• Line Of Demarcation (Kino Lorber) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Kino Lorber
    Released on: February 25th, 2020.
    Director: Claude Chabrol
    Cast: Jean Seberg, Maurice Ronet, Daniel Gélin, Jacques Perrin, Stéphane Audran, Reinhard Kolldehoff
    Year: 1966
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    Line Of Demarcation – Movie Review:

    Directed by Claude Chabrol and released in 1966, Line Of Demarcation is set during the Second World War and takes place in a small town in the Jura Mountains, the border between France, under occupation by Nazi forces, and the European free zone. Here a French officer, Pierre (Maurice Ronet), who also happens to be the Count de Damville, returns home to the village to find it under German rule. His wife, Mary (Jean Seberg), who was born in England, teaches at a local school and also helps the very few locals in the town’s underground resistance movement, well aware of the danger this puts her very life in.

    Pierre, however, is accepting of the situation. Things get tricky when it turns out that the resistance has a rat in their midst, who has not only been feeding information about their activities to Nazi soldiers, but also helping to steal much of what they own. And then Mary gets arrested…

    Based on Colonel Remy's memoirs of this time working in the Free French Forces, the film does a great job of relaying just how few citizens were actually involved in efforts to oust the Nazi’s in France, with far too many members of its populace content to let them takeover so long as their lives weren’t really affected too much. Tension comes from the actions of those few. Some of the supporting characters are underwritten and poorly defined but what they go through is still tense enough to pull us into the story, while the personal drama that unfolds between Pierre and Mary is handled in the director’s typical expertly layered style. Based on what he’s Been through, Pierre has more or less surrendered, given up hope of overturning things and accepting of his country’s fate. Mary, on the other hand, has not seen combat, and as such, she’s still got some fire in her belly and does not see the futility in the resistance’s actions that her husband does.

    The script is less than perfect. It isn’t hard for anyone even remotely trying to pay attention to the film to figure out who is legitimately working against the Nazis and who isn’t, though how much of this stems from the source being adapted versus how much of it comes from Chabrol’s adaptation of that source material I can’t say (having never read it). Still, a few more ‘grey areas’ in terms of the supporting players’ motivations would have helped out a bit here. The German characters are also played as the type of stereotypes you’ve seen in plenty of other WWII movies.

    That said, the good vastly outweighs the bad by a pretty serious margin. If this isn’t Jean Seberg’s best performance, she’s okay here, while Maurice Ronet does a very good job in the male lead. The lovely Stéphane Audran has a nice supporting role here and manages to make the most of it, while Reinhard Kolldehoff is very good as a German major. On top of that, the cinematography is fantastic, always upping the tension and laying out the scene perfectly. It’s a gorgeous looking film and despite some issues with the characterizations, Charbol’s direction keeps the pacing tight and the story interesting.

    Line Of Demarcation – Blu-ray Review:

    The Line Of Demarcation arrives on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber using a transfer that would appear to have been supplied by Studio Canal and taken from a new 4k restoration of unidentified elements (though it is a safe guess that it was the original negative). The AVC encoded 1080p high definition image, framed in its proper theatrical aspect ratio of 1.66.1 widescreen, looks excellent. The black and white picture shows consistently strong detail and very little print damage, while retaining the expected amount of natural film grain. Black levels are nice and deep, we get clean whites and a nuanced grey scale. There are no noticeable problems with any obvious noise reduction or edge enhancement and the picture if free of noticeable compression artifacts. It looks great.

    The only audio option on the disc is a French language DTS-HD Mono option. It sounds fine, problem free if a little flat in a few spots due to the age and elements available. The score has some decent range to it and the track is free of any noticeable hiss or distortion. Optional English subtitles are provided.

    Aside from a trailer for the feature and trailers for a few other Kino Lorber titles available on Blu-ray, the disc also contains an audio commentary track from Samm Deighan. She spends quite a bit of time exploring the morality of the characters that exist in the film by dissecting their motivations as they relate to their actions. She also notes the influence of filmmakers like Fritz Lang, discusses the politics of the film and offers up the expected barrage of trivia and facts about the cast and crew behind the picture. It’s a good talk with some interesting insight and information contained therein.

    Menus and chapter selection options are also provided on the disc.

    Line Of Demarcation – The Final Word:

    The Line Of Demarcation has to be one of Chabrol’s most underappreciated picture. It’s a tense and expertly made war time with some great twists and excellent performances. Kino has done an excellent job bringing it to Blu-ray, it looks gorgeous and the commentary is quite good. Highly recommended.

    Click on the images below for full sized Line Of Demarcation Blu-ray screen caps!