Written by: Michael Den Boer on November 7th, 2017
BluRay released: October 10th, 2017
Approximate running times: 93 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1 Aspect Ratio / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD Mono French
BluRay Release: Kino Lorber
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $29.95
“While alone in an abandoned television studio, two militants, Emile Rousseau and Patricia Lumumba, have a discourse on language. Referring to spoken word as “the enemy”–the weapon used by the establishment to confuse liberation movements–the two deconstruct the meanings of sounds and images in an attempt to “return to zero” and truly experience the joy of learning.” – Synopsis provided by the Distributor
After the completion of Weekend, Jean-Luc Godard would leave behind more conventional cinema. He would embark on an experimental phase that refused to be confined by the restrictions imposed by commercial cinema made for the masses.
And during this transitional period, he would end his collaboration with cinematographer Raoul Coutard. Their collaboration began with Breathless and ended with Weekend. With Masculin Féminin being the only film that Raoul Coutard did not work on during Jean-Luc Godard’s nouvelle vague era.
Throughout his career Jean-Luc Godard has always draw from a wide variety of sources for his films. With one of the key influences of Le Gai Savoir being author Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Emile, or On Education.
From a production standpoint, there is nothing remotely conventional about Le Gai Savoir. There is no opening or closing credits. And though their forward momentum to the narrative. The way in which the characters interact is best described as presenters of the information, then performers in a film.
The cast is comprised of Juliet Berto (Slogan, Duelle) in the role of Patricia Lumumba, Jean-Pierre Léaud (The 400 Blows, Out 1) in the role of Émile Rousseau and in the role of the narrator Jean-Luc Godard.
Though politics play a role of the story at hand. They are not as much of the focal point as they are in film like La chinoise. With this film’s use of images and sounds being its greatest asset.
Le Gai Savoir comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. This release has been flagged for progressive playback and the film is presented in its intended 1.37:1 aspect ratio. The image look crisp, black levels remain solid throughout, grain look natural and there are no issues with DNR or compression.
This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD mono mix in French and included with this release are removable English subtitles. Dialog comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced and the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented.
Extras for this release include, a video montage of images and sounds from Le Gai Savoir titled Promenade dans Le Gai Savoir (7 minutes 27 seconds, in French with English subtitles) and an audio commentary with film critic Adrian Martin.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, Jean-Luc Godard’s transition towards political cinema, information about the film, Jean-Jacques Rousseau novel Emile, or On Education and its connection to Le Gai Savoir, how this film was made for T.V. and why it never aired on television, this film’s release history, critical reaction to the film and his thoughts about the film.
Other extras include trailers for La Chinoise, Film Socialisme and Goodbye to Language.
Rounding out the extras is a sixteen-page booklet with an essay titled Sound & Image written by Richard Hell, an essay titled Turning Point written by Adam Nayman and cast & crew information. Overall Le Gai Savoir gets a solid release from Kino Lorber, highly recommended.
Note: Kino Lorber are also releasing this film on DVD.