Blu-Ray Review: Michael

Without doubt, Carl Theodor Dreyer was one of the greatest directors of the silent era. He’s best remembered for The Passion of Joan of Arc, but he made a number of notable films, including Leaves on Satan’s, Master of the House and Michael. Whilst his brief forays into talkies also proved fruitful, it’s his silent work which is his most distinct. Based on Herman Bang’s book of the same name, Michael was released in 1924.

Claude Zoret (Benjamin Christensen) is a famous and enigmatic painter. When he’s approached by Michael (Walter Slezak), a young artist desperate for a break, there’s an instant connection. The pair become inseparable, despite the difference in their ages, and Michael becomes his model and muse. However, the younger man gradually drifts away, starting an affair with a bankrupt countess (Nora Gregor) who persuades him to steal from his mentor and former lover.

Michael was written by Dreyer in collaboration with Thea von Harbou, who notably helped to
create Metropolis, Das Testament Des Dr. Mabuse and M with her (then) husband Fritz Lang. The implied homosexual relationship was shocking for the time, and whilst never directly addressed, it’s a landmark work of gay silent cinema. This 2k restoration of Michael is presented on Blu-ray for the first time. It’s a studied treatise on love, devotion, treachery and obsession.

Special Features:

  • Stunning 1080p presentation from a new 2K restoration
  • Score by Pierre Oser (piano, clarinet, cello) presented in uncompressed LPCM stereo
  • Original German intertitles with optional English subtitles
  • Full-length audio commentary by Dreyer scholar, Casper Tybjerg
  • An exclusive video essay by critic and filmmaker David Cairns
  • An illustrated audio interview with Dreyer from 1965
  • A booklet featuring a new essay by Philip Kemp; a reprint of Tom Milne’s The World Inside Me; Jean Renoir’s 1968 tribute; a translation of the original Danish programme and more!

Michael is released on Blu-ray by Eureka Entertainment as part of their Masters of Cinema collection on 12 February.

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