Written by: Michael Den Boer on March 28th, 2017
Theatrical Release Date: Austria, 1983
Director: Gerald Kargl
Writers: Gerald Kargl, Zbigniew Rybczynski
Cast: Erwin Leder, Silvia Rabenreither, Edith Rosset, Rudolf Götz, Renate Kastelik, Hermann Groissenberger, Claudia Schinko, Beate Jurkowitsch, Rosa Schandl, Rolf Bock, Emil Polaczek
BluRay released: September 15th, 2015
Approximate running times: 87 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 Surround German, Dolby Digital Stereo German, Dolby Digital Stereo French
BluRay Release: Cult Epics
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $34.95
Throughout the history of cinema, there have been countless films which have explored the psyches of mass murders. With the majority of these film’s focusing on the acts of carnage, instead of trying to get to dig deeper into the reasons why a person would commit such acts. On the other side of the spectrum is a film like Angst which shifts its focus towards the psychological aspects of the story at hand.
The narrative for this film takes place over the course of twenty-four period. With the point of view of this film’s narrative being squarely focused on this film’s protagonist K. And this extended to this film’s intricate visuals, which do an extraordinary job reinforcing the protagonist state of mind. The cinematographer on Angst was Zbigniew Rybczynski, a filmmaker in his own right who an Academy Award for his short film Tango.
Content wise, this is not a film that can easily be digested and needless to say that it is not for the faint of heart. Also, it would be a great disservice to judge this film solely on face value. And more importantly this is not a Horror film, it is a psychological exploration about the darker side of human nature. And nowhere is this more evident than when it comes to the depiction of violence in this film, it is presented in a raw inflicting way that is in direct contrast with other similar themed films.
Not to be overlooked is this film score which does a pitch perfect job maintaining the mood. The score for the film was composed by Klaus Schulze, one of the founder members of Tangerine Dream (Thief). Other notable scores composed by Klaus Schulze include, Body Love, Barracuda and Next of Kin (1982).
Performance wise though the majority of the cast are not much more than mere props which are used to help propel the narrative forward. There is one performance that does deserve being singled out and that is Erwin Leder’s (Das Boot) utterly convincing portrayal of this film’s protagonist K. With his characters’ moment of truth being the scene where he kills his last victim.
From a production stand point, there is not a single area where this film does not deliver and then some. With its most surprising asset being its director Gerald Kargl, a first-time director who due to circumstances related to this film has not directed another feature film. Needless to say, Angst is arguably one of most auspicious film debut’s and for far to long it has languished in obscurity.
Angst comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. The source used for this transfer is in excellent shape and this transfer does a great job retaining the intended look of the film. Colors and flesh tones look accurate, details generally look crisp and black levels look solid throughout. Grain looks natural and there are no issues with DNR or compression. This release allows you to watch the film with or without it’s Prologue.
This release comes with three audio options, a DTS-HD 5.1 surround mix in German, a Dolby Digital stereo mix in German and a Dolby Digital stereo mix in French. The DTS-HD 5.1 surround mix is in excellent shape. Dialog comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced. The more ambient aspects of these mixes are well represented and range wise both sound robust when they need too. Included with this release are removable English subtitles.
Extras for this release include, an introduction before the film with filmmaker Gaspar Noé (5 minutes 16 seconds, in French with English subtitles), a trailer for the film (3 minutes 2 seconds), three interviews – the first interview is with actor Erwin Leder (21 minutes 25 seconds, in English), the second interview is with cinematographer Zbigniew Rybzcynski (36 minutes 53 seconds, in English) and the third interview is with director Gerald Kargl and moderated by Jorg Buttgeriet (27 minutes 18 seconds, in German with English subtitles) and an audio commentary with Gerald Kargl and moderated by film critic Marcus Stiglegger.
Topics discussed in the interview with Erwin Leder include, his character K and the three real life killers that the character is based on, his thoughts about violence and murder, society’s lack of understanding mental illness and camera techniques. This interview also features footage of Erwin Leder revisiting locations featured in the film.
Topics discussed in the interview with Zbigniew Rybzcynski include, Gerald Kargl and how he came to collaborate with him on Angst, information about the real-life event which inspired this film, the screenplay / preproduction, camera techniques and information about how they achieved various visual techniques, editing, his thoughts about violent cinema and his thoughts about the film.
Topics discussed in the interview with Gerald Kargl and Jorg Buttgeriet include, the origins of the film, how it is based on a real life murder that occurred in Austria, casting Edwin Leder and his thoughts about his performance, initial reaction to the film and how many countries refused to release the film, why he had to self-finance the film, how he overcame this film’s limited resources, how this film differs when compared to other similar themed films, why he has not directed a film since Angst and how he has made a living directing commercials, visuals and techniques used in this film, Zbigniew Rybzcynski and his contributions to the film, his thoughts about the film and looking back what he would change.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, Werner Kniesek and his killing spree which inspired this film, how this film is a psychological thriller and not a horror film, why he has to self-finance the film and how the film cost about 400,000 Euro, visuals and techniques used in this film, locations, composer Klaus Schulze and how the score was composed in one and half days, directing psychical violence, how the film is not a genre film, the cast, Edwin Leder and transgressive acting, what he was trying to achieve with this film and other production related topics. The audio commentary starts off in English and about half the way through the director switches to speaking in German. The entire audio commentary has English subtitles.
Rounding out the extras is a trailer for Schramm, a slipcover that features alternate cover art then the cover art used for the Blu-Ray case and a forty-page booklet with a text piece titled Prologue Introduction by Nico B., founder of Cult Epics, a Q & A with Gerald Kargl, an essay titled Angst Essen Seele Auf (Fear Eats the Soul) written by Carl Anderson, a Q & A with Edwin Leder, a Q & A with actress Silvia Rabenreither, illustrated with rare photos and Werner Kniesek original Kurier articles and a text piece titled Epilogue written by Nico B. It should be noted that this booklet is exclusive to this Blu-Ray release and the DVD release from Cult Epics does not come with this booklet. Overall Angst gets a definitive release from Cult Epics, highly recommended.