Michael Caine plays Nicholas Urfe, a self-centred, cynical Englishman who arrives on the Greek island of Phraxos to take a teaching post. He meets Maurice Conchis (Anthony Quinn), a mysterious individual who ensnares Urfe in a complex, psychologically violent mind game, where Urfe is increasingly unable to distinguish truth from lies, reality from illusion.
John Fowles wrote the script, adapting his own novel, and while the story is recognizable, the result is not encouraging. The …ilm benefits from the passage of time in that it is rather interesting to watch for the cast and for the bungled attempt that it represents, but there is no denying that it is a stodgy and confused work.
Mono and 2.0 stereo options are available here. The stereo avoids the familiar problem of inappropriate surround voices, though this is largely due to the fact that it generally avoids sending anything to the rear speakers at all. The score is pretty decent sounding, and there is no buzz on the dialogue, so the overall effect is perfectly decent (especially for a 1968 film), but hardly spectacular.
The print is in very nice shape. The image is sharp, the grain is minimal, and the handsome locations are complemented by very strong colours and contrasts. Flesh tones and blckas are also very good. The edge enhancement is just strong enough to be noticeable, however, especially in the (frequent) bright daylight scenes.
Not much really about the film itself. The featurette about John Fowles is very interesting, and deals with his life, warts and all, but is plagued by some very irritating editing tics. Otherwise, there are trailers for this and the other recent Caine releases (said trailers in pretty rough shape).
It’s a mess. It’s not an uninteresting mess, at least not entirely, but it is a mess.
Special Features List
- “John Fowles: The Literary Magus” Featurette
- Theatrical Trailers