to view the Twilight Time catalog, an eight page booklet with an essay about the film written by Julie Kirgo, MGM’s 90th Anniversary Trailer (2 minutes 4 seconds), a English language trailer for the film (1 minute 56 seconds), an option to listen to a Isolated music track and an audio commentary with Bernard Herrmann biographer Steven C. Smith, film critic Julie Kirgo and moderated by Nick Redman.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, the opening credits, Bernard Hermann, his score for the film and who some of his original score was rejected by François Truffaut, cinematographer Raoul Coutard and the look of the film, Alfred Hitchcock, author Cornell Woolrich, keys moments, how the English language version has alternate music cues than the French language version and their thoughts about the film.
Rounding out the extras is a bonus CD that contains an interview with composer Bernard Herrmann titled Conversation Piece: An Unvarnished Chat with Bernard Herrmann (79 minutes).
Overall The Bride Wore Black gets a solid release from Twilight Time.
Note: This Blu-Ray release is a limited-edition release of 3,000 copies.