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Home Vision Entertainment presents
Twist and Shout / Zappa (1984 / 1983)

"You're forgetting one thing. We're in this together."
- Sten (Peter Reichhardt)

Review By: Matt Peterson  
Published: June 24, 2004

Stars: Adam Tonsberg, Lars Simonson, Camilla Soeberg, Ulrikke Bondo, Peter Reichhardt, Morton Hoff
Director: Bille August

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (sexual situations, brief nudity, violence)
Run Time: 01h:48m / 01h:43m
Release Date: April 27, 2004
UPC: 037429194720
Genre: foreign

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- A-A-C+ D+

DVD Review

Twist and Shout and Zappa are two unique companion pieces, cut from the same coming-of-age cloth. Regardless, each film conveys a remarkably different message and tone. The common character to each film, Bjorn (Adam Tonsberg), is really the "everyboy." With gravity-defying hair that gives Wolverine a run for his money, Bjorn is growing up in suburban Denmark, encountering life's challenges and surprises along the way. Danish director Billie August has assembled a fine pair of films on childhood, that, though enshrouded in melodramatic overtones, strike at the heart of what it means to grow up. Set in the streets and fields of Denmark, these films capture the spirit of the country I have come to know quite well.

The first entry into this saga is Zappa, set in the Danish capital, circa 1961. The ever uncertain Bjorn is tempting fate. In a situation common to most, he has befriended the troublemaker. Sten (Peter Reichhardt) is a rich, controlling, almost sadistic leader of a "gang," whose fractured family life, led by his self-centered mother, has left him neglected and seeking approval. He exacts his boosts in self-esteem through intimidation and manipulation, symbolized by his obese guppy Zappa, to which he gleefully feeds live bait. The pair is considering a new member: Mulle (Morton Hoff), a member of a lower class family. He is a husky, clowning youth that simply wants to belong.

The trio get into a load of mischief, some of which is disturbing and graphic in its violence and intensity. This is no simple, light-hearted youthful romp. August chooses to depict hard-hitting events that shape the lives of those involved, including some of Bjorn's first sexual exploits. As Sten's life decays, he tries to pull what little companionship he has down with him. Surprisingly, Mulle, is the first to withdraw in a bout of savage rage. Bjorn's decision comes more slowly, but with consequences that are no less impactful.

Receiving top billing in Home Vision's set is Twist and Shout, which takes place during the Beatlemania craze of 1960s Copenhagen. Sten and Mulle are nowhere to be seen. This time around, Bjorn's close friend is Erik (Lars Simonson), a slightly nerdy kid with a self-confidence problem. He has the hots for Kirsten (Ulrikke Bondo), an attractive young girl whose character was established in Zappa. She is the girl next door, and has convinced herself she is meant for Bjorn. Bjorn, however, is not convinced, and meets his first love at an imitation Beatles concert. Anna (Camilla Soeberg) seems more experienced at such matters, and before long, the starstruck girl becomes pregnant.

Meanwhile, Erik's family life is causing him great social strain. His mother is nearly bedridden, suffering from post-partum psychosis. His father tries to exude a veneer of control and authority, but he too is spinning out of control, looking to other sources of comfort to cope with his wife's condition. Erik tries desperately to maintain respect for his father while caring for his mother, who is so often neglected. Bjorn recognizes this crisis, and after dealing with his own, must make a decision that will affect not only his own life, but the lives of Erik, his mother, Anna and Kirsten.

These are undeniably fine films, the latter of which adds more thematic layers that enrich the overall arc. August's unobtrusive camera style frequently observes from afar, or through a doorway, allowing the viewer to take in the details of the scene and well-developed characters. He is not interested in cheap humor or sappy teen love, but in the real situations, disappointments, laughs and memories that are common for everyone. These universal, relatable themes characterize the experience of growing up, a journey some of us are still taking.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The two films are presented on their own discs, and the image quality is stellar. Home Vision's 1.78:1 anamorphic transfers look equally impressive. Colors and contrast are rock solid, and the prints are remarkably clean, exhibiting good detail and minor levels of film grain. Nicely done.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: The audio suffers. Both tracks are presented in their original mono. The mix is serviceable, but there is some noticeable hiss at times, along with some rare, but noticeable audio drops and pops. Overall, a relatively clean, yet flawed pair of tracks.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 32 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
2 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Amaray Double
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Liner notes by film critic David Thomson
Extras Review: Extras are sparse. On the first disc, a director filmography and trailers for both films can be found. That's all, folks. However, considering you are getting two complete films in one tidy package, excessive complaints are just that.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

Director Billie August's fine double shot is an impressive, skillfully crafted look at the transition of Bjorn from early to late teens. All the expected experiences are contained within, but show a level of honesty and dramatic weight rarely seen in films of this type. Home Vision's package is solid, prompting a firm recommendation.


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