In eighteenth-century France, a mysterious beast is terrorizing the countryside. Sent toinvestigate is naturalist Gregoire de Fronsac, who arrives with Mani, his Native Americansidekick (who is a dab hand at martial arts, among other useful skills). The film is completelynuts and completely silly, and its racial politics are a postcolonial theorist’s wet dream, but it isalso hugely entertaining.
Absolutely flabbergasting. At the level of volum… alone, this mix is jaw-dropping. Fire upthe disc and run for cover, as the film boom and crashes like the thunder of God on all sides.Every nuance of the effects is picked up, but the dialogue comes through with perfect clarity.Amazing. All of this, of course, applies to the French DTS & Dolby Digital audio tracks. The English Dobly Digital track is going to subjectyou to dubbing (although good dubbing), so avoid.
Nice, but not quite in the same league as the sound: there is some grain visible, as well as som enoticable edge enhancements. That said, thecolours are gorgeous, with warm, strong contrasts and good blacks. The Universal edition does take a slight edge in terms of video quality… but the 2.35:1 Anamorphic widescreen transfer is still a very nice.
Disc 1 has two feature commentaries (in French only). The first, by actors Samuel Le Bihanand Vincent Cassel, is a bit of a waste, as the two often don’t know what to say. What theyconcentrate on is the experience of the shooting. The second track is by director ChristopheGans, and this is much better. Gans is very articulate, enormously aware of film history, and goesinto considerable technical detail.
Disc 2 has got a 78-minute documentary– “The Guts of theBeast”– which goes delves into the making of the film from conception to postproduction; sixdeleted scenes, introduced by Gans; seven filmographies; the trailer; “The Legend” — aninterview with naturalist Michel Louis about the actual Beast of Gevaudan; and some DVD-ROM stuff.
Disc 3 has another 78-minute doc, this one a real behind-the-scenes record of theshooting, showing just what miseries cast and crew suffered; 12 storyboard sequences (which goby a bit fast); a photo album (divided into “The Beast,” “Portraits,” “Fronsac’s Notebook,” “on-Set Pictures” and “Posters”) and more DVD-ROM goodies. The menus are fully animated andscored, and very elaborate — too elaborate in fact, as the lengthy transitions get annoying after abit. Finally, there’s a booklet with yet more production notes.
A very deluxe version of this berserk & spectacular French film, which combines every conceivable genreinto a very entertaining mix. A special note: above and beyond all the advertized extras, thisversion runs a full ten minutes longer than the Universal release.
Special Features List
- Two Commentaries
- Deleted Scenes
- “The Guts of the Beast” Documentary
- “Behind the Scenes” Documentary
- “The Legend” Documentary
- Photo Gallery
- Production Notes Booklet