DVD Rating: ****

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Read Angus Wolfe Murray's film review of Police

As an art form DVD extras are in their infancy. Films over 20 years old are treated as barren and therefore worthy of a commentary, if any of the creative team is still breathing, plus a trailer maybe and a Stills Gallery. To offer more is to spend money and engage the imagination.

The producers of the double disc DVD package for Police (1985) have done all of these and the result is well worth watching. Former editor of Cahiers Du Cinema, Serge Toubiana, interviews Catherine Breillat, director (The Last Mistress, Fat Girl) and co-writer on Police, three months after Maurice Pialat’s death in 2003. The collaboration ended in tears, but before that she had spent a considerable amount of time in police stations, watching and taking notes. “So much in the film was real,” she says. She could not write Gerard Depardieu’s part, in fact left the thugs and hard cop characters to Pialat. She remembers a certain unreadiness, despite having a big budget, before shooting began – and even then, the script was not complete.

Copy picture

Zoom Sur Police is a 32-minute featurette, made by Virginie Apion in 2002. Although essentially a Making Of doc, Breillat and Jacques Fieschi, who was brought in later as a replacement writer, talk in depth about Pialat’s way of working. “It was like writing as we were filming,” Fieschi remembers. He says that Pialat criticised Breillat from the start and it wasn’t just her who spent time in the police stations. “Actors lived and worked with real cops for two or three weeks before shooting started.” There were real policemen and real prostitutes in the cast. Sophie Marceau was originally going to be a young policewoman, with whom Depardieu’s character had had an affair. She ended up as the fiancée of a Tunisian drug dealer. “Depardieu had no more idea of what was going on than the non-pro actors,” Fieschi says. “He took great risks.”

17th Day Of Shooting is a fascinating insight into filmmaking. It lasts 12 minutes and shows Depardieu and a genuine policewoman play a simple scene, in which Depardieu flirts with her at her desk. Pialat stands to one side, watching the action, and then comes over to reassure the nervous non-actress, while Depardieu fools around. “We have all day,” Pialat says, as they go for take after take.

Outtakes can be baffling, in the sense that their inclusion in a DVD extras package is never explained. In this 23-minute section, they are accompanied by the appearance and comments of film editor Yann Dedet who makes a terrific contribution, especially to those who have no idea what his job is about.

Finally, there is a delightful screen test with C Galmiche, the lawyer (“All my clients are guilty”) upon whom the character of Lambert, played by Richard Anconina, is based.

Reviewed on: 02 Oct 2008
Share this with others on...
No holds barred as French cops go after a Tunisian drugs gang.

Product Code: EKA40293

Region: 2

Sound: Dolby Digital

Extras: Interview with co-writer Catherine Breillat; Zoom Sur Police featurette; screen test; outtakes with film editor Yann Dedet; 17th Day of Shooting; trailer; trailers of six films by Maurice Pialat

Search database: