• Theorem (Umbrella Entertainment) DVD Review

    Theorem (Umbrella Entertainment) DVD Review
    Released by: Umbrella Entertainment
    Released on: June 6th, 2019.
    Director: Pier Paolo Pasolini
    Cast: Terence Stamp, Massimo Girotti, Silvana Mangano, Anne Wiazemsky, Laura Betti, Andrés José Cruz Soublette
    Year: 1968
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    Theorem – Movie Review:

    Directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini in 1968, Teorema (or Theorem, if you prefer) opens with a scene where a reporter speaks to a group of men in front of an aging factory. They were once workers, but now own the place and, quite honestly, aren't entirely sure what to do with themselves.

    From there, we move to Milan and to the massive estate of Paolo (Massimo Girotti), the former owner of said factory. He shares this beautiful space with his family who have all gathered together for a fancy party, a party that is soon interrupted in a sense by the arrival of a handsome stranger (Terence Stamp). His initial arrival causes no issues, he seems able to wander through the group without causing much of a stir at all. Before long, however, Paolo's wife, Lucia, (Silvana Mangano), takes notice of him. Before long, so too has their daughter, Odetta (Anne Wiazemsky), had her interest piqued and after her, well, the maid Emilia (Laura Betti), can't help but notice him either. As the party comes to a close and night time sets in, Paolo's son, Pietro (Andrés José Cruz Soublette), winds up sharing a room with the stranger for the night, but around this same time, Paolo himself becomes intrigued by the presence of the man.

    A series of seductions occurs and the entirety of the family soon finds their respective lives changed by their interactions with this enigmatic young man.

    We won't go into too much more detail about what happens in the story out of respect for not spoiling the picture, but let it suffice to say that the connection Stamp's character makes with the different characters in the film is more than just a physical one. Whether or not he's an angel or a devil is debatable, but Passolini makes it very clear that he's more than just a regular, human man. We see this in how the lives of the bourgeois characters change after they connect with him, and we see it in what happens with Emilia as well. It's quite interesting to see how Pasolini let's all of this play out. Like much of his work, taboo sex plays a part in the unfolding of the narrative but that aspect of the story, as controversial as it may have been at the time (and still would be considered so today, at least in certain circles), is handled rather tastefully. It's there to further the story, rather than detract from it or bring it to a halt. Rather, once the characters are ‘with' the stranger, they afterwards seem to be set free from the contrivances of their day to day lives, be those contrivances related to business, keeping up appearances, or serving for a paycheck.

    The performances are excellent across the board. Stamp is the real star here, he's got charisma and screen presence to spare and he plays quite a captivating character with loads of charm. He looks great, he fits the role and most importantly, even dubbed (there isn't a lot of dialogue here so that part doesn't matter so much), he's quite believable in a role that, logically, will defy believability for some. Being surrounded by a talented cast, of course, doesn't hurt anything but Stamp is perfect in the part. Massimo Girotti and Silvana Mangano both do excellent work as the parents, while supporting work from Anne Wiazemsky, Laura Betti and Andrés José Cruz Soublette is also very strong.

    Pasolini directs with style. The movie is nicely paced and beautifully shot by cinematographer Giuseppe Ruzzolini, it looks fantastic and you can quite easily get lost in some of the imagery conjured up for the film. Add to that an excellent score from the great Ennio Morricone and the use of some of Mozart's more rousing pieces and you can quickly see how this comes together as well as it does, and why it will stick with you long after you've finished it.

    Theorem – DVD Review:

    Theorem comes to DVD from Umbrella Entertainment in an anamorphic widescreen transfer framed at 1.85.1 widescreen. This transfer is clearly taken from an older existing master and as such, the image is watchable enough to be certain, but it’s soft and doesn’t provide the kind of detail that you might hope it would. Colors look okay, if a bit flat and the picture is clean and stable – just soft.

    The Italian language Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono audio sounds clean and clear, if never amazing. For an older DVD single channel mix, the quality is fine. The dialogue is always easy to follow and the track is balanced. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion to note. Subtitles are available in English only.

    There’s only one extra on the disc but it’s a good one – a forty-five-minute documentary on the life of the film’s director entitled Via Passolini. Directed by Igor Skofic in 2005, the piece is presented in non-anamorphic widescreen and in Italian with English subtitles. It opens with some dramatic quotes from the director and then some footage of Rome before then cutting to some interesting black and white interview clips where he discusses his family, his father specifically, and then his thoughts on the state and of society. He talks about his early books, the influence of Freud, the impact that Italy’s rise to fascism had and how he had his ‘first collusion with reality’ when he was born. He discusses Marxist philosophy, how he often changed his techniques in both writing and cinema, the use of cinema as a language, the types of people he admires and loves the most, what inspired some of his early films and how he intentionally made films for the elite (and his personal definition of what he means by ‘elite’ in this sense) that pushed back against what he considered to be ‘mass culture.’ There’s also some behind the scenes footage here, showing him being interviewed while working on a film, and the time lapse footage of cars racing through Rome is cut in between the different interview and archival clips. It’s quite interesting and essentially a collection of the director explaining his life choices and work in his own words.

    Theorem – The Final Word:

    Teorema is, like all of Pasolini's work, unique and thought provoking. It's an excellent film, a blend of arthouse filmmaking tropes and gripping mystery plot devices countered by some very strong performances and, as such, is a picture that sticks with you for a while after it ends. Umbrella gives the film a respectable DVD release.