Written by: Michael Den Boer on March 24th, 2017
Theatrical Release Date: France / Greece / USA, 1962
Director: Jules Dassin
Writers: Margarita Lymberaki, Jules Dassin
Cast: Melina Mercouri, Anthony Perkins, Raf Vallone, Elizabeth Ercy, Tzavalas Karousos, Zorz Sarri, Andreas Filippides, Olympia Papadouka
BluRay released: March 21st, 2017
Approximate running time: 116 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English / Greek
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Olive Films
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $29.95
Phaedra was co-written and directed by Jules Dassin whose other notable films include, The Naked City, Thieves’ Highway and Rififi. Key collaborators on Phaedra include, cinematographer Jacques Natteau (Never on Sunday, Thou Shalt Not Kill) and Mikis Theodorakis (Five Miles to Midnight, Z). The screenplay for Phaedra was adapted from a play titled Hippolytus written by Athenian playwright Euripides.
At the heart of this melodrama is a tale about forbidden love that is consumed by obsession. The main players in this modern-day adaption of a Greek tragedy include, a controlling father who wants his son from a previous marriage to be his heir apparent to the family business and an estranged son named Alexis who is lured back into his father’s life by his seduced step mother named Phaedra. And though Alexis’s feelings for his stepmother are mutual at first. Things become more complicated, when she refuses to accept that they can never be together.
The meticulously constructed narrative is perfectly paced. With each new revelation given an ample amount of time to resonate. The characters are well defined and their motivations are never in doubt. And to further enhance the main characters are exceptional performances from this film’s two leads, Melina Mercouri (The Law, Topkapi) in the role of Phaedra and Anthony Perkins (Psycho, Crimes of Passion) in the role of Alexis. They both deliver utterly convincing performances and their onscreen chemistry is undeniable. Another performance of note is Raf Vallone (Death Occurred Last Night, The Girl in Room 2A) in the role of the domineering husband / father Thanos.
Another strength of this film is Jules Dassin extraordinary direction which is filled with striking visuals which accentuate the story at hand. Standout moments visually include, the scene where Phaedra and Alexis first act upon their forbidden feelings. Other standout moments include, a scene where Phaedra exerts herself after feeling threatened by her niece Ercy, who reveals her feelings for Alexis. And the film’s tragic finale where Phaedra and Alexis fates are intertwined.
Phaedra comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. For this release a brand-new HD transfer has been created and the end results is by far and away the best this film have ever looked on home video. Unlike MGM’s MOD DVD release which presented the film in a compromised aspect ratio. This release also presents this film in its intended 1.66:1 aspect ratio. Contrast and black levels remain strong throughout, details look crisp and there are no issues with DNR or compression.
This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD mono mix in English and included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles. Throughout the film there is some dialog that is spoken in Greek and these moments are translated in English by the characters through their dialog. There are no issues with distortion or background noise, dialog comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced. The more ambient aspects of these mixes are well represented and range wise both sound robust when they need too.
Extras for this release include, a trailer for the film (3 minutes 41 seconds).
Overall Phaedra gets a solid audio / video presentation from Olive Films.
Note: Olive Films are also releasing this film on DVD.