Written by: Michael Den Boer on April 15th, 2005
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
DVD released: January 23rd, 2001
Approximate running time: 108 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Non-Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0
DVD Release: MGM / UA
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $14.95
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.
MGM’s home entertainment presents The Bride Who Wore Black in a non-anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original aspect ratio. The image overall lacks detail with colors that look over saturated at times. This release is marred with nick and scratches which help add to this transfers shortcoming. While it is a slight improvement over MGM’s The Bride Who Wore Black laserdisc it is almost a direct port of this previous release.
This DVD comes with two audio options the films original French language track and an English dubbed audio track. Both are presented in a Dolby Digital mono that are adequate at best. Bernhard Hermann’s score tends drown out the dialog which sounds muffled at times. There are also some minor problems with hiss and distortion, still nothing that ever becomes too distracting. Removable English subtitles have been included that are easy to read and follow.
The Bride Who Wore Black like most of MGM’s world films releases suffers from lack of extras. The only extra included for this release is the films original English language trailer which makes the films sound less like a Hitchcock like thriller and more like a James Bond espionage film. It would have been nice if MGM had done a better job with the audio/video and added a few juicy extras I ma just glad that I finally have a chance to own The Bride Who Wore Black. MGM had original released The Bride Who Wore Black on DVD back in 2001 and with in months it had been pulled from the market without any reason. The Bride Who Wore Black is a drastic departure from the films that we have come too expect from François Truffaut. Many directors’ pay homage to films & filmmakers that they admire and with The Bride Who Wore Black François Truffaut perfectly captures the essence of Alfred Hitchcock’s cinema, highly recommended.