Klaus Kinski stars in this strange and dark documentary-like science fiction film. Mondo Macabro USA R0 DVD.
Dr. Ben Land (Hiram Keller) arrives in Amsterdam for a medical
conference. He is a gerontologist engaged in medical research into
extending human life and has arranged to work with a colleague, Dr.
Linden, at the University of Amsterdam. The plans go awry when Linden
is found, hung from the rafters, the next day. Dr. Land discovers that
Linden's work seemed to be making incredible process, but that many of
his notes are missing. After getting in contact with Liden's lover,
Anna (Tina Aumont), Dr. Land begins to realise that there is something
much deeper going on, possibly connected to the mysterious Swiss Man
(Klaus Kinski) who is continually turning up. His investigations take
him further than he ever expected...
Whitelaw, the writer and director had a personal interest in
immortality and read extensively on the subject, ultimately combining
the knowledge and doubts into a film-script. The
plot is very clever and well researched, subtly raising a variety of
moral and ethical issues concerning the ageing process and scientific
research in general; there are all manner of clever nods and scenes in the film that value repeat viewings. The story is mostly told through Dr. Land's internal
monologue, which does a good job of explaining his actions and
motivations, since for most of the film, he is acting on his own. The
film's pacing and plot are very sedate and careful,
almost dreamlike although it never drags - there are no fights, no
chases and even the sex
scenes form a part of the plot rather than coming off as
gratuitous. The story gradually builds up, with an increasingly
strange and menacing atmosphere, to a very fitting ending.
As the director,
Sandy Whitelaw gives a very solid show with some lovely editing and
camerawork that really helps to build up an atmosphere. Despite a presumably low budget this never shows - the
film is shot in a very realistic, almost documentary style, mostly on
location in Amsterdam and the University. Experimental minimalist
musician Terry Riley, provides a mostly synthesizer and piano score
with an interesting tribal piece during a sex scene.
infamous Klaus Kinski plays a typically mysterious and enigmatic figure
here - he gets limited screentime and gives a very restrained
performance, but one that suits the character fine. Hiram Keller is an
American actor who gained some fame in Italy, his acting is rather
limited but seems to suit the relatively restrained character he
plays. Tina Aumont as the semi-'love interest' figure again suits
the role well - aged 28 during filming, she carries much more gravitas
than the light-headed stick-figure "bimbos" of many modern films, and
looks far more 'real', but is still alluring and plausible in the sex
scenes. The rest of the cast look suitable.
experience of film production, Whitelaw was able to gain complete
creative control over the project and in a rare situation for euro-cult
cinema, this film represents the director/writer's pure vision.The resulting Lifespan
is a hard to compare film, completely different to almost everything
else being shot at the time - too real to be a Herzog/Franco film, too
slow and action-free to be an exploitation film. It boasts an
atmospheric and slow paced but very cleverly written and well
researched storyline with a fitting conclusion. Ultimately, almost
impossible to promote, the film fell inbetween the exploitation and
art-house crowds and never found its target audience, so was almost
forgotten after the initial release. Ultimately Lifespan
is a very good movie if watched in the right mood and and with the
right expectations, and is highly recommended to fans of clever and
famous in it?
Klaus Kinski - Top name in Euro-cult cinema who appeared in everything from art-house to exploitation.
Directed by anyone
Sandy Whitelaw - a relatively little known director and producer who has worked on little else of note.
Some blood and corpses. A mouse is killed on-screen for use in an experiment.
Several softcore sex
scenes and a bondage scene. These scenes are presented in a very mature
way and not exploitation/erotic like the scenes in say, a Jess Franco
Terry Riley provides a distinctive, minimalist score that perfectly suits the film.
Who is it for?
This film is highly recommended to fans of slow, plot based films. Don't expect any action scenes.
Aspect Ratio - 1.85:1 widescreen. Anamorphically enhanced. Colour.
The film is decent visually, with some grain and frequent speckles. A couple of short scenes have distinctly lower PQ.
Original English audio track - sounds decent, although with some hiss.
Feature: 1hr 21m 23s
The disc includes:
commentary with director Sandy Whitelaw and Mondo Macabro's Pete Tombs.
Whitelaw imparts some interesting facts and notes about the film, but
Tombs does interrupt a lot.
Onscreen Text notes about the film (equivalent of liner notes)
Newly recorded interview with Whitelaw about his career and background, putting the film into context. (19m 48s)
Original trailer. (2m 40s)
Stills galleries - behind the scenes and publicity shots for the film.
Mondo Macabro trailer reel. (5m 20s)
(All) - NTSC
No other releases.
The film is believed to be fully uncut. English language print.
A very impressive film that has to be watched in the right frame of mind to be fully enjoyed, but is highly recommended.
A superb DVD release - decent print and audio and a great set of bonus features.