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Customer Review

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good, but with some Flaws, 26 Nov. 2013
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This review is from: Schalcken The Painter (BFI Flipside ) (DVD + Blu-ray) [1979] (DVD)
Like other viewers, I having been waiting a long time for a DVD of Schalken to become available, as I remember its first screening as a highlight of a series of Christmas ghost tales. It certainly is a very good production. It is visually delightful with many of the scenes re-staging or mimicking 17th century Dutch paintings. The performances of the actors playing the main characters were also excellent. However, since first seeing it I have read the Sheridan Lefanu story on which it is based and, by comparison with the book, there were three things that prevented the whole film being excellent.

Firstly, the LeFanu short story moves forward at a considerable pace, keeping the reader interested and involved. This adaptation has added several scenes that do little to enhance the story but do slow it down. The running time of 70 minutes was presumably dictated by TV schedules, but it could have been 10 or even 15 minutes shorter without loss. Secondly, much of the power of LeFanu's story is in its ambiguity: what was Vanderhausen's precise nature, did he kill Rose or was it a suicide when she was deranged and was Schalken's much later last sight of Rose real, a vision or simply a dream? The way the film is staged favours one explanation in each case and removes much of the ambiguity. Finally, the adaptation deliberately emphasizes monetary transactions relating to works of art and women being bought and sold with repeated scenes of clinking coins. This is the dramatist's addition to LeFanu's story and is done clumsily and without finesse.
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