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Directed by David Hayman

UK 1990

1963: When Larry Winters violently murders a Soho barman in cold blood he is sentenced to life imprisonment. Within ten years he is addicted to prescription drugs and feared as Scotland's most violent inmate. After being transferred to the experimental Barlinnie Special Unit, Winters finds new and creative ways to express himself, but continues to self-destructively explore drugs as a means to escape the confines of his prison cell.

Based on a true story, with exceptional performances from both Iain Glen and Robert Carlyle, this brutal, mind-bending journey into the damaged mind of a violent killer is as uncompromising as it is unforgettable.

***

Hayman adopts a bold, subjective style for his directing debut. The elliptical editing owes something to Roeg, but Hayman goes further, evoking a hallucinatory mood in which guitars wail like banshees, ghosts torment the murderer, and even Winters' poems come to life. The film comes close to pretentiousness, and Bill Beach's screenplay is a mite wordy. Full of ambition and conviction, though; and Glen, as Winters, gives a ravenous, intensely physical performance.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

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Theatrical Release: October 19th, 1990

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DVD Review: BFI - Region 0 - PAL

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Distribution BFI - Region 0 - PAL
Runtime 1:21:54 (4% PAL speedup)
Video 1.78:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.47 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:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1

Edition Details:

• liner notes visible through transparent keep case

DVD Release Date: October 26th, 2010

Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 8

 

Comments:

Firstly this is not the 1980 Denny Harris horror film of the same name.

Quite an oddly ambitious film. When TimeOut compared it to Roeg - I'd say that would be accurate with time-frames jumping frequently from the past to the present - as we revisit Winters's childhood in Glasgow and his military service - and eventually the protagonist appears to drift into madness. It might be too Arthouse heavy for many but the narrative is solid despite the oddly placed ellipses. The lead performance is strong and the visuals holds a rough-hone, verité feel. At the very least it is an interesting, unique, storytelling style.

BFI from the UK have provided a single-layered bare-bones transfer. It is anamorphic and progressive stated as "Remastered to High Definition from film elements held in the BFI National Archive". But it occasionally looks like it is from analog - as notable in most of the opening credits. Despite that I trust it was transferred appropriately and any weaknesses are inherent in the source used. It tends to look weaker in the lower level lit scenes - this may be a production foible.   

Audio can be occasionally rough but again, probably the original production was similar. Optional English subtitles are supplied. This disc is region 0 in the PAL standard.  

Supplements consist of only two pages of liner notes visible through the transparent keep case. A commentary or some other extras would have been appreciated due to the film content and unusual style.

I need to see Silent Scream again at some point. I was attentive and keen but can't help but think I missed something. However, it is quite possible that this was part of the filmmaker's intent with some vague plot points. It's touching although often told in a less-romantic matter-of-fact manner with intense passion and inferred violence from the lead character. There are a lot of human-condition elements and I would only endorse this to the more adventurous viewer willing to open their minds to something strangely... fresh.   

Gary W. Tooze

 



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Distribution BFI - Region 0 - PAL



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