I've often wondered why there are still films not yet available on DVD. After ten years, we should be able to watch anything on our TV that we once watched in the theater. Digital, widescreen, browse-able. DVDs are supposedly soon to be replaced and I still can't rent some of my favorite recent films (Toto the Hero; Saint Clara) on the decade-old format. Even The Garbage Pail Kids Movieis available on DVD from MGM Home Video, but Robert Bresson's Les Anges du Péché, which was also theatrically released by MGM in the U.S., has no American DVD. Every film made by a cinema legend like Bresson should be out there for us to curiously study, if not also enjoy.
Fortunately there is a new DVD of Les Anges du Péché, the filmmaker's first feature film, out from the French company Gallimard. No worries for us Americans, either; the DVD is region-free and includes English subtitles. I guess you have to order it from a French site, but as I don't understand a bit of the language, I have no idea how to navigate any of them (Robert-Bresson.com lists Chapitre.com and Cine-memento.fr). According to this new review, the film, about a woman released from prison who joins a convent, wasn't even close to being Bresson's favorite. And looking back, some critics have thought of it as a lesser work from the director, but it is certainly worth seeing for any film enthusiast, especially fans of Bresson's more well-known works (Au Hasard Balthazar; Pickpocket; L' Argent). The DVD features a digital restoration by the Centre Nationale de la Cinématographie and a few bonus features that are only in French with no subtitles.
This fall, the British Film Institute will present a full retrospective of Bresson's films. Hopefully some place in America, maybe NYC's Film Forum, can do the same soon with the restored version of Les Anges du Péché. Typically once a film is shown with a new print, it isn't long before it gets an American DVD release, too. We can do just fine with Gallimard's for now, but I'd like to see Criterion or another company put the thing out with subtitled supplements and maybe a commentary from a film historian or critic.