The first film born of the partnership of directors Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro is a fantastical tale of love, poverty and cannibalism in a post-apocalyptic world.
The story easily rivals any great exponents of surrealism, if it is judged in terms of sheer strangeness at least. Placing a retired television clown into the confines of an apartment block run by a butcher who always has access to meat, even in the wasteland that the world has become, is already pretty out there but when you add in a few saw/violin duets, some slapstick and an underground clan of vegetarian mole people terrorists then you know you’re in for a wild ride.
This is the film that firmly established Jeunet as an auteur, with its murky yellow imagery serving as an intriguing counterpoint to the colourful characters that populate it. You somehow feel enveloped in the strange otherness of Jeunet and Caro’s world as you sink into the misty cinescape. And as dystopian as the world is for much of the film, you still can’t help but embrace some of it’s quirkier aspects while you’re there: not least the blossoming oddball romance at its core.
It’s this mix of comedy, otherworldy strangeness and vibrant, ideosyncratic characters that make ‘Delicatessen’ a sublime piece of escapism. Like a light-hearted ‘Brazil’ it conjures up imagery of such impact, and such timelessly resonant subject matter that it will no doubt have the power to affect audiences for generations to come.
The step up to Blu-ray is a blessing for this film. Much of its charm rests on the vibrancy of the images and the colours that saturate the story’s inhabitants with a timeless strangeness that defines much of the work of Jeunet, and that is conveyed so much better in this HD rendering.
The new incarnation also helps out with the misty exteriors of this post-apolcalypic world, allowing them much greater depth and texture than previously afforded in SD.
None are in HD, and only one is previously unreleased: an hour-long retrospective documentary that looks at the evolution of the film and its production in a huge amount of detail, and with a fair amount of time devoted to the (excellent) performances of the actors involved.
Previously released extras include a brilliantly funny commentary track from Jeunet, 9 mins worth of behind-the-scenes material (including actor casting tests, which are well worth a quick look), and a 14-minute ‘Making Of’ featurette. Plus the obligatory trailer and teasers.
The DVD also comes with a booklet essay by journalist Adam Woodward, for those who want to look away from their screens for a bit.
Delicatessen is available on Studio Canal Blu-ray right now.