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Le Plaisir (The Criterion Collection)


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Product Details

  • Actors: Jean Gabin, Danielle Darrieux, Simone Simon, Claude Dauphin, Gaby Morlay
  • Directors: Max Ophüls
  • Writers: Max Ophüls, Guy de Maupassant, Jacques Natanson
  • Producers: Max Ophüls, M. Kieffer, Édouard Harispuru
  • Format: Black & White, Dolby, DVD-Video, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Criterion
  • Release Date: Sept. 16 2008
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001BEK8BU
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #48,492 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

Product Description

Amazon.ca

Max Ophüls is remembered for bringing grace to the tragic melodrama, but among his finest works are a pair of bittersweet collections of romantic tales, viewed through the ironic lens of Ophüls's gliding camera. Le Plaisir is the second of these two, following his masterful roundelay La Ronde, a portrait of romance as a foolish game between deceiving lovers. Le Plaisir, based on the stories of Guy du Maupassant, takes a gentler, more wistful approach to the subject of love and desire through its three tales. Le Masque is the melancholy story of an old man as a veritable dancing wax museum figure hopelessly grasping for his lost youth in a nightly masquerade. La Maison Tellier, "a fairy tale for adults," in the words of the narrator (Jean Servais playing Maupassant), is a delightful tale of a local brothel that closes for a night for a visit to the country, where the ladies have gone to celebrate a young girl's first communion. Jean Gabin is delightful as the charming country bumpkin who plays host to the troupe and becomes sweetly smitten with flirty Danielle Darrieux. The finale, Le Modele, stars Daniel Gélin and Simone Simon as young lovers whose imminent breakup heads toward tragedy, but takes a fateful turn both sad and sweet. The bittersweet satire is lovingly leavened by Ophüls's generosity of character, but a wistful sense of regret hovers over each tale, a weary sadness enriched by wry delicacy and beautiful flowing camera work. --Sean Axmaker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: VHS Tape
[The following is a review about the original French version.]
You may not remember the name of Max Ophuls, whose graceful, sweeping camerawork is elegance itself. Though the contents of his films no longer hold the once-shocking impact, his films are worth watching for its beauty and cool outlook on humanity.
"Le Plaisir" (or "Pleasure") has three parts, all based on Guy de Maupassant's short stories -- "Le Masque" "La Maison Tellier" and "Le Modele."
The first story is about a man who storms into a masked ball. He dances, dances, dances, and then slowly collapses. A doctor is brought, and the past history of the collapsed man is told by his wife. The gorgeous and noisy party makes a great contrast to what is revealed in the latter half.
The second is considerably longer than the other two. It is about the prostitutes who take a holiday to attend to a young country girl's first communion. The sly humor is thrown into the film when the countryfolks mistake their extravagant costumes for the fashionable urban ladies, and the section swings from happy, frivolous mood to the pathos of the lost innocense. Good-natured Rivet played by Jean Gabin is simply great.
The third one is more melodramatic, following the fate of the two lovers: a painter and his model. They pledge the eternal love, but as you expect, the painter slowly gets weary of her. When he runs away from her, the model takes a decision to bring back the love she lost.
The virtue of the film lies in its production designs and camera (the former was Oscar-nominated).
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Format: VHS Tape
Without question a very great film! Le plasir is a true masterpiece of Twentieth century art. However, this print leaves very much to be desired.
Ophuls uses his camera as a painter would his brush. He draws intense and subtle expressions with broad and static camera movements and lighting. At once both delightful and tragic, no other work of twentieth century art expresses nearly as well what it means to be human. To me, Le Plasir is one of Ophuls most subtle creations, and one of the twentieth centuries greatest works of art. When Jean Gabin is seen riding his flower covered cart off through the trees my mind is entranced by the many curious emotions it is trying to decipher.
However, this print is awful. First of all, it is the american version of the film where the scenes have been, quite awkwardly, transposed. The second and third scenes have been switched so, as I have been told, to give a more American "Happy" ending. Actually, once the offense is forgotten, the irony of the prostitutes being trapped in their "prison" bordello could be considered a happy ending is somewhat humorous. Secondly, the print is much faded. Often, the sub-titles are faded from view. The language, however, is almost universal. Personally, I do not need the sub titles. Finally, the sound does fail for about five minutes at the most critical moment of the film. Without question, this is extremely annoying. However, having said that, I still recommend everyone to buy this film, especially at this price. Maybe, if this film is given enough support, whoever owns the original french print will come out with a new reissue of the original french version on DVD.
"...because, you know, between ourselves, there is not much in happiness."
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Le produit m'a été livré dans le délai prévu. La qualité mentionnée était exacte. Je suis très satisfait et je recommande fortement ce vendeur. Excellent sur toute la ligne !
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 15 reviews
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Max Ophuls' marvelous film of pleasure and, perhaps, love June 23 2008
By C. O. DeRiemer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The screen is pitch black and we hear a voice..."I'm so happy to be talking in the dark as if I were beside you, and maybe I am." The speaker is Guy de Maupassant (voiced by Jean Marais), and Le Plaisir is three of his stories filmed by the great director Max Ophuls. The connecting thread? That pleasure, or even love, lies in how people intermingle their lives, with a shrug, assumptions, an apology, a thank you. Le Plaisir is not so much a sophisticated film of attraction and hope as it is a film of rueful wisdom. It's best to keep in mind while watching this movie that while life can be enjoyed, there are times when hope can disappear.

The three stories consist of, first, La Masque. We are in 19th Century Paris at the Palais de la Dance, where great, swirling balls are held. This is a place where young women hope to find pleasure and rich men; where old women chase memories and young suitors; where prostitutes and their pimps gather, where the men are young bucks and old goats, where "rough cotton to the finest cambric" can combine. One slender man in full dinner dress rushes into the palace and begins to dance with a beautiful young woman. He prances and kicks, yet his face is like a frozen mask of youth. He collapses on the dance floor and a doctor is called. When the doctor loosens the man's clothes, he finds...well, let's say that when the man is delivered home to his wife by the doctor, she tells him a story of the battle between pleasure and love.

In La Maison Tellier, we learn all about a cozy, friendly and long established brothel in a small town on the Channel coast. The bourgeois men of the town are as well-known there as they are to their wives. Then Madame decides to close her establishment for a night so that she and her girls can travel into the countryside to attend her niece's first communion. They have one or two adventures on the train. In the small village they spend the night with Madame's brother and meet the young girl. They attend the communion in the village church. They collect flowers on the way back, and are met with genuine affection and with great gaiety when Madame reopens her place of business the following night. We witness a touching story, as de Maupassant tells us, when pleasure and purity come together.

Le Modele gives us a story where pleasure struggles with moral decay, where "happiness is not a joyful thing." We witness a painter and his model meet, rapturously embrace lust and, as lust tires, recrimination grows. The love which endures as the story plays out may not be most people's idea of happiness.

This is a marvelously told series of stories. La Masque and Le Modele are relatively short bookends to the major tale of La Maison Tellier. With this one, it would be difficult not to become delighted and engaged with Madame and her girls and her brother. Even the puffed up townsmen are not without a sympathetic side; which man among us wouldn't mind being flattered, even for a price, by Madame's girls?

In the cast are some of France's best known actors, including Claude Dauphin, Danielle Darrieux, Jean Gabin, Daniel Gelin, Simon Simon, Madeleine Renaud and Pierre Brasseur.

Please note that the Criterion release is not scheduled until September 16, 2008. My comments are based on the Region 2 release which I own. I like this film so well I plan to buy the Criterion Region 1 version when it comes out. After I have a chance to look at Criterion's extras, I'll post an extra paragraph here about them.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Here's the vision quest of our civilization. May 21 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: VHS Tape
This is not only one of the most profound films ever made, but one of the most dazzling and charming depictions of spirituality, etc., ever created. At the beginning, a person moves from darkness and cold and rain toward a place of light and warmth and dryness, seeking pleasure and happiness there, and that is the pattern throughout these tales. What is sought and found in the light escaletes ... toward what? Le Plaisir presents us with a playful Modern ironic version (or re-version) of the Romantic Idealist version of the Christian version of the Ladder of Love descrived in Plato's Symposium. Upward, from love of appetitive gratification to the emotional, to the intellectual, and finally to the spiritual: as Miss Rosa who gives of herself in the most direct manner and who selflessly weeps for the joy of others is given in return that moment of grace through which those nearby also share in the transfiguration, in the light of which the world is changed.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A transcendental film! July 3 2007
By Hiram Gomez Pardo - Published on Amazon.com
Here we have one of the most extraordinary cinematographic events ever carried to big screen. Based on three tales of Guy de Maupassant and directed by the legendary Max Ophlus, (one of my favorite directors), this bl3nd of well defined stories shows three remarkable aspects about the pleasure: the pleasure and love in the first part, the pleasure and purity in the second one and finally the pleasure and the pity.

These stories work out as if they were a modern fable placed in the heart of Paris, where characters and situations are depicted with such sublime artistic intensity and sheer good taste, what magnificent camera work, what fabulous travels, what sumptuous exquisiteness in what concerns to visual support, this undeniably one of the sublime and poetic masterpieces of the French Cinema ever made, superbly directed by this master Max Ophlus.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A distinct pleasure Jan. 10 2009
By JfromJersey - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
When Max Ophuls returned to France after his engagement in Hollywood, he made his last 4 pictures..LA RONDE, LE PLAISIR, THE EARRINGS OF MADAME DE.., and LOLA MONTES. Each was a masterpiece. Some critics list LOLA and MADAME DE as the best films ever made. Of the 4, LE PLAISIR is the least well known or acknowleged, but it has all the hallmarks of a great Ophuls movie..the distinctive and elegant camera movements, attention to detail, superb casts, depth of feeling, moral complexity, and strong feminist viewpoint.

The film is based on 3 stories by Guy de Maupassant..The Mask, The Tellier House, and The Model (which replaced a different story that had a more risque plot). The central story of The Tellier House is the main one, and is framed by the 2 shorter ones. All the stories are tales about male/female relationships, where the women are in a sense willing victims of the men. Victims might be the wrong word, because although outwardly, they are subordinate, trapped in cages by circumstance and dependent relationships, inwardly, they are mentally and emotionally braver and stronger than the men they are attached to. Each story is beautifully filmed and has visually breathtaking moments. In The Mask, it's the tracking shot in the ballroom leading up to the frenetic entrance of the masked reveler. In The Tellier House, the opening sequence slowly peering through the caged windows of the bordello, and the scene in the country church when Madame Rosa's weeping becomes contagious. In The Model, the staircase scenes where Jean and Josephine first meet, the fight that the camera fluidly follows through a number of rooms, and the final flight of Josephine up the stairs and to her destiny.

As usual, the extras on this Criterion set are praiseworthy, including a booklet, an introductory filmed essay by the noted director Todd Haynes (best seen after the movie),and several interviews with notables involved in the making of LE PLAISIR. All in all a real pleasure.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Max Ophuls' marvelous film of pleasure and, perhaps, love March 23 2007
By C. O. DeRiemer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: VHS Tape
The screen is pitch black and we hear a voice..."I'm so happy to be talking in the dark as if I were beside you, and maybe I am." The speaker is Guy de Maupassant (voiced by Jean Marais), and Le Plaisir is three of his stories filmed by the great director Max Ophuls. The connecting thread? That pleasure, or even love, lies in how people intermingle their lives, with a shrug, assumptions, an apology, a thank you. Le Plaisir is not so much a sophisticated film of attraction and hope as it is a film of rueful wisdom. It's best to keep in mind while watching this movie that while life can be enjoyed, there are times when hope can disappear.

The three stories consist of, first, La Masque. We are in 19th Century Paris at the Palais de la Dance, where great, swirling balls are held. This is a place where young women hope to find pleasure and rich men; where old women chase memories and young suitors; where prostitutes and their pimps gather, where the men are young bucks and old goats, where "rough cotton to the finest cambric" can combine. One slender man in full dinner dress rushes into the palace and begins to dance with a beautiful young woman. He prances and kicks, yet his face is like a frozen mask of youth. He collapses on the dance floor and a doctor is called. When the doctor loosens the man's clothes, he finds...well, let's say that when the man is delivered home to his wife by the doctor, she tells him a story of the battle between pleasure and love.

In La Maison Tellier, we learn all about a cozy, friendly and long established brothel in a small town on the Channel coast. The bourgeois men of the town are as well-known there as they are to their wives. Then Madame decides to close her establishment for a night so that she and her girls can travel into the countryside to attend her niece's first communion. They have one or two adventures on the train. In the small village they spend the night with Madame's brother and meet the young girl. They attend the communion in the village church. They collect flowers on the way back, and are met with genuine affection and with great gaiety when Madame reopens her place of business the following night. We witness a touching story, as de Maupassant tells us, when pleasure and purity come together.

Le Modele gives us a story where pleasure struggles with moral decay, where "happiness is not a joyful thing." We witness a painter and his model meet, rapturously embrace lust and, as lust tires, recrimination grows. The love which endures as the story plays out may not be most people's idea of happiness.

This is a marvelously told series of stories. La Masque and Le Modele are relatively short bookends to the major tale of La Maison Tellier. With this one, it would be difficult not to become delighted and engaged with Madame and her girls and her brother. Even the puffed up townsmen are not without a sympathetic side; which man among us wouldn't mind being flattered, even for a price, by Madame's girls?

In the cast are some of France's best known actors, including Claude Dauphin, Danielle Darrieux, Jean Gabin, Daniel Gelin, Simon Simon, Madeleine Renaud and Pierre Brasseur. The Region Two DVD has a fine black-and-white transfer as well as several excellent extras, the best being an hour-long documentary titled "A Journey Through Le Plaisir: On the Trail of Max Ophuls." A special note should be made of the English subtitles. They are among the best I've ever encountered. I don't read French, but they seem to capture what I imagine is the rueful, humane and amusing tone of the original. I would avoid the VHS version for the reasons noted by others. Invest in a region-free DVD player and discover the world of, especially, Region Two films. I purchased my disc from Amazon UK.


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