directed by John Hillcoat
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
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
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.
Theatrical Release: April 3rd, 1997
More Reviews DVD
Review: Tartan - Region 0 - PAL
Big thanks to
Henrik Sylow for the Review!
DVD Box Cover
CLICK to order from:
Region 0 - PAL
1:35:38 (4% PAL speedup)
1.82:1 Original Aspect Ratio
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.
2.0 Dolby Digital English
No Subtitles (burned-in for brief
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.82:1
• Original Trailer (2:08)
DVD Release Date: April 23,
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.