Written by: Michael Den Boer on January 29th, 2017
Theatrical Release Date: Canada / USA, 1988
Director: David Cronenberg
Writers: David Cronenberg, Norman Snider
Cast: Jeremy Irons, Geneviève Bujold, Heidi von Palleske, Barbara Gordon, Shirley Douglas, Stephen Lack, Jill Hennessy
BluRay released: November 15th, 2016
Approximate running time: 116 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (David Cronenberg’s preferred Aspect Ratio), 1.78:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (Theatrical Aspect Ratio)
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 English, DTS-HD Stereo English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Shout! Factory
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $29.95
Synopsis: Twin brothers who are both gynecologists exploit their twinness.
Dead Ringers was co-written and directed by David Cronenberg who’s other notable films include, Shivers, Rabid, Videodrome and Naked Lunch. Key collaborators on Dead Ringers include, cinematographer Peter Suschitzky (The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Valentino) and composer Howard Shore (After Hours, The Silence of the Lambs). The screenplay was adapted from a novel titled Twins that was written by Bari Wood (Doll’s Eyes) and Jack Geasland.
The majority of David Cronenberg’s films leading up to Dead Ringers where Horror films. And though his unique brand of cinema perfectly fused with the Horror genre. With Dead Ringers David Cronenberg would prove that his cinematic language was not bound by genres or traditional cinema standards.
From a production stand point, there is not a single area where this film does not excel. The film’s narrative does a superb job executing this film’s premise and when it comes to pacing there are no issues. The characters are well defined and their motivations are crystal clear. And the film features a solid score that perfectly sets the mood. Visually this film delivers on so many levels and standout moments visually include, one of the most perverse S&M scenes to ever appear in a film distributed by a major Hollywood studio and a scene where the brothers dance with a woman to the song Still of the Night and a scene where Elliot who fragile psyche has been pushed to its limit and he has to be removed from an examination by the nurses who are assisting him> Another standout moments includes, this film’s unforgettable traumatic ending which lingers on in your mind.
Performance wise the entire to cast are all very good in their respective roles. With this film tour de force stand out performance being Jeremy Irons (The French Lieutenant’s Woman, The Mission) in the dual role of twin brothers Beverly and Elliot Mantle. He delivers an utterly convincing performance where both character are distinctively different. Another performance of note includes, Geneviève Bujold (Obsession) in the role of Claire Niveau, an actresses who the two brothers initially have a sexual relationship with unknown to her. Ultimately Dead Ringers is a key film in David Cronenberg’s evolution as a filmmaker.
This release presents the film in two different aspect ratios, Theatrical Aspect Ratio and David Cronenberg’s preferred Aspect Ratio. Each version comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay and both versions are presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. For this release David Cronenberg’s preferred Aspect Ratio has been given a brand 2k transfer.
Both versions come with two audio options, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in English and a DTS-HD stereo mix in English. All audio mixes sound clean, clear and balanced. With the DTS-HD 5.1 tracks offering a more robust soundscape of then their stereo counterparts. It should be that the L-R channels are reversed on the two stereo mixes. Included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles for both versions.
The two versions included as part of this release come from different sources and besides the obvious difference in their framing. There are also differences when it comes to colors and the directors preferred version does not suffering from some of the sharpening of the image that is present in the transfer used for the theatrical version.
Extras for this release are spread over two discs.
Extras on disc one include, two audio commentaries – the first audio commentary with author William Beard (The Artist as The Monster: The Cinema of David Cronenberg) and the second audio commentary with actor Jeremy irons.
The audio commentary with William Beard is an insightful analytical track where the characters and themes explores in the film are discussed in depth. This track also contains information about the cast and David Cronenberg.
The audio commentary with Jeremy Irons is more of a first-hand account of his experiences working on the film. Other topics include, working with David Cronenberg and this thoughts about the film.
Extras on disc two include, a trailer for the film (1 minute 56 seconds), a vintage “Behind the Scenes” featurette (7 minutes 14 seconds), vintage interviews with David Cronenberg, Jeremy Irons, screenwriter Norman Snider and producer Marc Boyman (17 minutes 3 seconds).
Other extras included on disc two include, four new interviews – actress Heidi von Palleske titled Carey’s Story (18 minutes 31 seconds), actor Stephen Lack titled Working Artist (23 minutes 56 seconds), special effects artist Gordon Smith titled Connecting Tissues (19 minutes 16 seconds) and director of photography Peter Suschitzky titled Double Vision (12 minutes 40 seconds).
Topics discussed in the interview with Heidi von Palleske include, her first impressions of the film, her audition, Jeremy Irons, David Cronenberg, the best way to tell the twins apart, key moments and her thoughts about the film.
Topics discussed in the interview with Stephen Lack include, acting and how he got involved in Dead Ringers. The majority of the time he spends discussing and showing his art.
Topics discussed in the interview with Gordon Smith include, the special effects.
Topics discussed in the interview with Peter Suschitzky include, how Dead Ringers marked his first collaboration with David Cronenberg and the look of the film, how he has approached the look of each one of their subsequently films differently, visual techniques used for the shots involving the twins, Jeremy Irons and composer Howard Shore’s score for the film.
Rounding out the extras is slip cover and optional alternate cover art. Overall Dead Ringers gets an exceptional release from Shout! Factory, highly recommended.
David Cronenberg’s preferred Aspect Ratio Screenshots