There has been no shortage of digital ink spilled at ScreenAnarchy regarding Panos Cosmatos' psychedelic future-shock mind fuck, Beyond the Black Rainbow
, and as such, I had some pre-conceived notions going in to this viewing. I was expecting an homage to the '70s-early '80s sci-fi classics like Coma
, The Andromeda Strain
, and the like; what I got was pretty close to that vibe, though it goes quite a bit further than all of those into the deeper reaches of the subsconcious mind. Beyond the Black Rainbow
is certainly a trip, and quite unlike most modern homages to genre films of the past. Whereas the exploitation and giallo booms of the seventies have had their own revivals, this era of science fiction has not, and Beyond the Black Rainbow
sets quite an intimidating bar for quality.
As I mentioned above, we've written several reviews on the film, so many in fact that we even collected them into a Review Roundup upon the film's limited theatrical release over the summer. Here are a few of those opinions from various ScreenAnarchy minds:
I have no doubt that the film will look gorgeous once it makes its way
to Blu-ray, but there can be no better way of experiencing Beyond the Black Rainbow than in the immersion tank that is the cinema, where you
are oblivious to everything else except the vivid and startling noises
and images that Cosmatos has conjured up. It is a trip that will likely
infuriate and delight filmgoers in equal measure, but science-fiction
aficionados can rest assured that Cosmatos has delivered one serious
-James Marsh (From Fantastic Fest 2011)As a director, Cosmatos is meticulous and economical. Every single shot
counts, every small gesture like the dropping of cigarette ash or the
setting down of keys - all captured in extreme close ups - heightens the
constant dread the picture pulsates with. Nothing is superfluous. Even
if just for atmosphere, even if just to add a visual accent to Sinoa
Caves' brooding electronic score. ... My best suggestion for watching Beyond The Black Rainbow
is to sit back, relax and ingest its black heart of liquid chrome,
freely, and without much thought. Inhale. Swallow. Exhale. Inhale. And
get ready for quite a trip.
- Ben Umstead (From Tribeca 2011)Beyond the Black Rainbow is not a fannish mash-up, but a highly
accomplished, challenging, and ultimately unclassifiable genre film:
dreamy, paced in a way that qualifies as "meditative" rather than
"leisurely," and not quoting or sampling films so much as transfiguring
- Peter Gutierrez (From his interview with the director for Tribeca 2011)
And, as an aside, I know that Peter Martin, who graciously collected all of these quotes, also liked the film.
As for me, in case you couldn't glean my leanings from the introductory paragraph, I was impressed and perplexed by the film in equal measure. My expectations were completely upended by Beyond the Black Rainbow'
s esoteric leanings, and I found that the film shares more with films like 2001 or Sunshine (the good parts) than any of the seventies films I was expecting to see referenced. The atmosphere and visuals, including setting the film in a parallel 1983 future-space, are definitely repurposed from the '70s aesthetic, but this film utilizes them in a whole new way.
Not one for wimps, Beyond the Black Rainbow
is the rare film that succeeds in being both entertaining and challenging. The pacing will throw off more casual film fans, as the film and its characters take their time getting from place to place, but the rewards are manifold, and the ending is a kick in the nuts. It's difficult to give this one a definite "buy" recommendation, but it is certainly worth a rental, just so you know what you're getting into.
As Mr. Marsh mentioned in the above excerpt, one would expect this film to look fantastic on Blu-ray, and one would be correct. The film is so heavily filtered, though, that it is hard to pin down any one look as characteristic of Black Rainbow
. The film was shot on film, and this transfer shows a beautiful layer of grain in many shots, however, not all of them, this isn't due to excessive tinkering, but rather the extensive post-production of the film. Pretty much every shot in the film is through a filter of some kind, but it works, and I have no complaints about the image. The sound is much easier to recommend. Beyond the Black Rainbow has had just as many compliments about its score as the film has itself, and the DTS-HD track on this disc is a killer. If you're looking for some heavy '80s synth madness, this is the place. The score kicks some serious ass, and this audio track makes it sound FANTASTIC.
Now, about the extras. When I reported the details on this release last month, I reported from Magnet's press release that the film's extras would include a commentary, a making-of, deleted and extended scenes and more. However, when I received the disc, there was only one unused effect and a trailer. Being the advocate (reactionary) that I am, I started screaming all over the internets about how we'd been bamboozled. However, when some friends of mine contacted Mr. Cosmatos about the disc, he told them that the extras that were on the disc were the only ones he knew of and that the previously mentioned other bonus features were never even produced, or at least they were never supposed to be on this disc. I'm not going to lie and say I'm not disappointed. The one unused effect on the disc is pretty boring and not really worth watching, and the trailer isn't anything I couldn't find on YouTube, however, the stuff that I was expecting looks rad, and I'm bummed that I don't get to see it. Do with that information whatever you choose.
Ben Umstead, James Marsh and Peter Gutierrez
contributed to this story.