• L’important C’est D’aimer

    Released by: Mondo Vision
    Released on: 06/16/2008
    Director: Andrej Zulawski
    Cast: Romy Schneider, Fabio Testi, Jacques Dutronc, Klaus Kinski
    Year: 1975
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    The Movie:

    Director Andrej Zulaswki’s 1975 drama features a fantastic cast of Eurocult regulars cast against type and allowed to really ‘become’ their characters thanks to a tight script and some great characterization. It’s a grim story about the dangers of overpowering passion and crazed obsession, and it makes for considerably more intense viewing than its artsy reputation would likely have you believe. Then again, Zulawski is no stranger to horror…

    The film follows a depressed man named Servais Mont (Fabio Testi) who makes a living as a photographer. His life changes forever when he meets an actress named Nadine Chevalier (Romy Schneider) who finds him in his apartment not doing well. Nadine specializes in sex films where she earns a her living by frequently getting naked in front of the camera. He immediately feels for her and decides he’ll try and help her find a more legitimate career than the one that she already has. To do this, he goes to some shifty loan sharks and borrows a sizeable amount money to put on a stage production of Richard III. Not surprisingly, he decides to give Nadine a large part in the film. What Nadine doesn’t know is that Servais already owes these guys a lot of money thanks to some of his past exploits. While all of this is going on, Nadine is wrestling with her emotions, as she’s literally torn between two lovers, her husband Jacques (Jacques Dutronc) who she feels obligated to stay with, and Servais, with whom she is obviously quite passionately in love with.

    A very simple plot in a low of ways, L’important C’est D’aimer doesn’t always paint love as the rosiest of emotions, in fact, it portrays true love as a one way ticket to emotional torture and suffering. On the flip side of that, it also paints it as the only thing in life that makes it worth living, a very pure and true part of what makes a person human in the first place. Working off of his own novel and co-writing with director Zulaswki, Christopher Frank’s script is a dark one, and it builds slowly and deliberately to a predictably and inevitably grim conclusion. The film isn’t a cheery look at romance or a Hollywood style romantic comedy, it’s instead a harrowingly sincere portrayal of how it can all go wrong and still be worth the trouble.

    Performance wise, the film is impeccably cast. Romy Schneider is excellent here, as tortured as you’d expect her to be and entirely convincing in the lead role. You can see the frustration and hurt on her face as she wrestles with her moral dilemma, and her interaction with both of the men in her life is completely believable. Testi is his typically handsome self but he plays his role with an uncharacteristic sense of morose sadness – he seems distant and removed from it all, though that does fit his character quite well when you think about it. Dutronc, as the man doomed to lose his wife, is just as good as the rest of the cast while the supporting performance from Klaus Kinski as a slightly off kilter actor involved in Servais’ production steals every scene it can.

    Wonderfully scored by Georges Delerue and beautifully shot, L’important C’est D’aimer is as stunning to look at as it is entrancing to watch. The film never feels pretentious even if its concept could have easily fallen into that trap, and the production values are top notch. Ultimately, L’important C’est D’aimer is a grim picture filled with decadent behavior, screwed up characters, sporadic violence and dire circumstances that somehow manages to overcome all of that and stand as a remarkably romantic work of pure, unadulterated cinema.


    Mondo Vision presents L’important C’est D’aimer in an excellent 1.66.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer on a dual layer disc that looks very nice indeed. There’s plenty of detail evident throughout the image and there are no problems with compression artifacts or edge enhancement to report. Print damage is never an issue and color reproduction looks nice and lifelike, as do skin tones. Black levels stay strong throughout and overall this is a well authored disc of some very nice source material but take a look at the restoration demo included on the extras for an idea of how much work went into making this look just as good as it possibly could. The results speak for themselves.

    The French language Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono mix comes with optional subtitles in English only. As with the video transfer, there’s really nothing to complain about here. The mix is well balanced, there are no problems with hiss or distortion and the subtitles are clean, clear, easy to read and free of any obvious typographical errors. Optional tracks are provided in English and German as well, but for whatever reason the film just seems to play better in French.

    First up is an audio commentary with director Andrej Zulawski moderated by writer Daniel Bird, in English, who keeps this scene specific discussion moving nicely starting by discussing the casting and detailing how the various participants came on board to work on this picture. Zulawski does a great job of discussing the politics that lead to the making of this picture as well, and how he wound up in Paris at this point in his life. Bird wisely lets Zulawski do most of the talking, simply prodding him with questions now and then, as the director talks about some of the stage work that he did and about what it was like working with the different participants involved in this project including the notorious Klaus Kinski, who he wanted in the film not only to appease the Germans but because he appreciated his talents. He talks about Kinski’ ‘Polish origins’ and about how he saw him in a Spaghetti Western and numerous Italian films before casting him in this picture. He also notes that no one else involved in this production wanted Kinski in the movie because of his difficult temperament and bad reputation. It’s a very involved, detailed and interesting commentary that moves at a great pace and covers pretty much anything you’d want to know about this film.

    Up next is an Andrzej Zulawksi Interview (16:29) where the director speaks in French (with English subtitles) about how an American producer introduced him to Christopher Frank’s book from which this film was adapted and what it was like working on the script with Frank. He also talks about the cast, the pros and cons of casting someone so feminine in the lead, and some of the issues he ran into with Schneider’s self confidence issues on set. He also talks about a few scenes that were written but never filmed, and about the picture’s grim finale.

    Rounding out the extras on the disc is the 1975 pre-release theatrical trailer for the film, a restoration before and after comparison, a nice still gallery, some classy animated menus and chapter selection.

    Aside from that, the sturdy digi-pack packaging for this release is also quite nice. Inside the heavy cardboard slipcase is a nice twenty-four page full color booklet that contains film credits, a Zulawski filmography, a film synopsis and an essay entitled An Existential Melodrama written by Daniel Bird in 2008. Also included in the booklet are some bios for most of the principal cast and crew members and for Christopher Frank, and some DVD credits. A second insert is a white page with a chapter listing and some technical information on it.

    The Final Word:

    Mondo Vision continue to impress with this absolutely beautiful package. Everything from the transfer to the extras shows how much care has gone into bringing one of Zulawski’s finest films to DVD, making this pretty much the definitive edition.
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. John Gargo's Avatar
      John Gargo -
      This film is absolutely wonderful... the scene where Kinski loses his shit in the restaurant is immensely satisfying.