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Malpertuis: Comparison (Belgian Royal Filmarchive vs. Barrel Entertainment) 
Written by: on June 11th, 2007

Theatrical Release Date: Belgium, March 1973 / Cannes, May 1972
Director:
Harry Kümel
Writer: Jean Ferry
Cast: Orson Welles, Susan Hampshire, Michel Bouquet, Charles Janssens, Mathieu Carrière, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Walter Rilla, Dora van der Groen, Daniel Pilon, Sylvie Vartan

DVD released: 2005 2007
Approximate running time: 119:19 (Director’s Cut) / 99:38 (Cannes Version) 119:19 (Director’s Cut) / 99:38 (Cannes Version)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: 16 NR
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Flemish, English & French Dolby Digital mono Flemish & English with English Subtitles
DVD Release: Belgian Royal Filmarchive Barrel Entertainment
Region Coding: Region 0 PAL Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: 21,00 EUR $29.95

Belgian Royal Filmarchive’s Director’s Cut Region 2 DVD

Barrel Entertainment’s Director’s Cut Region 1 DVD

Belgian Royal Filmarchive’s Director’s Cut Region 2 DVD

Barrel Entertainment’s Director’s Cut Region 1 DVD

Belgian Royal Filmarchive’s Director’s Cut Region 2 DVD

Barrel Entertainment’s Director’s Cut Region 1 DVD

Belgian Royal Filmarchive’s Cannes Version Region 2 DVD

Barrel Entertainment’s Cannes Version Region 1 DVD

Belgian Royal Filmarchive’s Cannes Version Region 2 DVD

Barrel Entertainment’s Cannes Version Region 1 DVD

Belgian Royal Filmarchive’s Cannes Version Region 2 DVD

Barrel Entertainment’s Cannes Version Region 1 DVD


The Film :

Several relatives are summoned by a dying uncle named Quentin Cassavius (Orson Welles) to his isolated mansion of Malpertuis. Shortly after the in-laws arrival Uncle Cassavius lets them known that he willed them an equal portion’s of his fortune. Only there is one stipulation they must honor is final wish of remaining forever in Malpertuis and when the last two survivors remain they must marry.

Video:

Both releases present the film in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and they are both anamorphic enhanced. They are both in great shape and free of any print damage. In fact they look like they were transferred from the same source. The main difference between the two transfers is how they presented the colors and flesh tones. This actually occurs a lot even when different releases use the same source. To my eyes it looks like the Belgian Royal Filmarchive’s release has boosted their colors thus slightly over saturating them while the Barrel Entertainment release offers a more natural and faithfully reproducing of color and flesh tones. In the end which one looks better will ultimately come down to each viewer’s preference.

Audio:

The audio for the Belgian Royal Filmarchive’s release is broken down like this Flemish for the director’s cut and French & English have been included for the Cannes version. The audio for Barrel Entertainments release is broken down like this Flemish for the director’s cut and English for the Cannes version. All the audio mixes on both releases are presented in a Dolby Digital mono. Quality wise both releases provide multiple audio mixes all which are free of any defects. The Barrel Entertainment for including English subtitles with its release just edges out the Belgian Royal Filmarchive’s release.

Extras:

Extras on the Belgian Royal Filmarchive release include on disc one a thirty seven minute documentary titled “The Malpertuis Archives” which includes interviews with cast, crew and Harry Kümel. Other extras include a twenty six minute documentary titled “Orson Welles Uncut” which discusses working with Orson Welles on the set. The main extras for disc one are three audio commentaries Dutch, English and French. They all feature director Harry Kümel who is joined on the French and English by moderator Françoise Levie. Extras on disc two consist of a French language trailer, a five minute segment where Harry Kümel revisits locations and a twelve minute interview with actress Susan Hampshire who discusses the three roles she plays in the film. Other extras include a brief seven minute segment about the author of the novel the films is based on titled “Jean Ray – John Flanders”. Rounding out the extras are two short films directed by Harry Kümel “Aether” and “De Grafbewaker. Also included with this release is a booklet with more information about the film. Of note most of the extras included on the Belgian Royal Filmarchive release are not English language friendly.

For the Barrel Entertainment released many of the extras have been ported over like “Orson Welles Uncut”, Susan Hampshire’s interview, “Jean Ray – John Flanders” and the English language audio commentary with director Harry Kümel. Now the extras that are new to this release are a English language trailer, a booklet with extensive liner notes about the film and the main extra is a seventy four minute documentary titled ”Reflection of Darkness: Del Valle on Kümel. The clear winner here is the Barrel Entertainment release which not only ports over all the essential extra content included in the Belgian Royal Filmarchive they add a few engrossing extras themselves.

Overall:

Both releases are very good as they not only come with a wealth of extras they both also come solid audio/video presentations. When all is said and done the better of the two is the Barrel Entertainment release which tops everything off with their excellent Harry Kümel documentary.

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