Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Films She Acts In

Catherine's sister, Marie-Hélène Breillat, is an actress who worked a lot in the 60's and 70's perhaps best known for playing the Claudine in a series of TV movies based on the novels of Colette: Claudine à l'école, Claudine à Paris, Claudine en ménage, and Claudine s'en va. She even starred in Catherine's film Nocturnal Uproar (Tapage nocturne), and did some voice-over for the lead character in A Real Young Girl. But our Catherine has done a bit of acting herself, essentially playing small roles in three films:

She and her sister both appear in Bernardo Bertolucci's 1972 classic, The Last Tango In Paris. MGM has put this film out uncut in a nice anamorphic widescreen transfer in almost every market. The discs are all essentially the same, though different regions are apparently framed slightly differently: the UK disc is framed at the standard UK ratio of 1.78:1, as opposed to the US which is in 1.66:1, while the French, German, Australian (and probably others I haven't bothered to research) are all in the more generic 1.85:1 aspect ratio.

They appeared in another film together a few years later, in 1976. Her sister, working steadily at that time, was probably responsible for getting her the work on both films they acted in together. Dracula and Son (Dracula père et fils) was one of Christopher Lee's French speaking roles, with Lee reprising his famous Hammer role of "The Count" (not referred to as Dracula, strictly speaking, in the original version) in a strange satire. It's received a terrible reputation in the US after being released here with about 20 minutes(!) edited out, and most of the badly dubbed dialogue is actually very changed. The only DVD of this film is of the original, uncut (94 minute) French language version, in its original aspect ratio. Pretty f'in' sweet; but unfortunately there are only French and German language options. Our best bet is to pick up one of the many budget VHS copies that were released in the US, of the crappy 75 minute altered-dialogue cut - yuck! Personally, I'm holding out for the proper version on DVD (Christopher Lee in a Dracula film... somebody's gotta put it out eventually, right?)

More recently, Catherine Breillat returned to acting to play a small role of the estranged wife in Claude Berri's The Housekeeper (Une femme de ménage) - this time thanks probably to her own celebrity rather than her sister's efforts. It's been released in the US by Palm Pictures in both R-rated and Unrated editions (of course, you'll want to stay far away from the R-rated cut which is missing approximately 3 minutes of footage). A lot of sites online (including Amazon) list this DVD as being full-frame, but in fact both versions (the R & unrated) are in their correct 2.35:1 aspect ratio. So the unrated version is a pretty good option, although the case lists a making-of featurette as an extra, which doesn't actually appear on the DVD. :(

The French DVD from Fox Pathé Europa is not only uncut and 2.35:1, it features a slew of extras including interviews, the making-of featurette missing from the US disc, a short film by Berri titled Le Poulet (his first film, which won the Oscar for best short subject in 1966) and a commentary... but of course there are no English language options. This DVD is also available as part of a 17(!) DVD boxed set of Claude Berri's films - definitely one for us prisoners of the English language to drool over in envy.

Those are all the films, but Catherine acted in one television project as well: Le Dialogue dans le marécage (roughly translating to Dialogue In the Swamp - 1973), again with her sister. There is no DVD release, and I wouldn't expect one anytime soon.

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