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Panique Criterion Blu-ray Review

Panique.jpg

“Panique” is a slow, but involving French noir film.

Set in Paris amidst a carnival coming to town, “Panique” opens with the murder of an elderly woman leaving the locals shaken up. One man (a weird, nosy, loner named Monsieur Hire) knows who the murderer is and claims to have proof. He holds this proof over the heads of the actual killer (Alfred) and his fresh out of prison lover Alice (a woman who Hire desires). Alfred and Alice concoct a plan to turn the tables on Monsieur Hire by setting out to frame him for the murder and have the locals turn against him.

From start to finish, “Panique” doesn’t unfold like you think it would. It’s very slow going to start, the character dynamics are unusual, the movie doesn’t really have a main hero (unless you count the Inspector who is more of a supporting character), and the ending is actually rather bold. Yes, justice is served in the end as it tends to be in any noir, but the fascinating thing about this film is the protagonist Monsieur Hire who is a deeply flawed individual. He’s not a bad guy, he’s not a good guy, and he can be quite creepy. Through all of that though, there is a level of sympathy for him (I won’t spoil why). Suffice it to say, he’s a very complex character and one that I haven’t really seen in a noir before (at least off the top of my head).

Among the most striking things about director Julien Duvivier’s 1947 film is the visual style and setting. He really creates a sense of place and tone with the distinct location shooting and sets of this Paris town. The visuals on display also go a long way to communicate the story’s themes about paranoia, judgement, and mob rule.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.37:1 1080p. How does it look? The 2K digital restoration isn’t the best I’ve seen. The B&W has some decidedly snowy grain. Still, it is an upgrade to be sure.

Audio Track: French Uncompressed Mono. How does it sound? It’s a bit muted at points, but it does the job.

Extras:
* A fold-out poster/booklet with essays by programmer and writer James Quandt and French film historian Lenny Borger.
* “Panique” trailer.
* “The Art Of Subtitling”- Bruce Goldstein talks about subtitles/movie translations.
* “Pierre Simenon”- An interview with the son of author Georges Simenon (who penned the novel “Panique” was based on).
* “Guillemette Odicino And Eric Libiot”- A discussion between these 2 critics about various asects of “Panique” including the direction and cast.

December 16, 2018 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , ,

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