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La Orca 
Written by: on March 12th, 2012

Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1976
Director: Eriprando Visconti
Writers: Roberto Gandus, Lisa Morpurgo, Eriprando Visconti
Cast: Rena Niehaus, Gabriele Ferzetti, Flavio Bucci, Carmen Scarpitta, Bruno Corazzari, Piero Faggioni, Piero Palermini, Michele Placido, Miguel Bosé

DVD released: January 31st, 2012
Approximate running time: 99 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo Italian, Dolby Digital Stereo German
Subtitles: English, German
DVD Release: Camera Obscura
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL
Retail Price: 26.99 EUR

Synopsis: A young women is abducted in broad daylight and held captive in a abandoned farmhouse. What should have been a easy job of extortion, quickly takes a turn for the worse, when her parents don’t meet the kidnappers ransom demands.

La Orca was directed by Eriprando Visconti, who’s other notable film’s as director include A Milanese Story, The Lady of Monza and A Spiral of Mist. A year after La Orca, he would direct its sequel Oedipus Orca. Key collaborators on La Orca include cinematographer Blasco Giurato (Escape from the Bronx, Cinema Paradiso) co-screenwriter Roberto Gandus (Damned in Venice, Papaya: Love Goddess of the Cannibals, Macabre). The English language version of La Orca was release under the alternate title Snatch.

Italian cinema beginning in the late 1950’s and on through the 1980’s had a knack for cannibalizing whatever genre was currently in vogue at the time and milking for all that is was worth. Another area from which Italian cinema often draw inspiration from, was current events locally and abroad. Case in point La Orca, a film that owes  a great debt to the kidnapping of heiress Patty Hearst, by a group of radical extremists.

The film’s narrative is meticulously laid with each new revelation given just the right amount time to settle in for maximum effect. Though the kidnapping serves as the launching pad for everything that follows. The heart and soul of this film is the strange relationship that evolves between the abducted young woman and one of her captors.

Also given this film’s bleak subject, it is not hard to see why many viewers may quickly write this film off as a exploitation film. When in reality there is so much more going on in this film, then your run of the mill exploitation film. And without a doubt it is the way in which this film subtly interjects social commentary that is its most durable asset.

From a production stand point, there is not a single area in which this film is lacking. The film’s visuals never draw attention to themselves and let the story at hand take center stage. Pacing is never a issue, once the young woman is kidnapped, things just build up at a break neck pace. There is never moment in which the viewer is given a chance to catch their breath. With the film’s most shocking moment saved for its finale.

Performance wise, the entire cast are superb, especially Rena Niehaus (Oedipus Orca, Damned in Venice) in the role of Alice, the young woman that has been kidnapped. Another performance of note is Michele Placido in the role of the kidnapper that Alice becomes attached too. Ultimately La Orca is a extraordinary film that examines with the utmost precision, how easily the line that divides captive and captor can be blurred.

The DVD:

Camera Obscura presents La Orca in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s intended aspect ratio. This is another solid transfer from Camera Obscura, that boasts nicely saturated colors, black levels look very good, details look crisp throughout and there are no problems with compression.

This release comes with two audio options, a Dolby Digital mono mix in Italian and a Dolby Digital mono mix in German. Both audio options sound balanced and clear throughout. Range wise both are rather limited, but this is to be expected considering the limitations of the mono source. Also included with this release are removable English and German subtitle options.

Extras for this release include two trailers for the film (3 minutes 6 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Italian) and (2 minutes 48 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in German), a image gallery with posters, lobby cards, home video box art and promotional materials, two featurette, the first one titled ‘AKA Prandino’ (23 minutes 50 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Italian with English and German subtitles) and the second featurette titled ‘Dissecting La Orca’ (10 minutes 26 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Italian with English and German subtitles) and a audio interview / commentary with actress Rena Niehaus and film historian Christian Kessler, in German with English subtitles. The first featurette is a interview with filmmaker Corrado Colombo, who gives a well rounded view of the film’s of Eriprando Visconti. He also discusses his own personal interactions that he had with Eriprando Visconti over the years. The second featurette is a interview with Italian film critic Antonio Bruschini, who does a good job summarizing this film from a critical point of view. Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, her career as a model in Germany, various Italian film productions that she appeared and one notorious one Salo, that she was offered a role in and passed on, they also discuss her role in La Orca, the cast and her thoughts on director Eriprando Visconti.

Also included with this release is a DVD booklet that includes a insightful and detailed essay about horror films that prominently feature animals in their plot. This essay is presented in dual text, English and German. This release also comes with multi-lingual menus, English and German. Overall La Orca gets an exceptional release from Camera Obscura.

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