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directed by John Huston
USA 1969

 

Children of two famous fathers grace John Huston's "A Walk With Love and Death," which opened yesterday at the Baronet Theater. Assaf Dayan, a bright and handsome young man who can act, and Anjelica Huston, a plain, immensely appealing young woman who perhaps can't, play lovers drifting inexorably toward death in the fighting between French peasants and nobles that accompanied the Hundred Years War....

Virtually every scene in "A Walk With Love and Death" demonstrates a concern for careful visual composition, muted colors, dense and lovely landscapes, striking juxtapositions of actors. Such attention to handsome presentation, the curse of many John Huston movies, works well in this instance not only because the film contrasts the beautiful world with the horror men make of it but also because the world's beauty supports, explains, but ultimately fails the two lovers. Such beauty is not deceptive, but it is too fragile, and the lovers, the boy deprived of his position as student and scholar, the girl deprived by murder of her noble family ties, share in its fragility. They are without defenses, and toward the end they are even without allegiances except to each other. They have only to stop running and they die.

Excerpt of review from Roger Greenspun located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: October 5th, 1969 (USA)

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DVD Review: BFI - Region 0 - PAL

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Distribution

BFI

Region 0 - PAL

Runtime 1:26:21
Video

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.48 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 (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: BFI

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• Walking with Love and Death (11:26)
• Illustrated booklet

DVD Release Date: May 26th, 2008
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Chapters 15

 

Comments

John Huston's "A Walk with Love and Death" is notable not only for being the big screen debut of his daughter Anjelica, but also for transferring the zeitgeist of the late 1960s to the middle ages and creating what many view as a tale of love between two medeival hippies. While the hippie elements aren't readily apparent (especially for those of us who didn't experience the late 60s firsthand), they can be noticed in the pair's rejection of authority and their "make love, not war" ideology. Beyond these tropes, Huston successfully crafts an entertaining and fatalistic period piece about two lovers who head invariably to their doom. Since this is a fairly good film, it's worth noting that this film has never been released in region 1. Instead, it was briefly released from the BFI as part of a series of Fox licenses that have recently expired. To the best of my knowledge, there are no in print DVD releases anywhere in the world (including the now OOP Spanish release of the film).

Unfortunately the image on the release is not very strong, but this likely the result of decisions made by Huston (or Fox) and not the BFI. The image is generally soft, with low levels of clarity and contrast. Even worse, the film appears to have been shot on 16 mm stock and blown up to 35 mm, thereby creating a highly exaggerated grain structure that looks like borderline noise. Otherwise the the colors appear about right and the print only has a few minor instances of damage.

The sound on the release is acceptable, if unremarkable. The Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack is about as good as any 2.0 stereo track, and is free of artificial manipulation or unwanted background noise. The film also has a very lovely soundtrack that captures the music of the era nicely. The optional English subtitles are clear and do not obstruct the image.

Aside from a rather beaten up trailer, there are two extras with the disc. First, there's another typically great illustrated booklet with an essay on the film and an original review. Also included is a short "behind the scenes" documentary that mostly consists of footage of John Huston directing.

Although the BFI's disc has recently gone out of print, amazon.co.uk seems to have copies of it in stock at the time that I've written this. This is a very good film with a transfer that likely resembles the way that it originally looked in the theaters. I'd definitely recommend picking this up now if you're even the least bit curious about it.

 - Brian Montgomery

 



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DVD Box Cover

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Distribution

BFI

Region 0 - PAL

 

 

 




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