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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
"They're looking for you all right, but nobody's looking for me."
DVD ReviewAll too often in modern life, the line between love and obsession gets crossed by men. The second line, between obsession and stalking, is all too delicate, and from that, as we read in the newspaper daily, the results are often deadly. One of the first serious cinematic explorations of this phenomenon was The Collector, based on John Fowles' best-selling novel.
Butterfly collector and former bank clerk Freddie (Terence Stamp) is obsessed with beautiful art student Miranda Grey (Samantha Eggar). But unlike most men, he is able to act on his obsession by virture of having won a large sum of money in a football pool. Purchasing an estate in a secluded area of England, he kidnaps Miranda and takes her back to a dungeon he has prepared for her. The remainder of the film is the psychological battle of wits between the two of them as Miranda attempts to escape and Freddie tries vainly to win her affections.
Nearly the entire film is taken up with Stamp and Eggar, and they do a marvelous job of creating a many-layered, unwilling relationship. Stamp remains sympathetic though chilling in his pathetic affection for a woman that he knows, deep down, he can never have in any meaningful way. At the same time, he's threatening and frightening when crossed, doing more with a look than most actors can do with ten minutes of dialogue. His Freddie is not motivated by sex, although he lusts after Miranda; he is seized by his middle-class sexual repression and instead, even more frighteningly, just wants to look at Miranda more than anything. Eggar is his equal in every respect, though, successively conveying defiance, dejection, bargaining, submission, passive-aggressiveness and seductiveness in her attempts to win her freedom. The script cleverly emphasizes Miranda's vulnerability by having Freddie strike just after a boyfriend has obviously written her off.
Veteran director William Wyler does a fine job with the presentation, injecting Hitchcock-like suspense into several scenes, most notably one where one of the few outside characters, a neighbor portrayed by Maurice Dallimore, is an unwelcome visitor while Miranda is tied up in an upstairs bath. A scene where Stamp and Eggar wrestle desperately in the mud is given a brutal realism by keeping the camera low to the ground, practically in the muck with the actors. Visually, the prison is a delightful jumble of Normanesque arches juxtaposed with frilly lamps installed in a misguided attempt to make Miranda feel comfortable. Interestingly, other than a brief voiceover during the title sequence, there is not even a scrap of dialogue in the first seventeen minutes of the film, with the story told in nothing but visuals. The film is well-supported by a score from Maurice Jarre, who provides music ranging from delicate baroque to a driving insistence worthy of Bernard Herrmann.
The various subtexts come through well, if a bit heavy-handed on occasion, such as the parallel of collecting butterflies with the collection of Miranda; less emphatic is the use of their relationship as a metaphor for male/female relationships in general writ large. As always in a British setting, there's a class subtext, but it's not just the upper class Miranda against the nouveau riche Freddie, but the intelligentsia versus the bourgeoisie, as seen in Freddie's hatred of Picasso and The Catcher in the Rye. But the whole makes the characters seem truly real, believable and fully-realized. The result is a tour de force.
Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A
Image Transfer Review: The anamorphic widescreen picture generally looks quite fine. The principal problem is heavy grain on the source print, which causes a dancing effect in the compression. While there are several segments with an extremely high bit rate, this might have looked better as an RSDL disc with more breathing room. Compression is visible on the opening butterfly hunting sequence, which has a very digital appearance. Color is generally quite good, though unstable. About two-thirds of the way through, skin tones take on a yellowish hue, while later they turn almost white. However, fine detail is readily visible, such as delicate freckles on Eggar's face. Ringing is evident in some of the daytime sequences as well.
Image Transfer Grade: B-
Audio Transfer Review: The sound is a relatively clean 2.0 mono. Minor hiss is evident in quiet dialogue sequences, however. The echoing footsteps in Miranda's dungeon are quite effective and surprisingly resonant for a mono track. The music has good range, with some effective low bass and a good range.
Audio Transfer Grade: B+
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring Enough, Panic Room
Extras Review: The sole extras are three trailers. The first, for the feature, is full frame and quite crackly. Two more recent Columbia thrillers, Enough and Panic Room, are represented by anamorphic widescreen trailers. Chaptering is the usual 28 stops used by Columbia, but that's all there is.
Extras Grade: D+
Final CommentsA powerful vision of obsession and possession, with two first-rate leading performances. While the image is grainy, it's otherwise very good. No extras but a couple trailers, though.
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