Port of Shadows

Port of Shadows

Blu-Ray Rating: ****

Reviewed by: Robert Munro

Read Robert Munro's film review of Port of Shadows

Being released on the same day as That Obscure Object of Desire and The Trial, Les Quai des Brumes offers another chance for viewers to get to grips with a newly restored classic of European cinema.

While the extras may be slightly slimmer than those found on the other two releases, their quality is not in doubt. Documentary 'On the Port of Shadows' features a wealth of academics and film historians discussing the film's making. It gives insight into the often tortured birth of the film, as Military censors demanded approval given that the film depicts a deserter. Most remained intact, or was subtly subverted to avoid detection, but the military's insistence that Gabin not thrown his uniform to the floor, but rather fold it neatly, give an impression of the minutiae of the concerns involved.

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Also discussed at length in this 40-odd minute extra is the production processes, from the set design and lighting which created such an iconic setting, to the nuances of actor relationships on set. We learn that in the scene in which Gabin slaps Pierre Brasseur's cowardly Lucien, he's doing it for real. As Gabin and Michele Morgan's off-screen relationship began to fizzle as much as their on-screen one did, Morgan's boyfriend visited the set. His jealousy obvious, Brasseur - apparently ever the prankster - did all he could to wind the jilted-lover up. Gabin, as expected, was having none of it.

The ever-knowledgeable and entertaining Ginette Vincendeau provides a brief introduction to the film, detailing the assemblement of the crew and providing some historical context for the film. This is further fleshed out in the booklet which accompanies the film, also written by Vincendeau.

Finally, there is another short-ish extra on the restoration of the film. Studio Canal asked experts from the Cinematheque Francais, to work on restoring the film and we are treated to interviews with those involved on what the process involved.

The picture and audio quality is as good as can be expected from a film of this age, although some exterior location shots do not hold up as well as the studio-lit alternatives. A worthy release for a wonderful film.

Reviewed on: 10 Sep 2012
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Port of Shadows packshot
A military deserter finds love, trouble and a small dog in a foggy Le Havre - the Port of Shadows.

Product Code: B007HZH1OY

Region: B

Ratio: 1.66:1

Sound: 2.0 Mono DTS-HD Master

Extras: On the Port of Shadows, Introduction to Les Quai des Brumes by Ginette Vincendeau, Restoring Le Quai des Brumes and Booklet on the movie written by Ginette Vincendeau.

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