The Criterion Blu-ray of Luis Buñuel’s Belle de Jour has always looked to me as perfect as any digital copy of a film can get, with Sacha Vierny’s exquisite photography never richer and purer.
Then along came a StudioCanal 50th Anniversary Blu-ray. Great, but does one really need it as well?
I debated this for weeks, before finally cracking. Leaving aside which image is superior, let’s cut to the chase: The Extras. If any Extra has ever justified a Blu-ray’s purchase (and I can instantly think of many), it is StudioCanal’s with “A Story of Perversion or Emancipation”, a dissertation on the film by French psychiatrist Dr Sylvain Mimoun. It’s like Deleuze or Guattari have dropped by for a fireside chat.
Mimoun is seriously smart, razor-sharp on the film (his talk soars above everything else I have seen) and irresistibly cheeky. Yes, some will be upset that a man is discussing female sexual fantasies (look at how poor old Freud still cops it for that), but one quickly understands why Mimoun has so many female clients.
Then, watch the new interview with that most charming (and cheeky) of scriptwriters, Jean-Claude Carrière. One never feels he quite understands Belle de Jour as well as Mimoun does (which is not necessarily a filmmaker’s responsibility, after all), but he and Mimoun are clearly on the same page. Carrière also (as usual) pretends to know less than he does, and that makes this short interview an Escher-like gem. He’s a surrealist to the end!
(There is also a masterclass with Carrière and Diego Buñuel that I haven’t watched yet.)
So, forget if one Blu-ray surpasses another in terms of visual sparkle (I haven’t yet decided which I prefer), get both. The film deserves all the attention.