Welcome to our semi-regular round-up of the best that the import market has had to offer over the last couple of weeks. In this edition, William Friedkin’s Sorcerer is given the release it’s long deserved, while Criterion work their magic on a couple of Scandinavian masterpieces.
Sorcerer, William Friedkin, US Import. Region Free.
A long time coming, William Friedkin’s Sorcerer is finally given the home video release it deserves. Notoriously lost amongst the changing landscape of the American film industry upon it’s original release in 1977, Sorcerer all but disappeared for the ensuing three decades, and while it has been present on home video in the intervening years it’s always suffered from poor quality and lack of attention.
We’re going to be exploring the film itself in fuller detail in the coming days, but for now know that the disc is technically superb. While lacking in any extra material, the film is presented handsomely, and housed in a digi-book full of stills from the movie and accompanied with Friedkin’s own thoughts (abridged from the director’s own recent autobiography). While supplements would have been appreciated, the film itself is enough reason to celebrate.
Breaking The Waves, Lars von Trier, US Import. Region Locked.
Lars von Trier’s best film is here on the receiving end of an extensive 4K restoration.The director has overseen a completely reworked colour palette for the film (check out the breakdown over at DVDBeaver for more information and illustration), which may prove controversial to some, but in motion looks sublime. Similarly the films audio elements have been revitalised, with the 5.1 DTS-HD surround sound track impressing hugely too, with a number of moments showcasing the picture for the staggering audio visual experience that it is (see. the second helicopter incident, and Watson’s otherworldly shriek). Supplements-wise, the selected scene audio commentary from the original Pathe disc is present, and now sits alongside new interviews from a range of people, with Emily Watson, Stellan Skarskgard being two of the major players to return for recently produced interviews.
It’s difficult to believe that almost 20 years have passed since Breaking The Waves first made an appearance on the filmic landscape. Age has cemented it’s reputation as an important, peculiar work, and one which avoids pigeonholing or easy description. Watson’s performance remains nary equalled, such is the brevity of the role, with the roots of von Trier’s somewhat infamous approach to working with female actors present in Bess, a person doomed by her own goodness.
Persona, Ingmar Bergman, US Import. Region Locked.
Bergman’s masterpiece is a latecomer to Criterion’s already extensive catalogue of the director’s work. Such a landmark of World Cinema had seemed like an odd omission from the collection. It makes up for tardiness with quality though, with one of the most extensive special editions of any of his films. The self-standing feature film, Liv & Ingmar is supplement enough, but a host of separate interview pieces and a new video essay from Peter Cowie elevate the set even further. Things are rounded out by intricate packaging and a lengthy booklet of liner notes. This all said, it’s actually the quality of the film’s transfer that impresses the most. Meticulously restored, Persona has finally found the digital medium capable of doing it justice (previous DVD’s have proven problematic, while the audio side of things is bona-fide revelatory. It’s in the sound where Person truly shines, with the film’s famous opening prologue even more forthcoming when presented properly.