Accident (1967)

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Released 15-Sep-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1967
Running Time 100:56
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Joseph Losey
Studio
Distributor
London Independent
Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Dirk Bogarde
Stanley Baker
Jacqueline Sassard
Michael York
Vivien Merchant
Delphine Seyrig
Alexander Knox
Anne Firbank
Brian Phelan
Terence Rigby
Freddie Jones
Jill Johnson
Jane Hillary
Case ?
RPI $9.95 Music John Dankworth


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    This film opens with a lengthy and static view of an idyllic country house, but suddenly we hear screeching tyres followed by a crash. Thus begins Joseph Losey's enigmatic film about an Oxford don and his illicit relationships, told almost entirely in flashback.

    Dirk Bogarde stars as the slightly stuffy Stephen. His colleague is the more assured and smug Charley (Stanley Baker), a ladies man, though the surface hides something less confident. Then there is William (Michael York), a young pupil of Stephen's. All three are attracted to Anna (Jacqueline Sassard), an Austrian student at Oxford. Stephen's wife Rosalind (Vivien Merchant) is pregnant with their third child. Their relationship seems to have reached the comfortable stage, but there are signs that Stephen feels unfulfilled.

    Stephen tries to reassert his manhood through his interest in Anna, his attempts to get on television like Charley and by looking up an old girlfriend in London (Delphine Seyrig). This is a film about some not so pleasant people, and even the leading character is less than sympathetic. While this was unusual in films of the time, it was not so different from a lot of British films of the 1960s. There were a number of anti-hero types in films of the period, though usually these were people on the fringes of society rather than those at the core. Often it was played for comedy, and not for drama, with elements of the so-called "Swinging Sixties" making these films seem dated today.

    Not so Accident, which still packs a punch because it could just as easily be set in today's world as that of nearly 40 years ago.

    This was one of four collaborations between star Bogarde and American director Joseph Losey, whose career fell foul of the Communist witchhunts in the 1950s, after which he found himself as a director for hire in Britain. After several years of struggle to make films on his own terms, in the early 1960s he managed to break free of the restrictive British system and made a number of fine films, notably the first two he made with the star of this film, The Servant and King and Country (their other collaboration, Modesty Blaise, was a disaster).

    The film is based on a novel by Nicholas Mosley, who makes a brief appearance in the film. It was adapted for the screen by Harold Pinter, who had scripted The Servant. An actor himself, Pinter was married to Vivien Merchant and also takes a small role in the film as the TV producer Stephen goes to see. In most of his screen time his head is framed in the crook of Freddie Jones' arm. Pinter's elliptical dialogue is beautifully realised by the actors. There are a lot of repeated phrases and sentences as in many of Pinter's own plays (or at least in those films of his plays that I have seen), and the deliberate pacing and delivery of the lines forces the viewer to consider whether the meaning is something different to what is heard, and to peer below the bright surface to the darkness underneath. This attempt to impose a subtext on the dialogue is more obviously realised in Stephen's scenes with his ex-girlfriend, with the soundtrack disconnected from the screen images. The mundane small talk that is heard contrasts with the actions on screen, and clearly indicates that something else is really going on.

    Losey's attention to fine details and the blocking out of shots is superb in what must be just about his finest work on screen. Gerry Fisher's camerawork is likewise excellent, and overall this is an important film with fine performances. Highly recommended.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The original aspect ratio was 1.85:1, so a fraction of the image is missing.

    The transfer is reasonably sharp. The level of detail available is good, and shadow detail is satisfactory. Colour is also reasonable, with satisfactory flesh tones.

    The only significant film to video artefact is excessive noise reduction, notable examples being at 75:51 and 92:47. There is also some telecine wobble during the opening credits.

    The transfer has not been restored, so there are a few white flecks, occasional faint scratches, dirt and hairs visible. There are half a dozen darker scratches visible for several seconds from 41:15, and there is also a splice mark at 85:24.

    The film is presented on a single-layered disc with no subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The sole audio track is Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.

    The audio is a bit of a disappointment. While the dialogue is clear, there is slight distortion and harshness to the audio. It sounds muffled occasionally, and there is a boxiness to the sound as well as thinness in the upper frequencies. The latter problem leads to some sibilance. This is disappointing especially as the sound is an important element in this film, with the background noise of nature and traffic used for atmospheric purposes. There is also a long sequence where Stephen meets a former flame, where the soundtrack is disconnected from the images on the screen, the mundane dialogue adding to the viewer's sense of something happening in the film that is not overtly stated.

    The music score is by John Dankworth and is very good. It has a jazz influence, and mainly comprises saxophone with instrumental backing. Rather than underscore what is happening on-screen, it provides more of a counterpoint, sometimes ironic in view of what the viewer sees.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are no extras.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 release from Anchor Bay only includes a trailer as an extra, so there is no real reason to prefer it to the Region 4 release.

Summary

    A superb film, this is definitely worth owning, though don't watch this if you are looking for mindless, escapist entertainment - not that there is anything wrong with that.

    The video transfer is good, though a full restoration is in order.

    The audio transfer could have been better.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Sunday, September 19, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

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Comments (Add)
King & Country - Aspect Ratio R4 - NewcastleBoy (read my bio)