• Blue Movie (Cult Epics) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Cult Epics
    Released on: February 12th, 2019.
    Directed by: Wim Verstappen
    Cast: Hugo Metsers, Kees Brusse, Helmert Woudenberg, Carry Tefsen, Ursula Blauth
    Year: 1971
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    Blue Movie – Movie Reviews:

    Michael (Hugo Mesters of Frank & Eva) has just been released from prison where he spent five years behind bars for playing around with an underage girl. Upon his release, he’s setup in an apartment and given a temporary loan to survive off of until he starts working again, at which point he will be expected to pay the money back. Michael’s hip and Michael’s cool – two qualities that do not go unnoticed by the unusual amount of promiscuous young women that live in the same apartment complex as he.

    His parole officer, Eddie (Helmert Woudenberg, also of Frank & Eva), warns him about playing around too much but Michael’s been locked away a long time and the guy’s got urges. Soon enough, he’s spying on Elly (Ursula Blauth), the married woman that lives next door, getting closer than you might think with a German woman named Marianne (Carry Tefsen) and trying not to fall too hard for Julia (Ine Veen). Since the sexual revolution has gone into full swing while he’s been locked away, he’s at first confused by the way that younger women are dressing and behaving, but he certainly comes to appreciate it soon enough. There’s still that matter of finding employment, however, and the recently relaxed laws on pornography may be key to how he sorts all of that out.

    One the first film shot by famed cinematographer Jan de Bont (the same man that would go on to lens Hollywood blockbusters like The Hunt For Red October, Minority Report and Twister, Blue Movie (not to be confused with the Italian film of the same name or the 1969 Andy Warhol film) was made in an attempt to deliberately wreak havoc with Dutch film censors, a job that it took seriously and proved to be quite effective at. It also proved to be a massive box office hit in its homeland and paved the way for less conventional Dutch filmmakers like Paul Verhoeven to find an outlet for some of their less conventional films.

    The movie never delves into full on hardcore pornography, though its sex scenes are certainly more graphic than what most theater goers would have been expecting in 1971. It does break more than a few taboos before its all over with and it is easy to see how this would have been pretty steamy stuff in its day. There’s more here than just nudity and sex, however, with Michael’s character arc proving to be interesting enough to keep us engaged in the more dramatic aspects of the production. Jan de Bont’s cinematography is also quite strong, this is a nicely shot film with some interesting lighting and good compositions at play. The performances are pretty solid, with Mesters doing a more than fine job in the lead. The female cast members are also solid – attractive enough that you can see why they were cast here, but more than capable of handling the material given them. Ine Veen in particular is very good here.

    Blue Movie – Blu-ray Review:

    Cult Epics presents Blue Movie on a 50GB disc framed at 1.37.1 fullframe in 1080p high definition taken from a new restoration performed by the Eye Film Institute that used the 16mm reversal and 35mm duplicate negatives as its source. The results are quite impressive, the image is quite clean and nicely detailed. The color timing leans heavily towards blue for much of the film, but despite some flatness likely inherent in the source material, things shape up quite well. The presentation is appropriately film-like, devoid of any noise reduction or edge enhancement and free of noticeable compression issues. There’s also very little print damage here at all, just the expected amount of grain.

    The only audio option for the feature is a Dutch language DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track. Optional subtitles are provided in English. The track is nicely balanced and free of any audible hiss or distortion. The track sounds clean, and there’s decent range here for an older mono mix, particularly when it comes to the music used in the film.

    The bulk of the extras for this release come in the form of some featurettes, starting with an eleven-minute archival interview form 1971 with Wim Verstappen where he talks about the censorship issues that the picture ran into when first released, the themes that the picture explores and the general state of the Dutch film industry at the time that the film was made.

    Producer Pim de la Parra provides an eighteen-minute introduction/interview that was recorded before a screening of the restored film that took place at the Cinematheque Francais' Dutch Sex Wave retrospective in 2018. He speaks here about bringing the film back, working with Verstappen and about the making of the picture.

    Hugo Metsers, Jr., the son of the actor who plays Michael, is interviewed for eleven-minutes about his father’s career in the Dutch film industry and then goes on to provide some of his own thoughts about Blue Movie and what it was like seeing his father act in the film.

    Also, quite interesting is the eight-minute piece supplied here that covers the work of the Eye Film Institute, the Amsterdam based group that was directly involved in restoring this and quite a few other vintage Dutch film classics.

    Rounding out the extras is a trailer for the feature, trailers for a few other Cult Epics releases (Frank & Eva, Obsessions and My Nights with Susan, Sandra, Olga & Julie), a still gallery, menus and chapter selection. As this is a combo pack release, we also get a DVD version of the movie taken from the same restoration with identical extras. Cult Epics also packages this release with a slipcover.

    Blue Movie – The Final Word:

    While modern times may have lessened Blue Movie’s more controversial aspects, that doesn’t take away from the fact that this is an important and groundbreaking work of Dutch cinema. On top of that, it’s well-shot and features some solid acting. Cult Epics has done a very nice job bringing this to Blu-ray, featuring a strong presentation and a nice selection of extras that detail its cultural significance and controversial history.

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