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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Teorema (Blu-ray)
Teorema (Blu-ray)
The Criterion Collection // Unrated // February 18, 2020 // Region A
List Price: $27.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted March 4, 2020 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
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The Movie:

Directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini in 1968, Teorema opens with a scene where a reporter speaks to a group of men in front of an aging factory. They were once workers, but now own the place and, quite honestly, aren't entirely sure what to do with themselves.

From there, we move to Milan and to the massive estate of Paolo (Massimo Girotti), the former owner of said factory. He shares this beautiful space with his family who have all gathered together for a fancy party, a party that is soon interrupted in a sense by the arrival of a handsome stranger (Terence Stamp). His initial arrival causes no issues, he seems able to wander through the group without causing much of a stir at all. Before long, however, Paolo's wife, Lucia, (Silvana Mangano), takes notice of him. Before long, so too has their daughter, Odetta (Anne Wiazemsky), had her interest piqued and after her, well, the maid Emilia (Laura Betti), can't help but notice him either. As the party comes to a close and night time sets in, Paolo's son, Pietro (Andrés José Cruz Soublette), winds up sharing a room with the stranger for the night, but around this same time, Paolo himself becomes intrigued by the presence of the man.

A series of seductions occurs and the entirety of the family soon find their respective lives changed by their interactions with this enigmatic young man.

We won't go into too much more detail about what happens in the story out of respect for not spoiling the picture, but let it suffice to say that the connection Stamp's character makes with the different characters in the film is more than just a physical one. Whether or not he's an angel or a devil is debatable, but Passolini makes it very clear that he's more than just a regular, human man. We see this in how the lives of the bourgeois characters change after they connect with him, and we see it in what happens with Emilia as well. It's quite interesting to see how Pasolini let's all of this play out. Like much of his work, taboo sex plays a part in the unfolding of the narrative but that aspect of the story, as controversial as it may have been at the time (and still would be considered so today, at least in certain circles), is handled rather tastefully. It's there to further the story, rather than detract from it or bring it to a halt. Rather, once the characters are ‘with' the stranger, they afterwards seem to be set free from the contrivances of their day to day lives, be those contrivances related to business, keeping up appearances, or serving for a paycheck.

The performances are excellent across the board. Stamp is the real star here, he's got charisma and screen presence to spare and he plays quite a captivating character with loads of charm. He looks great, he fits the role and most importantly, even dubbed (there isn't a lot of dialogue here so that part doesn't matter so much), he's quite believable in a role that, logically, will defy believability for some. Being surrounded by a talented cast, of course, doesn't hurt anything but Stamp is perfect in the part. Massimo Girotti and Silvana Mangano both do excellent work as the parents, while supporting work from Anne Wiazemsky, Laura Betti and Andrés José Cruz Soublette is also very strong.

Pasolini directs with style. The movie is nicely paced and beautifully shot by cinematographer Giuseppe Ruzzolini, it looks fantastic and you can quite easily get lost in some of the imagery conjured up for the film. Add to that an excellent score from the great Ennio Morricone and the use of some of Mozart's more rousing pieces and you can quickly see how this comes together as well as it does, and why it will stick with you long after you've finished it.

The Video:

Teorema comes to Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection framed at 1.85.1 widescreen with the feature taking up just under 30GBs of space on a 50GB double-sided disc. The AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer is taken from a new 4k restored transfer and it looks very good. Some may take issue with teal color lean in some scenes but aside from that, this looks great. Grain is heavy in spots but never unnatural looking and detail, depth and texture are all very strong and sometimes quite exceptional. Black levels are nice and deep and the image shows no noticeable issues with noise reduction, edge enhancement or compression artifacts. This always looks nice and filmic, and overall it's quite an impressive picture.

The Audio:

Viewers are given a choice of a 24-bit Italian LPCM Mono track or an English language Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono track. The Italian track would seem to be closest to its ‘original sound' but the English track has value as Stamp does his own dubbing on it. Either way, it isn't surprising that the LPCM option sounds better than the lossy one, it's cleaner and clearer in some very noticeable ways. Both tracks, however, sound fine and are properly balanced. Morricone's score benefits a fair bit from the lossless option as well. Optional English subtitles are provided.

The Extras:

Carried over from the 2007 DVD release is an audio commentary from Robert S. C. Gordon, the man who wrote Pasolini: Forms Of Subjectivity. It's an interesting and well-researched talk that dives pretty deep into a lot of the themes that the director explores in this, as well as some other, entries in his filmography. Lots of talk as well about the different cast and crew members involved in the production, especially Stamp, and the film's production history and legacy.

The disc also includes a short, three-minute introduction from Pasolini recorded in 1969 where ha answers questions about the film from a journalist. Also carried over from the 2007 DVD release is a thirty-three-minute interview with actor Terence Stamp. He speaks about how he landed the role in this picture and what it was like to work with the director on this film as well as on Spirits Of The Dead. Lastly, Criterion provide a new interview with John David Rhodes, the author of Stupendous, Miserable City: Pasolini's Rome, that runs seventeen-minutes. This is quite an interesting piece as it allows Rhodes to go into a good bit of depth about what makes Teorema as interesting as it is, how it contrasts and compares with other pictures made by the director before and after as well as the film's history.

Menus and chapter selection are provided and the disc also includes an insert booklet that contains not only cast and crew information for the feature but also credits for the Blu-ray release as well as an essay by film scholar James Quandt.

Overall:

Teorema is, like all of Pasolini's work, unique and thought provoking. It's an excellent film, a blend of arthouse filmmaking tropes and gripping mystery plot devices countered by some very strong performances and, as such, is a picture that sticks with you for a while after it ends. The new Blu-ray release from The Criterion Collection looks beautiful, sounds very good and contains a nice array of extra features that document the film's history and explore its significance. Highly recommended.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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