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Chronicle of a Summer (Criterion Collection)

by Jake Mulligan
Contributor
Thursday Mar 7, 2013
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Cinema verité. We’ve all heard the term. We don’t all know exactly what it means (literal translations can only be so helpful.) Criterion does its part to educate us with this Blu-ray release of "Chronicle of a Summer," one of the defining works of the aesthetic, and, as they would have us believe, one of the most influential films in cinema history.

Jean Rouch and sociologist Edgar Morin collaborated on the project, which begins with numerous interviews of Paris walkabouts - students, artists, working class grunts, and the like (not hard to see what Godard was stealing from them, already) - and then turns the concept on its head for an almost radical final act. It’s not just the form that makes "Chronicle" such an important work, it’s the time capsule feeling - few films have captured a time and place with such vivacity.

For its part, Criterion supplements this under seen work with a number of worth-your-money extras, most notably a 70-minute long reel of outtakes and alternate sequences cut from the film, intercut with recently recorded interviews with Morin and other members of the crew. There are also interviews with Rouch, and with a number of other sociologists and film scholars.

I had never heard of "Chronicle" prior to Criterion’s release, and most critics I know were in the same boat. I love it when Criterion restores Hollywood classics, but its greatest achievements are when they uncover integral parts of the canon of film history - this picture certainly qualifies. And "Chronicle" may not be a discovery for everyone, sure. But if you’ve seen it already, it’s worth discovering again.

"Chronicle of a Summer"
Blu-ray
$39.95
criterion.com

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