• Images

    Released by: Arrow Academy
    Released on: March 20th, 2018.
    Director: Robert Altman
    Cast: Susannah York, Rene Auberjonois, Marcel Bozzuffi, Hugh Millais, Cathryn Harrison
    Year: 1972
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    The Movie:

    Written and directed by Robert Altman in 1972, Images introduces us to a children’s author named Cathryn (Susannah York) who is home alone one night working on her latest project when she gets a phone call from a stranger. This woman tells her that her husband Hugh (Rene Auberjonois) isn’t working late like he told her, rather, he’s at a hotel right now with another woman. A few hours later when Hugh comes home, she confronts him with this and has a bit of a breakdown when she sees another man acting and behaving as if he were Hugh.

    Figuring she’s starting to crack from the pressures and hormonal changes, Hugh, at his wife’s behest, decides that they’ll take a quick trip to their country home in Ireland, a tranquil cottage alone on a picturesque bay. After their arrival, Hugh seems more interested in quail hunting than his wife’s mental state and as he goes about his business she begins to see and her things that she knows she shouldn’t be seeing. This comes to a boil when she sees Hugh turn into Rene (Marcel Bozzuffi), a brutish Frenchman she was involved with in the past who died on a plane crash a few years prior. Things go from strange to stranger when their (somewhat distant) neighbor Marcel (Hugh Millais), who Cathryn has also got a past with, brings his teenaged daughter, Susannah (Cathryn Harrison), to their home for a visit.

    As time goes on, Cathryn becomes increasingly unable to tell Hugh from Rene from Marcel. An attempt to find some peace and quiet at a nearby waterfall only makes things worse when she looks to the top and sees herself there. Eventually, Cathryn believes she’s shot Rene and, after making love to Marcel, stabbed him to death – but we soon figure out that just because Cathryn thinks this has happened doesn’t mean it actually has…

    Set to a genuinely unsettling score from John Williams (who was nominated for an Academy Award for his work on this film) with “sounds” credited to Stomu Yamash'ta, Images is one of those films where the aural side of things is as important as the visual side. The music and the ‘sounds’ that are used throughout the film do a great job of building suspense and keeping the audience engaged in the story as it twists and turns towards a surprisingly grim conclusion. Of course, the fact that the cinematography comes courtesy of Vilmos Zsigmond doesn’t hurt things either. There are a lot of very impressive shots and unusual camera setups used throughout the film that work hand in hand with the sound design to create an atmosphere of palpable tension and even dread.

    At times the film feels like it’s borrowing a little bit from Psycho and maybe even more from Repulsion and there are moments where Altman and editor Graeme Clifford could certainly have improved the pace, but overall this works quite well. A lot of the credit for that has to go to Susannah York who is superbly convincing in her lead role. Her character is cracked, her psyche splintering but she never overdoes it or comes across as crazy in that over-the-top, scenery chewing sort of way that you might expect. The supporting players all do very good work here as well, Marcel Bozzuffi in particular is quite intimidating, but York is the one that carries the film.


    Arrow brings Images to Blu-ray from a “brand-new 4K restoration from the original negative, produced by Arrow Films exclusively for this release” in its proper aspect ratio of 2.35.1 widescreen. This is a bit tricky to evaluate because Images isn’t a flashy looking film, rather it’s a grainy picture that frequently employs photography that’s less than perfectly crisp. It also uses a fairly dark and grungy looking color scheme for the majority of its running time. As such, Arrow’s transfer seems very much ‘true to source’ if you will. Detail is quite good, save for that occasional softness, and color reproduction seems to be perfectly accurate. Black levels are good and the disc is well authored showing no problems with compression artifacts, edge enhancement or noise reduction. Aside from a few white specks here and there the transfer is also very clean. This is a nice step up from the old MGM DVD, that’s for sure.

    The only audio option for the movie is the 0riginal English mono audio presented in uncompressed LPCM format with optional English SDH subtitles. There are no problems here. Some flatness inherent in the source is evident but you can’t fault the disc for that. Levels are properly balanced and dialogue is clean, clear and easy to follow. The genuinely unnerving soundtrack from John Williams (with ‘sounds’ courtesy of Stomu Tamash’ta!) sounds very good here and plays a big part in making the film as effective as it is.

    Extras start off with an audio commentary by Samm Deighan and Kat Ellinger. The two participants do a nice job of dissecting the film, offering up a nice mix of historical analysis and trivia about the film, it’s history and those who made it. Lots of discussion here about the characters that populate the picture, what may be real versus imagined and comparisons to other films that deal with similar material and other films within Altman’s own filmography. Carried over from the old out of print MGM DVD release is about thirty-five-minutes’ worth of scene-select commentary by Altman himself. Altman’s commentary tracks over the years have sometimes been a little less than impressive as he tends to go quiet for long periods of time or just narrate what’s happening in the film. A bit of that happens here too, though when he’s engaged – which isn’t often enough – he’s interesting. This isn’t an essential listen but it’s great to have it here for historical purposes at least.

    As to the featurettes, we get a twenty-four-minute archival interview with Robert Altman also taken from the old MGM release entitled Imagining Images. Cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond pops up in here for a bit too as they discuss the look of the film, the locations, casting the picture, the performances, and certain specifics of the story ideas. Also included on the disc is a brand-new interview with actress Cathryn Harrison that runs only six-minutes. She talks about getting the part, her thoughts on her character and shares some quick but welcome memories from her time spend on set. Last but not least, we also get a thirty-two-minute long appreciation by Stephen Thrower in which he talks about the film’s many qualities. He also talks about the picture’s history, the acting, Altman’s directing style and lots more. Thrower’s always an interesting guy to listen to, this is a very worthwhile piece.

    Rounding out the extras on the disc is an original (and unusually long) theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection. Arrow has packed this Blu-ray with a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by the Twins of Evil as well as an insert booklet containing credits for the film and the Blu-ray release, an essay on the film by Carmen Gray as well an extract from Altman on Altman.

    The Final Word:

    Images is one of Altman’s best and most memorable films, a dark and twisting psychological thriller filled with fine performances. Arrow’s Blu-ray is a strong upgrade over the MGM DVD release both in terms of presentation quality and its supplemental package. Recommended.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Maureen Champ's Avatar
      Maureen Champ -
      Arrow Video has the most essential and charming artwork for Images ever •̀.̫•́✧