Saturday, February 8, 2014

Girl on a Motorcycle Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Scott Meyers
A wildly sexy time capsule from the swinging sixties, The Girl on a Motorcycle (1968) stars Alain Delon (Le samourai) and Marianne Faithfull-- two actors at the height of their impressive cool--as lovers with a taste for the open road. Faithfull stars as Rebecca, a bored housewife who bolts from her home in the French countryside to visit her lover, Daniel (Delon), in Germany. Wearing nothing but a form-fitting black leather suit (the film was re-released in the U.S. as Naked Under Leather), the lusty Rebecca races across the country, and in flashback remembers the start of their affair. She recalls the initial, furtive glances in her father's bookstore, her elaborate sexual fantasies and their long-awaited consummation. Most important of all is the motorcycle itself, a gift from Daniel that seems to give her more pleasure than any man could deliver. Directed by legendary cinematographer Jack Cardiff (The Red Shoes) in pulsating psychedelic hues, The Girl on a Motorcycle has emerged from obscurity to become more than a cult favorite; it is a touchstone film of 1960s Euro youth culture.

Film (4 out of 5 stars)
Who is ready to go for a ride! This remastered 1968 movie shows us a woman's journey on her motorcycle to visit her lover and the travels that got her to where she is. The movie starts out with Rebecca (played by Marianne Faithfull) dreaming about a more adventurous life in the circus doing daring stunts. When she wakes she decides that she has to jump on her motorcycle and go see her longtime lover Daniel (played by Alain Delon) in Germany, wearing nothing but her tight leather outfit. Once the journey begins we find out that Rebecca is miserable in her current life, married to Raymond (played by Roger Mutton) who is a local school teacher in France who has no respect from his students and we find that she settles for Raymond but never happy.

The flashbacks begin with Rebecca and Raymond dating and are away on a romantic ski weekend and this is where she first meets Daniel who has eyes for Rebecca from the beginning, and the feelings are mutual for Rebecca. The attraction is so strong that Rebecca cannot be intimate with Raymond because all she can do is think of this mysterious man who keeps watching her. This ski weekend is the couple’s first weekend away together so they have separate rooms; when they go to bed we see Daniel sneak into Rebecca's room and have a very passionate encounter with her. 

She is forever under his control; but the interesting part is she is so scared of this feeling that she feels necessary to marry Raymond hoping to make this feeling go away. Soon after their encounter Rebecca sees Daniel at her job (she works at a bookstore that her father owns) and finds out that her father and Daniel are good friends. Daniel finds out she is engaged and as an engagement present takes her for a ride on his motorcycle and sweeps her off her feet (again). This is how their relationship grows. Soon after their relationship begins Daniel buys her own motorcycle.

During her ride to Daniel (where all the flashbacks take place) Rebecca tries to decide if she is selfish for being married to Raymond while keeping Daniel as a lover. In her heart she feels that Raymond must know there is someone else because she goes on road trips every couple of weeks for the entire weekend. Also she feels that Daniel dominates her and "allows" her to go back to her husband because he knows she will always come back to him.

In another one of the flashbacks goes to when Daniel taught her to ride a motorcycle and how from the very beginning scared of him or being on a motorcycle. She loved hearing stories from when he raced and participated in dangerous events. One of the main reasons she loves riding is she feels free, free from everyone and everything; however every time she is riding she is under the mental control from Daniel on how to ride the motorcycle and is afraid to make a mistake and upset Daniel. Even though she is married to Raymond she can't help loving Daniel even though she knows in her heart that Daniel does not feel the same way. Ironically, it's that freedom that triggers a chain of unfortunate events.

This movie contained a plot that is still current in movies today and was done in a manner that did not make the movie seem outdated. The overall enjoyment was better than some of the modern movies that I have seen lately. The plot and action of made the flow go smoothly and never drag. The combination of flashback and bring back to current was very well done and was never confusing. I have watched some older movies and they seem to drag on and never end; this was not that kind of movie. I would recommend this movie to anyone who asked.
Video (3 out of 5 stars)
1080p with a 1.66:1 ratio has a nice picture and overall viewing of the movie, however the sharpness and clarity of the picture was not seen in the Blu-ray video. The movie had the quality of a standard definition movie. At times the movie went into a psychedelic picture which was very distracting to the movie.
Audio (3 out of 5 stars)
Mastered in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, the movie was narrated most of the movie which had a very low volume compared to the rest of the film; not a good combination between the 2 aspects of the film. Also during the psychedelic scenes the volume got extremely loud and was very distracting to the viewing.
Extras (2 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Theatrical Trailer from 1968 - Very short preview of film does not have much detail about the movies premise. The one aspect this had was to see the quality of the original film looked like. 
Gallery - Contained movie covers from the film from around the world and also included one from US with original name for film here, Naked Under Leather. 
Audio Commentary by director Jack Cardiff - Entire movie with director dubbed over normal audio in explaining how they filmed the movie.
Summary (3 out of 5 stars)
A very enjoyable movie and for something made back in the 60's the plot is still current and films are still being made about the same premise. The quality of the movie was not terrible however for being a Blu-ray it could have been a little better as well as the audio, being only 2.0. I enjoyed watching the director dubbed film seeing how they made the shots they did and how they overcame some of the issues in filming the movie. 
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