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And in his closing paragraph, Murray writes, "Obsession doesn’t exactly plumb any depths that Vertigo didn’t hit first, nor do its insights into one dangerously driven man differ much from what Hitchcock and screenwriters Alec Coppel and Samuel Taylor had already done. But the movie’s extended, dialogue-free set pieces are mini-masterpieces of cinematic choreography. And the heightened luridness of Obsession does succeed in making Vertigo’s twisty plot seem all the more inessential to that film’s power. What both movies do is cut a tale of murder and madness down to its essence, exploring characters who’ve been damaged by social expectations and their own desires. The difference is that in Vertigo, James Stewart’s Scottie Ferguson is, deep down, probably a decent guy—while [Cliff] Robertson’s Michael is an empty suit, defined only by his wants. That’s the De Palma touch."
Other films in the series include Larry Cohen's Special Effects, Lucio Fulci's Perversion Story, Terry Gilliam's Twelve Monkeys, Mel Brooks' High Anxiety, and Chris Marker's La Jetée, among several others.
The Rubin Museum's website includes an excerpt from Richard Schickel 1976 review of the film for TIME: "...Exquisite entertainment...The film also throws into high melodramatic relief certain recognizable human truths: the shock of sudden loss, the panic of the effort to recoup, the mourning and guilt that blind the protagonist to a multitude of suspicious signs as he seeks expiation and a chance to relive his life. In a sense, the movie offers viewers the opportunity to do the same thing—by going back to a more romantic era of the cinema and the simple, touching pleasures denied the audience by the current anti-romantic spirit of the movies."
In collaboration with Litto Enterprises Inc., Music Box Records is very proud to present one of its most ambitious releases yet - a classic Bernard Herrmann score from one of his last efforts and an important milestone in his immense career for Brian De Palma´s classic melodrama Obsession (1976) written by Paul Schrader and starring Geneviève Bujold, Cliff Robertson and John Lithgow.
In a career often spent paying tribute to Alfred Hitchcock with the likes of Dressed to Kill, Blow Out and Body Double, Obsession even today stands as De Palma’s ultimate fever dream homage to the director who’d made Bernard Herrmann a household name as the romantic master of musical suspense during an eight film collaboration, no more so than with 1958s Vertigo. Yet Obsession’s reincarnation of that masterpiece showed just how devious De Palma always was in his admiration, cloaking a truly seditious plot twist that would’ve given even Hitchcock pause within sleek, star-filtered visuals.
Obsession remains his most fervently romantic, and dare one say innocent attempt to recreate the studio gloss of a time when outright violence and sex were left to the mind’s eye, its rage and sensuality truly made explicit in its music. It’s a powerful, stylistic subtlety that increasingly made Obsession into the filmmaker’s most discerning cult film.
When at last Herrmann returned to his grandly symphonic style for a movie with a major pedigree, 1976s Obsession resounded with more haunted passion than ever before. It was a much movie score as it was Herrmann’s own requiem for an uninhibited scoring style that had become a ghost of itself in Hollywood. He composed a stunning score, filled with powerful themes, ominously underlined by an organ, or a harp, sometimes with abrupt choral flourishes, in eerie evocations of a mystery. He again creates an unusual combination to underscore the drama: a large cathedral organ and tympani as primary musical signature characters, and a small choir of wordless and sighing female voices, horns, winds and strings. The score was nominated for an Oscar for 'Best Original Score' in 1977.
For this special archival edition 2-CD set, Music Box Records has gathered the best sources available to this day in order to present faithfully the original score written by the composer.
CD 1 presents “The Film Score'. With the precious technical assistance of our sound engineer, we did our best to reconstruct and restore the score from the 5.1 Music Stem (courtesy of Sony Pictures) and a safety copy of the original tapes. The result is stunningly convincing. As such, we kindly ask you to listen to our samples and make a decision on the quality yourself.
CD 2 presents 'The Original 1976 Soundtrack Album' (courtesy of Universal Music) that was edited from Herrmann’s sessions and was specially remastered for this edition. We also corrected the cue titles of the 1976 London Decca release which were misnamed and incomplete in tracks 4 and 5. Now you have the details of all the right cues used in the original LP.
Our release offers a rare opportunity to hear the magnificent romantic Herrmann score in two different presentations and preserves the composer’s own irreplaceable interpretation, bringing this marvelous music back to life just 40 years after it was written. This Deluxe Edition with slipcase is limited to 3000 units and includes a 24-page full-color booklet with in-depth liner notes by Daniel Schweiger, sharing his comments about the film and the score, including new interviews with editor Paul Hirsch and producer George Litto. Everyone will no doubt be 'obsessed' with this true original masterpiece!
In the series description, Seid explains what will be discussed:
Contemporary films originate on a digital platform, making digital cinema the native exhibition standard. A prickly issue arises when an older film, born photochemical, is transferred to digital for projection. Suddenly, the “film” finds itself occupying the screen in absolute stability, the subliminal flicker gone, the light values subtly altered, the contrast and depth redefined. Does this misrepresent the experience of film history? Perhaps. Or does it resurrect a history that might otherwise be lost to us? Again, perhaps.
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