09/04/2015  
Justified: The Complete Series on Blu-ray & DVD Oct 13The Surface on DVD, VOD, and DIGITAL HD Sep 1Good Kill on Blu-ray & DVD Sep 1The Goldbergs: The Complete Season Two on DVD Sep 8Catching Faith on DVD Aug 181931 The Front Page on Blu-ray & DVD Aug 11Madama Bovary on DVD & Blu-ray Aug 4

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks to split from Disney?...
Justified: The Complete Series on Blu-ray & DVD Oct 13...
Kelly Osbourne congratulates Melissa Rivers on 'Fashion...
The Surface on DVD, VOD, and DIGITAL HD Sep 1...
VMAs 2015: Behind Miley Cyrus and Nicki Minaj's Onstage...
You have to see BFFs JLaw and Amy Schumer dance on top ...
Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani Shine Together on Red Carpe...
VMAs producer: Miley Cyrus has 'free rein,' no rules fo...
Taylor Swift's 'musical crush' Justin Timberlake helps ...
Taylor Swift and Alanis Morissette slayed 'You Oughta K...





Microsoft Store

Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif



Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

The Criterion Collection presents
The Phantom of Liberty (Le Fantôme de la liberté) (1974)

"I'm sick of symmetry."
- Henri Foucauld (Jean-Claude Brialy)

Review By: Nate Meyers  
Published: June 03, 2005

Stars: Adriana Asti, Julien Bertheau, Jean-Claude Brialy, Adolfo Celi, Anne-Marie Deschott, Paul Frankeur, Pierre Lary, Michel Lonsdale, François Maistre, Muni, Hélène Perdrière, Michel Piccoli, Claude Piéplu, Jean Rochefort, Bernard Verley, Monica Vitti, Miléna Vukotic
Director: Luis Buñuel

Manufacturer: DVDL
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence, brief language, nudity, mature themes)
Run Time: 01h:43m:59s
Release Date: May 24, 2005
UPC: 037429207628
Genre: foreign


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- B-B+B B-

DVD Review

Luis Buñuel's name is synonymous with absurdity and Surrealism thanks to his lengthy career in the arts. To call him a filmmaker is not entirely accurate, for Buñuel's approach to writing and directing is more akin to a psychiatrist performing psychodynamic talk therapy while tripping on LSD. His chaotic tales of serendipity only became more anarchic at the end of his career. The Phantom of Liberty (Le Fantôme de la liberté), made after his triumphant The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie and before his last film, That Obscure Object of Desire, is a disjointed expression of nihilism and disillusionment.

To say that the script, by Buñuel and Jean-Claude Carrière, has a story would be misleading—I doubt it really has a point beyond its lack of a point. Stories come in and out of being sporadically with some loose link sustaining the viewer's attention as content, time period, and characters change drastically. Opening with Napoleon's occupation of Toledo, featuring massive executions and French soldiers desecrating the Eucharist in search of food, one might expect this to be a lavish costume drama, satirizing modern society. But as soon as you settle into this story, we are transposed to Paris circa 1974, where a nursemaid (Muni) is reading the story of the French officers instead of guarding her employers' daughter from a despicable man who gives the girl and her friend pornographic photographs of...the Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal, and other pieces of architecture. The girl's parents, M. and Mme. Foucauld (Jean-Claude Brialy and Monica Vitti, respectively), are repulsed by the images, yet secretly seduced by them.

Such non sequiturs populate the movie—featuring Carmelite monks playing poker with religious medals, a police commissioner's (Julien Bertheau) dead sister calling him on the phone, a killer-poet (Pierre Lary) opening fire on downtown Paris, and many other odd stories—and each story within the film could easily be expanded upon to create a fascinating movie on its own. What Buñuel does with The Phantom of Liberty is an audacious act of courage: he makes these incredible tales boring and frustrating. As soon as a particular section of the "plot" becomes interesting, the focus changes to another character who is merely pursuing the course of his day's plans. Once those plans prove to be interesting, we are re-directed to another set of circumstances that follows the same cycle.

At times the incessant, purposeful frustrating of the viewer's desire for a complete story is tiresome, but occasional glimpses of artistic genius speckle throughout. I suspect that each individual who sees the film will relate to different parts of it based on his own ideology and personality. Two particular components struck me vividly, one in a good way and the other negatively. The telling of a young man and his aunt checking into an inn for a night of debauchery instilled great discomfort in my stomach. I won't explain what transpires or how, but while viewing this disturbing scene I could not sit still, yet I could not look away from the screen. What would happen next and for what reason, if any, would it happen? The highlight of the film comes near its end, when the Legendre family loses their only daughter in spite of her being by their side and conversing with them during their 14-month pursuit of her. It's a brilliant, damning indictment of the West's blindness to its own children's needs.

Yet the film misses the mark just as much as it hits it, with only the impeccable cinematography of Edmond Richard serving to make every moment worthy of attention. Ultimately, I suspect, this is a result of Buñuel's implicit self-defeating claim that all truth is relative (a claim that, in and of itself, asserts an absolute truth). Like his other works, The Phantom of Liberty falls victim to the postmodern decadence of contemporary intelligentsia and, although at times it may merit a brief listen, the bloated ego of the artist loses sight of how little he truly has to say, causing the overall experience to be confounding. I admire Buñuel's courage at pursuing his principles of gratuity, but I can't ignore the fact that his views don't mesh well with the real world.

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

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.66:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: The anamorphic 1.66:1 widescreen image looks awfully good, despite some mosquito noise in exterior night scenes (especially when the police commissioner enters into his sister's crypt). Detail is sharp, fleshtones are accurate, and contrast is solid. Depth is strong, creating a film-like look. Nicely done!

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoFrenchno


Audio Transfer Review: The original French mono track is preserved for this DVD, with no hiss or other audio defects. The dialogue, music, and sound effects are well balanced, creating a pleasant presentation of the original theatrical experience.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 21 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Insert—contains an essay by Gary Indiana about the film, an excerpt of a Luis Buñuel interview, and notes about the DVD.
  2. Jean-Claude Carrière Introduction—video introduction to the movie by co-writer Jean-Claude Carrière.
Extras Review: The supplemental material on this release is limited in comparison to some recent work from Criterion, but what's here is worth a look. A 32-page booklet containing two essays and DVD production credits kicks things off. "The Serpentine Movements" by Gary Indiana is a lengthy, informative essay about Buñuel and the film. At times his love for jargon is irritating, but he has multiple insights that trump his pretense. Following that is an excerpt from Objects of Desire: Conversations with Luis Buñuel. It's an interview of Buñuel about his ideas and intentions for The Phantom of Liberty. Most of what is covered here is apparent from viewing the movie, but some the topics discussed are interesting.

On the disc itself, there's a video introduction by co-screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière (4m:40s). About half of it is a clip from the movie, but Carrière's comments are a welcomed inclusion, as he expresses what he finds successful and disappointing in the movie. The theatrical trailer is also presented in 1.66:1 widescreen and highlights how impressive the image transfer is.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

Sometimes entertaining and at others boring, The Phantom of Liberty (Le Fantôme de la liberté) is always daring. Criterion's stellar transfer brings the visuals to life and the extras are a nice addition for this DVD release.

 


Back to top

Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search

DVD REVIEW ARCHIVE


Get FREE Shipping on all orders at TimeLife.com! - 120x90

 



Microsoft Store

Keywords

movies, steven spielberg, the bfg, dreamworks, walt disney company, drama, television, fashion police, melissa rivers, kelly osbourne, giuliana rancic, zendaya, celebrity, mtv vma, njcki minaj, miley cyrus, anaconda, jennifer lawrence, amy schumer, billy joel, uptown girls, chicago, gwen stefani, blake shelton, the voice, adam levine, pharrell williams, music, los angeles microsoft theater, vma awards, garrit english, staples center, concert, taylor swift, 1989 tour, lisa kudrow, selena gomez, justin timberlake, alanis morissette, you oughta know, natalie maines, ellen degeneres, bachelor, jared fogle, subway pitchman, sex with minors, shannen doherty, beverly hills, 90210, breast cancer, law suit, tanner, mainstain, glynn & johnson, steven d. blatt, kelly clarkson, tinder, heartbeat song, jimmy kimmel, celine dion, family, comedy, faith.drama, fresh prince of bel-air, will smith, fuller house, the x-files, twin peaks, gunsmoke, burt reynolds, bruce boxleitner, buck taylor, jess walton, lane bradbury, merry florene, the man from u.n.c.l.e., robert vaughn, david mccallum, guy ritchie, henry cavill, armie hammer, anna faris, mom, chris pratt, jurassic world, redbook, john landgraf, mr. robot, ray donovan, the strain, difficult people, news late night, jon stewart, peter jennings, the daily show, coco, ice t, conan, keith richards, beatles, rolling stones, crosseyed heart, norah jones, paris hilton, emily ratajkowski, stella maxwell, jada pinkett smith, jaden, willow, howard stern, classic, foo fighters, learn to fly, fabio zaffagnini, betty white, walt palmer, cecil the lion, mia farrow

On Facebook!
digitallyOBSESSED!
digitallyOBSESSED!
Promote Your Page Too

Visit:

Zarabesque.com

Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store