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The Vanishing

Blu Ray

  • Score
    from 2 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • George Sluizer's The Vanishing is a masterfully suspenseful, unforgettable thriller, now stunning in 4K. Highly recommended.

    The Vanishing Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

  • Video
  • Criterion's 4K restoration of 'The Vanishing' impresses with clear, vibrant visuals and a film-like texture, despite minor night scene flaws and the occasional presence of dirt.

  • Audio
  • The Blu-ray's Dutch/French LPCM 1.0 track delivers clean, balanced audio with an exceptional score, despite slight muddiness in dialogue. It includes reliable English subtitles, free from common audio defects.

  • Extra
  • Critiques and behind-the-scenes insights from The Vanishing's director Sluizer and actress Johanna ter Steege, highlighting creative clashes, casting challenges, and accolades, paired with an original trailer. Exclusive Criterion interviews and materials.

  • Movie
  • Criterions Blu-ray of 'The Vanishing' includes in-depth features, essays, and a haunting tale of obsession and psychological horror, with key performances and a narrative that defies conventional chronology, remaining a cinematic terror.

    Video: 78

    George Sluizer's "The Vanishing" is presented on Blu-ray by Criterion in its original aspect ratio of 1.67:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and graced with a 1080p transfer. This release, derived from a new digital transfer created in 4K resolution on a wet-gate ARRISCAN film scanner from the 35mm original camera negative, showcases a significantly enhanced visual experience. The extensive restoration process involved manual removal of thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, and warps with MTI's DRS and Digital Vision's Phoenix for grain, noise management, and color stabilization. The monaural soundtrack has been meticulously remastered at 24-bit from the 35mm magnetic track, removing auditory imperfections to deliver a pristine audio experience.

    The restoration effort yields truly marvelous results across crucial aspects such as image depth, contrast stability, color reproduction, and overall image fluidity, making this one of Criterion's finest technical presentations. Close-up scenes amaze with their depth and clarity, while panoramic shots maintain excellent fluidity. The film's grain structure is beautifully preserved, contributing to a very film-like appearance without losing any detail or falling into softness. Even scenes in low light or night time, barring a few instances of black crush and frame jumps likely due to source print issues, demonstrate the restoration's remarkable quality. Colors are vibrant and stable, displaying a wide and strikingly healthy range that significantly surpasses former releases.

    Despite a handful of minor points of contention including occasional dirt/debris visibility against bright backgrounds and noted frame jumps possibly indicative of missing frames, this Blu-ray transfer is handled with utmost care. The few existing issues do not detract from the overall viewing experience, which remains unfrequently distracted. Viewers should particularly note the proficiency in managing the film's inherent darkness in several scenes—reflecting the director's intent without compromising clarity. This Criterion release sets a high standard for visual restoration, maximizing the potential of "The Vanishing" on Blu-ray.

    Audio: 73

    The audio presentation of "The Vanishing" on Blu-ray features a singular Dutch/French LPCM 1.0 track, which faithfully respects the film’s original sound design while managing to surpass expectations in clarity and dynamic range for a mono track. The meticulous remastering process has clearly paid dividends, as evidenced by Henny Vrienten's score, which showcases an impressive dynamic range, allowing the music to flourish without overpowering the equally important dialogue. This careful balance ensures that the film's atmosphere is preserved, with every sound cue and dialogue piece being rendered with commendable clarity. The technical prowess extends to the elimination of common audio defects such as crackles, pops, and distortions, ensuring an immersive viewing experience. Additionally, the optional English subtitles provided are of high quality, offering non-native speakers an accessible and accurate translation.

    Despite these strengths, there is an acknowledgment of slight drawbacks, particularly a certain 'muddiness' in the dialogue tracks. This issue, though minor, slightly detracts from the otherwise pristine audio experience by making the dialogue less crisp than ideally desired. However, this does not significantly impair the overall auditory experience, thanks to the lack of hissing, popping, or other disruptive audio artifacts. The restoration team's effort to provide a clean, stable sound free of dropouts or anomalies contributes to a professional-grade audio track that remains authentic to the film's original theatrical presentation.

    In summary, this Blu-ray release of "The Vanishing" presents an audio experience that is largely commendable for its clarity, balance, and dynamic expression within the constraints of a LPCM 1.0 track. While the minor issue of dialogue muddiness persists, it is overwhelmingly offset by the track’s virtues, making it a commendable effort for both casual viewers and audiophiles alike. The inclusion of high-quality English subtitles further enhances accessibility, making this technical audio achievement a significant component of the Blu-ray offering.

    Extra: 53

    The Blu-ray extras for "The Vanishing" provide an enriching behind-the-scenes look at the making of this cinematic enigma. The original trailer, albeit brief, introduces the haunting premise in French, ensuring viewers are instantly gripped. Two compelling interviews shed light on the creative process: director George Sluizer delves into the complexities of adapting Tim Krabbe's novel and navigating his cast's dynamics, revealing candid disagreements and alternative casting wishes, while Johanna ter Steege offers insights into her pivotal role and its impact on her career, including accolades at prestigious European film festivals. These additions are complemented by a thought-provoking essay from critic Scott Foundas, rounding out a package that offers both nostalgia for fans and a deep dive for newcomers.

    Extras included in this disc:

    • Trailer: Original trailer with optional English subtitles.
    • George Sluizer: Director George Sluizer recalls acquiring rights to the novel, casting challenges, and thematic discussions.
    • Johanna ter Steege: Actress Johanna ter Steege shares insights on her role and its accolades.
    • Leaflet: Features an essay by critic Scott Foundas.

    Movie: 78

    Director George Sluizer's "The Vanishing" (a.k.a. Spoorloos, 1988) presents a masterclass in suspense and psychological horror, distinguishing itself from the myriad of horror films with its minimal reliance on gore. The Blu-ray release by Criterion showcases this cinematic puzzle with pristine visual and auditory enhancement. Sluizer's manipulation of narrative structure—flitting between past and present, assailant and victim—provides a deeply engaging experience that is further enriched by the performances of Gene Bervoets as Rex and Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu as Raymond Lemorne, alongside a noteworthy portrayal by Johanna ter Steege as Saskia. The film’s dialogue is mainly in Dutch and French, offering English subtitles for a broader audience, and it maintains its region-A lock status.

    "The Vanishing" unfolds with an unnerving simplicity: the vanishings occur in broad daylight, steeping the narrative not in the act itself but in its harrowing aftermath. The storyline eschews chronological order for a deeper dive into character psyche, notably through the lens of Rex's obsession and Lemorne’s chilling normalcy—a science teacher and family man entwined in evil motilities. The character study is paramount; Rex's fixation on uncovering Saskia's fate spirals into self-destruction, paralleling Lemorne's calculated, seemingly mundane approach to his malevolence. These elements coalesce into a commentary on obsession, identity, and the unforeseen depths of human nature.

    Critically acclaimed and recognized for its innovative storytelling and subtle terror—the kind that earned accolades from Stanley Kubrick— "The Vanishing" has sustained its impact over decades, predating and influencing subsequent thrillers. Its re-release by Criterion does justice to its legacy, offering not merely a film but a haunting exploration of the dichotomies within human behavior and emotion. Despite Sluizer's later attempt at an English-language remake, it’s this original iteration, with its nuanced performances and meticulous direction, that continues to stand as a compelling study of horror beyond the physical, remaining vital viewing for aficionados of the genre.

    Total: 70

    The Vanishing," directed by George Sluizer, stands as a paramount example of psychological thriller filmmaking that has left indelible marks on the genre. Its most striking trait lies in its narrative structure and the way it engages viewers. With an approach that crafts its terrifying journey through a blend of impeccable storytelling and a focus on the antagonist's perspective, the film achieves a fascinating depth of obsession and suspense. This film not only captivates with its story but also showcases technical excellence in its restoration. The recent 4K restoration has elevated its visual presentation to remarkable heights, making it now shine among the finest in Criterion's Blu-ray collection, comparable to works like "Insomnia" in terms of sheer visual quality.

    The film's narrative intricacy is matched by stellar performances and an atmosphere that grips the audience from start to finish. It innovatively shares all necessary pieces of the puzzle early on, yet masterfully keeps the audience guessing until the very end, illustrating Sluizer's intelligent direction. This feature differentiates "The Vanishing" from contemporaneous films by how it brings the antagonist into focus, challenging conventional storytelling norms and influencing numerous thrillers that followed. Its allure is not diminished even for those typically uninterested in foreign films with subtitles—its merit as a compelling, unforgettable piece of cinema is undeniable.

    In conclusion, "The Vanishing" is an exemplary film that skilfully combines psychological depth with technical brilliance. Its 4K restoration on Blu-ray offers both long-time fans and newcomers alike an opportunity to experience its thrilling narrative and arresting visuals in unparalleled quality. Highly recommended for its groundbreaking narrative approach, thematic depth, and visual restoration, “The Vanishing” remains a must-watch, compelling for both its haunting storyline and as a cinematic achievement.