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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r


H D - S E N S E I

A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Obsession [Blu-ray]


(Brian De Palma, 1976)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Columbia Pictures Corporation

Video: Arrow Film (UK) / Shout! Factory



Region: FREE! Re-issue 'B' / 'A' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:38:08.924 / 1:38:11.468

Disc Size: 46,555,449,802 bytes / 44,986,804,846 bytes

Feature Size: 31,809,884,160 bytes / 32,142,237,696 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.94 Mbps / 36.00 Mbps

Chapters: 16 / 12

Case: 4 panel reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork with two sided fold out poster / Standard Blu-ray case inside cardboard slipcase

Release date: July 11th, 2011 / Re-issue November 25th, 2013 / January 15th, 2019


Video (both):

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 3781 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3781 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit


DTS-HD Master Audio English 3173 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3173 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1838 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1838 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps


Subtitles (both):

English, none


Obsession Revisited: Interviews with director Brian De Palma, stars Cliff Robertson and Genevieve Bujold and more! (37:31 in 1080P)
Early Brian De Palma short films: Woton s Wake (1962 - 27:59 in 1080P) and The Responsive Eye (1966 - 26:42 in 1080P)
Original Trailer (1:35 in 1080P)

Exclusive collector s booklet featuring an essay on the film by critic and author Brad Stevens

Paul Schrader's original screenplay of the film in a perfect bound booklet. With the original title Déjà vu, Schrader s original script includes un-filmed sequences and sees the tripartite structure deal with the past, present and future of Michael Courtland

DVD included


NEW Audio Commentary With Author Douglas Keesey (Brian De Palma’s Split-Screen: A Life In Film)
• NEW Producing Obsession – An Interview With Producer George Litto (26:19)
• NEW Editing Obsession – An Interview With Editor Paul Hirsch (20:30)
Obsession Revised – Vintage Featurette Featuring Interviews With Director Brian De Palma, Cliff Robertson, And Geneviève Bujold (37:31)
• Theatrical Trailer (1:36)
• Radio Spots (0:59)
• Still Gallery (6:17)



1) Arrow - Region 'B'  - Blu-ray TOP

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM



Obsession. Def: A Compulsive, often unreasonable idea or emotion.

High melodrama, creeping insanity and barely contained delirium abound in this dizzying tribute to the high tension thrillers of Alfred Hitchcock from director Brian De Palma (Carrie, Scarface, Dressed to Kill)

Michael Courtland is a Southern gentleman who seems to have everything - A successful business, a beautiful wife and an adoring young daughter until a botched kidnapping tears his world apart leaving him widowed, bereaved and bereft. Years later on a trip to Italy, he meets a woman with an uncanny resemblance to his late wife but all is not how it appears as a twisted conspiracy threatens to unhinge his mental shackles, sending him to the knife edge of MADNESS!

A master class in mounting unease and clammy palmed claustrophobia, Obsession is a classic 70s thriller with an evil twist that will leave you speechless.



The Film:

Schrader and De Palma's tribute to Hitchcock's Vertigo may lack the misogyny and bloodbath sensationalism of De Palma's later work, but it's still dressed up in a mortifyingly vacuous imitation of the Master's stylistic touches. Virtuoso gliding camera movements do not necessarily a good film make. The main problem with the film, in fact, is the excruciatingly slow pace; although if you've seen Vertigo, the story itself - of a businessman haunted by guilt about his wife's death, and getting involved years later with her lookalike - will fail to yield the narrative surprises and suspense required in a thriller.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

Herrmann came to work on Obsession following a debilitating period of fatigue, complicated by shortness of breath, which he attributed initially to a lingering case of the flu. When his symptoms did not improve with time and home remedies, Herrmann was admitted (under protest) to St. George's Hospital in London, where the diagnosis was made of an irreversible heart condition. Given at best two years left to live, Herrmann went right back to work. (The composer's workaholic nature and professional intractability are thought now to have contributed greatly to his hypertensive cardiac failure.) Despite De Palma's coup at having scored the participation of Herrmann, Obsession producer George Litto was keener to cash in on John Williams' brand recognition as the composer of the soundtrack to Steven Spielberg's Jaws (1975). To persuade the producer of Herrmann's qualifications for the assignment, editor Paul Hirsch screened a sequence from Obsession, an evocatively wordless setpiece of Robertson stalking Bujold through the crooked side streets of Florence, with a lush passage from Herrmann's orchestrations for Vertigo. Litto's reaction was reportedly one of wide-eyed incongruity at the music's high romance quotient. "What is this, Romeo and Juliet?" Litto asked Hirsch, who replied "No, Bernard Herrmann." Devoted to the project, Herrmann pushed himself through all-night composing sessions in London and finished the entire score in one month. Herrmann was also smitten with the film's leading lady and kept a photograph of Geneviève Bujold in his wallet for the remainder of his life.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc

Obsession appears very grainy on Blu-ray from Arrow Films in the UK.  The image quality seems to reflect a dynamic transfer - dual-layered with a very high bitrate. The grain and grittiness is extensive often appearing as noise but its consistency is pleasing.  There is no untoward manipulation to advance the colors which are generally passive with some notable exceptions (reds of Bujold's dress and the flowers at the cemetery.). Skin tones occasionally show warmth but I don't doubt that this is accurate to the theatrical. Detail is not at modern-standards but this was how Obsession was shot via Vilmos Zsigmond cinematography with the textures being a major part of the film. This Blu-ray has a genuineness to it that should be appreciated. There is zero gloss and it is exceptionally clean sometimes appearing thin but overall I'd say this is as good as it will get, digitally, for Obsession. Excellent work Arrow!


The Arrow Blu-ray is from 2011 - reissued with a DVD (Dual-format) in 2013. The Shout! Factory 1080P transfer is obviously newer and has a blue-leaning where the Arrow has a green hue.  I like the US image - I think it can look crisper with warmer colors while also supporting the grain and 'misty' look of the film. I give the edge to the Shout! Factory in terms of visual HD quality.



1) Arrow - Region 'B'  - Blu-ray TOP

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM



1) Arrow - Region 'B'  - Blu-ray TOP

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM



1) Arrow - Region 'B'  - Blu-ray TOP

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM



1) Arrow - Region 'B'  - Blu-ray TOP

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM



More Blu-ray Captures










Audio :

The Bernard Herrmann magnificent original score transferred uncompressed and remains frequently overwhelming during viewing - as his scores often are - adding power to every scene it is utilized. The audio defaults to a linear PCM in original 1.0 channel mono at 1152 kbps. A surround mix is included as an option - a DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 3781 kbps. It is reasonably buoyant effort but I wasn't dissatisfied with the original as it carries some depth - albeit through the front channel only. Great to have both options via lossless. There are optional English subtitles (see sample) and my Momitsu and Oppo have identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.


I can't distinguish any difference in the 5.1 surround audio quality (also DTS-HD lossless - 24-bit) and only a minor amount in the alternate 2/0 channel. The typically powerful score by the great Bernard Herrmann (Sisters, Beneath the 12-Mile Reef, Cape Fear, The Magnificent Ambersons, Taxi Driver, The Wrong Man, etc. etc.) still sounds great and is an important part of the film experience. The Shout! Factory provide optional English subtitles (see sample) and their Blu-ray disc is Region 'A'-locked.



Extras :

Impressive supplements include the 40-minute Obsession Revisited featuring interviews with director Brian De Palma, stars Cliff Robertson, Genevieve Bujold and others in 1080P. Included are two early Brian De Palma short films: Woton's Wake (1962 - 27:59 in 1080P) and The Responsive Eye (1966 - 26:42 in 1080P). They are in rough shape, 1:33 but fans of the director may be intere4sted to indulge. Lastly on the digital front is an original trailer (1:35 in 1080P) but in the package is an 'Exclusive' collector's booklet featuring an essay on the film by critic and author Brad Stevens plus Paul Schrader's original screenplay of the film in a perfect bound booklet. With the original title Déjà vu, Schrader s original script includes un-filmed sequences and sees the tripartite structure deal with the past, present and future of Michael Courtland.


Shout! Factory include the same 37-minute Obsession Revised featurette with Interviews with Director Brian De Palma, Cliff Robertson, and Geneviève Bujold, but they add some new supplements - foremost a new audio commentary by Author Douglas Keesey (author of Brian De Palma’s Split-Screen: A Life In Film) who really knows his stuff and is professional in exporting the discussion of the director, Obsession and much more. Also new are two video pieces; Producing Obsession spends 26-minutes with producer George Litto on the technical behind-the-scenes evolution of the film and Editing Obsession talks with the editor Paul Hirsch for over 20-minutes on the specifics of editing Obsession. There is a theatrical trailer, Radio Spots and a stills gallery.

Arrow - Region 'B'  - Blu-ray



Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray



This is De Palma's spin on Vertigo and I loved revisiting Obsession in 1080P. Any opportunity I get to hear Mr. Herrmann's work in lossless for a film presentation - I'm excited. This is infinitely superior to any SD representation of the film and I'm thrilled to own this psychological thriller on Blu-ray with true video, exciting audio and some very viable extra features. Strongly recommended!


We don't have the De Palma shorts on the Shout! Factory Blu-ray but the commentary and new new featurettes are a worthy addition. I think it also looks a shade superior although I couldn't detect much disparity in the audio. I LOVED revisiting this film which makes me want to put Vertigo on right after. Those who buy the US releases will be happy with the extra effort (nice to see from Shout! Factory!) they went into their package (interesting cover too!). Blu-ray double dipping for some may be in order - depending on their love for De Palma and Obsession. Absolutely recommended!                             

Gary Tooze

June 30th, 2011

January 20th, 2019


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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