Sunday, March 16, 2008

Diva On The Big Screen


I was really honored and thrilled this afternoon to attend a big screen showing of Jean-Jacques Beineix's Diva(1981) at Nashville's great Belcourt Theater. It was a really wonderful experience and it marked the first time I had the opportunity to view one of Beineix's films on the big screen.
Watching Diva for the first time in many years in this sort of setting was really special. The film is still as thrilling as ever and its extraordinary look seems even more alive than it did 25 years ago when it first premiered to negative reactions from the old guard of French Cinema.
Several things stood out to me this time including a couple of delightful winks I hadn't picked up on before such as the copping of Peter Gabriel's Intruder on the soundtrack before slyly highlighting the album from which it was taken in the background of the very next scene. I was also struck by how the glorious Brigitte Lahaie cameo is perhaps the most potent middle finger (imagine, a tip to the French sex film industry and Jean Rollin in one sweet shot) Beineix could have offered to the conservative French critics he knew were going to attack him upon the film's release.
I was also struck by how much more I was affected by the side plots this time instead of the main storyline concerning Jules, even though he is played wonderfully by Frederic Andrei. I was much more taken this viewing with the characters that the very striking Richard Bohringer and Thuy An Luu played and found myself nearly hypnotized by the brilliant shades of blue their apartment offered up throughout the film.
I am disappointed that Criterion is apparently not going to be releasing the film on DVD later this year. Instead it looks like LionsGate is going to handle that and it makes me worry for the extras the film really deserves. We'll have to wait and see but it is a shame that the "Cinema Du Look" movement will still be missing in action on the Criterion label...my fingers are still very much crossed for Moon In The Gutter to re-appear soon...
I will post more on Diva when the DVD does arrive here in the States. In the meantime, if the newly struck print does come near where you are don't hesitate to go see it. The film is still as dazzling and as moving as ever...

3 comments:

Steve Langton said...

A crying shame this film will not receive the Criterion treatment. We have a 'vanilla' DVD in the UK, and I've often wished for a fully loaded special edition. The film is quite something to behold on the big screen and I loved the idea that opera should be a personal encounter between audience and performers with no live recordings available. What happens when the voice and the memories fade, though? Wilhelmenia Wiggins Fernandez is truly amazing, and her rendtiton of La Wally has always remained in my memory since I caught the film on release. Thanks for a great post, and glad you enjoyed the screening.

Rogue Spy 007 said...

It is a shame that Criterion is not releasing this film. I would be more comfortable with them than Lionsgate. Let's hope that we will still get a good release of it. I do really want to see it. I've never seen it before, but I've heard a lot about it.

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks Steve,
Totally agree on all your thoughts here. Thanks for sharing them...I am curious to see what, if any, extras Lionsgate delivers for this wonderful film...I really think Criterion dropped the ball here...

Thanks Keith,
You'll love this film...I am excited for you to see it...