Criterion presents Götz Spielmann’s Revanche in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on the first dual-layer disc of this two-disc set. The image has been enhanced for widescreen televisions.
The video transfer on here is rather impressive. There is some noise present but overall it looks shockingly clean. Some mild edge-enhancement is also present but it’s not distracting. Detail is pretty decent and the image remains consistently sharp throughout the entirety of the film. Colours look nicely saturated, reds look fairly strong, and blacks are quite deep and rich.
Though the Blu-ray looks far sharper than the DVD edition the DVD looks very good and holds its own, also looking pretty good upscaled. For Blu-ray owners I’d still direct them to that edition but those going for the DVD won’t be disappointed. 9/10
All DVD screen captures are presented in their original size from the source disc. Images have been compressed slightly to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.
I’m happy the film received a Criterion edition (giving it more exposure than it may have received otherwise) but the supplements gathered here are a tad disappointing.
The first disc only presents the film’s American theatrical trailer. The remaining supplements are found on the second dual-layer DVD.
First on the second disc is an interview with Götz Spielmann, running a rather long 35-minutes. I was disappointed not to see a commentary for this edition, maybe even from the director (even if it turned out to be subtitled) but maybe I’m now okay with that after the interview. It’s not a terrible interview but it’s also not a terribly compelling one. He spends a good chunk of it explaining what he doesn’t like about most movies, which is fine and dandy, as it gives one a better idea about his tastes and his techniques, but then it ends up with this “greater-than-thou” cloud hanging over the entire feature, especially since he immediately opens (and I mean immediate; the interview opens instantaneously once the feature starts and I had to wonder if I had actually missed something) stating he’s an “intellectual” filmmaker. He talks about making the film, shooting on location, his strive for authenticity (explaining how dialogue in movies sound fake, and how he tries to work around that,) and his distaste for film scores. Despite some decent material in its rather long 35-minutes it’s still a tad dry and a touch pompous. Though considering I seem to hate David Mamet commentaries while others like them it could be just me.
Not a whole lot better, but still containing some decent items, is The Making of Revanche, a 36-minute making of documentary on the film. This is primarily made up of behind-the-scenes home video footage with Spielmann directing a selection of scenes. It’s interesting, I must admit, watching the director and his actors talk out the sequences, building on what Spielmann mentioned in his interview on how he would build his scenes. Intercut in here are interviews, primarily with Spielmann. Again, a touch on the dry side but there were quite a few good moments in here that made up for that. Still might not be a must-see feature, though.
The best feature on here is the last big one, a short student film made by Spielmann in 1984 called Foreign Land. It first opens with a 3-minute director’s introduction where the Spielmann feels he found his “filmic language” rather early, then moving on to his memories of the shoot (the location had no road to it, no hot water, and no power, making it a difficult film to shoot.) The film itself, running 45-minutes, is actually quite good and worth viewing. Though it’s a student film it’s confidently made and feels quite professional. Spielmann’s incredible ability at capturing nature (which highlights the second half of Revanche) is on full display here as he covers the day to day life of a boy and a farm hand working a farm in the middle of nowhere. I guess one could call it a meandering film (it really doesn’t have much of a plot per se and at times feels like small skits) but it still manages to move briskly and looks rather lovely (it also has a sly sense of humour.) Disappointingly the transfer is interlaced, presenting some issues with the patterns present on clothing throughout, and also in some of the background, presenting jagged edges and some shimmering. While not ideal it still looks pretty good, having been cleaned up thoroughly and also presenting strong colours.
The included booklet comes with an okay essay by Armond White, though he yet again falls into the trap of validating his opinions by comparing Spielmann to other directors like Bergman and Dreyer instead of just focusing on Spielmann’s own strengths as a filmmaker.
The short film saves the supplements but otherwise it’s a disappointing roster. Considering how new the film was, though, I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised at the lack of critical content. 6/10