Actors: Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, Gene Bervoets, Johanna ter Steege
Director: George Sluizer
Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Dubbed, Widescreen
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Criterion Collection (Direct)
Release Date: October 28, 2014
Run Time: 106 minutes
In the wake of David Fincher’s critical and box-office success about a missing person’s case, a classic in the genre from 1988 has been released on Blu-ray through The Criterion Collection. Also based on a screenplay adapted from a novel by the author himself, The Vanishing was successful enough to warrant an American remake starring Jeff Bridges and Kiefer Sutherland five years after this French/Dutch version. In reality, however, this is a narrative which has been around for much longer, whether considering Alfred Hitchcock’s classic, The Lady Vanishes, or a classic Parisian Urban Legend from 1901. What makes director George Sluizer’s film memorable is his uncompromising and unforgettable ending.
The film begins with a twenty-minute introduction to the characters which will drive the remainder of the film, even those which are removed from the storyline completely by unknown causes. Rex (Gene Bervoets) and Saskia (Johanna ter Steege) are a Dutch couple on a road trip in
when tragedy strikes. The
film begins with a false alarm when the couple runs out of gas on the road in a
pitch-black mountain tunnel, ominously foreshadowing their future demise. They
survive this precarious situation, however, and it isn’t until they are at a
crowded rest stop and gas station in broad daylight that Saskia is taken. France
The audience is given a unique perspective, allowed to see the process that our film’s sociopath takes in preparing for his unforgivable acts. When we first join him, Raymond Lemorne (Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu) has yet to take action on his sick urges, but is willing to plan with precision to ensure that everything goes smoothly. After a few failed attempts, we see the set-up for his opportunity to take Saskia, though knowledge of what happens after that remains as veiled to the audience as it is to Rex. This is the mystery which keeps him searching for answers, and the audience captivated by the outcome of his relentless investigation.
Three years after the disappearance, Rex continues to seek answers, even when he risks a happy future with his new girlfriend. Part of what keeps him dedicated to the search is a series of notes that he receives from Lemorne, who seems to savor the ability he has to lure in his prey without force. As the audience, we root for Rex’s relentless dedication, because it allows opportunities for answers. The only downside is the cost that these answers have for Rex in one of cinema’s more unforgettable endings.
The Blu-ray release offers a near-flawless high definition presentation of the film, which was created with incredible precision to drive the suspense. Along with the new 4K digital restoration, the Blu-ray release comes with new interviews with filmmaker Sluizer and actress Johanna ter Steege. There is also a trailer and the booklet insert comes with an essay by film critic Scott Foundas.
Entertainment Value: 7.5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 8.5/10
Historical Significance: 8/10
Special Features: 6.5/10