Renaissance – DVD Review

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Christian Volckman


Daniel Craig……….Barthélémy Karas (voice)
Catherine McCormack……….Bislane Tasuiev (voice)
Romola Garai……….Ilona Tasuiev (voice)
Jonathan Pryce……….Paul Dellenbach (voice)
Ian Holm……….Jonas Muller (voice)
Kevork Mialikyan Farfella

The Movie

2006 was a tremendous year for film for many reasons, but the one aspect that stands out the most is in the crime genre. There were so many great films in the genre in the year that many ended up on most Top 10 lists of the year, including Inside Man, Brick, A Scanner Darkly and Academy Award winner The Departed. One that flew under the radar of the art house circuit, despite heavy critical praise, was the French animated film Renaissance.

When Avalon Corporation scientist Ilona (Romola Garai) is kidnapped for seemingly no apparent reason, a hard boiled detective Barthélémy (Daniel Craig) is assigned to track her down. Set in Paris in 2057, the film follows the Captain as he uncovers a mystery peppered with gunfights, dead bodies and plot twists.

The most striking feature of Renaissance is that it just oozes atmosphere. Combining CGI with motion capture technology, and in stark black and white, the film is a graphic novel come to life in a way that even Frank Miller would envy. This is the sort of film Sin City wanted to look like; it’s contrasts of black and white with some bits of color interspersed. It’s engrossing to watch because it’s such an aesthetic wonder.

It’s also a striking look at life 50 years from now, as well. There aren’t flying cars and teleportation devices like most science fiction would have, but the computer technology and the designs of things look much like they could in 50 years. The sort of surveillance technologies they used is fascinating as well; Paris looks beautiful in how they show it but also a bit less private than one might hope for.

Renaissance is a terrific, white knuckle thriller because it has much more than merely visuals going for it; the story is also fantastic. If this were a live action film it would be the sort of summer blockbuster that wouldve injected some energy into the proceedings. Being animated, as well as a French film, most likely kept it from the wide release it deserved in 2006 and perhaps pushed its DVD release date back some time as well. It’s a terrific take on the genre and if one was to watch a double feature of overlooked crime films from the last three years, Renaissance would be a good companion piece to Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang.


Presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 format with a widescreen presentation featuring a 2.3:1 aspect ratio, Renaissance looks and sounds incredible. This is a visual-oriented film with star contrasts of black and white; the transfer is gorgeous and brings out the film’s tremendous visual styling remarkably well. The film’s audio matches the visual aspects along the way, with a well crafted score and sound effects that push the Dolby system to its limit.

The Extras

Sneak Peeks of The Invisible, The Hoax, Neverwas, The Lookout and a promotional piece for Roger Corman’s body of work.

The Making of Renaissance is a featurette about the film’s production. Starting out as an idea by a group of men in 1997, the film came out about through two producers and two screenwriters wanting to write a science fiction film utilizing the latest in technology which at the time was CG and motion capture technology. Wanting to use Paris as a backdrop for the film, considering generally New York and Tokyo dominate the genre, the film’s writers discuss how much they were influenced by Blade Runner and murder mystery novel writer James Ellroy in crafting the film’s story. Entirely in French, with English subtitles for those not fluent, this feature walks the viewer through a lot of the technical aspects of making this particular film including showing how the motion capture technology worked in some detail.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for Renaissance
(OUT OF 10)