F for FAKE: FRENCH DVD REVIEW
This 1975 film sees a third release on DVD with this French edition from AK Video, as part of their "Ecrans du Monde" series. While some care was obviously lavished on this release, the picture quality doesn't quite match the earlier Japanese release in terms of sharpness, though in terms of color it appears truer and more appealing. The packaging will please some and annoy others, as the disc has been presented in "digipak" fashion, instead of the more common cases. A brief booklet is bound into the digipak, which opens like a book. I like the the look and feel of digipaks, but they aren't exceptionally sturdy and can damage easily, as I've found out with some compact discs packaged this way.
The disc itself is coded for region 2, of course, and it is coded for PAL displays. Meaning that those using NTSC format televisions must have a converter of some kind to play it, be it within the DVD player itself or in the TV. Computer DVD players, if hacked, will play the disc without problem. The film itself times out to 84:41, with the 4% PAL speed-up, which translates to roughly the same length as the Japanese disc, though this edition does not include the brief opening screen for Astrophore Films that the Japanese edition did.
There are some brief extras included; the most intriguing in concept is a clip from a proposed French dubbed version, which is reality simply turns out to be what it is: a dubbed version of the film. Notes on the disc state that Welles was unhappy with the results and scrapped the idea. The packaging includes further notes on the film as well as a brief piece by Francois Reichenbach about his association with Welles and the film. Overall, this isn't a bad release, and it is easier to obtain (and cheaper) than the Japanese edition.
Check the screen captures below for images from the disc, and move your cursor over the images for the corresponding image (give or take a second or two) from the Japanese disc. As you'll see, the Japanese disc features a darker, less colorful image than the French disc, with a bit more detail. Also, the Japanese disc features a slightly squeezed image in comparison to the French disc. I'm not sure why this is the case, but there it is to see. The French disc consquently looks better in terms of color, though it is less sharp than the Japanese disc. The Japanese disc hardly features a knife-edge sharpness itself. It will be interesting to see if future editions of the film can improve on this. As it stands, this is hardly a terrible disc, but we can certainly expect a better one in the future, with an anamorphic transfer if nothing else.
Move your cursor over an image to see a comparison with the Japanese DVD of the film.