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directed by Alexander Whitelaw
UK/Netherlands 1976

 

Gerontology scientist Benjamin Land (Hiram Keller, FELLINI SATYRICON) arrives in Amsterdam to work with Dr. Paul Linden (Eric Schneider) who is said to be doing revolutionary work on extending human lifespans (though Land notices that Linden seems to have aged prematurely). Invited to stay at the other man's apartment, he arrives to discover Linden has hanged himself. Looking into Linden's work, he discovers that lab mice that have lived twice their two-year lifespan, a mysterious flu epidemic that killed nine people at the rest home where Linden was testing hand-brain coordination, Linden's kinky mistress Anna (Tina Aumont, TORSO), and a skulking Swiss industrialist (played by a skulking Klaus Kinski) who seems to know Land's every move before he does. The directorial debut of American film executive Alexander Whitelaw, LIFESPAN is more mystery than science fiction along the lines of Polanski's THE TENANT (director Whitelaw recalls that Polanski liked his film but hated the acting and avers that it motivated Polanski to option Roland Topper's novel with which it shares the conspiracy to position a protagonist to fill a dead person's shoes by a combination of provocative intrigue, prodding, seduction, and even contrary warning). Although Eddy van der Enden's (DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS) cinematography and Terry Riley's "spiritual" score combine with the ageless Amsterdam locations to create a feeling of languor, Land's constant narration keeps the film moving during its 81 minute running time. More distracting than the expected and accepted post-dubbing of Dutch supporting characters is the dubbing of American actor Hiram Keller (the recording quality of which sometimes blurs the distinction between his spoken voice and his narration) who isn't quite up to the director's conception of a Narcissus obsessed with freezing the biological clock and comes across more passively than his manipulated character. Aumont is given little to do although she features in a memorable double-helix bondage sequence and Kinski mainly skulks around and does not engage with or speak until the half-way mark. Regardless, LIFESPAN is a most unusual if compromised thriller that is worth seeking out.

Eric Cotenas

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Theatrical Release: 1 October 1976 (Netherlands)

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DVD Review: Mondo Macabro - Region 0 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Distribution

Mondo Macabro

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:21:18
Video

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.36 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.

Bitrate

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono)
Subtitles none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Mondo Macabro

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Audio commentary by director Alexander Whitelaw
• Interview with Alexander Whitelaw (16:9; 19:48)
• Theatrical Trailer (16:9; 2:40)
• Black and White Still Gallery
• Color Still Gallery
• Terry Riley Soundtrack Recording Session Gallery
• About the Film Text Screen Essay
• Mondo Macabro Preview Reel (16:9; 5:20)

DVD Release Date: May 30, 2006
Amaray

Chapters 20

 

Comments

Mondo Macabro's DVD transfer is anamorphic and progressive. The film takes up 4.38 GB of the total 5.82 but the relative softness of some exteriors is intentional while the grain of night exteriors and night interiors are part of the original cinematography. Colors look accurate in that muted 70's aesthetic (though it has some nice saturated reds) and the mostly post-dubbed mono soundtrack is always clear.

Mondo Macabro's Pete Tombs moderates a commentary with director Alexander (Sandy) Whitelaw (whose voice sounds a little like Roman Polanski's) describes the film as a materialistic subject approached with a spiritual style (the score and cinematography) and oddly points out the importance of shoes in driving narrative. Tombs points out the sense of dislocation that the dubbing adds to the film. Whitelaw also appears in a video interview. The theatrical trailer, separate color, black and white, and scoring session galleries, Mondo Macabro's always infomative "About the Film" essay, and their promo reel round out the extras.

 - Eric Cotenas

 



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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

Distribution

Mondo Macabro

Region 0 - NTSC

 

 




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