New Release: Le Beau Serge, Les Cousins Blu-ray and DVD

Le bear Serge movie scene

Jean-Claude Brialy and Bernadette Lafont star in Le beau Serge.

Criterion issued two long-unavailable early films by the late, great French New Wave director Claude Chabrol (Inspector Bellamy) on Sept. 20, 2011. Le Beau Serge (1958), writer/director Chabrol’s first movie, was released on Blu-ray and DVD for the suggested retail prices of $39.95 and $29.95. Les Cousins (1959) on Blu-ray and DVD carries the same prices.

The drama Le Beau Serge follows a successful yet sickly young man (Jean‑Claude Brialy) who returns home to the small village where he grew up only to find himself at odds with his former close friend (Gérard Blain), now unhappily married and a wretched alcoholic, and the provincial life he represents.

In Les Cousins, Chabrol crafts a sly moral fable about a provincial boy who comes to live with his sophisticated bohemian cousin in Paris. Through these seeming opposites, Chabrol conjures a darkly comic character study that questions notions of good and evil, love and jealousy and success in the modern world. The stars of Le Beau Serge, Jean-Claude Brialy and Gérard Blain, in this movie are recast in startlingly reversed roles. Les Cousins won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival and was an important precursor to the French New Wave.

Both films got a new digital restoration, new and improved English subtitle translation and uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition.

Here’s a breakdown of the special features that are on the Blu-ray and DVD releases of the two Chabrol films:

Features on Le Beau Serge:

  • new audio commentary featuring Guy Austin, author of Claude Chabrol
  • segment from a 1969 episode of the French television series L’invité du dimanche in which Chabrol revisits Sardent, the town he grew up in and the film’s location
  • 2011 documentary by filmmaker Pierre-Henri Gibert on the making of Le Beau Serge
  • theatrical trailer
  • booklet featuring an essay by film critic Terrence Rafferty

Features on Les Cousins:

  • audio commentary featuring film scholar Adrian Martin
  • 2011 documentary by filmmaker Pierre-Henri Gibert about the making of Les Cousins, featuring director Claude Chabrol, star Stéphane Audran, assistant directors Charles Bitsch and Claude de Givray, and others
  • theatrical trailer
  • booklet featuring an essay by film critic Terrence Rafferty

 

Buy or Rent Le Beau Serge
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Buy or Rent Les Cousins
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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.