Saturday, March 15, 2014

L'IMMORTELLE (Redemption Blu-ray) - Robbe-Grillet Teaches Seduction and the Sensual

Redemption Films' 39th entry is another textural and surreal offering from French novelist and filmmaker Alain Robbe-Grillet. To say that I was unfamiliar with Robbe-Grillet previous to the recent releases by the Redemption label would be inaccurate. I had no clue who he was though when I mentioned his name among my literary friends they seem to know him well. His movies up to this point have been moderately challenging with Trans Euro-Express and Successive Slidings of Pleasure being seductive fever dreams, but with this most recent release, L'Immortelle, it's clear that Robbe-Grillet discovers the heart of desire... the unknown... the mysterious. What turns us on and drives us isn't the flesh; it's our own goddamn minds. Redemption has decided upon a challenging visual and conceptual palette in the works of Robbe-Grillet, but it is ultimate satisfying and worth the risk.

Synopsis from Redemption/Kino:

L'IMMORTELLE involves a Frenchman, traveling in Istanbul, who is fascinated by the city's language, architecture, and exotic culture. He soon becomes entranced by a mysterious woman (Fran├žoise Brion) who seems to encourage his attentions but remains, maddeningly, just beyond his reach. His erotic pursuit of her leads him into the criminal underworld...with deadly consequences.

Francoise Brion is mystery. She is a seductive and alluring force around which tangible and rich images of a foreign land are laid to create a journey into the center of a frenchman's mind. Jacques Doniol-Valcroze is that frenchman. He is the bearer or our curiosity and represents our own libido. He is our lost wandering child that can't understand how the pieces of a puzzle can fit to form a solid image because the pieces are strange, erotic and nightmarish. It's taken me a day to think of how these two semi-romantics fit together and it must solely be to convey desire and the nature of want and curiosity. If I have learned anything from L'Immortelle it is to try to uncover the root of my own strange passions and perhaps to discover that they all all point inward and from within like an orgasmic snake eating its own tail.

While I have seen some truly stunning Blu-ray transfers in this collection from Redemption and even beyond... Twilight Time included, I'm sort of shocked to say that this may be the most crystal clear I have enjoyed to date. From the Turkish minarets to clips of water rushing to sleek travel by car to super close zooms that are more like moon landings than shots of a pretty girl in a room, you have a lot to appreciate visually. The story may be fascinating, but the imagery, shot selection and contrasty genius of this picture are truly genius. This is a movie with which to compare other movie, other Redemption features and your Blu-ray catalog. Even if you can't find enjoyment in the content of the narrative and journey, it's flashbulb wake up call.

Note: 1920 x 1080p 1.66:1, HD Transfer from 35mm Film Elements. The disc includes a 32 minute interview with writer/director Alain Robbe-Grillet, three trailers for Robbe-Grillet films and a promo short. It's gorgeously grainy.

Out of my three experiences with Robbe-Grillet's work this is by far the most enjoyable from a narrative perspective, over all feeling and visually a masterpiece. I'm glad to watch more of his movies, but I cannot imagine another challenging my experience with L'Immortelle.

You can order L'Imortelle now. Available April 1st.

-Doc Terror

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