Category Archives: Film

“WELCOME TO REFUGEESTAN”— A Blight on the World

“WELCOME TO REFUGEESTAN”

A Blight on the World

Amos Lassen

Anne Poiret’s documentary, “Welcome to Refugeestan” explores the current refugee system and gives a rare glimpse at life inside the world’s major refugee camps. The film’s release comes as a recent United Nations report there are 65.6 million people currently displaced from their homes globally, with 22.5 are considered refugees..



These refugees lives in camps, in a virtual country the size of the Netherlands. The names of these places do not appear on any maps. The ways these camps are run are both efficient and absurd. This film explores the land of camps, from Kenya, to Tanzania, Jordan, and the Greece/Macedonia border, as well as at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva. We see an immense system that combines humanitarian concerns with the management of undesirables who rich countries want to keep out, whatever the cost.

We see a Burundian man stepping off a bus in Tanzania and waits to be processed at a refugee camp. Two of his brothers are dead, and his parents have disappeared. With no idea what lies ahead, other than a conviction that it must be better than what he has left behind, he lines up and waits to be processed. He is about to become one of the many people all the world that are refugees.



We are given a view into life in the world’s primary refugee camps. The Dadaab camp in Kenya is the world’s largest, with a population of 350,000. The brand-new Azraq camp in Jordan, built to house Syrian refugees, was supposed to be a model of enlightened design, but this did not happen. Director Poiret also takes us to the UNHCR offices in Switzerland, where many of the policies originate.



The world’s refugees are also becoming an important captive consumer market as we see here. The camps have become places for companies to test out new technologies and retail outlets cater to a captive population forcibly prevented from shopping elsewhere.

“Welcome to Refugeestan” explores of both the refugee experience and the failures of a system that can keep people trapped and stateless for years.

The lives of refugees are not easy. They exist in camps often surrounded by barbed wire; are forbidden from working and subject to frequent dehumanizing security checks; and ruled by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), a distant, colonial-style bureaucracy.

Director Anne Poiret also takes us to Norway, where humanitarian workers are trained in the arts of negotiating with corrupt officials, and to the “UNHCR offices in Switzerland, where innovation is the buzzword of the day”.

“MYSTIC”— A Small Town Murder

“Mystic”

A Small Town Murder

Amos Lassen

“Mystic” is the pilot for a new series about a murder and its investigation in Mystic, Connecticut, a small seaside village where there are no secrets as the residents would like to think.

Bridget Ashling (Tara Dion Machado) has been burned to death in a boat out on the sea. The police, do not have idea how to investigate this since nothing like this has ever happened in Mystic. Once they do begin an investigation, they learn that almost everyone in the town has a secret. If there is anyone who might know who committed the murder, it is Bridget’s daughter Aidan (Rachael Perry) but she is dealing with shock and her aunt who is to be her new guardian Flanna (Darya Kravitz) has come to take her away leaving the police will nothing.

Because of the whodunit nature of the film, it is very difficult to review but then again, this is a pilot meaning that its purpose is to get us interested enough so that we will watch the entire series. I can tell you, however, that the story ventures into the supernatural and that things get more confusing as time passes and answers come to light. In the pilot we are introduced to subplots and some of the residents of Mystic including the local tycoon (David Letendre), a fisherman (Anthony Goes), clergyman (Mitchell Cardone) and a congressman (Victor Franko). The pilot definitely left me wanting to know more so it does its job well. I am sure that there are those who will be reminded of “Twin Peaks” but I have never watched that series so I have no basis for comparison.

The town of Mystic is also a character in the series and if you have ever been to New England, you know towns like this. It is beautifully photographed with little hints that there is more here than meets the eye.

 

“THE FENCER”— A Fencer’s Story

“THE FENCER”

A Fencer’s Story

Amos Lassen

Klaus Härö’s “The Fencer” was the 2016 Golden Globe nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, as well as Finland’s official selection and shortlist finalist at the 2016 Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film. It is the story of a young man, Endel Nelis (Märt Avandi) who escapes the secret police in Leningrad and arrives in Haapsalu, Estonia in the early 1950s. He gets a job as a teacher and organizes a sports club for his students. Endel learns to love the children of whom most are orphans as a result of the Russian occupation. He begins teaching them to fence and this is his personal passion. For the children, fencing becomes a form of self-expression and Endel is quickly becomes their role model and a father figure. However, his popularity with his students causes a conflict with the school’s principal (Hendrik Toompere), who is envious and suspicious. As the principal investigates Endel’s background, he discovers a secret from his past. When the children get a chance to take part in a national fencing tournament in Leningrad, Endel faces a difficult decision— should he risk everything and take the children to Leningrad or see to his own safety and disappoint the children that he loves so much.

 

 

“The Fencer” was inspired by the true story of Endel Nelis who was Estonia’s legendary fencing hero. This is a fictionalized version of his life. Haapsalu, Estonia, is a backwater town that has been under harsh Russian Communist rule since the end of World War II. When Endel takes a job as sports teacher at the local high school he does not much care for his students but when he starts a fencing club, things begin to change. for his young students, he starts a fencing club which proves wildly popular. His stern exterior begins to break when he is charmed by moppet Marta (Liisa Koppel) and by teenage rebel Jaan (Joonas Koff). As might be expected he begins to warm to the children and to himself and begins something of a romance with his co-worker Kadri (Ursula Ratasepp).

The principal, however, believes that playing with swords is reminiscent of pre-revolutionary feudalism and goads Endel to teach proletarian sports. When the local citizenry overrides him, the headmaster begins looking for something in Endel’s past. Because Estonians live in a paranoid Stalinist climate with the secret police watching everybody, a simple rumor or denunciation can lead to arrest, exile and even execution.

We learn that Endel has good reason to lie low in Estonia but when his students begin to put pressure on him to enter them in a prestigious all-Soviet fencing tournament in Leningrad, he is torn about risking his life for sporting glory. The film then becomes a race against time as Endel and his team fight a battle against better trained, better funded Russian rivals. How this will end has been clear all along (and even so I am not going to tell you what happens).

 

The film is shot in lovely muted tones and the entire production is a visual feast. Märt Avandi as Endel gives a beautiful performance as Endel and he is the heart and soul of the film. We watch him change from chilly to warm as he finds he has a talent for teaching after all, and an empathy with the kids that he had not expected. The film looks at Endel’s relationship with one troubled boy Jaan, whose grandfather (Lembit Ulfsak) leads the parental support for the fencing classes against the school’s principal who is jealous of the new teacher and who eventually becomes dangerous.

The story comes to life under a cloud of suspicion and paranoia that is fostered by the postwar Soviet occupation. This is a story of cross-generational bonding in the face of historical oppression and it is touching even though there are no real surprises.

There is suspense that we see on two fronts— one smartly juxtaposes Endel’s fugitive status with the climactic competition, the other is the outcome which is handled in plausibly. The team’s performance is understood to be an individual as well as collective achievement. It would have never happened had it not been for Endel’s ingenuity and determination. That determination is hard to forget.

The film opens in New York July 21 and in Los Angeles on August 11, 2017.

“FALSE CONFESSIONS”— Luc Bondy’s Final Film

“False Confessions” (“Les fausses confidences”)

Luc Bondy’s Final Film

Amos Lassen

Araminte (Isabelle Huppert) is a wealthy widow who hires the Dorante (Garrel) as her accountant. Secrets and lies accumulate as Dorante and his accomplice, Araminte’s manservant Dubois (Yves Jacques), manipulate not only Araminte, but also her friend and confidante, Marton (Manon Combes).

On one hand, we have characters who conspire for the possible union between two individuals separated by a social abyss, such as Dubois (Yves Jacques), the uncle of Dorante while on the other, there are other characters that do not form a favorable first impression such as Madame Argante (Bulle Ogier), mother of Araminte.

This is a comedy of customs performed with grace. The plot begins and is concentrated mainly inside Araminte’s mansion. Araminte has inherited a lot of money but her mother, Madame Argante does not think it is above. She wants her daughter to marry Count Dorimont (Jean-Pierre Malo), so that she will gain money and a name in society. However, young Dorante falls in love with Araminte and is helped by servant Dubois helps him to conquer the beloved. Now false confidences begin.

Dubois is responsible for enticing the mistress to be attracted to Dorante and Araminte is enchanted by the discretion and sweetness of Dorante, beyond the backstage revealed by Dubois. Then another Araminte employee is charmed by Dorante and each of the characters ends up having a personal reason to confide in one thing or another as the plot develops and a game of “cat” and “mouse” ensues. There is a lot of fun to be gained while watching the film. Director Luc Bondy died in 2015 after the movie was filmed. Yves Jacques is fun to watch and Huppert is her usual great self. The film open in New York on July 7 and in Los Angeles on July 21.

“MONSTER HUNT”— A Mythical World

“Monster Hunt” 

A Mythical World

Amos Lassen

 “Monster Hunt” is a fantasy epic that centers on a war between monsters and humans. At the center of the story is Wuba, a baby monster born to a human man.In this mythical ancient world, monsters rule their land while humans keep to their own kingdom. However, when adorable baby monster Wuba is born to a human father and the monster queen, mortals and creatures alike set out to capture the newborn, and Wuba’s epic adventure begins. Raman Hui’s film became the highest-grossing film in China’s history and here it is in a family-friendly version is intended for kids of all ages and has been dubbed in English.

Raman Hui hit all the right spots for a fantasy family action comedy adventure with an edge and this is a cute, funny, heartfelt film that “packs a punch that you rarely find in sanitized animated fights”.The film is a little complicated with its setup and narration on kingdoms and ministers that want to topple other kingdoms from within but once past that, the film is pure pleasure and fun and the visuals are impressive and the colors are beautiful and striking to the eye.

Monsters may rule the world, but a delicate balance of peace is maintained by the mortal humans living within their own kingdom. But as with any societal structure, there are good monsters and bad monsters, good mortals and bad and here we have bad monsters hunting the current monster queen who is carrying the future king, a monster king destined to make an everlasting peace between the species.

Knowing her days are numbered before she is caught, the Queen transfers her monster baby egg to a human man she encounters in the forest during an attack by evil monsters. Mayor of a small local village, Tianyin is a bit of a klutzy, goofy, hapless doofus, so when he is suddenly “pregnant”, the hilarity seen with his usual foibles, escalates exponentially. Alongside Tianyin is Xiaolan, a monster hunter. She too is seeking the as yet unborn baby.

As to be expected, non-stop laughter and action follows, especially once Tianyin goes into labor and gives birth to the cutest little monster imaginable – Wuba. While Xiaolan wants to protect Wuba on her way to collect a reward for his capture, Tianyin only grows closer to him, wanting to protect him because he is a life that should be saved.

As the trio make their way through Ancient China and the monster world and mortal worlds cross paths, we are treated to oh-so-adorable “family” moments as well as some adrenaline-fueled martial arts disciplines, all of which are so eye-popping and engaging to entertain even the youngest moviegoer. Along the way, Xiaolan does battle against fellow monster bounty hunter Luo Gan, and we learn the history of the now defunct Monster Hunt Bureau, as well as meeting Ge Qianhu who, under guise of being the owner of the most palatial restaurant/spa in the province, may have secrets designed to destroy the peace and drive up his profits. I could continue on about the plot but then you would not have to see the film. It is enough to say that the monsters themselves, especially Wuba, are just adorable.

The script is imaginative and provides strong foundation for story, although some of the antics that we watch unfold go way off. The moral aspects of the story are strong, celebrating family, respect, community and tolerance. Characters are all fun and entertaining, but let’s face it, the star of the show is Wuba.

Even though many of the cast are unknown to America audiences, for anyone that sees “Monster Hunt”, you will find yourself taking notice of each and look for them in other films.

“CHURCHILL”— Privileged Guilt

“Churchill”

Privileged Guilt

Amos Lassen

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (Brian Cox) wrestles with the forthcoming Battle of Normandy, which was the Allied Forces’ pivotal attempt to wrest Western Europe from German forces during World War II. This Churchill in Jonathan Teplitzky’s film biography is one of privileged guilt and a powerful politician sending young men to their deaths. He is professionally jealous, especially as he watches Generals Dwight D. Eisenhower (John Slattery) and Bernard Montgomery (Julian Wadham) collaborate on Operation Overlord, the code name for the Battle of Normandy. That operation represents a realization of the iconic prime minister’s prolonged and prophetic call to stamp out the Nazi party—perhaps at the ironic cost of his own importance and relevancy. The film shows how politics, showbiz, and myth come together to give us what we take for granted as history. The main focus of “Churchill” is the idea that Winston Churchill wasn’t always as bluff and poetic as he was when delivering speeches that kept Allied morale high throughout WWII. It looks atWinston Churchill’s legacy for purposes of narrative momentum and emotion. The character of Churchill in this film is traditionally commanding but there are suggestions of a blustery personality and a drinker (on holidays). Churchill smokes his famous stogies, swills his scotch, argues with his wife, Clementine (Miranda Richardson), and routinely kicks up a fuss over the planning of Operation Overlord. He eventually accepts the inevitable and delivers a speech on D-Day that becomes become historic.

This characterization of Churchill (as a grumpy old man who’s largely superfluous to the planning of Operation Overlord, other than as a P.R. device) is a simplification and we see this as a way to give the story forward momentum and as an attempt to humanize Churchill. His naïveté, his relationship with President Franklin D. Roosevelt as well as his multipronged role in setting the global stage for the Normandy offensive are heightened though Churchill’s controversial tendency to threaten military options with hasty rewrites is just referenced. We are to see Churchill in rudimentary emotional terms, as he faces aging and implicitly embraces his place as a radio personality. In the opening scene, we see Churchill strolling along a beach, seeing blood and corpses.

 

There are clever touches that show Churchill refining turns of phrase that will later turn up in his speeches, and there’s a boldly theatrical moment—when Churchill prays at the foot of his bed for weather that will halt D-Day and this allows Cox to emote. Cox’s voice is ideal for Churchill but the film reduces intricate global negotiations to a battle of personalities.

The film “Churchill” is something of a tedious look at a fascinating subject. The film imagines Churchill as a man wracked with misgivings and opposing the Allied Forces’ D-Day invasion until the very last minute and for me not only did it not really say anything new, it didn’t say anything at all.

Churchill was indeed concerned about the amount of casualties an invasion of France might incur and had a vivid memory of the wholesale slaughter that the First World War visited on Europe. But “Churchill” wants us to believe that he was mentally trapped in the events of the past and thus virtually incapacitated as Britain’s leader. After Churchill’s visit to the bloody beach, he is awakened from a drunken sleep by an aide and taken to a meeting with Allied Forces Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower, Britain’s General Montgomery and King George VI (James Purefoy). Just a few days before the D-Day invasion is to be launched, Churchill makes his fervent opposition to the plan known and thereby dumfounds the others, throwing the high command of this enormous military operation into confusion. This is absurd thinking. The idea that the D-Day invasion could have gotten off the ground—much less succeeded—with. this kind of last-minute arguing has no place in a serious film.

From there forward, “Churchill” is mostly a monotonous succession of scenes in which Churchill raves, waves his arms and shouts at anyone in his vicinity that D-Day mustn’t go forward. He has other ideas for an invasion and eventually Montgomery gets fed up and calls him out for his “doubts, dithering and … treachery.” However, none of this was true.

Brian Cox is a fine actor and a fine bellower. The best thing about the film is Miranda Richardson as Churchill’s wife Clemmie. She brings a calm dignity to the part. How one movie has managed to get everything wrong is no claim to fame. Error after historical error appears on the screen.

In terms of narrative and nuance, “Churchill” has a limited scope. Director Jonathan Teplitzky and screenwriter Alex von Tunzelmann follow the English prime minister (Brian Cox) over the course of several days leading up to the D-Day invasion. The film spends time dressing down its subject — Churchill argues with everyone in his immediate circle, yet somehow “Churchill” celebrates him anyway. This incongruity is frustrating, and Teplitzky deepens it with one predictable choice after another.

Cox plays the character as an aging, stubborn blowhard who can’t understand why anyone might not take him seriously. However, the perspective of “Churchill” is decidedly male-centric. Cox’s Churchill is so arrogant and contemptuous of modern military strategy that there is actually entertaining to see Eisenhower take him down a peg.

Teplitzky films Cox with seemingly endless, fawning slow-motion shots and we see that Churchill is capable of listening to reason, but only as it is in sync with his own point of view (or comes from the king, the only person to whom he’s deferential).

poise and leadership that Britain needs. We see “Churchill” as a movie about a man who is fondly remembered by default, and because he was propped up by people stronger than he was. Read a book instead.

“MOSCOW NEVER THINKS”— Interlocking Lives

“Moscow Never Sleeps”

Interlocking Lives

Amos Lassen

Director and screenwriter Johnny O’Reilly in “Moscow Never Sleeps” presents us with quite a look at the Russian capital. There is no one character that stands out as a focal point in this look at modern-day Muscovites from all different levels in society and we see that everyone has a story to tell.

We meet an elderly woman who is moved into a nursing home and we sense the pathos and guilt of this, Her alcoholic son lives in a high-rise with his wife with whom things are not going well. His wife is mother to a shy teenage daughter from another partner and she does not get along with her step-sister, who takes her out on the town to party. The step-sisters fight non-stop in their parents’ apartment and end up in a sordid situation. Then there is a businessman, a property developer, who lost a big job to his partners because of their sharp maneuvering. He and his wife have parted ways and his young girlfriend is trying to break into a career as a singer (she knows that he has the clout to get her a prestigious gig). He is trying to decide whether he should stay or leave the city for good. At the same time, her ex-lover is trying to get back with her. Our fifth character is a popular and alcoholic TV actor who is kidnapped at gunpoint by a bunch of young thugs. There are two women in his life, (his wife, Natasha, and Marina his girl-friend. They are both worried about his ill health). 

The story is set on Moscow City Day during twenty-four hours. It is a thriller that not only follows the lives of several different citizens of Moscow, it is also a look at the city of Moscow, the sixth character in the film. We see some wonderful views of Moscow with its busy streets and fantastic architecture. As the movie moves forward, each character is slowly developed against a beautiful music score.

With what is going on in the world today, this is a very timely and relevant film. There has always been curiosity about Russia (since we have never really been allowed to know much about it) and Putin has maintained that degree of secrecy since he rose to power. Director O’Reilly allows us to see what we have not had much of a chance to witness— Russian humanity and a vibrant culture taking place under a government that we see as corrupt with policies that tend to corrupt the human spirit. Despite this, our characters live life to the best of their abilities.

I have tried to give just minimum facts about the characters because it is important that the viewer piece together their stories and how they are related to each other. We see the Moscow of today through the eyes of the five characters against the backdrop of the celebration of the city. In seeing the stories, we become privy to both the beauty and cruelty of Moscow and the spirit of our characters who live there. We watch as their lives are changed forever and as our opinions of Moscow change with them. Moscow is a city of five million residents and to those of us living in the West, it has often been described as cold and dreary. That changes only a little here; even the slight comedic parts of the film do not give us a “warm” look at the city. I visited Moscow in the 70s and I was indeed taken aback by the coldness of both the city and its inhabitants. As much as I enjoyed watching the lives of our characters, the city remains austere and has only moved from being cold to being chilly. I suspect that might change as we get more character-driven movies about Muscovites. I wish that had happened in this film but at least the door has opened a bit. O’Reilly should be very proud of what he has done with this film and especially that he has started a process that others can feel free to follow.

“SUMMER OF FEAR”— Everything Changed

“Summer of Fear”

Everything Changed

Amos Lassen

Rachel Bryant (Linda Blair) is a typical, everyday upper-class teenager. She rides horses; she has a crush on a boy and has an annoying younger brother. And then, predictably, everything changed. Her aunt and uncle, along with their housekeeper, die in a car crash near their home in the Ozarks. Rachel’s parents fly out for the funeral, and bring back Julia (Lee Purcell), Rachel’s newly orphaned cousin. As could be predicted, Julia is not what she seems; yet the household appears to be happy with the new addition. Julia slowly and methodically starts to replace Rachel, stealing one part of her life at a time.

“Summer of Fear” is actually a fairly faithful adaptation of Lois Duncan’s novel of the same name. While, in most cases, this faithfulness would be considered a positive attribute, Duncan’s novel was written for young adults. With the addition of sexuality, the intended audience of the film is a bit older than teenage girls reading Duncan’s novel. Much of the “intrigue” is familiar and cliché to an older audience, unfortunately. Also, most of the dialogue in the film is pulled verbatim from the book and the drama of pre-adolescent girls is not always interesting and/or clever. Words and dialogue in a book often read better in text than spoken out loud. The supernatural is front and center so rather than being suspenseful and terrifying, the supernatural comes across as silly.

Blair’s single-minded portrayal of Rachel is heroine that we don’t really care about because, every time she appears on film, she is annoying. Every word she utters is grating. Since we cannot root for the protagonist, we would hope that perhaps we could root for the villain but that does not happen.

Lee Purcell seems to be taking her cues from Blair and rather than acting with subtlety and trying to bring an air of mystique and intrigue to the character of Julia, Purcell is simply a stereotype. Everything Julia does is evil.

We have come to expect a lot from Wes Craven. He has a name as a master of thrills and suspense and is regarded as an ingenious director that can take a somewhat dubious film and, at the very least, leave you feeling like perhaps you saw a really good movie. Here, however, Craven’s direction is unoriginal and uninspired.

Basically, this is a film about an evil witch who brings on destruction for some inadequately explored reason. Only Rachel sees that Julia is less than nice, everyone else is completely on Julia’s side. It seems that Julia exists purely to cause as much harm as possible and she uses old-school ritual sympathetic magic for her purposes. Rachel is not affected by Julia’s spell of innocence and/or seduction. We never understand why Julie who was capable of surviving a fiery car crash, acts as she does. The real horror of this film is the idea of two different girls getting along.

The horror events are mostly flashbacks to car accidents and the euthanasia of a horse. Julia’s her motivation or ultimate goal is never shared and she is no more than a cardboard villain.

“INJECTING ALUMINUM”— Neurotoxicity

“Injecting Aluminum”

Neurotoxicity

Amos Lassen

Leading researchers and scientists have recognized as aluminum as a neurotoxic ingredient yet in America, via vaccinations, babies receive up to 4,925 micrograms (mcg) of aluminum within their first 18 months, and an additional 170 to 625 mcg by the age of 6. Aluminum has been used as a vaccine adjuvant since the 1920’s but has only been tested one time, on two rabbits and their remains have since disappeared.

“Injecting Aluminum” is a new documentary by French journalist Marie-Ange Poyet, and in it she investigates the history of aluminum in vaccines and its potentially devastating effects on the human body.

In the early 90s in France, a mysterious muscular disease with symptoms that included severe muscle and joint pain began to surface among patients in France. Doctors in Paris then discovered that these patients had developed a new disease called Macrophagic Myofascitis, or MMF and they show that the disease occurs when the aluminum hydroxide adjuvant from a vaccine is embedded in the muscle tissue. Pharmaceutical companies don’t tell us that the aluminum adjuvant was never rigorously tested before going on the market and that there are alternative, much less toxic, adjuvants available.

In the film, we see interviews with patients, doctors, scientists, and influential politicians and we learn of aluminum’s devastating effects on the human body. The documentary challenges public health policies around aluminum in vaccines. What we see very clearly here is the failure of health agencies to respond to the known neurotoxic effects of aluminum on the human body.

“SPOTLIGHT ON A MURDERER”— A Playful Mystery

“SPOTLIGHT ON A MURDERER”

A Playful Mystery

Amos Lassen

When the terminally ill Count Hervé de Kerloquen (Pierre Brasseur) vanishes without trace, his heirs are told that they have to wait five years before he can be declared legally dead, forcing them to devise ways of paying for the upkeep of the vast family château in the meantime. As they are transforming the into an elaborate son tourist attraction, they are beset by a series of tragic accidents, if that’s really what they are… 

When the Count realizes that he’s dying, he hides away in small room behind a one-way mirror so that he can watch his befuddled heirs after his death. His motive is not clear, but perhaps he holds a grudge against all of them, since they cannot inherit until his body is found.

   There are several heirs at first but their number gradually begin to die in mysterious ways, perhaps of accidents or natural causes, but more likely not. Strangely enough, the police do not seem to be suspicious, as there is no investigation to speak of.

The heirs plan is to produce a spectacular “Son et Lumière” show based on an old legend of a husband and lord of the estate hundreds of years before whose wife cheated on him.

   The story line itself, as described above, is fragmented and difficult to follow and it seems that none of the players have any personality. They are only players in a game.

The setting, the black and white photography, the atmosphere are indeed spooky. We have an old castle filled with large and well-appointed rooms, staircases spiraling upward in the gloom, a sound and light show without parallel and a suicidal fall from the highest tower at just the right moment.

Director Georges Franju gives us a dark lyrical thriller with a brilliant series of strange images. For the tourist attraction that they create, the heirs use sound effects piped from discrete loudspeakers and vast arc lights to tell the history of the castle and its cursed legends. During the show, several of the cousins meet with fatal accidents. One of the cousins, (Jean-Louis Trintignant), senses that something strange is going on and thinks that perhaps a rival is eliminating the competition but no one else believes him.

The atmosphere is haunting, the humor is absurd, and the strangeness of the story is surreal. The film is hard to shake off and stays with you after it is over.

The narrative of the missing cadaver and the tale of the unknown assassin come together and what we see is a fascinating movie that is more than just its plot. It is a story told via sound effects and moving lights that mirrors the film’s mise-en-scène in fascinating ways.

SPECIAL FEATURES include:

– High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations of the feature, restored by Gaumont

– Uncompressed French Mono 1.0 PCM Audio

– Optional English subtitles

– Vintage production featurette from 1960, shot on location and including interviews with Georges Franju and actors Pascale Audret, Pierre Brasseur, Marianne Koch, Dany Saval and Jean-Louis Trintignant

– Original theatrical trailer

– Reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork by Peter Strain

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Booklet featuring new writing on the film by Chris Fujiwara