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La Bete Humaine

Overview

Based on a novel by Emile Zola, La Bete Humaine weaves a mesmerizing tale of a tragic triangle. Train engineer Jean Gabin lusts after Simone Simon, the wife of his co-worker Fernand Ledoux. When Ledoux is in danger of losing his job, Simon offers herself to her husband's boss. In jealous pique, Ledoux kills the man. Gabin is witness to this, so Simon promises to reward him sexually if he'll keep quiet. As this romance intensifies, Simon tries to finagle Gabin into killing Ledoux. Sick of the whole sordid affair, ...
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Overview

Based on a novel by Emile Zola, La Bete Humaine weaves a mesmerizing tale of a tragic triangle. Train engineer Jean Gabin lusts after Simone Simon, the wife of his co-worker Fernand Ledoux. When Ledoux is in danger of losing his job, Simon offers herself to her husband's boss. In jealous pique, Ledoux kills the man. Gabin is witness to this, so Simon promises to reward him sexually if he'll keep quiet. As this romance intensifies, Simon tries to finagle Gabin into killing Ledoux. Sick of the whole sordid affair, Gabin murders Simon and then kills himself. When Fritz Lang remade La Bete Humaine as Human Desire in 1953, he carefully copied several of the best visual selections made by Jean Renoir in the original film; what he was not permitted to copy was the story itself, which had to be heavily laundered to accommodate Hollywood's censorship limitations.
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Special Features

New, restored high-definition digital transfer of the original, uncensored version; Introduction to the film by Jean Renoir; New interview with director Peter Bogdanovich; Archival footage of Renoir directing actress Simone Simon, and interviews with Renoir, Émile Zola scholar Henri Mitterand, and others on adapting Zola to the screen; Gallery of on-set photographs and theatrical posters; Theatrical trailer; New and improved English subtitle translation; A booklet featuring critic Geoffrey O'Brien, film historian Ginette Vincendeau, and production designer Eugène Lourié
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Tom Wiener
Jean Renoir's masterful adaptation of the Emile Zola novel of heredity and fate has been cited as both a reflection of the fatalistic mood in France in the face of Nazi Germany's aggression and as a blueprint for many postwar film noirs. It's also part of a magnificent mini-run in Renoir's career, preceded by Grand Illusion and followed, two films later, by Rules of the Game. The film begins and ends with a train hurtling noisily down a track, the camera shooting from either the engineer's point of view or from the very front of the locomotive, and the sensation is one of imminent danger. Jean Gabin's Jacques Lantier is a man haunted by his family's history of alcoholism; although he is able to stay away from booze, he is still prone to seizures and blackouts. He accepts his fate as a damaged man, even rejecting love from a young woman who promises to be patient with him. Instead, his involvement with the self-absorbed Séverine (Simone Simon) and her jealous husband, the stationmaster Roubaud (Fernand Ledoux), accelerates his sense of doom. The Roubauds are concealing a crime, and Jacques becomes their accomplice, falling in love with Séverine, whom he rightly senses is a damaged soul like himself. "I always got what I wanted," Séverine says in reference to her godfather, but we soon learn that the old man extracted something in return. Renoir sets much of the action on the train or in the railroad yards, an all-male preserve that becomes a trysting spot for Jacques and Séverine's first sexual encounter. Almost every scene is perfectly orchestrated, none better than a later post-coital conversation in which Jacques shows an unhealthy interest in how the Roubauds committed their crime and then Séverine sighs, "If my husband were out of the way..." Fans of Double Indemnity, The Postman Always Rings Twice, Human Desire (Fritz Lang's take on Zola's story), and Body Heat will recognize that line, as well as Séverine's desperate attempt at a dance hall to brush off the persistent Jacques, "We have no future."
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 2/14/2006
  • UPC: 037429173824
  • Original Release: 1938
  • Rating:

  • Source: Criterion
  • Region Code: 1
  • Presentation: Subtitled / B&W / Full Frame
  • Time: 1:36:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 16,642

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Jean Gabin Jacques Lantier
Simone Simon Severine
Julien Carette Pecqueux
Fernand Ledoux Robaud, Severine's Husband
Jean Renoir Cabuche, the Poacher
Blanchette Brunoy Flore
Gerard Landry Dauvergne's Son
Jenny Hélia Philomene
Colette Regis Victoire
Charlotte Clasis Aunt Phasie
Claire Gérard Traveler
Jacques Berlioz Grand-Morin
Tony Corteggiani Section's Chief
Marcel Pérès Lampmaker
Guy Decomble Garde-barriere
Emile Genevois Farm Worker
Leon Larive Grand-Morin's servant
Georges Péclet Railway Worker
Georges Spanelly Grand-Morin's Secretary
Jacques Brunius Farm Worker
Technical Credits
Jean Renoir Director, Screenwriter
Curt Courant Cinematographer
Suzanne de Troeye Editor
Raymond Hakim Producer
Robert Hakim Producer
Joseph Kosma Score Composer
Eugène Lourié Set Decoration/Design
Marguerite Renoir Editor
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- La Bête Humaine
1. Opening Credits [2:34]
2. Full Steam Ahead [4:23]
3. Arrival in Le Havre [2:18]
4. Roubaud's Séverine [2:38]
5. Workers' Routine [4:10]
6. Day Trip [2:23]
7. Human Animal [5:15]
8. Meeting With Grandmorin [8:38]
9. The 6:20 for Le Havre [5:11]
10. Hiding the Truth [5:14]
11. "Please Believe Me" [2:01]
12. Suspects [4:17]
13. At Home With the Roubauds [4:08]
14. "Not Looking for a Lover" [2:57]
15. Hot and Cold [2:50]
16. Weathering the Storm [3:32]
17. Lifelong Bond [2:14]
18. "What Was It Like" [5:21]
19. For Séverine [3:54]
20. Lison [1:14]
21. Railway Dance [8:01]
22. Séverine's Little Heart [9:18]
23. Peace of Mind [8:12]
1. An Unusual Renoir [4:56]
2. Realism and Poetry [2:17]
3. Director and Actor [2:05]
4. Human Nature [2:00]
1. Jean Renoir [5:51]
2. Modernizing La Bête Humaine [2:42]
3. Zola's Influences [4:54]
4. Fritz Lang's Human Desire [4:42]
5. Zola's "Screen Play" [3:33]
6. Aristic License [2:16]
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Menu

Disc #1 -- La Bête Humaine
   Jean Renoir Introduction
      Play
   Play the Movie
   Chapters
   Color Bars
   Supplements
      Peter Bogdanovich
         Play
         Index
      Adapter Zola
         Play
         Index
      Renoir Directs Simone Simon
         Play
      Trailer
      Gallery
   Subtitles
      Subtitles: On/Off
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