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cast: Michel Tarrazon, Marie-Louise Thierry, Ren´┐Ż Thierry, Marie Marc, and Henri Puff

director: Maurice Pialat

79 minutes (15) 1969
Eureka DVD Region 0 retail

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Gary Couzens
François (Michel Tarrazon) is a difficult child to say the least. He steals, gets into fights and at one point drops a cat down a stairwell - and he's 10 years old. His mother has had enough, and François is put into care. He is fostered by the Thierry family, but still does not feel he belongs anywhere.

Maurice Pialat (1925 - 2003) was a late starter as a filmmaker. He had previously been a painter and had made two short films before this, his first feature, in his forties. One of the producers was François Truffaut, who had himself made a film about a troubled child, The 400 Blows. However, the two films are very different. Pialat's sensibility was much darker than Truffaut's. His aesthetic approach was ultra-realism, through the use of real locations, natural light (favouring the 50mm camera lens, the one which most approximates human vision) and non-professional actors. His style can make demands on viewers: days or months can pass between one scene and the next without notice, and it's up to the viewer to make the connections. His films are never consolatory: he presents his subjects and characters warts and all.

However, L'enfance-nue is not a simplistic work. François is, he discovers, an adopted child and this sense of being unwanted has marked him, so that he cannot accept love when he receives it - and he does, from Mr and Mrs Thierry and the elderly grandmother. L'enfance-nue was not a commercial success on its first release. It has not had a British commercial release (though it had a TV showing on BBC2 in 1972) until now. But it remains one of Pialat's best films.

L'enfance-nue is released, simultaneously with Pialat's film Police, as part of Eureka's masters of cinema line. (Five more Pialat releases are due.) The DVD comprises two discs, encoded for all regions. The picture is in the original 1.66:1 aspect ratio, anamorphically enhanced. It is derived from a French high-def DVD transfer and looks very good indeed. The soundtrack is, correctly, in mono.

Disc extras: an interview with Pialat collaborators Arlette Langmann and Patrick Grandperret, Pialat's 1961 short documentary essay L'amour existe. Disc two contains the trailer, a 50-minute TV documentary on the film and reactions to it, a 1972 interview with Pialat, following a TV screening of the film, an interview with Michel Tarrazon (who also acted for Pialat in the six-hour TV serial La maison des bois, and trailers for the other six films Eureka will be releasing on DVD.

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