Written by: Michael Den Boer on March 23rd, 2014
Theatrical Release Date: UK, 1987
Director: Donald Cammell
Writers: China Kong, Donald Cammell
Cast: David Keith, Cathy Moriarty, Alan Rosenberg, Art Evans, Michael Greene, Danielle Smith, Alberta Watson, William G. Schilling
BluRay released: March 31st, 2014
Approximate running times: 111 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: DTS-HD Stereo English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Arrow Video
Region Coding: Region B
Retail Price: £24.99
White of the Eye was co-written by Donald Cammell, a filmmaker whose first feature film Performance put him on the map. Unfortunately he had trouble following up his debut and would go on to direct only three more films, Demon Seed, White of the Eye and Wild Side. The score for White of the Eye was composed by Rick Fenn and Nick Mason, who is most known for being Pink Floyd’s drummer.
Anyone expecting a mechanical by the numbers body count film should look elsewhere, while those with the fortitude to sit through this cerebral exploration into the world of violent behavior will find a film deep in subtext and ultimately a rewarding experience.
With that being said, though this film does require some thinking to fully appreciate all the things which unfold. The narrative is told in a straight forward enough way that all of that following who everyone is should not be a problem. While knowing everyone’s motivations are not as cut and dry.
Violence is at the core of this film, so it should not come as a surprise that this film presents it in an unflinching way that does not allow you to dismiss it. The film opens with its most impressive murder set piece which reportedly employs 55 cuts in a mere 2 1/2 minute time span. Though some of the influence if this scene can be seen in Italian thriller / horror cinema, one has to also acknowledge Psycho’s influence on said scene. The other key murder sequence involves a woman being knocked in her bathroom and restrained. When she comes to she is submerged underwater and tries to unsuccessfully fight off her attacker. As this scene comes to an end the killer allows the victim to view herself in a mirror. This scene also has a feeling of déjà vu and an Italian thriller / horror cinema vibe too it.
Visually this film excels and then some as not a single frame is wasted. And in many ways it is through said visuals that so much of what this film is trying to say can be heard. A few of the stand out techniques that this film uses to great effect include steady cam shot for the killer’s POV and washed out bleach look for flashback sequences.
From a performance stand point the entire cast more then hold their own in their respective roles, especially David Keith (Firestarter) in the role of Paul White, this film’s protagonist. This film’s other memorable performance is Cathy Moriarty in the role of Paul’s wife Joan. She gives an incredible performance that is on par with her performance from Raging Bull.
It has been clear since his debut film that he is not a filmmaker who is willing to follow or be confined by traditional storytelling. And though it is rooted in the thriller genre White of the Eye is anything remotely atypical of what one would expect from the genre.
White of the Eye comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. Colors look nicely saturated, flesh tones look healthy and details look crisp throughout. There are no issues with compression and there is grain that varies in degree throughout. Overall this is strong transfer that easily trumps all previous home video releases for this film.
This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD Stereo mmix in English and removable English SDH subtitles have been included with this release. The audio in very good shape as everything sounds balanced and robust when it needs too. There are no issues with distortion or background noise and dialog always comes through clearly. Overall this is a well rounded mix that also does a great job with the more ambient aspect of the soundtrack.
Extras for this release include deleted scenes with optional audio commentary with Donald Cammell biographer Sam Umland (2 minutes 27 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen), alternate opening credits (5 minutes 22 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen), raw footage of the bleach bypassed sequences (11 minutes 40 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen), a featurette titled ‘Into the White’ with director of photography Larry McConkey (11 minutes 1 second – 1080 Progressive Widescreen), a short film also directed by Donald Cammell titled ‘The Argument’ with optional audio commentary with Sam Umland (11 minutes 34 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen), a documentary titled ‘Donald Cammell: The Ultimate Performance’ (73 minutes 23 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen) and an audio commentary with Sam Umland.
There is a wealth of extra content that has been included with this release. And though the bulk of the extra content focus on the main feature at hand White of the Eye, there is still an abundance of info about Donald Cammell and the other films that he directed. Besides giving a detailed account of the films of Donald Cammell and what it was like to work with him. The extras also give a well rounded view of who Donald Cammell was beyond of cinema exploits.
Also included with this combo release is DVD counterpart to the Blu-Ray disc included with this release. Rounding out the extras is a reversible cover art and a collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Brad Stevens and Sam Umland, and a previously unpublished extract from the memoirs of producer Elliott Kastner, illustrated with original archive stills. Overall White of the Eye gets a exceptional release from Arrow Video, highly recommended.