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  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • French: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • German: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
    English, French, Spanish, German, Greek, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish
  Extras
  • Theatrical trailer

Liebestraum

MGM/MGM Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 108 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Well, in all honesty, I didn’t expect much here, but received a fairly decent film of David Lynch-like creepiness and weirdness mixed with an eerie smalltown ghost story all enveloped in the welcoming arms of a decaying department store.

I know, it sounds strange. And it is, but in a fairly impressive manner. While the story is a bit simple in that its ‘out there’ and the conclusion proves a little deflating, the general feeling of the film is of genuine oddness as we are introduced to town characters and a strange tale dating back a couple of decades or more.

Nick Kaminsky (Kevin Anderson in full stubble and pout) turns up in a small town to see his biological mother who is lying on her deathbed. She has recognised him from his jacket photographs, as he is an authority and author on American historical architecture. When visiting a construction site in the town, he meets Paul Kessler (Bill Pullman), a friend from college, and he learns the building is to be pulled down. In the week remaining before the dynamite, Nick decides to write about the building and with Paul’s wife Jane (Pamela Gidley), a photographer, he starts exploring it.

"I love a good piss…"

They soon discover an attraction that reflects one from 30 odd years before; the same attraction that led to a murder that saw the building closed down. Meanwhile, Nick is learning more about his mother and who actually did the shooting at that murder and, what’s more, how he himself plays a role in the event.

This is a slow-release film that oozes creepy throughout its 108 minutes. The storyline itself is kind of a closed book as there are limited human agents involved in the unfolding drama but, regardless of this, I found myself enjoying the film from start to finish. The events still manage to hold a certain mystery as information is slowly and unwillingly imparted from the townsfolk and this sense of conspiracy or cover up permeates the narrative and gives the general feeling of unease to the entire story.

Surprisingly good, Liebestraum is named after a Franz Liszt piece of classical music that plays during the original murder. Its echo is felt throughout the film as it lends its hypnotic motif to the overcast proceedings and writer/director Mike Figgis (Leaving Las Vegas) using it well to capture the misery of a dying town.

  Video
Contract

There are minimal artefacts for a film from 1991. Shadow detail is about average and as there are lots and lots of shadows and night shots within here, this both works and doesn’t work in the film’s favour. There’s enough light to see by usually, but at times the shadows are too impenetrable. In a mystery of this nature shadow is good to maintain the intrigue, however it could have benefited here being a bit clearer. Blacks are good though and the rest of the colour palette works well in muted tones and even saturation.

The picture quality is fairly sharp throughout and the flesh tones are fine with only the rarest moments of a mild grain to interfere with the above mentioned shadows. The film is delivered in the cinema aspect of 1.85:1 with 16:9 enhancement and makes good use of the wider aspect with some visually impressive shots of the corrupted store.

  Audio
Contract

While granted but Dolby Digital stereo, it does a fine job of maintaining the menace with Prologic enhancement delivering a long running deeper rumbling pouring slowly from the subwoofer. This rumbling, like a thunderstorm in the distant sky, is a brilliant device and while not used constantly, does a great job when employed. Dialogue is mostly clear, although I had some trouble with whispered lines or unexpected lines. However, that may be just me, I dunno. Mike Figgis has himself scored the music and, as noted, makes good use of Liszt’s work with variations, as well as catchy jazz of the late ’50s. Overall the sound is nice and even with good balances throughout and is a fine complement to the film itself.

  Extras
Contract

We only receive the original theatrical trailer, but this is 1.85:1 and 16:9 enhanced. It paints a mysterious picture of the film and doesn’t give anything away. Runtime: 1:39.

  Overall  
Contract

Leibestraum impressed me much more than expected and while the pouting of Kevin Anderson in the lead role gets a little distracting at times, the film does maintain a nice creepy feeling for the duration. For fans of something a little darker this will suit, as well as for fans of the David Lynch school of cinema where nothing is as it seems in a bizarre private universe seemingly cut off from our reality.

Not bad at all.


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=3873
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      And I quote...
    "Surprisingly good smalltown creepiness in this 1991 mystery from Mike Figgis."
    - Jules Faber
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Teac DVD-990
    • TV:
          AKAI CT-T29S32S 68cm
    • Speakers:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Centre Speaker:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Surrounds:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Subwoofer:
          Akai
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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