(aka "Ruta 29" )

 

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/roeg.htm
UK 1987

 

A film directed by Nicolas Roeg from a screenplay by Dennis Potter was always going to be an interesting cinematic event, and although Track 29 is one of Roeg's lesser known works, it is replete with all the stylistic flourishes and thematic concerns from the great auteur. I am not sure how well Potter is known outside the UK, as he is chiefly known for his plays made for UK television from 1965 until his death in 1994, but his works such as The Singing Detective, 1986, and Pennies from Heaven, 1978, were seminally important works of great depth and complexity, easily amongst the finest works ever commissioned by the BBC. It is claimed that Potter has been an influence on such writers and directors as Charlie Kaufman and Alain Resnais, and, interestingly, it was Potter's play The Singing Detective that brought Michael Gambon to fame - the actor who would later play the lead in Roeg's film Two Deaths, 1995. Track 29 was produced by George Harrison's company Handmade Films, so resides alongside such great works as The Life of Brian, 1979, Time Bandits, 1981, and Withnail and I, 1987. Track 29 is a work just as intriguing and complex as any Roeg film, with fine performances from Theresa Russell, Gary Oldman and Christopher Lloyd. Russell gives a emotionally charged performance as Linda Henry, creating a sense of frustration, anger and vulnerability in the character that brings to mind her stunning portrayal of Milena in Roeg's Bad Timing, 1980. Gary Oldman is, as ever, superb, and imbues the role of Martin with just the right amount of mania and menace, and Christopher Lloyd brings much of Back to the Future's Dr. Emmett Brown to his role of Dr. Henry Henry - although unlike Dr. Henry, Dr. Brown never had a penchant for being spanked by Sandra Bernhardt! The plot of the film revolves around Linda's mental breakdown - her shadow (for Jungians) or unconscious (for Fredians) being incarnated in the form of Martin, who arrives to (perhaps?) save her from her loveless marriage to Henry. Unlike Shane Meadows' excellent Dead Man's Shoes, 2004, (where the shocking realisation that Anthony is alive only in Richard's imagination is left to the closing stages of the film) Roeg lets us know pretty much from the outset that Martin is a creation of Linda's mind. For example, at the start of the film Martin suddenly appears from nothing into the frame, and later he fades into existence while Linda is looking out of the window: this provides much suspense though, as we now have no idea what Linda is capable of. As with most of Roeg's films, it is difficult to say exactly what happens in the film: it is clear that Linda escapes from her marriage, but whether this is through her death or through the death of Henry it is difficult to say. We might read the fact that Martin arrives at the Henry's house at the time that Linda is trying to commit suicide by drowning as suggestive of the idea that the rest of the film is a portrait of her mind trying to unify itself at the moment of death, and that the last scene of Linda exiting the house wearing white and looking happy and 'purified', while a body lies bleeding in an upstair floor, as suggesting that she has entered the afterlife. Or, perhaps it is Henry that lies bleeding upstairs, his shouts being mere echoes in Linda's mind. Or perhaps, and this may be the most likely reading, it is Martin that lies (metaphorically) bleeding upstairs, as Linda has overcome her emotional trauma, and so she truly does escape both from her marriage and from her psychological fetters.

Rob Farmer

Posters

Theatrical Release: 5th August 1988

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DVD Review: Anchor Bay - Region 2 - PAL

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Distribution

Anchor Bay

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 1:26:33 (4% PAL speedup)
Video

1:1.33 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.48 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 English, Stereo 2.0, Optional 5.1
Subtitles None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Anchor Bay

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1:1.33

Edition Details:
• Audio Options (2.0 or 5.1)
• No Extras
• No Subtitles
• No Chapter Selection Menu

DVD Release Date: March 26th, 2007
Keep Case

Chapters 12

 

Comments

The most intriguing problem with this film is trying to ascertain its proper aspect ratio. Both current DVD editions present the film in a 1:1.33 (4:3) format, but I find it very difficult to believe that this is correct, given that it was not produced (as far as I am aware) as a TV movie. I have strong suspicions that the master copy used to create this DVD is the exact same master copy used to produce the 1987 Cannon Video VHS editions, as the picture has a clear video-like quality to it (I wouldn't be surprised if the master used to make this DVD was a twenty year old Beta SP tape).

 

Ultimately this is a cheap DVD edition and no expense has been spent on its production. This is certainly a film that deserved better, and this dreadful edition does not do it justice. I may be wrong - perhaps this film looks just the way that Roeg intended, but I'd be amazed if it does.

 - Rob Farmer

 



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DVD Box Cover

 

 

 

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Anchor Bay

Region 2 - PAL

 




 

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