Bold and striking, dark and moody, prepared to be enrapt
Rapture Blu-ray Review
Haunting and evocative, John Guillermin’s French/American black and white 1965 coming-of-age drama is an underrated little gem steeped in symbolism, simmering repression and strong performances.Shot with the kind of striking camera angles that would impress everybody from Welles to De Palma, with gorgeous cinematography that perfectly captures the Brittany beachfront setting, and a moody score that ignites the visuals, Rapture ostensibly tells the story of young girl, Agnes, who is under the thumb of her domineering single father, and whose burgeoning teen sexuality simply explodes after the arrival of a dashing escaped convict who hides out in their coastal house. But beneath the surface, religious subtext, acute character design and unexpected plot twists work wondrously to add welcome depth to this piece.Putting in a fantastic lead performance, 15-year old Patricia Gozzi steals the show as the enrapt Agnes, who initially convinces herself that the escaped convict is actually her beloved farm scarecrow come to life, as she had prayed for. Gozzi combines the kind of innocence, guile and bewilderment you would expect from a child – particularly one kept protected in this kind of bubble – with that simmering on-the-cusp-of sexuality that perfectly suits the role. Opposite her, a young Dean Stockwell – who would later become a mainstay in everything from Quantum Leap to Battlestar Galactica – reminds us of James Dean, whilst Hud’s Melvyn Douglas plays the frustrated father who doesn’t know quite how to deal with his equal parts disturbed and blossoming child.
Echoing the works of Bergman and Fellini, Rapture (and indeed its star Gozzi) has largely gone underrated and underacknowledged over the years, with Gozzi quitting acting not long after the production, and Guillermin’s more big budget work (King Kong and The Towering Inferno) overshadowing this early effort, but it is nonetheless a compelling and powerful little gem.
What is Rapture Blu-ray Picture QualityRapture hits Region B-locked UK Blu-ray complete with a largely impressive 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 widescreen. Detail is striking, aided considerably by the stunning black and white cinematography, rendering the gorgeous, atmospheric landscape shots as beautifully as the closer shots, which bring out excellent skin textures, clothing weaves and set flourishes.
Masterfully lensed, Rapture looks gorgeous.
Given the age of the piece it’s unsurprising that there are still some residual defects – a few minor scratches – as well as some intermittently noticeable edge enhancement which probably comes as a result of polishing this up for a High Definition release. Contrast is excellent, and black levels are strong, rich and deep, with only a smattering of crush at the very extremes, and a decent swathe of suitably filmic grain pervades the piece, giving it a rich, cinematic vibrancy. For the most part – and almost entirely thanks to the black and white visuals – this is a highly respectful, strong video presentation.
How Does Rapture Blu-ray SoundRapture manages to strike out and impress on the aural front in spite of the inherent limitations of both the film’s scale and of the 1.0 track, here delivered in lossless DTS-HD Master Audio flavour.
The audio impresses perhaps almost single-handedly thanks to the haunting and evocative score.
Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently throughout, given free rein across the frontal array, rising above the atmospheric flourishes and score. Indeed the effects are more striking during the storms, or weather-based set-pieces, as waves crash on the rocks or sheets of rain pummel the ground. There are a few car noises, and the hustle and bustle of the Big City is suitably invasive, designed to throw you into a spin, with the cacophony seemingly all around. But it’s the magnificent score which carries the piece, channelling both mood and sentiment, and leaving this a perfect accompaniment for the feature.
Rapture Blu-ray ExtrasStrangely, considering that you don’t expect a film like this to have (m)any extras, Rapture boasts a warm retrospective Audio Commentary by film historians Julie Kirgo and Nick Redmon who talk extensively about the themes and ideas, the mood and cinematography, and the cast and performances. Even more unusually, though, it’s actually missing some extras – or one, at least – the Isolated Score which adorned the Limited Edition Twilight Time US counterpart; but, then again, Twilight didn’t get the exclusive Commentary.
Is Rapture Blu-ray Worth BuyingDriven by an impressively authentic performance from young starlet Patricia Gozzi, and captured with wonderfully rich and utterly striking black and white cinematography, this moody and mysterious French/American coming-of-age drama is a lost little gem that is definitely worth checking out.
The video, audio and extras make this a superior way in which fans and newcomers alike can enjoy this gem.
On Region B-locked UK Blu-ray, Eureka have delivered an impressive package boasting strong video and audio, as well as a welcome Commentary which fans will particularly appreciate.
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.