(aka 'Anatomy of Hell")


directed by Catherine Breillat
France 2004


A film like this carries a strange set of attractions. Some will undoubtedly want to see it for its hard core scenes, while others might be hoping for something a little more engaging. I find it strange that anyone would bother to see this film based solely on its exhibition of graphic nudity and sex. While much is made of this element of the film, mostly by its own marketing, it really doesn't amount to much. If someone wanted to see graphic sex scenes then why not watch an actual porno? At least you know what to expect and are therefore less likely to be disappointed.
The film tries so hard to make something out concepts that I feel society cannot identify with or relate to. The dialog between the two actors is both inept and incredibly pretentious. To simplify things, the film tries to make the point that all men hate women based on their physical female existence. The film fails to make this point on many occasions. The characters do and say things that would repulse men and women alike, which to me don’t help us to identify or understand either person. By the end of the film the only thing I knew for sure was that I hated these characters. That's not to say that the film as a whole doesn't have merit. It just doesn't flesh out its premise enough to keep us from sticking around only for the next gross-out or turn-on. out of   

Mark Balson

With a deep pulsating techno rhythm, Anatomie de l’enfer (Anatomy of Hell, 2004), Catherine Breillat’s latest film, opens with close-up of a young man slowly sucking a cock among trashcans in a back alley. Unimaginable a few years ago, films like Breillat’s own Romance X, Virginie Despentes’s Baise-moi (Fuck Me, 2000), and Gaspar NoŽ’s Irrťversible (2003) no longer merely “suggest” sexuality. Even American cinema has caught onto the trend, as Vincent Gallo’s The Brown Bunny (2003) shows. But whereas NoŽ and Gallo only provoke for the sake of titillation, whereas Baise-moi is little less than bad porn, Breillat treats sexuality with the same respect that she does any other human trait. For her, human sexuality is as normal as the next thing, so why not depict it?


Based on her own novel, Pornocratie, Breillat made this, her tenth film—le film X—her most ambitious presentation of human sexuality to date, or should I say presentation of the “deconstruction of psychosexuality?” Breillat never depicts sexuality in an arousing pornographic sense, but in an almost Lacanian way. To Breillat, the images and the words are important, so important in fact that she ended her introduction of the world premiere with the following advice—or was it a request?: “You are about to see images which will shock you, offend you, and even repulse you. Please don’t laugh or boo. Please just observe the film in silence.” out of

Excerpt from Henrik Sylow's article found HERE


Theatrical Release: January 23, 2004

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DVD Review: Tartan/TLA - Region 1 - NTSC

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Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:16:33

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.69 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

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


Audio French (Dolby Digital 5.1)(Dolby Digital 2.0)(DTS 5.1)
Subtitles English, none


Release Information:
Studio: Tartan/TLA

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• Interview with Director Catherine Breillat (65 mins)
• Theatrical Trailer
• Photo Gallery
• Tartan Trailers:
•  Suspicious River
•  Phone
•  A Tale of Two Sisters
•  Old Boy
•  Doppelganger
•  A Snake of June

DVD Release Date: January 25, 2005
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Quality of the film aside, this is a very nice presentation. The anamorphic image shows excellent contrast and shadow depth. Colors look appropriately muted save for a few scenes where bright bold colors are needed. Tartan seems to have done a proper NTSC transfer as I could not detect any ghosting from PAL>NTSC conversion. Sharpness and detail remain constant except for a couple long shots that look a little soft. All three audio options sound good, but was a DTS track really necessary considering most of the film is just quiet talking? The 65 min interview with Catherine Breillat is sometimes as cryptic as the dialog in the film, which makes it tough to get through its entire running time. There are portions however where she takes time to talk about the filming. This is a worthwhile extra that helps to penetrate the abstract concepts of the film, if only a little bit. For fans of the film this DVD is recommended. For those that are curious it is a recommended rental based on the DVD's technical merits. out of     

 - Mark Balson



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