From Cinema Scope #60 Going for Baroque: The Films of Eugène Green By Blake Williams To get it out of the way at the outset: More →
By Jonathan Rosenbaum
Borderline (BFI). There’s much to recommend about both this silent, experimental 1930 feature by Kenneth Macpherson, editor of the radical film magazine Close Up of the late ‘20s and early ‘30s, and the neo-Mingus score of Courtney Pine, the contemporary English jazz musician and composer the BFI hired to accompany the film. But I can’t recommend the way these two things work, or fail to work, together on this 2007 release. As Pine freely admits in an interview furnished as an extra, he thinks of the music as “now” and the film as “then,” which virtually guarantees a postmodernist mishmash. So you can’t expect to find any sort of period ambience in his music, but you can’t really blame Pine, either; if there’s any charge to be brought here, it’s against whomever thought of commissioning such a score. This being a DVD, however, one can always turn off the sound while watching the film (with its Russian-influenced, pile-driver editing) or just listen to the score while ignoring it. And as far as historical background is concerned, this two-disc package also offers, along with a 24-page booklet, two odd Swiss-French documentaries by Véronique Goël: the feature-length Kenwin and the short Close Up (both 1996); as well as written bios of Macpherson, Paul Robeson (who stars with his wife Eslanda), and such distinguished Close Up collaborators as H.D., Bryher, and Robert Herring. (All three co-star, and the first two collaborated with Macpherson on the editing.)
L’amour par terre. Jacques Rivette’s Love on the Ground (1984)—which co-stars Jane Birkin and Geraldine Chaplin as actresses hired by a mysterious, wealthy tycoon-playwright (Jean-Pierre Kalfon) to rehearse and perform one of his plays in his chateau—has never struck me as being anywhere near major Rivette, in any shape or form. And one of the drawbacks of minor Rivette is that, as with minor Manoel de Oliveira and minor Béla Tarr (in the latter case, almost everything by Tarr except for 1994’s Sátántangó—finally due out in a digitally restored version on Facets Video on July 22), you can’t recommend it to skeptics with any firm hope that they’ll ever get around to seeing the major stuff as a result. (In Rivette’s case, apart from Celine and Julie Go Boating , it’s perversely all the major stuff—L’amour fou  and both versions of Out 1 —that has remained unavailable on DVD.) But in this case, at least, there’s no question that Rivette’s original but unreleased 169-minute cut is immensely superior to his 128-minute cut. Turning out the latter was a contractual requirement, yet I can’t imagine why producer Martine Marignac possibly could have preferred it, even from a commercial angle, because it’s only the longer version that delves into the sex lives of the heroines in any detail. Yet apart from rare appearances in Rivette retrospectives, this better and more coherent version remained firmly under wraps until it appeared, unsubtitled, in a French box set that I reviewed in my very first DVD column in Cinema Scope, more than five years ago. And now this version is available with English subtitles for a little under ten quid at Amazon UK as Love on the Ground, complete with a clueless and brainless description on the box. (“Long graceful shots, moving from one perfectly framed composition to another, give the film a unique profoundness.”)
Death of a Cyclist. I’ve seen only two features by the once famous and now largely forgotten uncle of Javier Bardem, Juan Antonio Bardem (1922-2002)—this 1955 melodrama and its immediate follow-up, Calle major (Main Street, 1956)—though some Spanish-speaking friends have intimated that these two may actually be the best in his career. Calle major for me is the more interesting one, but this Antonioni spin-off has its merits as well. The 2005 talking-heads documentary, Calle Bardem, that’s appended to this Criterion release offers helpful background material about why this Spanish communist under Franco was hated as well as loved so much by his colleagues. I would have preferred some clips from his other films as well, but you can’t have everything; now I can only hope that someone will release an English subtitled version of Calle major.
Détective. As I noted in this column some time ago, Godard’s first film in stereo (1985) is available in that form on the English DVD, even though it erroneously says “mono” on the box. So it’s infuriating that the so-called “collector’s edition” of this film and the multi-tracked Hélas pour moi (1993) on the US Lionsgate release (where they’re accompanied by Passion  and First Name: Carmen ) are both in mono, as are the Facets Video DVD of Godard’s Keep Your Right Up! (Soigne ta droite!, 1987) and, as previously noted, the Cahiers du Cinéma DVD of Nouvelle Vague (1990). Are these acts of censorship inadvertent, or are they a matter of indifference? It certainly doesn’t help that books about Godard never (or almost never) clarify which films are multi-tracked, nor that most reviewers of these films don’t seem to know or care about the difference. But if the Lionsgate people could now kindly bring out non-collector’s editions of Détective and Hélas pour moi in stereo, they’d be improving matters considerably.
Discipline of D.E. Having recently discovered that I’ve either lost my taste for most of Gus Van Sant’s work or else that there’s been a drastic falling off since his early features (with the 2003 Elephant a rare exception), I’ve lately concluded that my favourite among all his films is a 13-minute short he made in 1982, before his first feature: a beautifully shot and edited black-and-white adaptation of a William S. Burroughs story that doubles as a sort of how-to Zen essay and concludes as a barroom western. I’m not sure if it’s Van Sant’s first film, as the unreliable Internet Movie Database implies, because I’ve seen several other shorts of his that aren’t mentioned there. In any case, I’ve regretted for some time that Van Sant hasn’t brought out a DVD collection of his shorts, but now Discipline of D.E. has surfaced on the nicely packaged Cinema 16: American Short Films/Court Métrages Américains, issued by www.blaqout.com, which also includes very early work by Tim Burton, George Lucas, D.A. Pennebaker, Andy Warhol, and even Maya Deren, among many others. (Some of these even include audio commentaries, but not the Van Sant.)
The Exiles. The late Kent Mackenzie’s fine 1961 American independent feature about the desultory weekend activities of a few Native Americans in Bunker Hill has received a staggeringly beautiful restoration by Ross Lipman for Milestone’s DVD release. If you’ve seen the extended excerpts in Thom Andersen’s Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003), you already have some idea of what to expect in terms of filmmaking, but the textures of sound and image found here are breathtaking.
Improvisation. My column in Cinema Scope 19 focused some attention on the best (and formerly unavailable) film footage of Charlie Parker, included in The Greatest Jazz Films Ever, and shot in 1950 for an unfinished film by Gjon Mili. This pricey but worthy two-disc, region-free PAL release—picked up during my last visit to Paris, and listed on French Amazon as “Norman Granz presents Improvisation”—is a more complete assembly of this material, decked out with some extra rushes and even some additional camera angles, several interviews, and additional Granz-produced films (the 1944 Mili short Jammin’ the Blues and various bits with Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Joe Pass, Ella Fitzgerald, and Oscar Peterson, among others).
The Lawrence Jordan Album. On four discs from Facets Video comes the collected works of the experimental filmmaker also known as Larry Jordan, best known for his animation using 19th century engravings and other memorabilia. A particular high point for me is The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1977, 42 min.), narrated by Orson Welles with all the power and intensity one could hope for—it’s a study in multiple textures, aural as well as visual. In the 36-page booklet accompanying this set, Jordan admits that he expected this film to be only half as long but then had to alter his planned animation when Welles’ dramatic reading was twice that long—a curious error, because there’s nothing especially slow about the vocal delivery.
The Delirious Fictions of William Klein. This well-titled set from Criterion’s Eclipse series consists of the first three features by the great still photographer, ultimate American expatriate, and fellow traveller of the Left Bank division of the New Wave (i.e., Demy, Marker, Resnais, Varda): Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? (1966), Mr. Freedom (1969), and The Model Couple (1977). Among Klein’s documentaries on DVD, Facets Video has Muhammad Ali: The Greatest (1977), but I’m still eagerly awaiting The Little Richard Story (1980) and, above all, the collectively made Far from Vietnam (1967), to which Klein contributed all the American footage.
Land of Promise: The British Documentary Movement 1930-1950. Four discs with 40 films and a 92-page booklet from the British Film Institute. Among the key items are films by Robert Flaherty (Industrial Britain, 1931), John Grierson (films from 1937 and 1940 plus a 1959 bonus of him appearing at the National Film Theatre), Humphrey Jennings (five films made between 1937 and 1950), Paul Rotha (films from 1936, 1946, and 1947), and Basil Wright (Children at School, 1937). If Night Mail (1936) is missing, this is only because it’s been issued separately by the BFI, in a deluxe edition of its own. (See below).
Lubitsch Musicals. Eclipse has now issued The Love Parade (1929), Monte Carlo (1930), The Smiling Lieutenant (1931), and One Hour With You (1932), with no extras but useful, unsigned liner notes on each film—in short, all of the Lubitsch musicals apart from The Merry Widow (1934), which was made for MGM instead of Paramount. One can’t call all of these Maurice Chevalier musicals because he’s replaced by Jack Buchanan in Monte Carlo, just as one can’t call all of them Jeanette MacDonald musicals because she’s replaced by Miriam Hopkins and Claudette Colbert in The Smiling Lieutenant. (There’s also one other Chevalier and MacDonald musical, Rouben Mamoulian’s 1932 Love Me Tonight, available on Kino Video, which I consider the best of the lot.) Incidentally, for those interested in tracking down other Hollywood Lubitsch not readily available in the English-speaking world, you can find Design for Living (1933) in a Gary Cooper box set in France as Sérénade à trios; Angel (1937) in Spain as Ángel; and the newly released Cluny Brown (1946) from the BFI.
Madman DVDs. In the interests of full disclosure, I should note that I’ve been furnishing some liner notes recently for this Australian DVD label (www.madman.com.au), specifically about films by Carl Dreyer (Day of Wrath,1943; Ordet,1955) and Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Katzelmacher, 1969; The Bitter Tears of Petra van Kant, 1972; Ali: Fear Eats the Soul and Martha,both 1974). When I requested review copies of some of their other releases, they sent me Antonioni’s Red Desert (1964), a box set titled A Beginner’s Guide to Cinema (including their editions of Metropolis, 1926; Steamboat Bill Jr.,1928; The Man with a Movie Camera, 1929; Umberto D., 1952; Seven Samurai,1954; and Vivre sa vie, 1963), Dreyer’s Master of the House (1925) and Gertrud (1964)—the latter including an excellent audio commentary by Adrian Martin—Godard’s 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her (1967), Kurosawa’s The Bad Sleep Well (1960), a two-disc set of Lang’s Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler (1922), The Experimental Films of Tezuka Osamu, Sternberg’s The Blue Angel (1930)—two discs, including both the German and English language versions of the film—and Wim Wenders’ Road Movies (three discs, including Alice in the Cities,1974; Wrong Move,1975; and Kings of the Road, 1976). Among the many extras on these releases are several other audio commentaries by Adrian Martin (on the two Godard films, Mabuse, the German version of The Blue Angel, and Alice in the Cities), Arthur Cantrill (The Man with the Movie Camera), Rolando Caputo (Red Desert), Ross Gibson (the two Kurosawa films), Gino Moliterno (Umberto D.), and Enno Patalas (Metropolis).
The Man Who Had His Hair Cut Short. Even if this is a hard film to get into, André Delvaux’s first feature (1965), digitally restored—a creepy, slow-paced interior study of an obsessive schoolteacher that inches imperceptibly from naturalism to madness, shot in black-and-white by the great Ghislain Cloquet—certainly leaves me with plenty to mull over. I chased down this Belgian DVD because of my enthusiasm for Delvaux’s later Rendez-vous à Bray (1971), released in a lovely box set I reviewed in these pages nine issues back, and even though this earlier effort proves to be too Flemish for my tastes to allow for easy access, the wonderful extras on this DVD all contribute to showing me how and why. Not only is there a brief and telling 2002 lecture delivered by Delvaux in Valencia that addresses his own mixed and conflicting Francophone and Flemish cultures, but there’s also a detailed documentary about his career and, best of all, a fabulous 38-minute black-and-white TV documentary that Delvaux co-directed about the making of Jacques Demy’s Les demoiselles de Rochefort (1967). Delvaux provides a look at that production that’s far more intimate than Agnès Varda’s likeable The Young Girls Turn 25 (1993), giving us glimpses of Demy directing and conversing with Gene Kelly, and working at a piano with Michel Legrand on the score, and the sisters Françoise Dorléac and Catherine Deneuve both rehearsing and interrupting one another in an interview as they demonstrate and discuss their somewhat competitive relationship. As the saying goes, this alone is worth the price of admission.
Chris Marker. After I incautiously concluded my last column by noting the alleged unavailability of Marker’s 55-minute One Day in the Life of Andrei Arsenevich(1999), the best Tarkovsky criticism I’ve encountered, several people emailed me and/or Cinema Scope with the useful information that this is now obtainable from Artificial Eye in the UK, where it’s usefully supplemented by Tarkovsky’s own 62-minute Tempo di Viaggio (co-directed by Tonino Guerra, 1983) and Alexander Sokurov’s 88-minute Moscow Elegy (1987), as part of The Andrei Tarkovsky Companion. And meanwhile, the US label Icarus Films (www.frif.com), which plans to release both One Day in the Life of Andrei Arsenevich and A Grin Without a Cat (1977) on DVD in 2009, currently has four Marker DVDs slated for this September: The Case of the Grinning Cat (2004), which I wrote about a dozen columns back under its French title and edition, Chats perchés; Remembrance of Things to Come (2001), co-directed with Yannick Bellon, and accompanied by Bellon’s short documentary Colette (1951); a Region 1 edition of Arte Video’s pairing of The Last Bolshevik (1992) with its subject Alexander Medvedkin’s delirious comedy Happiness (1932); and two earlier shorts which I haven’t yet seen, The Sixth Side of the Pentagon (co-directed by François Reichenbach, 1967) and The Embassy (1973).
Georges Méliès: First Wizard of Cinema (1896-1913). From Flicker Alley, one of the major releases of this or any other year, a five-disc treasure trove in which Eric Lange and David Shepard restore no less than 173 partial or complete films, drawn from prints in eight countries and running more than 13 hours. The single Méliès film that I included in the top one-hundred of my thousand favourites in the appendix of my book Essential Cinema, Le tunnel sous la Mache (1907), which I hadn’t seen in decades, is of course included, but only to mock my vain hope of encapsulating the genius and richness of Méliès in a single title. Even more important is the inclusion of 15 hand-coloured prints and 13 that are provided with the original English narration written by Méliès himself. And rounding out this staggering collection is Georges Franju’s half-hour Le grand Méliès (1953) plus a beautifully illustrated 36-page booklet including essays by Norman McLaren and John Frazer. But if you can’t afford to be a completist (for $89.95 retail), Kino Video’s The Magic of Méliès (1904-1908), offering 14 films, a 20-minute documentary, and notes by Charles Musser for $21.99 on Amazon, should fill the bill.
Mizoguchi Kenji. Four Mizoguchi double-bills have been issued by Masters of Cinema in the UK, all with very useful video commentaries (or, in the case of Street of Shame, an exceptionally good audio commentary) by Tony Rayns along with accompanying booklets. The most bountiful of these packages is the one containing Sansho the Baliff (my favourite late Mizoguchi film, 1954), A Geisha (1953), and an 80-page booklet. But the other three—Ugetsu Monogatari (1953) + Miss Oyu (1951) + 64-page booklet; Chikamatsu Monogatari (1954) + The Crucified Woman (1954) + 56-page booklet; and Street of Shame (1956) + Empress Yang Kwei Fei (1955) + 56-page booklet—are far from qualifying as chopped liver. I’m still hoping for comparable editions of earlier Mizoguchi films: Tale of the Late Chrysanthemums (1939), my favorite among these, is available in a French box set, but I’ve been reluctant to spend more than 84 Euros on French Amazon for it. (At the moment I’m writing this, one can get each of the Masters of Cinema packages for only £14.98 on Amazon UK.)
Night Mail. I think the last time I’d seen this classic 23-minute British documentary (1936), directed by Harry Watt, was in the early 60s, when I programmed it with some feature or other in Bard College’s Friday night film series. Revisiting it in this plush British Film Institute edition, where it’s outfitted with 93 minutes of extras and a 24-page booklet, I think it still holds up, though it’s only when Benjamin Britten’s music and a rapid recitation of W.H. Auden’s poem take over that it moves into high gear. (Note: Along with Land of Promise [see above], this recently won the prize for the Best Archive Restoration or Preservation Project at the Focal International Awards.)
Night Watch. My favourite fiction film by Edgardo Cozarinsky is his most recent, Ronda nocturna (2005). Apart from his difficult-to-categorize first feature Puntos suspensivos o Esperando a los bárbaros (1971), I believe this is also the first of his fiction films ever shot in his native Buenos Aires, and it offers a memorable magical-realist “documentary” of that city at night, while following the rounds of a male hustler. (Don’t get this confused with the incoherent Russian feature bearing almost the same title, Nightwatch, released the same year.) You can order this from Amazon UK for £14.98, the same price as any of the Mizoguchi packages listed above.
La notte. For me this 1961 feature is the weakest part of Michelangelo Antonioni’s loose trilogy—preceded by L’avventura (1960) and followed by L’eclisse (1962)—though still full of good things. The newly restored Masters of Cinema edition boasts “previously censored sequences restored for the first time” without, unfortunately, clarifying what these sequences might be (or whether they were censored only in the UK or elsewhere); my own spot-checks have so far failed to tease out any footage that I haven’t seen before. Otherwise, the 56-page booklet includes an interesting new essay by Brad Stevens.
Silent Ozu: Three Family Comedies. I’ve long believed that a strong case could be made on behalf of the virtuosity and power of Ozu Yasujiro’s best silent films, none of which has been readily available until now. (The sole arguable exception would be the 1934 A Story of Floating Weeds, released by Criterion along with its 1959 colour remake Floating Weeds; but pace Roger Ebert, for all their virtues, I’ve never regarded either of these features as major Ozu.) So there are plenty of reasons for celebrating this release of three early masterpieces—Tokyo Chorus (1931), I Was Born, But… (1932), and Passing Fancy (1933)—by Eclipse, all of which have been given new piano accompaniments by Donald Sosin. My only demurral is a relatively minor one: that Ozu’s western profile, which has been consistently short-changed by the sort of typecasting that reduces his work to a single style and a single genre, has been ratified rather than challenged by both the selection of films, and the way they’re labelled. That is, I’d be still happier if these three films weren’t described reductively as “family comedies” when “family dramas” or, better yet, “family comedy-dramas” would be no less accurate. And it would be nice to look forward to some silent Ozu thrillers and melodramas as well.
Alain Resnais. It’s great to have four of Resnais’ middle-period features finally available in the US—Life Is a Bed of Roses (La vie est un roman, 1983), Love Unto Death (L’amour à mort, 1984), Mélo (1986), and I Want To Go Home (1989)—on the Kimstim label, even though I find the latter two of these far more appealing than the first two. (For the record, the second and the last of these have never had any prior US release.) But for me, the major Resnais films that remain unavailable on DVD, at least on this side of the Atlantic, are Providence (1976) and some of the early shorts, especially Les statues meurent aussi (1953), co-directed by Marker and Cloquet, and Le mystère de l’atelier quinze (1957), co-directed by André Heinrich, neither of which, to the best of my knowledge, has ever been subtitled in English. (I’ve never even managed to see the second of these.) The best extra here is the interview with producer Marin Karmitz about Mélo; there are few accounts of what the work of a producer can and should be that are more enlightening.
The River. “The River is the most erotic film of the silent cinema,” begins Hervé Dumont’s liner notes. If that sounds hyperbolic, this is probably because you haven’t yet seen it. Take a look at the 55 minutes that survive of Frank Borzage’s 1929 masterwork on this essential, trilingual release of the Munich Filmmuseum, put together in collaboration with the cinémathèques of Switzerland (Dumont’s outpost) and Luxembourg. Even though the talkie version of The River is lost, and this silent version is missing the first and last reels and two segments in the middle, a meticulous use of stills drawn from Borzage’s own personal collection, as well as intertitles taken or derived from the script, give us a pretty clear idea of the whole, and this is even more breathtaking, beautiful, and erotic than the fragment I recall seeing in London 30-odd years ago. Furthermore, Janet Bergstrom’s 36-minute Murnau and Borzage at Fox: The Expressionist Heritage (2007) offers a lucid and fascinating array of historical materials ranging from footage of Murnau on the boat to New York to clips showing some of the awesome camera movements in Borzage’s Seventh Heaven (1927); we also see and hear Borzage talking about Street Angel (1928) in a Fox Movietone newsreel. The same disc includes film and production stills and several DVD-ROM features, and there’s also a second disc containing Borzage’s first three westerns (made in 1915 and 1916) and more production stills that I haven’t yet gotten to. (For more details, go to www.edition-filmmuseum.de.)
La roue. The virtually simultaneous appearance of restored, two-disc editions of Abel Gance’s 1923 blockbuster from Flicker Alley in the US and Marcel L’Herbier’s no less oversized L’argent (1929) in France highlights the unusual proximity of avant-garde and mainstream filmmaking in France during the 20s. (Two other interesting common points: both are derived from Zola novels, albeit unofficially in the case of the Gance film, which is said to derive in part from La bête humaine; and both DVDs include a contemporary “making of” documentary—in the case of La roue, a short film by Gance’s friend and collaborator Blaise Cendrars.) Since I’m already writing about L’argent for the online Moving Image Source, I’ll focus here on the Gance, beautifully outfitted with Fernand Léger’s original poster for the film on the box and a symphonic Robert Israel score inside. Seven-and-a-half hours long on its first release, La roue (The Wheel) has been restored to only four-and-a-half hours here, but this is still the longest version to have appeared anywhere since 1923, and the clarity of the images is exceptional. (My only regret is that the original French intertitles aren’t included, even optionally—an ironic turn of events for a film that apparently never even opened in North America.) Based on what I’ve seen so far, the wild eclecticism of Gance’s rapid montage and superimpositions is a triumph of sustained intensity, and the film may well qualify as the ultimate train movie; in her fascinating book Parallel Tracks: The Railroad and Silent Cinema (1997), Lynne Kirby understandably devotes more than 20 pages to it.
The Round-Up. Given my enthusiasm for the best work of Miklós Jancsó, I’m hard put to explain why I never got around to seeing his third feature (1965), a masterpiece that some have described as his greatest, until England’s irreplaceable Second Run label recently brought out a restored version, and even brought Jancsó, now 86, over to London to help celebrate the event. Even though I wouldn’t describe this black-and-white feature, set in a Hungarian detention camp in 1869, as his best, at least among those I’ve seen by this prolific director (my own favorite remains 1971’s Red Psalm), it certainly proves that he was already a master this early in his career: there are no moments in this film that aren’t spellbinding, despite the customary absence of close-ups or a single central character. And the charming recent interview with Jancsó—included as an extra—about his early years as a filmmaker that’s included as an extra, conducted by a couple of his children, is a gem in its own right.
Straub-Huillet. The recent appearance in France of two successive box sets devoted to the films of Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet has understandably grouped them according to language. Volume 1, three discs, gives us, in German, (1) Machorka-Muff (1962) and Not Reconciled (1965); (2) Moses and Aron (1974); and (3) Introduction to Arnold Schoenberg’s “Accompaniment to a Cinematographic Scene” (1972) and From Today Until Tomorrow (1997), all with optional French subtitles. Volume 2, four discs, gives us, in Italian, (1) From the Cloud to the Resistance (1978); (2) These Encounters of Theirs (Quei loro incontri, 2005); (3) Sicilia! (1998) and a previously unreleased recording of the theatrically staged version of Sicilia! (also 1998); and (4) Fortini/Cani (1976) as well as two previously unreleased re-edits of sequences from Sicilia! (both 2001), all (except for the theatre version of Sicilia!) with optional French subtitles. Presumably the third volume will be devoted to unsubtitled versions of Straub-Huillet films in French. But this still leaves out several key Straub-Huillet films in both German and Italian, including my recent favourite, the Italian Workers, Peasants (2001). For those who don’t know French but still might like to explore these two box sets, I can recommend chasing down either English translations of the original texts these films are based on, at least when these are available (e.g., Billiards at Half-past Nine, Moses and Aron, The Moon and the Bonfires, A Vittorini Omnibus), or English translations of the scripts when these are available (e.g., Not Reconciled in Richard Roud’s Straub, Introduction to Arnold Schoenberg’s “Accompaniment to a Cinematographic Scene” in Screen (Spring 1976, Vol. 17, No. 1). And meanwhile, if, like me, you can’t understand why German films as important as The Chronicle of Anna Magdelena Bach (1967) and The Bridegroom, The Comedienne, and the Pimp (1968) are missing from Volume 1, you can find English subtitled versions of both on, respectively, New Yorker Video and the Italian label Rarovideo’s edition of Fassbinder’s Love is Colder Than Death (1969).
Vampyr. Why has it taken a decade for the restoration of the German version of Carl Dreyer’s 1932 masterpiece to get onto DVD? Beats me. And if, like me, you’ve never seen a decent print of this masterpiece in theatres, this is no small matter. Criterion has announced a release in July, but I didn’t know that back in January, when I picked this up in Paris on a 2007 MK2 two-disc set. It’s certainly worth having the German restoration in any form, though the extras here are less than they might have been. (The mediocre documentary about Dreyer, 1995’s Mon Métier, is already available in Criterion’s Dreyer box set.) In fact, the most interesting bonus here, showing the bits of the film removed by the German censor, reveals that what was at issue had nothing to do with the lustful, incestuous, lesbian looks of a lady vampire at her sister, but was entirely a matter of violence: the stake driven (offscreen) into another vampire’s heart and the suffocation of a doctor being buried under flour in a mill.