Blu-ray & DVD: The Love of a Woman (1953)
Dr Marie Prieur, convincingly portrayed by Micheline Presle moves to a practice on Ushant, a remote French island in the English Channel. Although the island’s inhabitants are initially reserved and cautious towards her, she begins to gain their trust. However, when she meets André Lorenzi, a rugged, good looking civil engineer working on construction it is love at first sight and he proposes marriage but only if she remains at home and there lies the problem….
Jean Grémillon creates a community where the threat of death is ever present, the villagers are used to fatalities as they make their living from the sea. There are the occasional stereotypes; the town drunk, the spinster schoolteacher but he avoids the trope of showing the Catholic Church as a instrument of repression. Indeed the Priest delivers a genuinely moving graveside eulogy.
The heroine of this film is a modern woman, who has worked hard to earn a medical degree but is forced to choose between her love and her career and we are faced with a will they/wont they situation and regrets on both sides. The black and white windswept scenery bought memories of films such as Whisky Galore (1949) and The Quiet Man (1952).
There is a documentary “In Search of Jean Grémillon” included on the disc which was very useful as he was little known outside of France. On the strength of The Love of a Woman, Grémillon’s work is worth further investigation.
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition presentations of the feature, from materials supplied by Gaumont
• Original French mono audio (uncompressed LPCM on the Blu-ray)
• Optional English subtitles
• In Search of Jean Grémillon, a feature-length documentary on the filmmaker from 1969, containing interviews with director René Clair, archivist Henri Langlois, actors Micheline Presle and Pierre Brasseur, and others
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jennifer Dionisio
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic Ginette Vincendeau.
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