directed by John Hillcoat
Australia 1996

 

Six years went by, before director John Hillcoat followed up on “Ghosts… of the Civil Dead”, but even without the anticipation, “To Have and To Hold” was a disappointment.

Two years after the death of his wife, Jack (Tchéky Karyo) meets the writer Kate (Rachel Griffiths), in Melbourne, Australia. They fall in love, and move back to his village on Papua New Guinea, where Jack runs a video cinema. At first, life is tropical bliss, but soon Jack begins to demand things of Kate, and she discovers and realises, that Jack wants her to become Rose, his late wife, and begins to fear for her life.

The theme of “colonial insanity” was common for 19th century literature, contrasting how “darkness” (the dark side of human nature) would substitute civilized behavior, once the protagonist was away from civilization. Hillcoat very intelligently applies this theme to the story, letting Jack sink into a pattern of behavior, which at first looks relatively innocent, but later is revealed as obsessed and insane. It is not, that it is the heat or the absence of civilization that drives Jack insane, as it is, that he is insane to begin with, and away from society is free to act.

In “To Have and To Hold”, there is no law and order. When talking to Jack if he has seen a local criminal, the local police basically ignores Kate, even when she directly informs him of that Jack is keeping her as prisoner against her will, and doesn’t react upon Jack beating her. While this may be a narrative device to isolate the actions of Jack from “society”, it – on one hand – creates an image of white supremacy in “the colonies” and – on the other hand – distorts our faith in the story.

While the thematic structure of “To Have and To Hold” works, the story sadly doesn’t. Borrowing from Hitchcock’s “Vertigo”, Hillcoat shows Jack as a man obsesses with his late wife, so traumatized by her death, that he wants to turn any woman, here Kate, into Rose. The story does not invest enough time neither in depth of character nor in making a connection between character and viewer. The story seems more like an exercise in theme and being told for its own sake. The end result is, that the viewer is estranged by the story and some of its characters, and “To Have and To Hold” becomes a movie, far more interesting in discussion than to watch.

Henrik Sylow

Theatrical Release: April 3rd, 1997 (Australia)

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DVD Review: Tartan - Region 0 - PAL

Big thanks to Henrik Sylow for the Review!

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Distribution

Tartan

Region 0 - PAL

Runtime 1:35:38 (4% PAL speedup)
Video

1.82:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.75 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.

Bitrate

Audio 2.0 Dolby Digital English
Subtitles No Subtitles (burned-in for brief non-English)
Features Release Information:
Studio: Tartan

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.82:1

Edition Details:
• Original Trailer (2:08)

DVD Release Date: April 23, 2007
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Chapters 16

 

 

Comments The transfer is only adequate. Macro blocking is present, and it lacks sharpness and detail.

Sound is only 2.0 Dolby Digital, and there are no subtitles or extras beyond a trailer.

 - Henrik Sylow

 

 



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DVD Box Cover

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Distribution

Tartan

Region 0 - PAL




 

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