986 The Baker's Wife

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FrauBlucher
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986 The Baker's Wife

#1 Post by FrauBlucher » Tue Dec 11, 2018 10:22 pm

The Baker's Wife

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The warmth and wit of celebrated playwright turned cinema auteur Marcel Pagnol shine in this enchanting slice-of-life comedy. Returning to the Provençal countryside he knew intimately, Pagnol draws a vivid portrait of a close-knit village where the marital woes of a sweetly deluded baker (the inimitable Raimu, praised by no less than Orson Welles as "the greatest actor who ever lived") snowball into a scandal that engulfs the entire town. Marrying the director's abiding concern for the experiences of ordinary people with an understated but superbly judged visual style, The Baker's Wife is at once wonderfully droll and piercingly perceptive in its depiction of the complexities of human relationships.

SPECIAL FEATURES

• New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• Selected-scene audio commentary featuring Marcel Pagnol scholar Brett Bowles
• Introduction by Pagnol from 1967
• Excerpt from a 1966 interview with Pagnol for the French television series Cinéastes de notre temps
• Short French news program from 1967 revisiting the village of Le Castellet, where the film was shot
• New English subtitle translation
• PLUS: An essay by film scholar Ginette Vincendeau

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tenia
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Re: Forthcoming: The Baker's Wife

#2 Post by tenia » Wed Dec 12, 2018 5:37 am

FrauBlucher” wrote:Trailer
This reminds me : the Compagnie Méditérranéenne de Films - Marcel Pagnol Communication was the one who commissioned the Marseille trilogy restorations but also The Baker's Wife. Both have been released on BD in France too. However, they also commissionned the restorations of Angèle and Regain, which have been released in France on BD just a few days ago. I have of course no clue if Criterion / Janus will get those, but for those interested, it means these 2 movies are also available in restored versions.

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Re: Forthcoming: The Baker's Wife

#3 Post by Glowingwabbit » Wed Dec 12, 2018 7:42 am

tenia wrote:
Wed Dec 12, 2018 5:37 am
This reminds me : the Compagnie Méditérranéenne de Films - Marcel Pagnol Communication was the one who commissioned the Marseille trilogy restorations but also The Baker's Wife. Both have been released on BD in France too. However, they also commissionned the restorations of Angèle and Regain, which have been released in France on BD just a few days ago. I have of course no clue if Criterion / Janus will get those, but for those interested, it means these 2 movies are also available in restored versions.
Ohhh thanks for the tip. Angèle is my favorite Pagnol film and it's definitely one that desperately needed a restoration. I really hope Criterion decides to pick it up so it can have a wider audience. Any idea if those French blus have English subs?

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tenia
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Re: Forthcoming: The Baker's Wife

#4 Post by tenia » Wed Dec 12, 2018 8:56 am

I have yet to receive Angèle and Regain, but their 2 other releases had English subs, so it is a possibility.

isakorg2
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Re: Forthcoming: The Baker's Wife

#5 Post by isakorg2 » Wed Dec 12, 2018 9:22 am

Looking on Amazon.fr I found both - with release dates of December 28 and the notice, per Google translate, that Amazon doesn't know when or even if it will be available. Also: it comes subtitled in Sanskrit. Surely, a first.

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tenia
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Re: Forthcoming: The Baker's Wife

#6 Post by tenia » Wed Dec 12, 2018 9:37 am

They have been released already (on Nov 30th exactly), but we're struggling in France too with distributions and supplying some online retailer, and Amazon is particularly suffering from it.

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Re: Forthcoming: The Baker's Wife

#7 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Wed Dec 12, 2018 9:43 am

isakorg2 wrote:
Wed Dec 12, 2018 9:22 am
Looking on Amazon.fr I found both - with release dates of December 28 and the notice, per Google translate, that Amazon doesn't know when or even if it will be available. Also: it comes subtitled in Sanskrit. Surely, a first.
Bound to be a big hit in the lamaseries of Nepal I should imagine.

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FrauBlucher
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Re: Forthcoming: The Baker's Wife

#8 Post by FrauBlucher » Fri Dec 21, 2018 5:09 pm

I just watched this. It was my first Pagnol. It was quite wonderful. A very witty, sharp, inciteful film with a great humanity to it. It was also funnier then I expected. The image was terrific. Another release to look forward to.

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Re: 985 The Baker's Wife

#9 Post by FrauBlucher » Mon Apr 15, 2019 5:27 pm

This looks like a great release. For those that haven't seen this or the restoration this is a terrific film that looks absolutely sweet.

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tenia
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Re: 985 The Baker's Wife

#10 Post by tenia » Mon Apr 15, 2019 6:40 pm

Another Pagnol for which the Americans get a more loaded release while we only got a barebones release. This is getting ridiculous.

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schellenbergk
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Re: 986 The Baker's Wife

#11 Post by schellenbergk » Mon Apr 29, 2019 10:05 am

For anyone in the Washington DC metro area (or visiting) - there will be a FREE screening of the digital restoration of "The Baker's Wife" at the National Gallery of Art East Building (on the Mall next to the Capitol) on Sunday May 26 at 2pm.

https://www.nga.gov/calendar/film-progr ... -wife.html
Washington premiere of digital restoration

The books of the popular Provençal writer Jean Giono were a favorite source of material for filmmaker Marcel Pagnol in the 1930s. The Baker’s Wife (La femme du boulanger), arguably Pagnol’s best work, has now been treated to a 4K restoration. The incomparable Raimu stars as the local baker who is devastated when his pretty young wife (Ginette Leclerc) is attracted to a shepherd and leaves the village. Heartbroken, Raimu can no longer bake his famous bread, but luckily the villagers — distressed over the loss of their bread — make plans to lure the wife back to the bakery. (Marcel Pagnol, 1938, subtitles, 133 minutes)
Great way to "preview" the release. . . (who's kidding whom? I'm getting it regardless).

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L.A.
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Re: Forthcoming: The Baker's Wife

#12 Post by L.A. » Sat Jun 29, 2019 8:33 am


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FrauBlucher
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Re: The Baker's Wife

#13 Post by FrauBlucher » Sat Jun 29, 2019 10:10 am

I'm smitten with this film. I'm looking forward to seeing it again, along with the supplements. I saw the 4k tour. It looked absolutely terrific.

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Re: The Baker's Wife

#14 Post by ballmouse » Sat Jun 29, 2019 10:32 am

Tried to watch it once, but the poorly translated English subtitles made me quit. I'll be glad to give it a shot again.

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DeprongMori
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Re: The Baker's Wife

#15 Post by DeprongMori » Sat Jun 29, 2019 3:22 pm

How’d the topic title lose its Spine Number?

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Gregory
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Re: The Baker's Wife

#16 Post by Gregory » Sat Jun 29, 2019 3:54 pm

ballmouse wrote:
Sat Jun 29, 2019 10:32 am
Tried to watch it once, but the poorly translated English subtitles made me quit. I'll be glad to give it a shot again.
Please give examples.

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DarkImbecile
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Re: The Baker's Wife

#17 Post by DarkImbecile » Sat Jun 29, 2019 4:31 pm

DeprongMori wrote:
Sat Jun 29, 2019 3:22 pm
How’d the topic title lose its Spine Number?
Good question, but it's fixed now!

ballmouse
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Re: The Baker's Wife

#18 Post by ballmouse » Sat Jun 29, 2019 5:15 pm

Gregory wrote:
Sat Jun 29, 2019 3:54 pm
ballmouse wrote:
Sat Jun 29, 2019 10:32 am
Tried to watch it once, but the poorly translated English subtitles made me quit. I'll be glad to give it a shot again.
Please give examples.
I think it was either a computer or amateur translation to English that was floating around the internet. This might have been it, but I cannot quite remember.

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Gregory
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Re: 986 The Baker's Wife

#19 Post by Gregory » Sat Jun 29, 2019 5:45 pm

Oh, I thought you meant the translation accompanying the new restoration.

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movielocke
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Re: 986 The Baker's Wife

#20 Post by movielocke » Wed Jul 24, 2019 3:52 am

I'm sure the encyclopedic commentary keepers of the forums know where it originated, but the selected scene commentary on this release is absolutely superb, I'm assuming it's new, but sadly I have zero ability to remember the existence and provenance of every commentary ever, unlike most people.

In particular, the commentary was extremely helpful in contextualizing the final scene of the film (as well as the cultural heritage of the roast and joking of the searchers who return in bits and pieces), as I initially found that scene something of a let down from the feel of the rest of the film (I still very much liked it but not as much as the rest of the film), but with the commentary I was able to better understand why it's exactly the kind of ending the various cross currents within the film are all building to.

It's a really great feature, I don't know if it'll be eligible for the commentary category, given the paucity of options, it probably should be included, but it'll have my vote if it is.

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swo17
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Re: 986 The Baker's Wife

#21 Post by swo17 » Wed Jul 24, 2019 12:34 pm

As the person that often identifies the new commentaries, I'm mostly just getting this information from DVD Beaver or the release itself. This one is in fact new, but I'll leave it to domino to decide whether a select-scene commentary (totaling about 40 minutes?) is eligible.

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Re: 986 The Baker's Wife

#22 Post by domino harvey » Wed Jul 24, 2019 4:53 pm

Def eligible

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Re: 986 The Baker's Wife

#23 Post by therewillbeblus » Sun Sep 22, 2019 6:37 pm

“What’s proven is that the human kingdom is an absurdity!” one man shouts in the midst of a farcical argument at the start of the film, characters talking passed one another assuming the other is able to see their point, which will serve as an accurate summation of the events (often simple interactions) that populate the rest of the film. The narrative initially finds humor and pathos in the broader peculiarities of coexisting with others, living one’s life with socially rigid attitudes based on both societal norms and personal ambitions, while still searching for peace of mind. The insanity of this position is explored with barriers of communication targeting the difficulties of true comprehension amongst people through language, a self-reflexively ironic choice for a playwright so reliant on dialogue as his greatest strength for connecting to his audiences. However, as Pagnol settles into the plot, moving away from the larger scope of the community at a mezzo-systemic level and honing in on the baker’s own relationship with his wife, the situation becomes more sensitive.

Still, Pagnol knows how to tow the line between laughing at, and feeling for, this tragedy of the impossibility of true human connection. There is plenty of sexual innuendo that feels wildly risqué for the time, as well as painfully oblivious communication breakdowns that Pagnol expertly shines a keen eye to, letting us in on the jokes and the horrors of the consequences of these misinterpretations with equal measure and often within the same scene. Pagnol hits on complex ego drives of pride and morality, as well as more reptilian- but no less powerful- drives of sex and fear, to draw a full composite of the internal battles of man, ranging from passive rationalizations to the kind of suppression that takes all of one’s will to isolate their perspective for the sake of their psyche. The absurdism lies in continuing to make these futile attempts at communicating and working through issues externally, while recognizing that the very same goals act as a barrier to harmony amongst mankind.

Like in the ‘Marius’ films, Pagnol’s psychological examination fluctuates back and forth between the community and smaller pairings. Contrasting attitudes of schadenfreude and empathy are seamlessly merged amongst group discussions regarding the baker’s situation, which normalizes their responses while also making a biting commentary at the selfishness of the individuals, divorced from the ideologies of the collective that they hypocritically embrace. Gossipy wives spout Christian doctrines about relinquishing judgment while talking about the wife’s “disgusting” behavior in the same sentence. Characters such as the priest announce the misfortune to the town, shaming the baker unaware, nonchalantly rationalizing his act from his narrow perspective of the greater good, intentions not impure but highlighting the inherent solipsism preventing communal engagement and the inability to take responsibility by nature of a refusal to part with the self toward true empathy. See also how all community members sympathize with the baker until they realize they are being affected by his refusal to make bread! Pagnol seems to be suggesting that in societies, where socio-political laws of human behavior reign, the politics governing behavior stunt emotional access, and ultimately prevents true connection. This ‘connection’ does not discriminate in its definition as it’s equally inhibited between men as it is between a man and his own self, and either way the effect contributes to creating a paradox. It is human nature to strive for this connection, just as it’s human nature preventing its occurrence, though instead of taking a nihilistic blanket view that humans are incapable of connecting emotionally at all Pagnol rests his thesis on man’s socio-political constructions, namely ideological influence from systemic values and mores as perhaps not the source but the significant variables that exacerbate this disconnect.

Raimu absolutely nails the lead role here, just as he stole every scene as César in Pagnol’s ‘Marius’ trilogy, with equal parts loud, abrasive, and reactionary social behavior as well as intensely subdued dramatic temperament. His comfort within a quieter performance in expressive volume highlights his fragility in identity, exploring the failures at meeting socially imposed responsibilities of traditional masculine gender roles and revealing existential layers of hope and hopelessness, all contesting due to the disability of emotional restriction. The supporting players are all excellent, well-developed colorful characters, that perfectly slip into their respective roles firing Pagnol’s snappy dialogue with a degree of narcissism that renders a feeling of innocence despite the dangers of this mindset, playfully cheeky and fitting to the themes of Pagnol’s works. The presentation of clashing social contexts within one agreed-upon collective could be described as precursors to the comedies-of-manners to come, but for and about the common man, though he takes the style deeper and more complex than many of those later films do in that subgenre. Pagnol continues to have fun with his milieu up until the very end, culminating in a hysterical plot based on the collective diffusion of free will (another key theme of the film, coming from the priest, emphasizing the unbearable weight of carrying this responsibility) in order to bring back the wife, also geared around religious and communal beliefs amplified by groupthink.

However, as the baker enters deeper into his own disintegrating psychological crisis throughout the narrative, Pagnol risks his audience’s engagement in the pleasures of cinema by breaking through the objective theatrical distance in setup, sacrificing a continuity of moods to hit emotional nerves that rattled me unexpectedly. Raimu’s own existential crisis in the final scene is a chaotically jarring exhibition of his inner explosion of anxious distress as a result of his own emotional incompetence wrestling between his broken inner connection and connection to higher ideals. It’s a scene that’s rough and authentic, a place where the baker’s hope and hopelessness have met reality and in the surrender of the existential his emotions take the reigns, as aggressively as one could only expect from underdeveloped traits with no inner map for direction toward catharsis.

That Pagnol can end the film with small levels of hope and warmth without sacrificing his worldview is a testament to his penmanship and auteurist eye for authenticity, and only feels earned because of his faith in humanism rather than a faith in outcomes. I’m glad to be given the opportunity to discover another of his films and hope the CC keeps restoring them.

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