Beguiled, The (Blu-ray) (2017)
Featurette-A Shift in Perspective (6:53)
Featurette-A Southern Style (5:40)
|Year Of Production||2017|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Sofia Coppola|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0
German dts 5.1
Spanish dts 5.1
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.66:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.66:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
1863, Virginia; the third year of the American Civil War. In the Farnsworth Seminary, a school for young girls, only five students, one teacher, Miss Edwina Morrow (Kirsten Dunst), and the principal Miss Martha Farnsworth (Nicole Kidman) remain, isolated in the school while the sounds of battle and cannon occur in the distance. One morning while picking mushrooms in the woods Amy (Oona Laurence) comes across badly wounded deserter Union Corporal John McBurney (Colin Farrell) and helps him back to the Seminary where his wounds are tended. Edwina initially intends to hand McBurney over to any passing Confederate soldiers but McBurney is a charming, calculating and attractive man. As he recovers he becomes an object of sexual attraction to Edwina, Martha and the oldest student Alicia (Elle Fanning), while younger girls Amy, Marie (Addison Riecke) and Emily (Emma Howard) find his presence exciting, although Jane (Angourie Rice) has reservations.
McBurney does not want to return to the war and makes himself useful by working in the garden as his health improves. But with the women vying for his attention, and sexual energy in the air, envy and jealousy lead to an incident that changes everything.
The Beguiled is written and directed by Sofia Coppola based on the 1966 novel of the same name by Thomas Gullinan. Coppola has maintained that her film is an adaptation of the source novel, providing a female point of view of the events, not a remake of the 1971 film directed by Don Siegel that starred Clint Eastwood although the credits in her film do state that it was based on the earlier screenplay by Albert Maltz and Grimes Grice as well as the novel. If nothing else, this Coppola version omits the slave Hallie who features in both the novel and the earlier film, Coppola stating that the whole issue of slavery was too important to be taken lightly.
The Beguiled has had a varied critical reaction. I read one review which calls the film “endlessly pretentious and effortlessly dull” yet Coppola won best director at Cannes in 2017 for the film. Pretentious and a winner at Cannes are not necessarily contradictory of course and it is true that The Beguiled is a slow and stately film where not a lot happens for quite a while. It is also a very murky film with interiors so dark that faces and bodies are indistinct. In the extras Sofia Coppola uses the word “Gothic” a number of times to describe her film so the dark palate is intentional, contrasted with exterior shots that are bright and frequently use the sun’s rays slanting through the trees. These scenes do look stunning and, indeed, there are a few of them to signify the passing of days.
One strength of The Beguiled is the acting from the small cast. Colin Farrell is all charm, at least in the beginning, and it is easy to see why isolated, and sexually repressed, females would react positively to his undoubted charms. Nicole Kidman and Kirsten Dunst have a bigger challenge. Kidman’s Miss Farnsworth is in charge; she has steely control and reserve but underneath an unresolved longing while Dunst’s Edwina, again reserved on the surface, hides a passion and a desire to leave the school for the wider world. Both actors are required to only suggest their character’s desires and vulnerabilities leading to subdued, almost static scenes. Their feelings are contained in their subtle expressions, and what is not said, and this is where the murkiness of the frame and our inability to clearly see faces conspires against them. Elle Fanning, as the young woman whose sexual feelings are awakening and who is the catalyst for the incident which changes everything, is more obvious. Yet there is a feeling of gloom which pervades the film, the main rays of light, in more ways than one, provided by the three young actors, really children, who play Amy, Marie and Emily.
Some critics have said that The Beguiled has a sense of peace and security in the early scenes so that the sudden violence is unexpected. I cannot agree. The Beguiled is a gloomy and moody film with an unsettling feeling of sexual energy just under the surface from the start so that the violence, a result of envy and jealousy, is predictable and almost a relief after the long, slow build-up.
The Beguiled is presented in the original, and these days unusual, aspect ratio of 1.66:1, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.
The restricted ratio, and the darkness of the film, are intended to constrict the action, giving a claustrophobic feel to the film. The darkness of the interiors are to give a likeness of conditions under candlelight, but daylight scenes, even when the drapes are not drawn, still look murky and faces are indistinct and in shadow. This darkness is deliberate, not an authoring issue. There are no bright colours in interiors, the furnishings, fitting or the costumes are all variations of cream or brown and even Edwina’s dress at dinner is a pale blue. Exteriors can be brighter, but not always; exceptions are the scenes where the rays of the sun slant across the trees, the house and the garden. Blacks are solid, skin tones natural, contrast and brightness consistent. Pleasing grain is present but marks and artefacts were absent.
English subtitles for the hearing impaired are provided plus a wide range of European languages, Arabic and Hindi.
The principal audio is English DTS-HA MA 5.1, there are German and Spanish dubs in DTS 5.1 plus an English descriptive audio using a female voice (Dolby Digital 2.0).
The credit for the score in the end titles is music by Phoenix based on Monteverdi’s Magnificat, although in reality there is music in only a couple of sequences and then it is more of a tone rather than a tune. Instead a constant, all pervading, feature in the speakers, including the rears, is the sound of insects and birds and in places the roar of cannons in the distance. The subwoofer added some depth to the cannon sounds. The dialogue was clear and easy to understand.
There are no lip synchronisation issues.
|Surround Channel Use|
A couple of short extras that, pleasingly, use on-set behind the scenes footage more than film clips plus comments by a number of the cast and crew.
This covers the filmmakers’ intention of showing the story differently from the 1971 film by using the female characters’ point of view, the cast, how everyone got on so well and the director. Comments from director / writer Sofia Coppola, the producer and cast members Colin Farrell, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, Oona Laurence, Angourie Rice and Addison Riecke. The notable absentee is Nicole Kidman.
The set design, costumes, hair and locations, including a look at the Madewood Plantation House. The same people as above provide comments as well as the production, costume and hair designers and the owner of the plantation house.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region A US Blu-ray of The Beguiled has the same extras but different, and fewer, audio and subtitle options.
Sometimes filmmakers can succeed only too well in their intentions and The Beguiled is a good example. It was intended to be gothic, dark and arty, and is. Your tolerance of slow, almost static, murky sequences will probably be the factor which determines whether you enjoy the film or not.
The video is as the filmmakers intended, the audio good. A couple of minor extras are the same as are available elsewhere.
|DVD||Sony BDP-S580, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||NAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||Studio Acoustics 5.1|