(aka 'The Freethinker')
A unique nonlinear biopic on
August Strindberg (1849-1912); it tells in great detail about the life and work
of the idealistic Swedish playwright (one of the fathers of modern theater),
novelist, and painter. It covers his messy personal life and his revolutionary
works of art that challenged the conventions of the time. It was produced and
directed by Peter Watkins ("The War Game"/"Edvard Munch"/"Punishment Park") over
a two-year period with the aid of 24 high school students from Sweden's Norden
Folk High School.
Theatrical Release: September 3rd, 1994
DVD Review: New Yorker (2-disc) - Region 0 - NTSC
|DVD Box Cover||
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|Distribution||New Yorker Video - Region 0 - NTSC|
|Runtime||2:14:24 (Disc 1) + 2:19:45 (Disc 2)|
Average Bitrate: 6.83 + 6.65 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||Swedish (Dolby Digital 2.0)|
|Subtitles||English, French, None|
Available digital listing
Unfortunately this is not at the same standards as the rest of the stellar Project X DVDs we have reviewed from producer Oliver Groom (ex. Sult, The War Game/ Culloden etc.). Although I have strong suspicions the source material is far more to blame than the transfer, regardless this image is fraught with heavy aliasing which reflects quite poorly on the presentation of the film. 'You can't make a silk purse from a sow' ear' may be the appropriate epitaph of this particular progressive 2-disc dual-layered DVD package. Watkins' films would probably be less affronted than most by a weak transfer as his cerebral and observational brand of cinema relies more on its challenging obtuse conventions than striking, retina-exploding, visuals. I feel that the, very clean, image (with occasional artifacts) released by New Yorker may be the best this particular film will look on digital as it is such a clandestine effort. We should be quite pleased it is available at all outside the Swedish school system (where it was once included as part of the curriculum). The audio was much stronger than the image quality and is supported by optional English or French subtitles.
There are no extras aside from a 16-page liner notes booklet with words by Watkins and a few photos. The film is divided into 24 chapters (12 on each disc) which compromise about 2 1/4 hours each disc. So you have over 5 1/2 hours of film but surprisingly it didn't grate on me - and once I got into the groove - I began to see it as a realistic biopic interpretation of a complex and enigmatic man. I'd take the easy route and see this would suit Watkins fans, but I honestly feel many others may get something out of it as well. At least this review will prepare you for its length and conservative pacing. Give it a try if you are keen.