Written by: Michael Den Boer on March 24th, 2010
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, January 26th, 1996
Director: Dario Argento
Writers: Dario Argento, Franco Ferrini
Cast: Asia Argento, Thomas Kretschmann, Marco Leonardi, Luigi Diberti, Paolo Bonacelli
DVD released: March 22nd, 2010
Approximate running time: 115 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 5.1 Italian
DVD Release: Arrow Video
Region Coding: Region 0 PAL (UK)
Retail Price: £15.99
Synopsis: Anna Manni (Asia Argento), a detective with the anti-rape squad receives a tip shortly after arriving in Florence that a serial rapist who she has been pursing is in town. Anna’s informant agrees to meet her at the Uffizi Gallery with more info about the serial rapist. Shortly after Anna enters the gallery she is overcome by the paintings which transform themselves before her eyes causing her to faint and hit her head on a table. When Anna regains consciousness she is help by an attractive man named Alfredo. Not knowing who she is or why she was there she refuses Alfredo’s help. Anna now in the safety of her hotel recovering from the events early in the day she is confronted by Alfredo who happens to be the serial rapist she has been tracking. He overpowers her as he rapes her psychically and mentally. Somehow Anna manages to escape from Alfredo before he has a chance to kill her. Anna now suffering from the dementia brought on by the “The Stendhal Syndrome” must also deal with the fact Alfredo is still at large with the possibility that he might come back and finish her off.
The Stendhal Syndrome like many of Dario Argento’s post Opera films seems to divide his fans base. It is by far and away his most gritting and at times realistic film which is in direct contrast with his carnage filled orgies which walk the fine line between nightmares and reality. The genius of the story where individuals can be overcome by great works of art is not only plausible it has been used by many murders as their excuse to their crimes. This is what also makes the film even more disturbing that the things it portrays often occur in the real world and that they are not just the authors Imagination.
The cast for The Stendhal Syndrome is one of the better assembled by Argento since the height of his popularity the 1980’s. The cast is anchored by the Asia Argento’s genuine and often fascinating performance of a woman who after the tragedy of being raped goes through an identity crisis. One could almost call The Stendhal Syndrome Dario Argento’s own take on the Ingmar Bergman film Persona.
Visually there are many great Argento set pieces in The Stendhal Syndrome and a few of them are very bloody. Two of the films greatest assets are Giuseppe Rotunno’s picturesque photography and Ennio Morricone’s hallucinogenic score of cacophony sounds which evoke their own Stendhal like Syndrome on the listener. One of the things that enjoy the more about The Stendhal Syndrome than any other Dario Argento film is that it always feels new and familiar no matter how many times you watch it. Ultimately The Stendhal Syndrome is Dario Argento’s most transitional film and only now is it finally getting the recognition it deserves for its daring and at times innovative take on the thriller genre.
Arrow Video presents The Stendhal Syndrome in a 1.77:1 anamorphic widescreen. Details look sharp and black levels fare well throughout. There are no problems with compression and edge enhancement is kept in check. The main differences between this transfer and transfer for the Blue underground DVD and BluRay releases. Is that the grain, colors and flesh tones are more faithful to this film’s intended look on the Blue Underground DVD and BluRay releases.
This release comes with two audio options, Dolby Digital 5.1 English and Dolby Digital 5.1 Italian and removable English subtitles have been provided.. Both audio mixes are in good shape. They always sound clear and balanced.
Extras for this release include a English language trailer for the film (1 minute 3 seconds – anamorphic widescreen). Other extras include “The Complete Dario Argento Trailer Reel” which includes the following trailers, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Cat O’ Nine Tails, Four Flies on Grey Velvet, The Five Days of Milan, Profondo Rosso, Suspiria, Inferno, Tenebre, Phenomena, Opera, Two Evil Eyes, Trauma, The Stendhal Syndrome, The Phantom of the Opera, Non Ho Sonno (Sleepless), The Card Player, Mother of Tears: The Third Mother and Dawn of the Dead. While most of his film’s are represented there are a few omissions Giallo and Do You Like Hitchcock?
Also included with this release is an eight page booklet with liner notes about the film that were written by Alan Jones, reversible cover art and a replica poster. Overall Arrow Video gives The Stendhal Syndrome a well rounded audio / video presentation.