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A Christmas Tale

Blu Ray

  • Score
    from 2 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • A Christmas Tale: a unique, engaging film with superb Criterion presentation. Highly recommended.

    A Christmas Tale Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

  • Video
  • Arnaud Desplechin's 'A Christmas Tale' Blu-ray by Criterion delivers an impressively detailed 1080p picture, preserving the natural, rich palette and film grain without flaws, reflecting high technical and aesthetic standards.

  • Audio
  • The Blu-ray features a high-quality French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, freshly remastered with notable clarity in dialogue and minimal surround use, along with optional English subtitles.

  • Extra
  • Criterion's 'A Christmas Tale' release includes detailed extras: documentaries, trailers, and an illustrated booklet, showcasing Desplechin's unique filmmaking journey.

  • Movie
  • Arnaud Desplechin's 'A Christmas Tale' graces Blu-ray with a rich Criterion release, capturing a complex family drama with intimate storytelling and remarkable performances, enhanced by Desplechin's nuanced direction.

    Video: 71

    Arnaud Desplechin's "A Christmas Tale" graces the Blu-ray format with an impeccable 1080p transfer, presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, utilizing the MPEG-4 AVC codec. Criterion’s release benefits from a meticulous high-definition transfer, undertaken under the direct supervision and approval of Desplechin himself, sourced from a 35mm interpositive. The collaborative effort in telecine supervision by Desplechin, Amandine Gazaud, and Lee Kline ensures a faithful rendition of the director's vision. Viewers are treated to an exquisite visual experience, where the granularity of detail and the vivacity of the color palette—spanning rich reds, deep blues, and authentic skin tones—stand out remarkably. The transfer's technical proficiency maintains natural film grain and avoids common pitfalls like digital artifacts and edge enhancement, resulting in a visual presentation that is as pristine as it is engaging.

    Critically, the restoration process involved meticulous manual removal of physical blemishes and the judicious use of digital noise reduction technologies, including MTI's DRS, Pixel Farm's PFClean, and Digital Vision's DVNR systems. This approach has preserved the film’s cinematic texture while elevating clarity and detail—evident in the lifelike portrayal of facial expressions and the film's lush, varied color scheme that effortlessly complements its thematic depth. The autumnal colors are particularly striking, accentuated by occasional contrasts in cooler tones, thereby enhancing the narrative’s emotional resonance.

    "The Christmas Tale" on Blu-ray thus presents an outstanding example of Criterion's commitment to quality. The transfer not only excels in delivering superb visual clarity and color fidelity but also succeeds in maintaining the film’s inherent aesthetic qualities without succumbing to over-processing. The technical specifications ensure broad compatibility though it is Region-A locked, necessitating a compatible player for viewing. The end result is a viewing experience that feels authentic and immersive, transporting the audience into the intricate dynamics of the depicted family with an unparalleled level of detail and visual integrity.

    Audio: 68

    The audio presentation of "A Christmas Tale" on Blu-ray is served through an exclusive French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, which is the sole audio track offered. Criterion has included optional English subtitles, ensuring that they are comfortably placed within the image frame for non-French speakers or for viewers who prefer an aid in dialogue clarity. The track's mastering process involved a meticulous 24-bit remastering from the original digital audio master files utilizing Pro Tools HD, aimed at preserving the film's auditory essence with exceptional fidelity.

    Given that "A Christmas Tale" leans heavily on its rich, dialogue-driven narrative rather than action-packed sequences, the surround sound channels are specifically engaged during moments that demand a heightened atmosphere, such as the lively instances featuring Henri. These few but effectively used surround moments complement the ambience created when the familial setting fills with bustling conversation. At its core, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track flourishes in its delivery of crisp, clear dialogue, essential for a film where verbal exchanges carry significant weight. The track's finely honed balance ensures that voices are distinct and forefront, devoid of any distracting audio imperfections like pops, hiss, or cracks.

    In essence, this audio track may not exploit the full capabilities of a sophisticated surround sound system but stands out for its subtle nuance and meticulous attention to detail. It mirrors the film's delicate sensibility, focusing on creating an auditory experience that enhances the emotional and narrative depth without overwhelming the senses. This approach underlines an appreciation for subtlety over spectacle, making it a refined auditory complement to "A Christmas Tale," perfectly replicating the film's intimate and intricate storytelling.

    Extra: 61

    The Criterion Collection's release of 'A Christmas Tale' Blu-ray extras represents a comprehensive and thoughtful compilation that enriches the viewing experience of Arnaud Desplechin's film. The standout is "L'aimee," a deeply personal documentary by Desplechin, offering a glimpse into his family history and setting the thematic stage for 'A Christmas Tale.' Equally compelling, "Arnaud's Tale" provides insightful behind-the-scenes perspectives from Desplechin, Catherine Deneuve, and Mathieu Almaric, adding substantial value to understanding the film's creation. The inclusion of both the original and American release trailers offers a fascinating look at marketing differences across audiences. Additionally, the 20-page booklet, featuring Phillip Lopate's essay "The Inescapable Family," not only complements the film’s exploration of familial complexities but serves as an intellectual bonus to the package. This collection, identical across DVD and Blu-ray formats, showcases Criterion's commitment to preserving and celebrating cinematic artistry.

    Extras included in this disc:

    • L'aimee: A documentary recording the sale of Desplechin's family home, reflecting on family memories and acting as a thematic precursor to 'A Christmas Tale.'
    • Arnaud's Tale: A detailed making-of documentary featuring discussions with the director and key cast members about the film's production.
    • Trailer: The original theatrical trailer, offering a glimpse into the film's French promotion.
    • American release trailer: The American trailer, highlighting the differences in marketing to American audiences.
    • Booklet: Contains Phillip Lopate's essay "The Inescapable Family," along with film stills and technical details about the Blu-ray presentation.

    Movie: 73

    Arnaud Desplechin's "A Christmas Tale," a critically acclaimed film that was nominated for Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival and won a Cesar award for Best Supporting Actor (Jean-Paul Roussillon), makes its high-definition debut on Blu-ray through Criterion's meticulous presentation. This family drama, starring Catherine Deneuve and Mathieu Amalric, among others, is more than just a holiday movie; it's a profound exploration of the complexities of familial bonds, love, resentment, and redemption. The movie's digital transfer, supervised and approved by Desplechin, was meticulously created from a 35mm interpositive, ensuring that the film's nuanced visual style is faithfully preserved. The Blu-ray release is supplemented with significant features including Desplechin’s documentary "L'aimee" and an exclusive new documentary featuring conversations with the director and his stars, enhancing the viewing experience with deeper insights into the creative process.

    The narrative structure of "A Christmas Tale" skillfully navigates through the tangled web of the Vuillard family's relationships, revealing the undercurrents of unresolved tensions and the latent longing for reconciliation. The film masterfully blends elements of drama and comedy, steering clear of clichéd sentimentalism associated with holiday movies. Instead, it delivers a richly textured story that is both particular in its focus on this distinctly upper-class French family and universal in its exploration of human emotions and relationships. Technical details such as the use of direct confessions to the camera, voice-overs, and subtle but significant stylistic choices contribute to the film’s unique intimacy and immediacy, placing viewers directly into the emotional landscapes of its characters.

    Desplechin's direction is both innovative and introspective, employing novelistic touches that lend the film its character-driven narrative propulsion. His ability to weave intricate personal stories with broader themes without succumbing to overt sentimentality is a testament to his prowess as a filmmaker. The Blu-ray's presentation further complements this narrative depth with its high-definition clarity, bringing out finer details and enhancing the viewer's engagement with the story’s emotional complexity. The inclusion of thoughtful supplements offers an expansive view of Desplechin's vision, cementing "A Christmas Tale" not only as a compelling addition to holiday cinema but also as an exemplar of contemporary filmmaking.

    Total: 68

    Arnaud Desplechin's "A Christmas Tale" presents an intricate tapestry of familial complexity and dysfunction, offering an absorbing exploration of the Vuillard family’s trials and tribulations. This film elegantly weaves together moments of heartfelt warmth and painful reality, maintaining a delicate balance that both captivates and challenges its audience. Criterion's Blu Ray presentation of this nuanced character study is nothing short of exemplary. The painstaking attention to audiovisual quality ensures that both the film’s subtle emotional nuances and its vivid storytelling are rendered with impeccable clarity. Furthermore, the inclusion of a comprehensive suite of special features, notably a documentary shedding light on the real-life inspirations behind the narrative, significantly enriches the viewing experience.

    The film manages to sidestep potential clichés inherent in the family reunion genre, instead presenting a narrative that is both deeply personal and universally relatable. Its portrayal of the Vuillards is presented with such authenticity and depth that it transcends its potentially formulaic setup, emerging as a miniature-sized masterpiece. Criterion’s release underscores this achievement through its meticulous attention to detail, from the superior audio-visual presentation to the thoughtfully curated selection of special features, which serve to deepen the viewer's engagement with the film's rich thematic content.

    In conclusion, "A Christmas Tale" stands as a testament to Desplechin’s directorial finesse, enriched by Criterion’s outstanding Blu Ray presentation. The combination of a compelling, intricately told story with superior technical execution makes this release highly recommended. Whether you’re drawn to the psychological depth of its character studies or the exceptional quality of its presentation, this film is an essential addition to any cinephile's collection.