Berberian Sound Studio DVD Review

     Actor: Toby Jones
  • Director: Peter Strickland
  • Format: Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: December 10, 2013
  • Run Time: 92 minutes



            Peter Strickland’s Berberian Sound Studio is a masterpiece in style and direction, which makes it so disappointing to find the third act such a failure in storytelling. It almost seems as though there was nowhere left to go with the film, instead trailing off into unmemorable David Lynch imitations. Yet even when the film is repetitious and dealing with an uninspired narrative flow, Strickland’s direction is able to carry each scene to the next despite the inconsistency of the whole.


            Employing an Englishman abroad fish-out-of-water narrative, the quiet sound engineer Gilderoy (Toby Jones) takes a job in Rome working on the soundtrack to a film called The Equestrian Vortex. Though he doesn’t speak Italian, we get the impression that he understands much of what the others are saying around him. Sound doesn’t just play a large part in the story; it is the most important part of the film in every aspect. We are never permitted to see the violent images of the horror movie Gilderoy is working on, instead limited to the images and the sounds utilized in the engineering of a soundtrack. There is a lot of stabbing and smashing of food in order to simulate the torture and killing in the movie, which begins to decay as time passes. The only other indicator we have to the gruesome nature of the film is the reactions coming from Gilderoy as he is forced to endure the images.


            The sound is not just important in giving the film its horror elements without the visuals; it is also a tool within the storytelling itself. The use of dream sequences which blend in with reality allow for a number of disturbing scenarios involving sound, which will be eaten up by filmmakers and film aficionados alike. Unfortunately, these sequences stand apart as creative masterpieces in an otherwise uneven and directionless film. Yet, it is near impossible not to be impressed with the feats of filmmaking that Strickland succeeds in achieving. He has made a giallo horror movie without showing a drop of blood, which seems impossible were it not for the graphic soundtrack.


            The special features include a commentary track with writer/director Peter Strickland, as well as a behind-the-scenes featurette and making of documentary. There are also plenty of deleted, extended and alternate scenes, a photo gallery with commentary and an alternate poster art gallery.


    Entertainment Value: 7/10

    Quality of Filmmaking: 8/10

    Historical Significance: 7/10

    Disc Features: 8/10



    No comments: