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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "Story of My Death" )

 

directed by Albert Serra
Spain/France 2013

 

Having languished in solitude in a Swiss girls' school trying to pen unsentimental memoirs - but mainly spending much time dispensing his philosophy to a captive audience in the form of gambling debt-ridden valet Pompeau (Lluís Serrat) - Casanova (Vicenç Altaió) decides he must start traveling again. Stopping in the Carpathians in the house of a deeply religious landowner fallen on hard times (Xavier Pau), Casanova spends less time writing and sets about debauching the help, starting with Delfina (Noelia Rodenas) while Clara (Clara Visa) seeks the protection of Pompeau. The landowner's daughter Carmen (Montse Triola), meanwhile, has a secret suitor in Count Dracula (Eliseu Huertas) who visits her in the fields and promises her a more fulfilling life at his castle (where they go "beyond Christianity") if he will allow her to cross the threshold into her father's home.

Its title a play on Giacomo Casanova's "The Story of My Life", Albert Serra's bizarre art film represents the clash between eighteenth century rationalism and nineteenth century repression as a Casanova - almost reduced to the basic urges of eating, shitting, and fucking - stumbles onto the hunting grounds of Count Dracula whose overtures seem more seductive in comparison. Working with entirely non-actors and shooting almost four hundred hours of footage on digital video, Serra wrings out naturalistic if not exactly studied performances from his actors in a loose structure, the meditative pace of which never seems like a concession to the abilities of the performers. The low-light video-to-film-scanned images are noisy but texturally beautiful, and the almost naive approach to its horrific elements is effective and recalls Werner Herzog's remake of NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE). The film might not be for everyone, but the images and sound design - as well as Serra's approach to characterization in regard to Casanova - should prove hypnotic to the cinéaste.

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: 23 October 2013 (France)

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DVD Review: Second Run DVD - Region 0 - PAL

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution

Second Run DVD

Region 0 - PAL

Runtime 2:24:10 (4% PAL speedup)
Video

2.35:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.96 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 Catalan Dolby Digital 5.1; Catalan Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Second Run DVD

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.35:1

Edition Details:
� Short film 'Cuba Libre' (16:9; 17:54)
� Liner notes booklet featuring a conversation between director Albert Serra and filmmaker Ben Rivers

DVD Release Date: June 29th, 2015
Amaray

Chapters 12

 

 

 

Comments

Although it almost looks like a circa-2000 noisy digital master, THE STORY OF MY DEATH looks gorgeous within the director's own imposed limitations - shot on digital video and then scanned to film by video-to-film stalwarts Swiss Effects - on Second Run's dual-layer, anamorphic transfer. There is no setup menu, but the DVD defaults to Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo while the original 5.1 mix is selectable using your remote. The stereo track at first seems to perfectly suit the film, but it is really just a serviceable downmix of a film that is generally front-oriented but plays with the surrounds more and more as the film progresses (the sometimes maddening sound design may create an aversion to pomegranates for some viewers). The optional English subtitles only sport one spelling error.

Although the sole video extra is a short film by Serra, the included booklet includes a Sight & Sound conversation between Serra and fellow filmmaker Ben Rivers (Two Years at Sea) in which they discuss their choice of format (Serra shoots exclusively on digital video and Rivers on film), the importance of real and imagined constraints, their approaches to coming up with concepts and scripting, the use of non-professional actors, editing, and their shared admiration of Pasolini.

  - Eric Cotenas

 


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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Second Run DVD

Region 0 - PAL

 



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