Written by: Michael Den Boer on July 14th, 2017
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: July 25th, 2017
Approximate running time: 119 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS HD 7.1 English, DD-EX 5.1 English, DTS-HD Stereo English, DTS HD 7.1 Italian, DD-EX 5.1 Italian, DTS-HD Stereo Itallian
Subtitles: English for Italian Audio, English SDH, French, Spanish
BluRay Release: Blue Underground
Region Coding: Region Free / Region Free NTSC
Retail Price: $39.98
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 widescreen. This new release from Blue Underground will be the seven-home video incarnation of The Stendhal Syndrome and over the course of these various releases this title had yet to get the release that it truly deserves. That is until now, this new 2k restoration from the original camera negative that Blue Underground is using for their transfer. Colors have always played a significant role in all of Dario Argento’s film’s and the colors for this transfer do a superb job retaining this film’s cold detached mood. Image clarity, contrast and black levels remain solid throughout. The one area where this release stands out most when compared to Blue Underground’s previous Blu-ray release, is in regards to grain structure and this new 2k transfer delivers consistently healthy-looking grain throughout.
There are English and Italian language options included with this release. Each language comes with three audio options, a DTS HD 7.1, DD-EX 5.1 and DTS-HD Stereo. All of the audio mixes sound, clean, clear and balanced throughout. Range wise all of the audio mixes sound robust when they need too and the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented. With the DTS HD 7.1 being the most dynamic of the audio mixes. Included with this release are four subtitle options, English for Italian Audio and English SDH, French and Spanish.
Extras new to this release include, a poster & stills gallery, an English language trailer for the film (1 minutes 3 seconds), an interview with actress Asia Argento titled Three Shades of Asia (20 minutes 1 second, in Italian with English subtitles), an interview with co-screenwriter Franco Ferrini titled Prisoner of Art (13 minutes 36 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles), an interview with special makeup artist Franco Casagni titled Sharp as a Razor (10 minutes 3 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles and an audio commentary with Troy Howarth, author of So Deadly, So Perverse.
Topics discussed in the interview with Asia Argento include, how the film was originally going to be made in the USA and star Brigette Fonda, how she ended up in the film’s lead role, preparation for her character, shooting in Florence, onset memories, actor Thomas Kretschmann, how The Stendhal Syndrome is her favorite film out of all of the films that she had made with her father, how she contributed the paintings that her character creates in the film, cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno, audience reaction to the film and her thoughts about the film.
Topics discussed in the interview with Franco Ferrini include, the origins of the film, the book that inspired the film, the plot, the score, Dario Argentoi’s creative process, why the film was not made as originally intended in the USA and the ending for the film that he wanted.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, background information about Dario Argento, Ennio Morricone / the score, Giuseppe Rotunno / the visuals, the book which inspired Dario Argento to make this film, how the film was originally intended to be made in the USA and why it ended up being made in Italy, special effects / CGI, thoughts about key moments, thoughts about the cast, how the film was Dario Argento’s most success film in Italy to date and thoughts about the film.
Extras ported over from Blue Underground’s previous release for this film have been included on a second DVD that comes as part of this combo release. And the extras are as follows, an interview with co-screenwriter / director Dario Argento (20 minutes, in Italian with English subtitles), an interview with psychological consultant Graziella Magherini (20 minutes 38 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles), an interview with special effects supervisor Sergio Stivaletti (15 minutes 46 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles), an interview with assistant director Luigi Cozzi (21 minutes 49 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles) and an interview with production designer Massimo Antonello Geleng (22 minutes 38 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles).
Topics discussed in the interview with Dario Argento include, how he finds inspiration, the origins of The Stendhal Syndrome, developing / researching that he did for the film, Uffizi Gallery Museum in Florence, Giuseppe Rotunno, Asia Argento, scene that he found difficult to shoot, Thomas Kretschmann, special effects/ CGI, Ennio Morricone / the score and his thoughts about the film.
The interview with Graziella Magherini explores the psychological aspects of the film and the syndrome that inspired the film.
Topics discussed in the interview with Sergio Stivaletti include, Dario Argento and their various collaborations, CGI / digital effects, The Stendhal Syndrome and how the difficulties he faced in regards to the CGI.
Topics discussed in the interview with Luigi Cozzi include, the first time he encountered Dario Argento, Four Flies on Grey Velvet, The Five Days of Milan, The Killer Must Kill Again, Ennio Morricone and the Profondo Rosso Store.
Topics discussed in the interview with Massimo Antonello Geleng include, how he got involved with The Stendhal Syndrome, Dario Argento, finding locations for the film, art that appears in the film, Giuseppe Rotunno / the visuals and information about various other films that he has worked on.
Extras for this release include, a slip cover, a reversible cover art and a twenty-page booklet that contains, cast & crew information, an essay titled The Art of Madness: Inside “The Stendhal Syndrome” written by Michael Gingold. Also, included with this release is a DVD that has the same content included on the Blu-Ray included as part of this combo. Overall The Stendhal Syndrome gets an exceptional release from Blue Underground, highly recommended.
Update: Blue Underground have issued a second pressing for The Stendhal Syndrome that corrects encoding issues from the initial pressing for this release.
It should be noted that this second pressing has addressed a missing instance of dialog from the initial pressing.
For more information about replacement discs go here.
Screenshots from original pressing