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Author Topic: Etoile (Peter del Monte, 1988)  (Read 5095 times)

ecc

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Etoile (Peter del Monte, 1988)
« on: 19 Dec 2009 - 22:27 »

Claire Hamilton (Jennifer Connelly) has come to Budapest to audition for a ballet school run by the mysterious Marius Balakin (Laurent Terzieff, THE LAST METRO).  Claire meets cute with fellow American Jason (Gary McCleery) who retrieves her dropped slipper.  Jason is in Budapest with his Uncle Joshua (an overacting Charles Durning) to buy up some antique clocks at auction but is attracted to Claire.  Claire goes to the audition and back at her hotel receives flowers addressed to long dead ballerina Natalie Horvath.  Claire loses her nerve and plans to go back to New York but instead answers to a loudspeaker request for a car waiting for Natalie Horvath and gets into a Rolls Royce which spirits her away into the past.  Later, Jason sees her in a park and is delighted that she has stayed but she appears not to know him.  Jason is mystified but grows suspicious when it appears that outside forces are trying to keep him away from her (including his uncle suddenly turning into a murderous lunatic).  Meanwhile, Claire is groomed to fill Natalie's shoes in a performance of Swan Lake originally cut short by her death.

Like THE SPIDER LABYRINTH, ETOILE is both shot and actually set in Hungary (Soavi's THE CHURCH featured some exteriors there including the cathedral itself but its setting was never specified in the dialogue although some German signs are visible).  American Peter Del Monte takes a restrained approach to this slowburn ghost story that goes against the grain of most Italian-produced horror of this time (producer Achille Manzotti also greenlighted the two NOTHING UNDERNEATH films and later TWO EVIL EYES) but is far more successful compared to Del Monte's other Italian production JULIA AND JULIA (one of the early hi-def TV video productions of the time shot by Giuseppe Rotunno) with Kathleen Turner, Gabriel Byrne, and Sting.  There are seeming references to SUSPIRIA (the ballerinas and the creepy school building), OPERA (the performance itself), and INFERNO (Jason's penetrating the subterranean lair) but it is all of a different, more contemplative style as befits Jurgen Kneiper's brooding orchestral score (paired on CD with the ultra funky Franco Micalizzi score for STRIDULUM).  An uncredited Sergio Stivaletti created a giant animatronic black swan that is kept largely offscreen but the raising of its silhouetted head behind a curtain upon Jason's entrance into its mirror-filled chamber recalls the rousing of SUSPIRIA's Helena Markos).

Though unreleased in English speaking countries, ETOILE's English version had three Japanese releases.  The first two were as a stereo surround widescreen laserdisc and videotape.  Years later, it was re-released as a PAL-converted Japanese-subtitled Italian language anamorphic widescreen disc (I'm looking for a burn of this to see if I can fix the PAL-NTSC artifacts and fandub it).  The Japanese-subtitled tape pops up on eBay every once in a while but has mainly reached English-speaking viewers through bootleg tape and DVDR.  The film's visual flair is very restrained and the old transfer looks rather unspectacular so I doubt a new transfer will reveal a wealth of saturated colors and detail but an upgrade from analog NTSC video-land might restore a layer of slickness to the film.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJVXbaMzT4Y

ecc

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Re: Etoile (Peter del Monte, 1988)
« Reply #1 on: 22 Jul 2010 - 01:01 »

CardPlayer4

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Re: Etoile (Peter del Monte, 1988)
« Reply #2 on: 25 Jul 2010 - 18:51 »

Too bad about the lack of english track/subtitles!
I like this film,not totally accomplished but quite haunting in its imagery and use of soundtrack...and Jennifer is an angel,of course.
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ecc

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Re: Etoile (Peter del Monte, 1988)
« Reply #3 on: 25 Jul 2010 - 21:21 »

Too bad about the lack of english track/subtitles!
I like this film,not totally accomplished but quite haunting in its imagery and use of soundtrack...and Jennifer is an angel,of course.

The English soundtrack is a must for this one.  The four main actors all speak English and they all sound weird in Italian (especially in the first exchange between the two main characters where he initially addresses her in German until he realizes she is American and they start speaking Italian!).

I think the unevenness of the film is due to probably producer Manzotti wanting something more mainstream.  So it's a cross between a ghost story and an eighties romance (you know, the young Americans go to Europe for adventure and romance and end up finding it with another American).  It's much better than Del Monte's JULIA AND JULIA.

CardPlayer4

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Re: Etoile (Peter del Monte, 1988)
« Reply #4 on: 26 Jul 2010 - 11:20 »

I think the unevenness of the film is due to probably producer Manzotti wanting something more mainstream.  So it's a cross between a ghost story and an eighties romance (you know, the young Americans go to Europe for adventure and romance and end up finding it with another American).  It's much better than Del Monte's JULIA AND JULIA.

Yes...i don't know if the film did well at the italian box office,back in 1989/1990...it seems that ETOILE hasn't been released anywhere,Jennifer Connelly at the time said that she hadn't seen the film even if she trained hard for the dance scenes...the film often looks like an Argento fairy tale but without the blood...i'd wish that Connelly would star again in an Argento film or another gothic italian film!
Another Del Monte film i like is COMPAGNA DI VIAGGIO/TRAVELLING COMPANION,a very touching little film starring Michel Piccoli and Asia Argento in one of her best performances...i'd also like to see PICCOLI FUOCHI/LITTLE FLAMES,produced by Claudio Argento and starring Valeria Golino...i guess that this one isn't available on dvd yet?
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ecc

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Re: Etoile (Peter del Monte, 1988)
« Reply #5 on: 26 Jul 2010 - 12:05 »

I think the unevenness of the film is due to probably producer Manzotti wanting something more mainstream.  So it's a cross between a ghost story and an eighties romance (you know, the young Americans go to Europe for adventure and romance and end up finding it with another American).  It's much better than Del Monte's JULIA AND JULIA.

Yes...i don't know if the film did well at the italian box office,back in 1989/1990...it seems that ETOILE hasn't been released anywhere,Jennifer Connelly at the time said that she hadn't seen the film even if she trained hard for the dance scenes...the film often looks like an Argento fairy tale but without the blood...i'd wish that Connelly would star again in an Argento film or another gothic italian film!
Another Del Monte film i like is COMPAGNA DI VIAGGIO/TRAVELLING COMPANION,a very touching little film starring Michel Piccoli and Asia Argento in one of her best performances...i'd also like to see PICCOLI FUOCHI/LITTLE FLAMES,produced by Claudio Argento and starring Valeria Golino...i guess that this one isn't available on dvd yet?

I think Asia Argento won an award for COMPANION.  ETOILE was released in Japan (on VHS and LD and theatrically I believe) but I believe Connelly was big there.

slizwiz

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Re: Etoile (Peter del Monte, 1988)
« Reply #6 on: 28 Jul 2010 - 14:36 »

I remember reading about this film a while back but not being able to find much about it. Thanks!
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