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directed by Sally Potter
UK 1983


The ground-breaking first feature from the director of Orlando and The Tango Lesson, The Gold Diggers is a key film of early Eighties feminist cinema. Made with an all-woman crew, featuring stunning photography by Babette Magolte and a score by Lindsay Cooper it embraces a radical and experimental narrative structure.

Celeste (Colette Laffont) is a computer clerk in a bank who becomes fascinated by the relationship between gold and power. Ruby (Julie Christie) is an enigmatic film star in quest of her childhood, her memories and the truth about her own identity. As their paths cross they come to sense that there could be a link between the male struggle for economic supremacy and the female ideal of mysterious but impotent beauty.

Excerpt of review from BFI located HERE

Theatrical Release: February 12th, 1988 (USA)

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DVD Review: BFI - Region 2 - PAL

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Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 1:25:32

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.77 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.


Audio English (LCPM 2.0)
Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: BFI

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Sally Potter Short Film: Thriller (31:48)
• Sally Potter Short Film: The London Story (15:36)
• Sally Potter Short Film: Jerk (1:57)
• Sally Potter Short Film: Play (5:07)
• Sally Potter Short Film: hors d'oeuvres (9:58)
• Downloadable PDF files: letters by Sally Potter and Julie Christie; extracts from the original scrip

DVD Release Date: December 28th, 2009
Keep Case

Chapters 7



Sally Potter’s debut feature, “The Gold Diggers”, has inspired some of the most divergent reactions of all the films that I’ve come across. Upon its initial release it was so violently assaulted by critics that Potter herself withdrew it from theaters. Recently a number of critics have reappraised the film and some, like Jonathon Rosenbaum (who provides an essay in the release’s booklet) have hailed it as a masterpiece of early 1980’s feminist cinema. Unfortunately, my own assessment of the film leans more toward the original consensus as I found it to be too disjointed and at times utterly incomprehensible. However, while I wasn’t a fan of the film itself, I do have the utmost respect for Potter and the risks that she took with the film. For the last few decades she’s consistently been one of the world’s most fearless avant-garde filmmakers, taking risks and conducting experiments that few others would have dared.

No matter how you feel about the quality of the film itself, anyway you look at it, the BFI has put together a very impressive package here. The image here looks wonderful. Shot in lovely black and white, the film exhibits a wonderful palette with a rich amount of hues in between the two visual extremes. The image is generally clear and has undergone an extensive restoration, but was fortunately not adversely affected by DNR as there is still a competent and satisfying visible grain structure. There is some softness to the image here, but I’m sure that it more to do with the original production than the DVD production, and doesn’t really distract from the viewing. What’s more, the print is quite clean without any intrusive damage.

The sound is also quite impressive on this release. Continuing their recent trend, the audio on this BFI release is presented in LCPM 2.0, a choice that I’m very glad they’ve made. The score by Lindsay Cooper sounds especially unique and enchanting here. The subtitles are white and are typically unobtrusive.

The extras on the disc are also quite good, with the inclusion of five short films by Potter. While my personal favorite was “Play”, a short featuring a group of children shot from two different angles but presented simultaneously on screen, the main attraction here is undoubtedly the inclusion of “Thriller”, the long unavailable short that formed the basis for “The Gold Diggers”. Additionally, there’s an extensive booklet that, aside from the aforementioned essay by Rosenbaum, also contains a new interview with Potter as well as an essay that she wrote on “Thriller” in 1980, a Potter biography, an essay by film scholar Sophie Mayer, and finally an essay by Jacky Lansley on her roles in Potter’s films.

Again, while the film wasn’t really my cup of tea, there is no denying that this is another strong package from the BFI and I would unhesitatingly recommend it to anyone interested in Potter’s work.

 - Brian Montgomery


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