A Very Long
Warner Home Video
Date: July 12, 2005
Review posted: July 5, 2005
A Very Long
Engagement is set in France near the
end of World War I
trenches of the Somme, in the gilded Parisien halls of power, and
in the modest home of an indomitable provincial girl (played by
Audrey Tautou). It tells the story of this young woman's
relentless, moving and sometimes comic search for her fiancé, who
has disappeared. He is one of five French soldiers believed to
have been court-martialed under mysterious circumstances and
pushed out of an allied trench into an almost-certain death
in no-man's land.
What follows is an investigation into the arbitrary nature of
secrecy, the absurdity of war, and the enduring passion, intuition
and tenacity of the human heart.
A Very Long
Engagement is a great movie directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amelie).
The story is engaging in several good ways; it's dramatic,
dangerous and fun at times. The character played by Audrey Tautou
is a caring and interesting person, and the actress performs
beautifully. The many supporting characters (especially the
soldiers who we get to know throughout the movie) are very good as
well, and I cared much about these people and their outcome.
Visually the movie is extraordinary, cinematography is
breathtaking and the visual effects are compelling. Jeunet's
direction is great as always, and the score by Angelo Badalamenti
is very thoughtful and sets a great tone for the movie. This is
one of my top thirteen favorite movies of 2004.
Warner Bros. presents
A Very Long Engagement in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen.
This is a wonderful looking video presentation with vivid colors,
great color balance, very fine detail and sharpness, nice black
levels, and good definition. Some grain appears in several scenes
but that's okay. Optional subtitles include English, Spanish and
Warner Bros. presents
A Very Long Engagement in French Dolby Digital 5.1
Surround. A solid, great surround sound presentation. Dialogue is
presented clearly and the sound effects come across very well
through the rear speakers.
Commentary by Jean-Pierre Jeunet is pretty informative as he
delves into a majority of topics and tells interesting stories from
A Year at the
Front: Behind the Scenes of A Very Long Engagement
(73:58) provides an interesting and very detailed look at the
production. It starts off with pre-production showing the director
working with the storyboard artist, a few casting tapes, the creation
of costumes, wigs, and other materials, location scouting, and other
things. The filming of scenes continues for almost an hour as we are
right on the set and see the rehearsing and other preparations to
shoot various scenes. Watching the filming of the battle and trench
scenes is very interesting, and it becomes evident just how intricate
and prepared the production had to be to get everything right, from
the 200 extras playing soldiers to the explosions on the battlefield
to working in the rain created by a large sprinkler system. Throughout
this documentary, which is divided into 22 chapters and subtitled in
English, we get to see the inner workings of the production and what
it takes to get each shot just right.
(13:37) takes a look at the creation of 1920s
Paris in terms of the city’s look, the various antiques and
props, the design of the costumes, and so on. Jean-Pierre Jeunet and
his long-time collaborators have worked on five films together and for
this movie they researched everything they could about the city at the
time and much more looking at written material and photos from books.
This featurette includes interviews with the director, costume
designer, production designer and visual effects supervisor, and shows
behind-the-scenes footage from the set and the building of props, as
well as several storyboard drawings along with some animated scenes
(part of the 3-D pre-visualization process) and discussion about the
(12:37) examines the scene inside the Zeppelin hangar in the stages of
previsualization, dressing the set, and filming the action. As we see
the finished previz scene Jeunet mimics explosions and “panic” much to
the delight of the animators. The filming of this sequence is very
interesting to look at; extras/stunt people running for cover from
explosions and so on. Towards the end we see a scaled model of the
hangar blown up for cut-in shots. As a side note, the making of this
sequence was not featured in the documentary, so we get to see it here
Lastly there are
14 Deleted Scenes (11:03) with optional commentary by Jeunet.
These scenes are a mixture of deleted scenes and extended takes with
some more character moments. Jeunet’s comments (spoken in French and
subtitled in English) are helpful in understanding why these scenes or
variations of them we cut from the movie. A “play all” option is
The movie is great
and the extras are very insightful. DVDs don't get better than
this. This 2-disc DVD comes highly recommended.
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