It was in 1966 that Nouvelle Vague (French New Wave) director Jean-Luc Godard ("Contempt", "Breathless", "Pierrot le fou") would release his film about youth in the mid-60's titled "Masculin féminin: 15 faits précis".
Released after the successful "Pierrot le fou" (1965), "Masculin féminin: 15 faits précis" would become a different film by Godard standards as it would focus on Parisian youth in 1965 but also start to show signs of a different Godard (who separated from Anna Karina, who was a major actress in his films) and also a precursor to his films incorporating his political views. But as for the characters featured in "Masculin féminin: 15 faits précis", call the young adults that were a sign of the times or as Godard would call them, "the children of Marx and Coca-Cola".
"Masculin féminin: 15 faits précis" was scrutinized and lambasted by critics during its release in 1966, many of those critics who have revisited the film have taken back what they originally have said and now realize how it is one of Godard's best films and some have considered it a masterpiece that was ahead of its time.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
"Masculin féminin" is featured in black and white and presented in 1:33:1. Cinematographer Willy Kurant supervised the new high-definition digital transfer which was created on a Spirit Datacine from the 35mm grain master. Also, thousands of instances of dirt, debris and scratches were removed from the MTI Digital Restoration Ssytem.
As for the audio, the French monoraul soundtrack was mastered at 24-bit from the optical soundtrack master and audio restoration tools were used the Criterion to remove clicks, pops, hiss and crackle. The film is Dolby Digital 1.0 and center channel driven but for those who own modern home theater surround sound receivers, one can easily switch the audio via audio on all channels or stereo, to their own preference. Also, included is a selection for the the optional isolated music track.
Subtitles are in English.
"Masculin féminin" comes with the following special features:
* Chantal Goya (1966) - (4:50) An excerpt of an interview filmed for the TV show "Au-Dela De L'Ecran", Goya talks about being a pop star and working on "Masculin féminin".
* Chantal Goya (2005) - (15:07) Interview with Chantal Goya in 2005 as she talks about her experience working with Jean-Luc Godard and on "Masculin féminin".
* Willy Kurant - (11:59) 2005 Interview (in English) with "Masculin féminin"cinematographer about his career and working with Godard.
* Jean-Pierre Gorin - (15:36) A 2005 interview (in English) in which Godard's Dziga-Vertov Group business partner talks about the historical and experimentation of "Masculin féminin".
* Freddy Buache and Dominique Paini - (24:56) In 2004, Freddy Buache (film critic and founder of Cinematheque Suisse) and Dominque Paini (Director of Cultural Development for the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris) talk about the importance of "Masculin féminin" and how Buache criticized it when it was first released but now considers it an important Godard film.
* Godard on Swedish Television - (4:07) With "Masculin féminin" being a co-production between Godard's Anouchka Films and the Swedish Production Firm Sandrews Films, a Swedish television crew were there to interview the director who was filming the "movie" scene.
* Original Theatrical Trailer - (2:01) The original theatrical trailer.
* Rialto Pictures Rerelease Trailer - (1:53) Remastered Rialto Pictures trailer.
* Essay Booklet - 14-page booklet featuring an essay "The Young Man for All Times" by Adrian Martin (film critic for the Melbourne Age) and "On the Set of Masculin Feminin" (an excerpt from the article "One Evening, In a Small Cafe" by Phillipe Labro.
"Masculin féminin: 15 faits précis" is quite a unique film, so unique that it was a film which I absolutely enjoyed. It's not a film that one can come and watch and say, I enjoy "Breathless" or "Pierrot le fou", I will love "Masculin féminin: 15 faits précis". Nor is it a film in today's modern world where you can think that if you enjoyed young adult films such as "Dazed and Confused" or "Metropolis" that you will enjoy "Masculin féminin: 15 faits précis" because the structure of the film is so different. There are way too many disruptions for the film's pacing and odd situations that either one can appreciate them or simply dislike them. Especially when you reach the ending.
I absolutely loved the improvisation and also the long use of dialogue between characters. I have said that I enjoyed Eric Rohmer's "My Night at Maud's" for effectively making long dialogue scenes so enjoyable but yet intelligent. If one can capitalize on moments in a film where communication is done effectively. And since the film was created with a low budget,Godard made great use of dialogue. In fact, because Godard didn't use a script, he had earpieces in which the talent were filmed answering questions that the director would ask them. He would effectively use the talent, tell them what to say on the earpiece and try to get an improvised but yet natural answer in which topics would bring out that awkwardness.
For example, a scene where Paul interviews "Miss 19', an actual beauty cover girl for a magazine that is being asked questions, even personal questions about sexuality, her past loves and political views. Her answers were not of an actress but her genuine answers. You can sense that uncomfort in her answers but that's what Godard wanted for this film. True feelings by people who represent that young generation in Paris.
As for the DVD, The Criterion Collection has done a magnificent job in restoring this film, supervised by cinematographer Willy Kurant. A good number of special features that are interesting, informative and enjoyable. It was great to hear from Chantal Goya sharing some of the Godard behind-the-scenes direction with the viewer. How the discussion about Madeleine's music career was actually a dialogue about her own music career but Godard using it on the film. And of course, Jean-Pierre Léaud is just a talented actor that both Francois Truffaut and Godard knew how to utilize in their films (despite Truffaut being a bit critical on how Godard handled him for this film). We sense a young man who is trying to make sense of his life. Has a set perspective yet being with a woman who is nothing like him nor does she want to be like him.
Masculin féminin: 15 faits précis" is a film that is definitely not a perfect film. In fact, because there are quite a few disruptions and the pacing is quite frantic at times, some people may see it as a film that is too artsy for its own good. As mentioned earlier, critics really blasted Godard for this film when it was first released. But the fact was, it was a film ahead of its time and what we have is a time capsule of youth, Paris during the mid-60's that now, many people who lived during that time, can watch this film and say, "this film was a masterpiece".
Overall, "Masculin féminin: 15 faits précis" is a film that is not only worth of being included in the Criterion Collection but also a Godard film worth owning. Highly recommended!