Monday, October 28, 2013

Blu-ray Review: THE OTHER (1972)

THE OTHER (1972)
The Limited Edition Series Blu-ray 
Label: Twilight Time DVD
Region Code: Region-FREE
Rating: PG
Duraton: 100 Minutes Video: 1080p High Definition / 1.85:1
Audio: English 1.0 DTS-HD MA Mono with Optional English SDH Subtitles
Video: 1080p Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Cast: Uta Hagen, John Ritter, Diana Muldaur, Martin Udvarnoky, Victor French, Chris Udvarnoky
Director: Robert Mulligan

What a trip seeing this classic folk-thriller on Blu-ray after so many years, I saw it on TV when I was young, too young, and it left a mark on my psyche. The year is 1935 on a family farm in rural Connecticut, it's a gorgeous area marked by scenic beauty, we meet a set of 11 year old identical twins, the mischief maker Holland Perry (Martin Udarnoky) and his more sympathetic brother Niles (Chris Udvarnoky) who gets roped into Holland's naughty adventures. Their father has passed away and they are left in the care of their anguished and reclusive mother Alexandra (Diana Muldaur) and Russian emigre grandmother Ada (Uta Hagen). Alexandra stays in her room most of the time but Ada has a particular fondness for Niles, even showing him a trick she calls "the great game", projecting his consciousness into a raven soaring through the sky. It's a weird supernatural twist to the story and one that spins wildly out of control by it's tragically fractured end. 

Through the eyes of the twins we are treated to a series of practical jokes perpetrated by Holland upon family and neighbors, pranks that are almost always result in untimely death. One such "joke" results in the a family member being skewered on a pitchfork, a magic trick for a neighbor spinster results in a terror-induced heart attack, wherever the twins go death seems to follow. The most tragic turn of events begins when a newborn baby is kidnapped from the Perry home, mirroring the recent Lindbergh baby kidnapping in the newspapers, the chain of events this kidnapping unleashes is unnerving. Sure, the film starts out a bit slow and deliberately paced but the finale left me breathless, it's tense and dizzying stuff.

The Other (1972) is beautiful film, it's sort of sinister the way the pastoral scenery and warm rural settings shot by cinematographer Robery Surtees (Ben-Hur) get under your skin, Jerry Goldsmith's lyrical score perfectly accentuates the scenery and the underlying eeriness of what's happening onscreen. It seems so idyllic with rustic barns, flowing fields and winding streams, but there's some seriously sinister stuff afoot, deadly happenings indeed. 

As a kid I was caught my surprise by the twist ending, I just did not see it coming and it completely floored me. Watching it again 30 plus years later I could see the mechanics of the film at play and it softened the impact a bit, it's hard to say for sure since I cannot erase what I already knew, regardless it's a chilling conclusion ripe with tragedy and it resonates strongly. Something I love about the movie is that I think it's open to interpretation, while the twist might fairly obvious to me given the mechanics of the film, it does not take away from the power of the storytelling or the ghastly impact of the events. 

Blu-ray: Twilight Time present The Other (1972) with an AVC encode, the 1080p widescreen (1.85:1) presentation is very pleasing, there's a nice natural layer of film grain, colors are accurate, and the soft focus cinematography looks fantastic. The English 1.0  DTS-HD Master Audio Mono audio sounds great, while subdued by modern standards this has a nice dynamic range, dialogue is consistently clear and Jerry Goldsmith's sublime score comes through beautifully. 

The only extras are a trailer for the film plus an isolated music track featuring Jerry Goldsmith's lyrical score which perfectly captures the strange menace and the pastoral beauty depicted in the film, it's a very nice bonus feature, well worth a listen on it's own. Let's not forget Julie Kirgo's liner notes contained in an 8-page booklet with gorgeous stills from the feature, aways informative and adding another layer of appreciation for the film. As with all of the Limited Edition Blu-rays from Twilight Time this release is strictly limited to only 3,000 and available exclusively from www.screenarchives.com

Verdict: A classic slice of slow-burn psychological horror in the tradition of the Bad Seed, bereft of blood it still packs quite a wallop through it's intense storytelling, tense, eerie and beautifully shot, they just do not make cinema of this caliber anymore, a very high recommend. 4 Outta 5 

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