Le Havre [Criterion Collection] Blu-ray Review
- Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
- Audio Codec: French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit)
- Subtitles: English
- Subtitles Color: White
- Region: A (Region-Locked)
- Rating: NR
- Run Time: 93 Mins.
- Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
- Studio: Criterion Collection
- Blu-ray Release Date: July 31, 2012
- List Price: $39.95
Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures
(All Blu-rayDefinition.com screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
With the world an increasingly smaller, truly global place, immigration is also increasingly at the forefront of discussions in most developed nations. It’s not limited to the United States, but something that has long been a hot button issue in the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, and France, and other European nations. As such, Finnish filmmaker Ari Kaurismäki tackles the topic head on in Le Havre, a warmhearted comedic yarn firmly rooted in the classic French cinema, yet existing simultaneously in its own parallel universe of a fairytale version of modern France, not unlike the best of Wes Anderson films in America.
Set in the tiny fishing village of Le Havre, the aging shoe shiner Marcel Marx (André Wilms) as been losing business due to everyone wearing sneakers. With an ailing wife, Arletty (Kati Outinen), there isn’t much cause for optimism in Marcel’s life, yet when the young runaway African refugee Idrissa (Blondin Miguel) comes into his life by chance, Marcel can’t help but open his heart to him and help the kid out. Offering him food and keeping him hidden from the authorities who want to deport him, the task to help Idrissa escape the clutches of the police becomes a neighborhood effort in the tight-knit community.
Defined by beautiful cinematography of the seaside village, a marvelous use of solid colors, and, of course, the subtle and quirky comedy of human error, Le Havre is a sweet and charming look at the contemporary world experience and the coming together of generations across borders and cultures; a truly 21st century comedy.
(Editor’s Note: Portions of this review were also published as our Le Havre [UK] Blu-ray Review. All screen captures were taken from their respective releases.)
This new digital high definition transfer of Le Havre was approved by director Aki Kaurismäki, It was created on an ARRISCAN film scanner from then 35mm interpositive. Minor scratches and dust were removed using Image Sytems’ Nucoda and Autodesk’s Flame.
The AVC/MPEG-4 1080p/24 encodement from Criterion Collection, framed at the originally intended 1.85:1 aspect ratio, is sharply detailed with a very fine layer of grain imparting an organic film-like texture to the richly saturated, greenish-tinted image. Clothing, skin, and other objects all have a rich amount of detail. Contrast is very strong while blacks are deep and shadows are nicely nuanced.
The original digital 5.1 surround soundtrack is offered here in French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit). This being a dialogue-driven film, the mix isn’t very active, but there are subtle atmospheric sounds in the surround channels often that help boost the believability of the characters surroundings. Dialogue is clean with no hint of clipping.
The included supplements are heavy on interviews, but the cast and director are rather enigmatic, especially when together, when it comes to speaking about this particular film. There is also the full performance of Little Bob in concert taken from the film included alongside the usually well-written booklet.
- Le Havre at Cannes – Le Havre was a sensation at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, receiving a standing ovation at its premiere and winning the FIPRESCI prize, given by the International Federation of Film Critics. In this footage from the festival – a 45-minute press conference and a 12-minute interview recorded for French television – the playful spirit of the film;s cast and crew os on display, as they do their best to confound the international press.:
- Press Conference (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:45:12)
- Interview (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:11:50)
- André Wilms (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:13:08) – In this interview, recorded by the Criterion Collection in April 2012, Le Havre star André Wilms talks about the film and working with Aki Kaurismäki, who also directed him in La vie de bohème.
- Kati Outinen (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:48:08) – In this 45-minute interview, from the April 9, 2011, episode of the Finnish television show Mansikkapaikka, Le Havre star Kati Outinen discusses here career and the films she has made with director Aki Kaurismäki.
- Little Bob in Concert (1.85:1; 1080i/60) – This performance footage of the singer Little Bob, who gives the benefit concert in Le Havre, features the songs “Libero” and “Sheila ‘n’ Willey” and was recorded in Le Havre in May 2010.
- Trailer (1.85:1; 1080p/24; French Dolby Digital 5.1)
- Booklet: The booklet for Le Havre contains the usual examination of the film, this tome out by Michael Sicinski, a writer and critic who specializes in experimental film. There is also a Q&A with the director, translated from Finnish, included.
The Definitive Word
Even if Le Havre does lean just a bit towards the saccharine, its charm is too hard to resist. The wonderful performances and beautiful imagery combine to make this Euro-comedic journey one well worth taking. Criterion also have another triumph on their hands with this marvelous rendering of the film.
Additional Screen Captures