Written by: Michael Den Boer on December 6th, 2015
Theatrical Release Date: Italy / West Germany / Yugoslavia, 1971
Director: Aldo Lado
Writers: Aldo Lado, Ruediger von Spies
Cast: Ingrid Thulin, Jean Sorel, Mario Adorf, Barbara Bach, Fabijan Sovagovic, José Quaglio, Relja Basic, Piero Vida, Daniele Dublino
BluRay released: October 5th, 2015
Approximate running time: 97 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD Mono Italian, DTS-HD Mono German
Subtitles: English, German
BluRay Release: Camera Obscura
Region Coding: Region B
Retail Price: 27.99 EUR
Short Night of Glass Dolls was co-written and directed by Aldo Lado who’s other notable films include, Night Train Murders and Who Saw Her Die? Key collaborators on Short Night of Glass Dolls include, cinematographer Giuseppe Ruzzolini (Teorema, What?) and composer Ennio Morricone.
Though Short Night of Glass Dolls employs the majority of the elements which have become synonymous with the Italian thriller. There is one way where this film sets itself part from its contemporaries and that is the way in which the protagonist uncovers the truth. And this is because the protagonist spends the entire length of the film in a comatose state. With the only his own memories being the moments where he is able to freely move around and investigate.
Besides this unique spin on the protagonist, everything else is in line with what you would expect from an Italian thriller. Including the elimination of those who get to close to the truth before the protagonist and thus creating a larger body count before the film’s final moment of truth.
When it comes to the death scenes in this film they are rather subdued when compared to similar scenes from other Italian thrillers. In fact most of the violence in this film occurs off screen and it is the aftermath of the crime which is given the moment in the spotlight. With that being said, what this film lacks in blood letting it more than makes up for with its truly disturbing climax which is arguably one of the Italian thriller’s most frightening death scenes.
Location also serves strong function within the Italian thrillers genre with the bulk of the films taking place in London, Venice or Rome being three of the more used locales. Another way where this film sets itself apart from the pack is its location Prague, a rarely used location when it comes to the Italian thriller genre. This change of scenery actually greatly adds to the story at hand, since it further reinforces the stranger in a strange land vibe going on.
Visuals play a large role in this film and nowhere is this more evident than then the way this film is able to create a sense of paranoia. Another strength of this film’s visuals is how it takes full advantage of its surroundings, most notably the moments shot on location in Prague. Besides the aforementioned climax, another standout moments visuals in this film is a scene where the American reporter returns home and discovers his missing girlfriends corpse in his fridge. From there he picks up a gun and puts it in his mouth with the intent of killing himself. Then he is suddenly interrupted. Needless to say this scene captures the true essence of paranoia.
Performance wise the enter cast are all very good in their respective roles. With this film standout performance coming from Jean Sorel (Belle de Jour, A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin) in the role of an American reporter whose girlfriend has suddenly disappeared. It is his characters job to uncover what had happened. Which is made even more difficult due to his character is basically paralyzed and unable to communicate. Also throughout the cast there are numerous faces that Euro-cult fans are sure to recognize like Mario Adorf (The Tin Drum), Ingrid Thulin (Cries & Whispers, Salon Kitty) and Barbara Bach (Black Belly of the Tarantula) in the role of the missing girlfriend.
Short Night of Glass Dolls comes on a 50 GB dual layer (43.2 GB) BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. When Camera Obscura were originally supplied with a transfer for this film, they quickly deemed it unsuitable for release. From there they went back to the beginning creating a brand new transfer and the end result is hands down the best this film has ever. Colors have never look more vibrant, details have never looked so sharp and black and contrast levels look solid throughout. Also grain looks natural and there are no issues with DNR or compression.
This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD mono mix in Italian and a DTS-HD mono in German. Both audio tracks sound excellent as they are no issues with background noise or hiss and dialog always comes through clearly. Another area where these audio mixes standout include there tremendous amount of range. With Morricone’s score benefiting most from these audio tracks. And when it comes to the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack they are well represented throughout. Also included with this release are two subtitle options, English and German.
Extras for this release are spread over two discs.
Extras on disc one a dual layer Blu-Ray include, a photo gallery, Italian language trailer (3 minutes 5 seconds), English language trailer (2 minutes 58 seconds), two featurettes – the first featurette titled ‘The Need to Sing’ is an interview with Edda Dell’Orso (21 minutes 2 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles) and the second featurette titled ‘Cutting Glass Doors’ is an interview with editor Mario Morra (22 minutes 55 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles) and two audio commentaries – the first audio commentary with film historians Christian KeBler and Marcus Stiglegger, in German with English subtitles and the second audio commentary with singer / actor Jergen Drews, in German with English subtitles.
Topics discussed in the extra titled ‘The Need to Sing’ include, how she began studying piano at the age of five, from there as she grew older she decided to focus more on her singing, how he ability to read music greatly aided her when she vocalized, collaborating with conductor / musical director Giacomo Dell’Orso, Ennio Morricone and their collaborations, Short Night of Glass Dolls and how she is never satisfied with how her voice sounds.
Topics discussed in the extra titled ‘Cutting Glass Doors’ include, how he became an editor and those who influenced / mentored him, Mondo Cane 2 was the first movie he worked on as lead editor and various films that he has worked on as an editor.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary with Christian KeBler and Marcus Stiglegger include, how this film was shot in primarily in Prague and that very few Italian films were shot there, other locations featured in the film, how there were several cuts made to the film when originally released in Germany, they also discuss in great detail the political overtones that runt throughout this film, other classic paranoia themed thrillers that they recommend, the look of the film, the cast, Aldo Lado and other films that he also directed and their thoughts on key moments in the film.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary with Jergen Drews include, how he got cast for the film and onset memories. Though he only appeared in one scene in the film this is still a lively audio track where he has plenty to say about those who appeared and worked on the film.
Extras on disc two a dual layer DVD include, two featurette’s – the first featurette titled ‘Czech Mate’ is an interview with screenwriter / director Aldo Lado (97 minutes 6 seconds, in Italian and French with English and German subtitles) and the second featurette titled ‘Einmal Italien Und Zuruck’ is an interview with co-producer Dieter Geissler (29 minutes 3 seconds, in German with English and German subtitles) and an audio extra titled ‘Comments’ (18 minutes 35 seconds, in Italian with English and German subtitles).
Aldo Lado: How he got into the filmmaking industry as a screenwriter, how that evolved into him becoming a director, collaborating with producer Dieter Geissler who also produced his second feature film Who Saw Her Die?, his thoughts on the cast and their performances, cinematographer Giuseppe Ruzzolini and the look of the film, Ennio Morricone and the film’s score.
Jean Sorel: He took on the role because the screenplay intrigued him and how he was familiar with many of those who had already been cast, he explains why he has never seen this movie in its finished form, how one of its producers Enzo Doria never payed him for his performance and collaborating with Aldo Lado who at the time was a first time director.
Topics discussed in the extra titled ‘Einmal Italien Und Zuruck’ include, how he got into filmmaking via acting and working as an assistant director, how he then transitioned into the role of producer, how he got involved in the making of Short Night of Glass Dolls, his thoughts about the screenplay, locations featured in the film, casting decisions where made primarily by Aldo Lado, difficulties he faced while working with Italian producers, collaborating with Aldo Lado and his thoughts on this direction, Ennio Morricone and the film’s score and his thoughts on the film.
The extra titled ‘Comments’ is essentially a scene specific audio commentary with Aldo Lado and moderator Federico Caddeo (in French with English subtitles). Topics they discuss include, how the opening scene was shot at a park in Prague, Ennio Morricone’s score, six weeks to shoot the film, audience reaction to the film, explanation of this film’s narrative structure, whe shooting outside of Italy film negatives were always sent back to Italy and forty-eight hours later the cinematographer would call to see how they turned out and his thoughts on how the finished product.
Other extras on disc two include two Easter egg’s, the first Easter egg is a six minute interview / excerpt with Aldo Lado and the second Easter egg is a two minute interview / excerpt with Edda Dell’Orso.
Rounding out the extras is a booklet that includes an informative essay titled ‘A Living Dead in Prague’ written by Kai Naumann. This essay is presented in dual text, English and German. This release also comes with multi-lingual menus, English and German. Overall Short Night of Glass Dolls gets a definitive release from Camera Obscura, highly recommended.
Note: Camera Obscura are also releasing this film on DVD.