(aka "El Maquinista" )


directed by Brad Anderson
Spain 2004

Between two horrible bad screenplays, ”Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and ”Amityville Horror”, Scott Kosar managed to write a decent one, which became “The Machinist” and which looks like Roman Polanski and David Lynch blending with “Memento”, “Fight Club”, “Jacob’s Ladder”, “Angel Heart” and other influences. There really isn’t anything original about this story.

But one thing is what’s on paper, another thing is what it will be on film, especially when being directed by one of the most interesting new directors around, Brad Anderson. As most, I got introduced to him thru “Session 9”, one of the most impressive sleepers of the last decade. Both in that, and in “The Machinist”, Anderson displays a unique sense of building tension. Even though we might have guessed the clues, we are still caught up in this mise-en-scene. Deeply influenced by the great masters, especially Polanski’s early films, he, as a spider, creates a sticky net of images in which we are stuck. In a lesser directors hands, the story would have collapsed into clichés, but Anderson translates the script and makes it not only work, but makes us sit on the edge of the seats.

Another hugely important factor for the films substance is Christian Bale, who here gives the most disturbing performance of his career, reducing his weight by 63 pounds to about 110 pounds, pushing the limits of what acting is. Bale has a bad rep because of some of the films he accepted, like “Shaft” and “Batman Begins”, but make no mistake; He is one of the best actors today, an actor who even in commercial parts never stops thinking about what it is he plays.

The story deals with Trevor Reznick, who don’t eat and hasn’t slept for a year. When he doesn’t work as a machinist, he either compulsive cleans his home or drives around. One day a note hangs on the refrigerator door, displaying a hangman with two letters to it and at the same time Ivan begins to show up at work. Trevor thus begins a journey to find out what is going on.

As I said to begin with, there is nothing original about the story. Most viewers will have guessed what the hangman riddle is within five minutes, and one could say, that the story has lesser meat on it than Bale on his body. But Anderson has realised that ignores the weak plot. Thanks to the amazing portrait by Bale and some stunning cinematography by Xavi Giménez, Anderson creates a haunting visual maze, a surreal reflection of Reznick’s state of mind, where he never misses an opportunity to give us hits by referring to Kafka, Dostoyevsky, Polanski and Hitchcock. “The Machinist” is a seductive journey beyond the borders of sanity and reality.

Henrik Sylow


Theatrical Release: January 18, 2004

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DVD Review: Tartan - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Henrik Sylow for the Review!

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Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 1:37:43 (4% PAL speedup)

2.36:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.55 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio 2.0 Dolby Digital English, 5.1 Dolby Digital English, DTS English
Subtitles No Subtitles
Features Release Information:
Studio: Tartan

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.36:1

Edition Details:
• Audio commentary by Brad Anderson
• UK Exclusive interview with Brad Anderson (25:24 / 16x9)
• Making 'The Machinist' (25:20 / 4x3)
• 8 Deleted Scenes (10:36)
• - Trevor visits mysterious grave (2:32)
• - Alternate intersection crosscut with burning paper (1:29)
• - Pensive Trevor (1:03)
• - Stevie's mysterious 'John' (2:12)
• - Alternate chasing ending (0:43)
• - Trevor tries to skip town (0:43 / with optional commentary)
• - Trevor confronts mother at cemetary (1:44 / with optional commentary)
• - Alternate version of holding cell (1:00)
• Tartan Trailer Reel

DVD Release Date: August 1, 2005
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Chapters 16


Comments The BLU-RAY is now reviewed HERE.

The image is not perfect. The film is by itself grainy, but some scenes display pretty heave edge enhancements (0,5%) (look around his ears in image #6), there is macro blocking and color banding. Not really a surprise. The film itself only takes up 3.6GB of storage, while the sound uses 1.3GB and the extras 2.7GB; Said differently, this DVD is packed to the hilt, and should have been a 2-disc, as the film is compressed to DVD5 standard.

As DTS and tons of extra has become the excepted standard, the quality of the film will suffer and in some ways push the quality back to DVD5 non-anamorphic days.

All things equal, it does look pretty good. The color palette is bleak and muted, supporting the tone of the film so beautifully. It is just a shame, that the film is so compressed.


Standard for Tartan, the three choices of sound, the DTS is the one to go for. While the 5.1 Dolby Digital is great, the DTS is more detailed, has better separation and simply is better, especially for subtle sounds like thunder and rain in the distance coming from the rears.

The extras begin with an audio commentary by director Brad Anderson. A very strong commentary, where Anderson goes into detail with production problems, shooting, set design, influences, references, discusses the script versus film and its plot as well. DO NOT LISTEN TO IT BEFORE HAVING SEEN THE FILM, as Anderson openly talks about what the film is about.

Exclusive for this DVD, Tartan has made an interview with Anderson. Some questions do overlap with the commentary, but others are more specific like Anderson talking about how Polanski's mise-en-scene has influenced his own way of thinking about how to set up a composition. In contrast to the film and to understand what moves Anderson, this interview is a great addition to the film.

Following this are the basics, a 25-minute featurette (Making of) and 8 deleted scenes. The deleted scenes are quiet interesting, but again, do not watch them before having seen the film.

 - Henrik Sylow



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