Written by: Michael Den Boer on January 18th, 2015
Theatrical Release Date: France, 1983
Director: Alain Robbe-Grillet
Writers: Alain Robbe-Grillet, Frank Verpillat
Cast: Daniel Mesguich, Cyrielle Clair, Daniel Emilfork, François Chaumette, Gabrielle Lazure
BluRay released: January 20th, 2015
Approximate running time: 89 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD Mono French
BluRay Release: Olive Films
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $29.98
Synopsis: A young man named Walter, who works for an unnamed organization is asked by his boss Sara Zeitgeist to deliver a letter to Henri de Corinthe. Along the way he encounters a mysterious woman who is bound and laying in the middle of the road. From there he takes the semi-conscious injured woman to a mansion, where a group of sinister looking men are having some sort of gathering. Though reluctant at first, Walter is able to get one of the men to help him with the injured woman. This man then leads them upstairs to a room and he locks them the door after he leaves the room. Now alone with the woman he starts to see things that should not be possible, like her freeing herself from the chains which bound her hand and her clothes miraculously removing themselves. Slowly the mysterious woman draws Walter into her web of seduction. When he wakes up in the morning she has disappeared into thin air and all he has left to remember her by are bite marks that she left on his neck. What does all of this mean? Will he finally discover the truth once he deciphers all of the clues or was his encounter with her a figment of his imagination?
Inspirations for La Belle Captive comes from two primary sources. The first source of inspiration being Belgium surreal artist René Magritte and the second source of inspiration being Louis Feuillade, a French filmmaker whose notable films include Fantômas, Les Vampires and Judex.
Content wise, La Belle Captive is equal parts Neo Noir and psychological horror film. With the Neo Noir side residing mostly in the film’s visuals, while the psychological horror elements manifest themselves in the form of a seductress named Marie-Ange, the woman that Walter discovers bound and semi-conscious in the idle of the road. This characters potency lies within the fact that she is an enigma due to her lack of communication. And because of her ambiguity her true indemnity in never fully exposed. Is she a vampire, is she an angel or she the grim reaper?
Once again Alain Robbe-Grillet works with a fractured narrative that focuses on cerebral and sexual themes. The one main stay of the narrative is its constant revisiting of the protagonists’ observations and their suspicions. Imagery, music and dialog are repeated to the point that it becomes impossible to differentiate between what one thinks that they have seen or what one suspects that they may have experienced. And nowhere is this more evident than in this film’s finale.
Needless to say anyone expecting anything that even remotely resembles what has since become accepted as the conventional way of telling a story should look elsewhere, while those with a more adventurous cinema palette are sure to thoroughly enjoy La Belle Captive.
La Belle Captive comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. The source used for the transfer is in great shape and there are no issues with DNR or compression. Flesh tones look accurate, black and contrast levels look consistent strong throughout and details look crisp. Grain looks natural, colors are nicely saturated and they look robust when then need too. And when compared to previous home video releases this new transfer is a marked improve upon all of those previous home video releases.
This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD mono mix in French and removable English subtitles have been included for this release. There are no issues with background noise or distortion. Dialog always comes though clearly and everything sounds balanced. Range wise things sound very good and the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented. The film’s score sound appropriately robust and sound effects like lightening striking or a motorcycle driving down the road have just the right amount of clarity.
Extra for this release are limited to a trailer for the film (3 minutes 10 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen, in French with English subtitles). Overall La Belle Captive gets a solid audio / video presentation, highly recommended.
Note: Olive Films are also releasing this film on DVD.