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directed by Barbet Schroeder
West Germany/France/Luxembourg 1969

 

...this dark tale, based on a true story, follows the naive Stefan (Klaus Grunberg) in his pursuit of offbeat American Estelle (Mimsy Farmer) to the island paradise of Ibiza. He leads a seemingly idyllic life with her by the sea - where the scenic beauties and delights of LSD and nude sunbathing are fully revealed by Nestor Almendros' stunning photography - before succumbing to the destructive trappings of heroin addiction.

Schroeder was conscious that in the climate of the time some might see the film as moralizing against drugs but he was adamant that this was not his aim. In a 1969 interview*, he described More as 'the story of someone who sets out on a quest for the Sun and who is not sufficiently armed to carry it through successfully... I did not want to deal with the drug problem; I used drugs in relationship to the characters. Drugs only interfere as an element in a destruction, only as a motor in a sado-masochistic relationship between a boy and a girl... If my film is against anything, it is against attachments, illusions, selfishness, egotism, alienation... I have no compassion for my hero. Someone who destroys himself is very unattractive to me.'

Excerpt of review from BFI located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: October 21st, 1969 (France)

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DVD Review: BFI - Region 2 - PAL

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Distribution

BFI

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 1:50:12
Video

1.66:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.1 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 (Dolby Digital 1.0)
Subtitles English (Burnt In), None
Features Release Information:
Studio: BFI

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen letterboxed - 1.66:1

Edition Details:
• Original trailer
• Film poster
• Biography of Barbet Schroeder
• Interview with Barbet Schroeder (on-screen text and ROM content)

DVD Release Date: July 3rd, 2003
Keep Case

Chapters 12

 

Comments

Originally released by the BFI in 2003, Barbet Schroeder's "More" remains today one of the most iconic films from the late '60s. Telling the story of Stefan, a German hitchhiking his way through the continent, and Estelle, a carefree but troubled spirit, the film follows the two as they drop out of their lives, move to the isle of Ibiza and spend most of their time frolicking nude and partaking in recreational drug use. However, their time together takes a turn for the worse when Estelle takes up her old heroin habit and introduces Stefan to the drug as well. Despite their best effort to clean up, a local doctor sinisterly feeds their addiction and the two soon find their island paradise to be anything but. This was my first time viewing the film, and I have to say that it was quite interesting. Although I'm not sure that its the masterpiece that some make it out to be, it was nevertheless a very good movie that featured wonderful cinematography, great performances buy its two leads, and an evocation of the general zeitgeist that few other films about the counterculture of the time can match.

There are some unfortunate issues with the image, but I'm willing to bet that most of the problem lies with the original print. As you can see in the screencaps, the image tends to be slightly murky with a rather soft level of clarity. However, I've seen speculation online that the film was originally shot on 16 mm film stock (imdb lists it as 32 mm, but they aren't the most reliable source for technical information). If this is so, then it would explain some of the image's weakness. However, the story is not all bad news. Unlike the region 1 disc (which I haven't seen), the film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.66:1. While the transfer is non-anamorphic, the widescreen formatting sufficiently preserves the director's vision. I should also note the the lighting differs greatly from scene to scene. With the desire to use only natural lighting, the indoor sequences simply aren't as well illuminated as those that take place outdoors in full sunlight. Consequently, some of the scenes are a bit darker than others.

With this release, the BFI chose to use Dolby Digital 1.0 for their audio track. The sound on the disc is good, but not great. Even with a bump up to 2.0 (never mind 5.1), Pink Floyd's soundtrack would have likely come across as truly gorgeous. As it stands, the mono track is acceptable, but lacking the extra mile that fans of the music would appreciate. The good news is that there doesn't seem to be any unwanted background interference (hisses, cracks, pops, etc.) to interfere with fan's enjoying the music. The choice to use burnt in subtitles also strikes me as an odd one, as I've never seen that on a BFI disc before. Were they found in the print that the BFI used for their master? I'm really not sure, but as you can see the non-English dialogue (in this case French and German) is subtitled with bulky and boxed in lettering that can obscure the main image on the screen.

The extras on this disc are fairly light. Aside from a theatrical trailer, there a few features. First, we get about a 20 second look at an original poster with that image being all that is on screen during that time. Second, there's a short biography of Schroeder as well as a print interview with him on the making of the film that is genuinely illuminating. Finally, instead of the booklet that we usually get with the BFI's releases, there's an excerpt from an original review of the film as well as long quote from Schroeder on the film, and a one page insert featuring the poster and chapter information.

While I can't speak for the quality of releases elsewhere in the world, I must admit that this one doesn't stack up well against some of the BFI's best efforts. It is a good film that deserves to be seen and for that reason I'll recommend this release, but I can only imagine what it would look and sound like if it were given a full restoration. Perhaps that's not in the cards, but in the meantime this is a satisfying alternative.

Note: I've just received word from the BFI that a few second of dialogue concerning drug use were excised from this released by the BBFC.

 - Brian Montgomery

 



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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

BFI

Region 2 - PAL


 




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