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Le Beau Serge (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]

7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Of the hallowed group of Cahiers du cinéma critics turned filmmakers who would transform French film history, Claude Chabrol (Les bonnes femmes) was the first to direct his own feature. His stark and absorbing landmark debut, Le beau Serge, follows a successful yet sickly young man (A Woman Is a Woman’s Jean‑Claude Brialy) who returns home to the small village where he grew up. There, he finds himself at odds with his former close friend (Les cousins’s Gérard Blain)—now unhappily married and a wretched alcoholic—and the provincial life he represents. The remarkable and raw Le beau Serge heralded the arrival of a cinematic titan who would go on to craft provocative, entertaining films for five more decades.

Special Features

New digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition

New audio commentary featuring Guy Austin, author of Claude Chabrol

Segment from a 1969 episode of the French television series L’invité du dimanche in which Chabrol revisits Sardent, the town he grew up in and the film’s location

A 2011 documentary by filmmaker Pierre-Henri Gibert on the making of Le beau Serge

New and improved English subtitle translation

Theatrical trailer

PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Terrence Rafferty


Product Details

  • Actors: Gerard Blain, Jean-Claude Brialy, Michele Meritz, Bernadette Lafont, Claude Cerval
  • Directors: Claude Chabrol
  • Format: Blu-ray, Black & White, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: September 20, 2011
  • Run Time: 94 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0056ANHR2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #124,192 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 13, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
I feel that "Le Beau Serge" is a very sweet and well thought out film. It tells a story of a young student (Francois Bayon) who returns to his countryside hometown to recuperate. Upon arrival, he runs into a drunkard whom he recognizes to be his childhood friend (Serge). Francois' friend Michel tells him how Serge is on the verge of self-destruction after failing to get his architectural degree. Later, both friends are reunited and have an opportunity to catch up on old times. Francois observes Serge's inconsistent and erratic behavior and tries to help him mend his way. Along the way, Francois meets Serge's wife (Yvonne) and her sister (Marie). Francois has a brief affair with Marie before finding out she is raped by her "father". One night during the village dance, their affair ended with everyone humiliating and ridiculing Francois. Serge, angry with Francois for coming to his life while he's at his lowest point begins to despise beat him up in public. After the incident, Francois realizes that the people in the old village he used to remember are no longer the same. His conversation with the village priests destroyed all the innocent illusions he initially had. While the priest advises him to leave the village, Francois vows to stay on to help Serge and his family mend their lives.
I believe "Le Beau Serge" was Chabrol's first feature film. He later went on to make another feature "Les Cousins" which might be intended to complement "Le Beau Serge". Chabrol engaged actors Jean-Claude Brialy and Gerald Blain for both films with their roles and situations reversed. I first saw "Les Cousins" before "Le Beau Serge". Jean-Claude Brialy, being a brilliant actor that he was, gave out a stellar performance in both films.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Stephen C. Bird on May 25, 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Having seen several films by Claude Chabrol (-IE- "Les Biches", "Le Boucher", "La Rupture", "La Cérémonie", "Merci Pour Le Chocolat") before having viewed this one -- "Le Beau Serge" seems like the work of another filmmaker. Technically this was the first film of the French New Wave. As such, it features (1) some very good black and white cinematography (the snowy scenes towards the end of the picture are especially beautiful); (2) crude and quirky provincial characters that are well delineated; and (3) an excellent score by Émile Delpierre; Chabrol cleverly and effectively used the orchestrations of this score to highlight dramatic moments and character appearances via musical punctuation. Yet in spite of everything I like about this picture -- Its style is not yet Chabrol to me. Although there is an innocence about this film that is refreshing -- Especially in contrast to the sinister direction Chabrol would take to create his unique murder-mystery-thriller-type genre (albeit always tinged with humour).

Secondly -- This picture seems like a companion piece / bookend to Chabrol's second feature, "Les Cousins", in which Gérard Blain and Jean-Claude Brialy are once again cast as the leads. However -- "Les Cousins" exhibits a big leap forward in Chabrol's style -- It offers up some verve in terms of its sophistication and polish. It is obvious that Chabrol learned a lot from "Le Beau Serge" and applied that knowledge to "Les Cousins".
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Format: Blu-ray
When discussion is brought up among cinema peers of nouvelle vague (The French New Wave), its easy to think of names such as Francois Truffau, Jean-Luc Goard, Eric Rohmer, Jacques Rivette. Individuals, colleagues and contemporaries who each worked for Cahiers du cinema before they became filmmakers.

But there is one man that was a colleague who may have not received the prestige as his contemporaries but is respected for his contribution towards cinema with his thrillers but also years of cinema as part of his oeuvre. The man I am talking about is Claude Chabrol.

While debated of which film kicked off the French New Wave, many regard Chabrol's 1958 film "Le Beau Serge" (Handsome Serge) as the film that began the Nouvelle Vague. Feature films created by contemporaries of Cahiers du Cinema that went on to become filmmakers.

In fact, Francois Truffaut had given Chabrol the biggest compliment in 1958 for his directorial debut on "Le Beau Serge" saying, "Technically the film is as masterful as if Chabrol had been directing for ten years, though this is his first contact with the camera. Here is an unusual and courageous film that will raise the level of French cinema".

If there is one thing that can be said about Chabrol, although his name is not as well known as Truffaut or Godard in America, and while "Le Beau Serge" is a long awaited release for a Chabrol film from the Criterion Collection, he still remains the most prolific filmmaker among his contemporaries who nearly has released a film every year since 1958 starting with "Le Beau Serge" and ending in 2009 with "Bellamy", a year before Chabrol passed away.
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Le Beau Serge (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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