Written by: Michael Den Boer on November 16th, 2008
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
BluRay released: November 18th, 2008
Approximate running time: 119 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive
Sound: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 English, DTS HD 7.1 English, DD-EX 5.1 English, DD-EX 5.1 Italian
BluRay Release: Blue Underground
Region Coding: Region 0
Retail Price: $34.95
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 there own Stendhal like Syndrome on the listener. One of the things that enjoy the more about The Stendhal Syndrome then 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.
The Stendhal Syndrome comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive anamorphic widescreen. This transfer for The Stendhal Syndrome improves upon Blue Underground’s transfer for their special edition DVD release for the film. Shadow detailed is one of the area’s that this transfer excels with scene’s like the first time Alfredo attacks Anna as standout examples of the added depth and texture in this transfer. Colors also fare better than they have ever before which is especially noticeable in scenes like the second time Alfredo attacks Anna and keeps her captive in a cave. This is evident in how the color’s for the graffiti on the wall looks when compared to previous editions. Also the amount of detail present throughout is leaps and bounds greater than it has ever been just look at sweet and pores on the characters faces. The best part of this transfer is that the image looks more film like and is not plagued like previous editions by DNR.
This release comes with four audio options Dolby TrueHD 7.1 English, DTS HD 7.1 English, DD-EX 5.1 English and DD-EX 5.1 Italian. All four audio mixes are crystal clear with the most dynamic mix being the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 English. For the English language audio mix two scenes are in Italian and have been subtitled. Also include with this release in removable English subtitles that are easy to follow and error free.
All the extra content included on Blue Underground’s special edition DVD has been carried over for this release. The extras are as follows the films English language trailer and five interviews “Director” Dario Argento (20 minutes), “Inspiration: Psychological Consultant” Graziella Magherini (21 minutes), “Special Effects” Sergio Stivaletti (16 minutes), “Assistant Diretcor” Luigi Cozzi (22 minutes) and “Production Designer” Massimo Antonello Geleng (23 minutes) – all five interviews are in Italian with English subtitles. All the interviews are very interesting with the Dario Argento and Luigi Cozzi interviews being the best of the lot. Overall Blue Underground’s transfer for this BluRay edition of The Stendhal Syndrome is hands down the best this film has ever looked on home video.