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Les visiteurs du soir (Criterion Collection) (1942)

Arletty , Marie Dea , Marcel Carne  |  NR |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Les visiteurs du soir (Criterion Collection) + Children of Paradise (Criterion Collection)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Arletty, Marie Dea, Fernand Ledoux, Alain Cuny, Pierre Labry
  • Directors: Marcel Carne
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: September 18, 2012
  • Run Time: 121 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B008CJ0JPW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #200,766 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

  • New high-definition digital restoration
  • L’aventure des “Visiteurs du soir,” a documentary on the making of the film
  • Trailer
  • New English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Michael Atkinson

  • Editorial Reviews

    A work of poetry and dark humor, Les visiteurs du soir is a lyrical medieval fantasy from the great French director Marcel Carné (Children of Paradise). Two strangers (Children of Paradise’s Arletty and La dolce vita’s Alain Cuny), dressed as minstrels, arrive at a castle in advance of court festivities—and it is revealed that they are actually emissaries of the devil himself, dispatched to spread heartbreak and suffering. Their plans, however, are thwarted by an unexpected intrusion: human love. Often interpreted as an allegory for the Nazi occupation of France, during which it was made, Les visiteurs du soir—wittily written by Jacques Prévert (Children of Paradise) and Pierre Laroche (Lumière d’été), and elegantly designed by Alexandre Trauner (Port of Shadows) and shot by Roger Hubert (Children of Paradise)—is a moving and whimsical tale of love conquering all.

    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars The new Criterion DVD restored version is very good! October 25, 2012
    Forget the inferior VHS version that Marc Cabir Davis describes in his 2002 review here. The now 70-year-old film has undergone a meticulous digital restoration for its debut on DVD. One can again fully appreciate the superb black and white cinematography. The soundtrack has had an impeccable 24-bit remastering, and the new English subtitles are well translated and easy to read on the screen. Also included in the new DVD package is an informative 2009 French documentary on the making of this film in 1942 under Nazi occupation and the Vichy government. In addition, there is a booklet with seven pages of text by film critic and author Michael Atkinson and seven pages of photographs from the film.
    As for the film itself, see the aforementioned Davis review. I had to dock it a star because it so obviously suffers in comparison to its successor, Carné's ultimate masterpiece, "Les Enfants du Paradis" ("The Children of Paradise"). After a brilliant start (through the whole banquet sequence), the film gets progressively bogged down in its convoluted plot (that takes too long in resolving itself), becoming overly talky and a bit tedious in the process. However, the ending is so iconic that much of this can be forgiven. Also worth noting is the comment by the great French film critic Georges Sadoul, with which I would concur, that some of "the fantasy is rather forced." However, for appreciators and students of French cinema, this is a film that should not be missed, given its historical context. It launched a trend of other notable French films under the Occupation that, beneath a veneer of ostensibly escapist fare that eluded the Fascist censors, contained a subversive subtext of a yearning to be free from the forces of oppression.
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    5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless classic April 4, 2014
    Verified Purchase
    Anything written by Prevert is pure poetry and always a pleasure to watch. Arletty is amazing. Not as great as Children of Paradise or accessible as Hotel du nord but still . . .
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    5.0 out of 5 stars Long sought after, now found March 23, 2014
    Verified Purchase
    The Criterion Collection specializes in classic films that are very hard to find. La Belle Et La Bete was the first one I purchased, and now, Les Visiteur Du Soir, a French film that pre-dated La Belle Et La Bete, and is just as sumptuous and entertaining. It's also harder than hen's teeth to locate before Criterion released it. As a student of the French language, and as a film enthusiast, I can highly recommend it.
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    5.0 out of 5 stars Odd, but fun movie to watch en français! October 15, 2013
    By W. Hill
    Verified Purchase
    I enjoyed this movie with its mysterious aura. One gets caught up in the intrigue of the action and the characters.
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    5.0 out of 5 stars A European Classic with English Subtitles August 14, 2013
    In my view, this is a psychological metaphor, not a political one. The documentary included in the disc even says that this was meant as an escapist romantic fantasy set during the 1400s. And the idea that the two minstrels/visitors were spies for a competing feudal lord sent to take down a castle using their charms, I think distracts from the real story which seems to me, at least, to be about the struggles narcissists have to love or trust. The female narcissist, Dominique, clearly has given up all hope on love and has a severe case of coldness and contempt for all people (ie: a victim of parental psychic incest or "a deal with the devil"). About half way through the movie, the male narcissist, Gilles, lets go and allows himself to fall in love for the first time with a kind woman. He becomes vulnerable and asks her to teach him how to love. At this moment, his old memories appear (ie: the devil appears or what some have called a "negative therapeutic reaction") and he is turned into stone (ie: petrified with fear). The movie offers an inspirational ending which countless love songs are all about. If you need a reminder of what life is like without love, I think this film does a terrific job of it. Even the character who plays the personification of the devil admits that he does what he does only to distract himself from the pain of having never been loved.

    The movie has a meditative, rhythmic, and slightly poetic quality to it. The dialogue and English subtitles are very crisp and clear. The costumes are spot on and they alone will make you feel that you've escaped to another time and place.
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