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Fox Lorber presents
The Marquise of O (1976)

"But how is it possible, Doctor?"
- The Marquise (Edith Clever)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: September 01, 2000

Stars: Edith Clever, Bruno Ganz, Edda Seippel
Other Stars: Peter Luehr, Otto Snader, Ruth Drexel
Director: Eric Rohmer

Manufacturer: DVSS
MPAA Rating: PG for (sexual situations, rape)
Run Time: 01h:38m:17s
Release Date: September 05, 2000
UPC: 720917523828
Genre: foreign

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

After Eric Rohmer completed his series of Six Moral Tales (see our review of La Collectioneuse for one of these films on DVD), he turned to several period costume dramas. One of these is The Marquise of O, based on a book by Heinrich von Kleist, and not to be confused with The Story of O. Get your mind out of the gutter.

Set in Italy during the 18th century, this film tells the story of Julietta, a widowed marquise (Edith Clever). During a battle near her town, she is assaulted by several soldiers, but is rescued by a Russian count (Bruno Ganz). The Count immediately falls in love and asks to marry the marquise. However, she feels obligated to her late husband's memory and puts the Count off for a while. Within a few weeks, the Marquise finds herself pregnant, but she insists that she has not touched another man since her husband's death. Not surprisingly, her mother (Edda Seippel), father (Peter Luehr) and brother (Otto Snader) don't believe her and reject her for the shame she has brought upon the family name. She even goes so far as to place an advertisement in the newspapers seeking the father of her child.

Rohmer's quiet drama has some absurd aspects to it, but his theme centers on the disappointments that one is subject to when one's beliefs overthrow one's own grasp on reality. The drab color schemes tend to reinforce this focus on the hopelessness of such an existence.

In contrast to the mood of the film, the performances tend toward the highly melodramatic; the mother and the Count wildly chew scenery and engage in exaggerated histrionics. The costumes and settings are quite attractive, although they seem awfully clean and unnatural considering the time period. Both the Marquise and the Count are garbed in immaculate white throughout the film, emphasizing their relative innocence despite their circumstances.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Almost the entire film has an unpleasant yellowish cast to it. This may be an attempt to recapture a candlelit society, but it's really overdone and quite nauseating to look at. Even the few outdoor scenes are slightly yellowish and have a subdued palette. The picture tends to be soft and rather on the grainy side.

On the positive side, there is very little frame damage visible. There are some very minor compression artifacts. Blacks are middling in quality and there are some aliasing problems. However, the main problem is the jaundiced appearance of the film.

Image Transfer Grade: D


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Germanno

Audio Transfer Review: Although the German soundtrack is presented in Dolby Surround, almost all of the sound comes from the center speaker. There is no music to speak of, so the dialogue has to carry the audio on its own. Dialogue is generally clear, and hiss is minimal. No directionality of any kind was observed. This could just as well have been left a mono track.

Audio Transfer Grade: C


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 8 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English
Cast and Crew Filmographies
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. List of awards won by Rohmer's films
  2. Production credits
  3. Form to subscribe to a DVD newsletter.
Extras Review: The chaptering (a mere 8 chapters) is wholly inadequate for a film of this length. The English subtitles are burned in. Selected filmographies are presented for Clever, Ganz and Rohmer, as well as a list of selected awards won by Rohmer. A list of production credits, duplicating the end crawl, is also provided. Finally, a link to subscribe to a DVD newsletter is provided for those with DVD/ROM capabilities. In short, not much of substance.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

A fairly melodramatic exercise based on a rather bizarre conceit. The transfer looks as if the color timing was done completely wrong and is difficult to watch. At most worth a rental, and even then only for devotees of Rohmer, especially in light of the scanty extras.


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