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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Director Brian De Palma's 1973 Village Voice essay "Murder by Moog: Scoring the Chill," on working with composer Bernard Herrmann (Psycho, Citizen Kane)
  • A 1973 print interview with De Palma on the making of Sisters
  • "Rare Study of Siamese Twins in Soviet," the 1966 Life magazine article that inspired De Palma
  • Excerpts from the original press book, including ads and exploitation
  • Hundreds of production, publicity, and behind-the-scenes stills

Sisters


Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Brian De Palma
Starring: Margot Kidder, Jennifer Salt, Charles Durning, Bill Finley, Lisle Wilson, Barnard Hughes, Mary Davenport, Dolph Sweet
1973 | 92 Minutes | Licensor: Pressman Williams Enterprises, Inc.

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $29.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #89
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: October 3, 2000
Review Date: September 9, 2012

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SYNOPSIS

Margot Kidder is Danielle, a beautiful model separated from her Siamese twin, Dominique. When a hotshot reporter (Jennifer Salt) suspects Dominique of a brutal murder, she becomes dangerously ensnared in the sisters' insidious sibling bond. A scary and stylish paean to female destructiveness, De Palma's first foray into horror voyeurism is a stunning amalgam of split-screen effects, bloody birthday cakes, and a chilling score by frequent Hitchcock collaborator Bernard Herrmann. Criterion is proud to present Sisters in a new Special Edition.

Forum members rate this film 6.4/10

 

Discuss the film and DVD here   


PICTURE

Brian De Palmaís Sisters is presented by Criterion in the aspect ratio of about 1.75:1 (not the 1.85:1 indicated in the specifications listed on the back) on a single-layer disc. The image has been enhanced for widescreen televisions.

On a scale the transfer is not bad but itís also not great, lying somewhere in the middle. I was pleased and surprised by the overall condition of the source materials, the original negative apparently the source, which has held up rather well. The picture can fade in places, colours can become under or over saturated, and flaws like slight scratches and white specs are present, but as a whole the print is pretty clean and colours look pretty good.

The image has a decent amount of detail present, though everything comes off better in close-ups whereas long shots look a little softer. The digital transfer is mostly stable and it appears in this case Criterion has taken a somewhat hands off approach in that they havenít done much in the way of scrubbing; surprisingly film grain remains. Itís here, though, where the transfer is a bit weak and problematic: the transfer doesnít handle the filmís grain all that well. It can come off looking more like compression noise and dances around oddly. You can mostly look past it but the issue becomes more apparent in darker sequences, where black levels become crushed as well.

In revisiting this disc I was actually a bit surprised how well the transfer still holds up as a whole, but there are still some distracting compression issues that do somewhat impede oneís viewing.

6/10

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AUDIO

The filmís English mono track gets a so-so Dolby Digital 1.0 presentation. Though itís been cleaned up nicely it offers a generally weak sound. I had to crank the volume a bit more than usual to hear the dialogue; though once I did this it was at least clear. The rest of the track is a mixed bag, with Herrmanís score sounds decent but can be a bit harsh in places and screechy when it reaches higher notes. Screams that occur in places also come off distorted and harsh.

In all Iím betting the flaws in the presentation have more to do with the age of the elements and/or the original recording than anything Criterion has done.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Criterion has included a few supplements, but theyíre all text in form, found under the menu heading ďwhat the devil hath joined togetherÖĒ The first text supplement is a reprint of an interview with director Brian De Palma, taken in 1973. This was fascinating to read, as it covers his influences, his budget problems and his references to Hitchcock, of course. He also make mention of a sequence cut out, involving one of De Palmaís signature tracking shots.

One of the many influences for De Palma was an article from LIFE he read on a pair of Siamese twins in Russia. The article, called ĒRare Study of Siamese Twins in SovietĒ makes for another fascinating read. The subjects in this case were joined at the hip, having to share the same two legs (there was a third smaller one, which seemed to be two legs joined together) and they didn't learn to walk until age 5, as each controlled one of the legs. Again an interesting read and itís great that Criterion included this influential piece.

The press book is also included on here. Basically you just flip through the screens and pages of the book are displayed to you. Then sections of it are enlarged so it is easier to read. Stuff like this is always a nice extra but I didn't like how it was laid out. Criterion did a much snappier job with the layout for the press book on their original DVD for The 39 Steps DVD (though didnít make it on the new Blu-ray and DVD re-issues,) where you could actually select portions of the press book to zoom in on or have it display text reprints. But I still get a kick out of this stuff so itís a nice inclusion.

And then you have a hell of a lot of production photos. According to Criterion there are hundreds of them and I believe them. I admittedly havenít gotten through all of them yet, but I swear I got up to over the 100th photo and they were still going with no sign of stopping. They must have every photo shot during the making of the film and it's one of the more extensive photo galleries I have ever seen.

The insert, which is fairly lengthy itself, contains the remaining text supplements. It has your typical essay (this time by Bruce Kawin) explaining the significance of the film. And then on the other side you have an essay by De Palma on working with Bernard Herrmann.

It's a nice collection of text notes but actually wish they were all simply placed in a booklet; Iím not a huge fan of reading pages and pages of text on the screen (the photos, of course, would have to stay on the disc.) Also it feels like an unusual half-effort overall on Criterionís part, despite the fact they do have some decent stuff here. Iím surprised they didnít bother getting De Palma to participate in some way, as Iím sure he would have been willing (their eventual release of Blow Out features an interview with him. What would have also been nice would maybe have been some deleted scenes, like the tracking shot, involving a bloody couch, mentioned in the text interview. It still sounds like they may exist (though in fairness the interview is from 1973, so maybe they no longer do.) Iím hoping Criterion can revisit this one at some point.

3/10

CLOSING

This is one I hope Criterion revisits someday. Itís not awful by any means, delivering an okay transfer (much better than I would have expected) and some decent text material. But it could use a new high-def transfer on Blu-ray with a better handling of the filmís grain, and certainly more supplements, at least comments from the director himself. As it is itís fine if you can pick it up cheap.


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