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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It Took Me Over 30 Years To See This Again., 8 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: Schalcken The Painter (BFI Flipside ) (DVD + Blu-ray) (DVD)
It is a powerful testimonial to this BBC TV film that I have never forgotten it after seeing it only once back in 1980. I have forgotten which new cable network carried it, the long gone CBS Cable or the then new Arts & Entertainment network. Doesn't really matter. What's important is the impression it made. I had read the original Sheridan LeFanu story many years before in an anthology called FRIGHT and then in a collection of his stories. Although not the same, I thought this adaptation captured the eseence of the story perfectly. I had never heard the name of the artist Gottfried Schalcken before but when I first saw his paintings I recognized some of them especially the one of the man offering the woman gold coins by candlelight, a scene which is beautifully reproduced in the movie. In fact the lighting throughout the film is exemplary.

In addition to being familiar with the story, what really drew me to this movie and made a lasting impression was the recreation of 17th century Dutch painting techniques. The scene where Schalcken (Jeremy Clyde) pinpricks a scene and then blows away the charcoal dust was remarkable. When I saw the movie GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING, I immediately flashed back to SCHALCKEN. It was good to see Maurice Denham as the elderly painter. I knew him from several films most notably NIGHT OF THE DEMON and then there was John Justin who was visually unforgettable as the Demon Lover Vanderhausen. Could this really be Prince Ahmad from THE THIEF OF BAGDAD? Cheryl Kennedy was beautiful and tragic as the niece and who could forget the final scene in the church crypt. Charles Gray's narration was the perfect final touch.

For years I could find no trace of SCHALCKEN. Back in the 1980s and 1990s there was no real way to reference films when you had little to go on. The 21st century has given us the internet and sites like -imdb- where a film is only a keyboard away. Of course when I finally tracked SCHALCKEN down it was only to discover that it wasn't available and didn't look like it would be available anytime soon. I knew that if it ever did become available, amazon.uk would be the place to find it. Finally, in November 2013, I saw this Blu Ray/DVD combo and promptly ordered it. It was as good as I remembered it, actually better because I understood more about it. In addition to the choice of formats it comes with a 24 page booklet and loads of extra features including a background interview with the filmmaker and several other short films. Thank you BFI/BBC!
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