Written by: Michael Den Boer on September 21st, 2014
Theatrical Release Date: France, 1969
Director: Walerian Borowczyk
Writer: Walerian Borowczyk, Dominique Duvergé
Cast: Pierre Brasseur, Ligia Branice, Jean-Pierre Andréani, Ginette Leclerc, Fernand Bercher, Michel Charrel, Guy Saint-Jean
BluRay released: September 8th, 2014
Approximate running times: 94 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 15 (UK)
Sound: LPCM Mono French
BluRay Release: Arrow Academy
Region Coding: Region Free / Region o PAL
Retail Price: £15.99 (UK)
Synopsis: Goto the third is a sadistic dictator who rules of the people on the remote island of Goto. Criminals are used as a form of entertainment with the winner of the death match given their freedom. Grozo who’s crime was stealing another man’s binoculars is forced to fight for his life against a man who has committed multiple murders. Grozo life is spared by Goto’s wife Glossia and he is given the job of taking care of Goto’s dogs and catching all the flies on the island. Grozo who has become infatuated with Glossia also has a desire to rule of the island of Goto.
Walerian Borowczyk with Goto, Isle of Love, smoothly makes the transition from animation to live action features. Content wise the film has all the qualities one would expect from a fairy tale. A story that does not looks itself into any know period of time and a place an island which the characters live on that is a world unto its own.
From a visual stand point the imagery often borders in the realm of surreal. Borowczyk directs the film with a silent film like quality which lets the sequences flourish to their full potential. Also Georg Friedrich Handel’s ‘Concerto No 11 opus 7’ perfectly complements this film’s black and white photography. Another way the cinematography often excels is that there is a voyeuristic quality to the way he lets moments unfold. And though this is his first live action feature film, with this film he would already show glimpses of the things that he would dominate many of his films.
A few standout moments involve the scene where Grozo taunts the criminal who tried to kill him in the film’s opening moments and a scene where Goto takes Glossia to the beach. Another moment of note and without the moments that resonates the most is the scene where Grozo reveals his intentions to Glossia and to further impact this moment he informs her that her lover is dead.
When compared to his later films Goto, Isle of Love, is very tame in regards to its depiction of eroticism. With this film’s most erotica moments being a scene involving women bathing at a bathhouse or another moment when Glossia’s naked backside is shown, while she is having sex with her lover.
A theme that runs throughout this film is that of totalitarianism. And not is just social structure present on the island, but in regards to way that Glossia is not able to be with the man she wants. Though she is the wife of the ruler of the island she so desperately wants to leave the only place she has ever known with her lover. And when the moment arises for her husband to confront her about said affair, another man named Grozo seizes the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. Unfortunately for Grozo tragedy is just around the corner.
Performance wise the entire cast are superb in their respective roles, especially Ligia Branice mesmerizing performance in the role of Glossia, the object of several men’s desires. Another performance of note is Guy Saint-Jean in the role of Grozo. He does a remarkable job portraying a character who often does despicable things. Overall Goto, Isle of Love is a compelling story that will hold your gaze and linger on in your mind long after its tragic final moments.
Goto, Isle of Love comes on a 50 GB dual layer (32.5 GB) BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. Before the film proper begins there is an explanation about the restoration work done for this new 2k transfer. The original negative for this film was destroyed in a lab fire and for this release an original 35mm fine grain positive for the bulk of the transfer, while some shots were source from an original 35mm duplicate negative element. And thousands of instances of dirt, scratches and debris was carefully removed frame by frame and any damage frames were repaired for this restoration. Grain structure looks natural throughout and there are no issues with DNR or compression. Contrast and black levels look exceptional throughout. And when it comes to clarity there is a tremendous amount of detail in every frame. Also there are handful of color inserts which look vibrant and nicely saturated. Needless to say when compared to all previous home video releases of this film this new transfer is vastly superior in every way, it is like watching this film for the very first time.
This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM mono mix in French and removable English subtitles have also been included with this release. The soundtrack for this release was sourced from the original magnetic audio reels. Dialog comes through with the utmost clarity, everything sounds balanced and robust when its needs too, especially the film’s main theme. Range wise this is an area that far exceeds all expectations as there is a tremendous amount of depth and the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented throughout.
Extras for this release include a trailer for the film (3 minutes 46 seconds – 1080 progressive widescreen, in French with English subtitles), an introduction with artist and Turner prize nominee Craigie Horsfield (8 minutes 13 seconds – 1080 progressive widescreen, in English), a featurette about Walerian Borowczyk’s unique approach to sound in his films titled ‘The Profligate Door’ (13 minutes 15 seconds – 1080 progressive widescreen, in French with English subtitles) and a documentary about Goto, Isle of Love titled ‘The Concentration Universe’ (21 minutes 24 seconds – 1080 progressive widescreen, in French with English subtitles) with comments from actor Jean-Pierre Andréani, camera operator Noël Véry and focus puller Jean-Pierre Platel.
Rounding out the extras is a reversible covert art and forty page booklet that contains cast & crew information, contemporary reviews, three essays, the first one titled ‘Engulfed in Bric-A-Brac’ written by Daniel Bird, the second one titled ‘Crystal Clear’ written by filmmaker Patrice Leconte and the third one titled ‘The Theater of Walerian Borowczyk’ written by Phillip Strick and information about the restoration work done for this release. The essays and contemporary reviews included in the booklet are insightful and must reads for anyone who is a fan of this film or would like to know more about Walerian Borowczyk.
Goto, Isle of Love is also part of a box set entitled Camera Obscura: The Walerian Borowczyk Collection which also includes the following films, Walerian Borowczyk Short Films and Animation, Blanche, Immoral Tales and The Beast. This box set also included a generously illustrated book edited by Daniel Bird and Michael Brooke featuring new essays, landmark articles by Raymond Durgnat, Philip Strick, Patrice Leconte, David Thompson and Chris Newby, Boro’s Dictionary, an account of the restoration of Borowczyk films and Anatomy of the Devil, a collection of Borowczyk’s short stories translated from the original French by the filmmaker’s assistant, Michael Levy. This release was limited to 1,000 copies and is now OOP. Fortunately the five release which make up this set are available in standalone releases and they contain the exact same content that their counterparts from the box set included. Overall this is another exceptional release from Arrow Academy, highly recommended.