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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.66:1 Widescreen
  • French PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • New interview with director George Sluizer
  • New interview with actor Johanna ter Steege
  • Trailer

The Vanishing

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: George Sluizer
Starring: Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, Gene Bervoets, Johanna ter Steege, Gwen Eckhaus, , Tania Latarjet, Lucille Glenn
1988 | 106 Minutes | Licensor: Studio Canal

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #133
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release Date: October 28, 2014
Review Date: October 13, 2014

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SYNOPSIS

A young man embarks on an obsessive search for the girlfriend who mysteriously disappeared while the couple were taking a sunny vacation trip, and his three-year investigation draws the attention of her abductor, a mild-mannered professor with a clinically diabolical mind. An unorthodox love story and a truly unsettling thriller, Dutch filmmaker George Sluizer's The Vanishing unfolds with meticulous intensity, leading to an unforgettable finale that has unnerved audiences around the world.

Discuss the film and Blu-ray here   


PICTURE

George Sluizerís 1988 version of The Vanishing receives a Blu-ray upgrade from Criterion, who again present the film in its original aspect ratio of about 1.66:1 on a dual-layer disc. The high-definition transfer is presented in 1080p/24hz.

The upgrade is substantial over Criterionís previous DVD. Though not awful by the standards of the day the original DVD still presented some heavy noise and compression along with edge-enhancement. Coming from a new 4k scan of the original negative this new transfer cleans up all of the previous issues of the DVDís transfer. Itís a far cleaner, more film-like presentation, superbly delivering the fine grain structure and object details. Gone is the compression noise and edge-enhancement. Colours also present a better balance here, coming off more natural (the DVDís do look to be over-saturated a bit now) and black levels are spot on, serving the finale up perfectly.

The print restoration has also been quite exhaustive, without any significant issues remaining other than a noticeable one about an hour and 23-minutes into the film: when Saskia goes to buy the Frisbee in the gas station there is a noticeable jump, as though a few frames are missing. Itís glaring but this same issue appears on the old DVD as well (which was actually sourced from different elements) suggesting itís something that has always been there and couldnít be repaired. Past this I donít recall any other marks or scratches.

Criterion offers up a pleasant surprise overall. The transfer is a very strong one, near flawless in its execution.

10/10

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AUDIO

The included lossless PCM mono track (which is in both French and Dutch) sounds good for what it is. Music is a product of its time but dialogue is clear and the track does sound sharp with some fidelity to it.

7/10

SUPPLEMENTS

The previous DVD only delivered a trailer for the film, which has been carried over to this edition. Criterion throws in a couple of new interviews for this edition, starting with director George Sluizer who talks about how the production came to be. After previously adapting a story by Tim Krabbe (Red Desert Penetentiary) he bought the rights to Krabbeís The Golden Egg after only reading a few chapters. The two worked together on the script, though Sluizer eventually fired him (more or less) when Krabbe was becoming too demanding on the film version. From here Sluizer talks about the casting, the role of Saskia being particularly important, and then working with Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, who could prove to be unbelievably difficult. He then goes over character motivations and the difficulty in getting the film released. At 19-minutes itís a fairly thorough recounting of the filmís production, though disappointingly he doesnít mention how the remake came to be (though I guess I understand if he doesnít want to acknowledge that filmís existence.)

Actress Johanna Ter Steege next provides a 14-minute interview. Here she talks about getting the role of Saskia, despite the lack of film experience, and writing up a bio for the character. She then gets into a little more detail about the difficulties working with Donnadieu, who was rather belligerent with her because he perceived a lack of experience in her.

The same theatrical trailer is then ported over and closes off the disc supplements. The insert features a new essay by Scott Foundas, replacing the one Kim Newman wrote for the original DVD. He gives a brief critical analysis of the filmís structure and then notes Sluizerís career (or lack thereof) after this film and its remake.

Itís somewhat of a shame that Criterion doesnít include Sluizerís American remake, though that would have more than likely proved cost prohibitive (Twilight Time has actually released that film on Blu-ray for those looking for it.) At the very least it would have been fascinating to have some scholarly material possibly going over the two versions and the different techniques used in each, offering a look at the differing editing styles. But Iím going to guess Sluizer possibly wants to distance himself from that film, especially since he doesnít even mention it in his own interview (which I donít think is entirely fair since the film does have a few good elements in it).

As it stands the supplements, though fine on their own, are still a bit underwhelming, especially since this release is priced the same as Criterionís own loaded editions of All That Jazz and My Darling Clementine.

4/10

CLOSING

The supplements are scant but the itís the high-definition transfer that makes this one worth upgrading to from the old DVD, or picking up for the first time.


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