Written by: Michael Den Boer on August 2nd, 2016
BluRay released: July 11th, 2016 (UK) / July 19th, 2016 (USA)
Approximate running times: 107 Minutes (Unrated Version), 112 minutes (Director’s Cut)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 18 (UK), R (USA)
Sound: LPCM Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Arrow Video USA
Region Coding: Region A,B / Region 1,2 NTSC
Retail Price: $39.95 (USA) / £15.99 (UK)
Crimes of Passion was directed by Ken Russell whose other notable films include, Women in Love, The Music Lovers, The Devils and Tommy. Key collaborators on Crimes of Passion include, cinematographer Dick Bush (Sorcerer) and composer Rick Wakeman (The Burning).
Sex and religion are the core foundation of the cinema legacy of Ken Russell. And when it comes to controversial subject very few filmmakers have shown the fortitude that Ken Russell has had. Also though the overwhelming amount of his films have been initially marred by controversy. Fortunately, time has been kind to Ken Russell who films are finally getting the acclaim they deserve.
At the heart of Crimes off Passion are three central characters who are all unhappy with their current lives. The first of these three characters is a successful businesswoman by day, who dresses up as a prostitute by night. She feels constrained by her mundane everyday existence and with this alter ego she gives herself freedom to explored her wildest dreams and desires. The second of these characters is a married many man who owns a surveillance company. It is through his job that he meets China Blue. And the third of these three characters is a Preacher who is drowning in his own debauchery.
Content wise, this film has all of the ingredients that one would want and expect from a Ken Russell film. The premise is fully exploited for all its worth and then some. The narrative is well constructed and there are no issues with pacing as each new revelation is given just the right amount of time to sink in. And the main characters are well defined and their motivations are never left in doubt.
From a production stand point there is not a single area where this film does not excel. And when it comes to the look of the film does not disappoint. With this film’s standout out moments being the scene where China Blue engages into a sexual encounter with a policeman where things go a too far when she takes liberties of her constrained client. And of course no scene is more shocking or memorable then this film’s finale.
Performance wise the entire cast are excellent in their respective roles. With this film’s standout performance coming from Kathleen Turner (Body Heat) in the dual roles of Joanna Crane / China Blue. She does a good job creating two distinctively different characters and the moments when she is China Blue are without a doubt this film most compelling. Another notable performance and not too far behind her is Anthony Perkins (Psycho) who delivers another iconic performance.
Crimes of Passion comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. Colors look vibrant, black levels remain strong and the image looks crisp throughout. Also grain looks natural and there are no issues with DNR or compression. It should be noted that this release comes with two versions of the film, an unrated version of the film and a director’s cut from the film. And the latter of these two options has footage that has been restored from a standard definition source.
This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM stereo mix English and included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles. The audio is in great shape, dialog comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced and robust when it needs too. Also when it comes to the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented.
Extras for this release include, a trailer for the film (1 minute 41 seconds), a music video titled It’s a Lovely Life (3 minutes 14 seconds, with optional image gallery for this music videos script), deleted scenes with optional audio commentary from screenwriter Barry Sandler (19 minutes 54 seconds), two interviews – the first interview with composer Rick Wakeman titled Composing for Ken ((28 minutes 54 seconds) and the second interview with screenwriter Barry Sandler titled Life of Crime (22 minutes 7 seconds) and an audio commentary with Ken Russell and Barry Sandler.
Topics discussed in the interview with Rick Wakeman include, Listomania, Crimes of Passions and collaborating with Ken Russell, what he has learned from Russell about doing music for cinema and how advancements in technology has made the process easier.
Topics discussed in the interview with Barry Sandler include, studying screenwriting at UCLA, getting Rachel Welch to make one of screenplays into a film while he was till at UCLA, how his most personal screenplay is for the film Making Love, Crimes of Passions, collaborating with Ken Russell, the cast and their performances.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, the cast and information about them, visuals and the look of the film, the film’s score, audience reaction to the film and how it has since gained a cult following and key moments are discussed. Both participants discussed their thoughts about the film and where it ranks amongst the film’s that they have made.
Rounding out the extras is a reversible cover art and twenty-four-page booklet with cast and crew information, an essay about the film titled Jules et Jim for 42nd Street written by Paul Sutton, an interview with Ken Russell from 1985 conducted by Allan Hunter, a reprint of a letter Ken Russell sent to Kathleen Turner in 2011 and information about the restoration.
Also included with this release is a DVD that has the same content included on the Blu-Ray included as part of this combo release. Overall Crimes of Passion gets an excellent release from Arrow Video, highly recommended.