Blu-ray Release: America as Seen by a Frenchman

Blu-ray Release Date: June 23, 2020
Price: Blu-ray $27.99
Studio: Arrow/MVD


At the end of the 1950s, celebrated French documentarian François Reichenbach (F for Fake, Portrait: Orson Welles), whose lens captured the likes of Brigitte Bardot and Johnny Hallyday, spent eighteen months traveling the United States, documenting its diverse regions, their inhabitants and their pastimes. The result, 1960’s America is Seen by a Frenchman, is a wide-eyed – perhaps even naïve – journey through a multitude of different Americas, filtered through a French sensibility and serving as a fascinating exploration of a culture that is both immediately familiar and thoroughly alien.

Prison rodeos; Miss America pageants; visits to Disneyland and a school for striptease; a town inhabited solely by twins; rows of newborns in incubators, like products on an assembly line – all these weird and wondrous sights, and more, are captured, sans jugement, by Reichenbach’s camera, aided by whimsical narration (provided by, among others, Jean Cocteau) and a jaunty musical score by the late, great Michel Legrand (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg).

Titled L’Amérique insolite – literally “unusual America” – in its native tongue, America as Seen by a Frenchman lovingly renders the various eccentricities of Americana circa the mid-twentieth century, and proves the old adage that reality really is stranger than fiction.

  • High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray™ presentation
  • Original uncompressed mono audio
  • Newly translated English subtitles
  • New video appreciation of the film by author and critic Philip Kemp
  • Image gallery
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Ignatius Fitzpatrick
  • FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Caspar Salmon
Buy or Rent America as Seen by a Frenchman

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.