Written by: Michael Den Boer on July 30th, 2009
Theatrical Release Date: France, 2006
Director: Alain Robbe-Grillet
Writer: Alain Robbe-Grillet
Cast: James Wilby, Arielle Dombasle, Dany Verissimo, Farid Chopel, Lotfi Yahya Jedidi, Marie Espinosa, Farida Khelfa, Faycal Attougui, Mohamen Mehdi Ouazanni, Pascal Judelewicz, Asmaa Bouafia, Siham Lahkim, Hamid Nider, Zineb Nijih
DVD released: August 25th, 2009
Approximate running time: 119 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo French
DVD Release: Mondo Macabro
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.95
Gradiva was written and directed by Alain Robbe-Grillet whose other notable films as a director include The Immortal One, Eden and After and The Beautiful Prisoner. He also wrote the screenplay for Last Year at Marienbad. The screenplay for Gradiva was adapted from German author Wilhelm Jensen’s novella “Gradiva”.
The plot for Gradiva is hallucinatory journey in which its lead protagonist an Englishman named John Locke finds himself in too deep when he becomes obsessed with finding a mysterious woman dressed in white. After some investigating he uncovers that this woman in white is somehow connected to a woman named Gradiva who was the model who posed for the recently unearthed Delacroix illustrations. The most fascinating aspect of this film is how John Locke’s journey and that of the viewer are intertwined. Besides the film’s lead protagonist John Locke the film is populated with an abundance of decadent characters that further enhance voyeuristic nature of the story at hand. The films more erotic moments of sadistic delights look like something right out of the works of the Marquis De Sade. Surprisingly the films standout performance doesn’t come from James Wilby, the actor cast in the role of John Locke. Instead the best performance comes from an actress named Dany Verissimo who is cast in the role of Belkis a young servant girl who takes care of John Locke. Belkis as the story evolves becomes attached to John Locke who she has several sexual liaisons with. Ultimately Gradiva, is a mesmerizing tale in which all lines that discern what is real or what is an illusion are blurred.
Mondo Macabro presents Gradiva in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. This is a solid looking progressive flagged transfer that has healthy looking flesh tones, vibrant colors, strong black levels and details look crisp throughout.
This release comes with one audio option a Dolby Digital stereo mix in French and removable English subtitles have been provided. The audio is in great shape as dialog is always clear and everything sounds balanced throughout.
Extras for this release include a trailer for the film (49 seconds – in French with English subtitles), text bios for the following cast members James Wilby, Arielle Dombasle & Dany Verissimo and writer / director Alain Robbe-Grillet and a text piece titled Robbe-Grillet on Gradvia. The main extra for this release is an interview with Alain Robbe-Grillet (30 minutes 52 seconds – in French with English subtitles). The interview includes comments from Alain Robbe-Grillet about his influences, eroticism, reality, fantastique, De Sade and censorship. Rounding out the extras is the Mondo Macabro preview trailer which includes clips from titles they have currently released or about to release. Overall Alain Robbe-Grillet’s final film Gradiva gets an exceptional DVD release from Mondo Macabro.