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Le Quai Des Brumes Blu-ray Release
Manish Agarwal , September 20th, 2012 04:30

Vintage poetic realism thriller gets digital upgrade

Set amid the fog-wreathed mean streets of Le Havre (and sweetly referenced by Aki Kaurismäki's fine recent feature of that name), Marcel Carné's fatalistic masterpiece Le Quai des Brumes (Port Of Shadows) stars French silver screen titan Jean Gabin as perma-smoking army deserter Jean, who hitches a ride to the coastal city one night and hooks up with erstwhile gangster's moll Nelly (played by 18-year-old Michèle Morgan, poised in beret and transparent mac). The desperate lovers dream of escape, but first they have to extricate themselves from a claustrophobic web of betrayal involving the local gun-toting hoodlums and Nelly's weird beard godfather Zabel (Michel Simon, eccentric Père Jules from L'Atalante).

A domestic hit upon release in 1938, the picture was banned by the Vichy government for being "immoral, depressing and detrimental to young people" - a recommendation if ever there was one. It pioneers many of the tropes popularised the following decade by American film noir: the cynical antihero, chiaroscuro lighting, romance undercut by pessimism, world-weary barroom philosophizing, cruelty both physical and emotional. Meticulously restored for theatrical reissue earlier in the year, this archetype of seductive cinematic doom now debuts on Blu-ray with sundry extras, courtesy of StudioCanal.