Search - Images on DVD

Actors: Susannah York, Rene Auberjonois, Marcel Bozzuffi, Hugh Millais, Cathryn Harrison
Directors: Robert Altman, Greg Carson
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy
R     2003     1hr 41min

"One of the most important American directors of our time" (Life), Oscar(r) nominee* Robert Altman delivers a "fascinating [and] compelling" (Interview) thriller that delivers an "original cinematic jolt" (Playboy)! Susann...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Susannah York, Rene Auberjonois, Marcel Bozzuffi, Hugh Millais, Cathryn Harrison
Directors: Robert Altman, Greg Carson
Creators: Susannah York, Robert Altman, Vilmos Zsigmond, J.B. Letchinger, Greg Carson, Graeme Clifford, Michael Ruiz, Tommy Thompson
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 09/16/2003
Original Release Date: 12/18/1972
Theatrical Release Date: 12/18/1972
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 41min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 9
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French

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Movie Reviews

Fascinating Psychological Portrait
Westley | Stuck in my head | 08/15/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Susannah York gives a fantastic performance as Cathryn, a wealthy English woman who may be mentally unstable. Alone in her home writing a children's book, she is interrupted by the apparent appearance of an old lover. Or is she? When her husband (Rene Aberjonois) arrives home and sees her distress, he whisks her away to their country home - a strangely drab cottage that seems to have been spray-painted black and gray. Her deterioration and inability to distinguish fact and fantasy continue unabated, particularly when her husband has to return to the city. What happens from there is highly open to interpretation.

"Images" is a strange, unsettling film, even for director Robert Altman. The initial pace is glacier-like and will undoubtedly leave many viewers bored and frustrated. However, you need to stick with it, as the film gradually gains momentum and climaxes with almost unbearable tension. The film has been compared to Roman Polanski's "Repulsion"; that film is superior to "Images," but the comparison is not completely inappropriate. Both chronicle a young woman's descent in madness when left alone; however, "Images" is less chilling and somewhat more convoluted, although with many merits of its own.

Filmed on location in Ireland, the film looks absolutely stunning, and the cinematography is so superior that it alone merits a viewing of "Images." Altman's direction is also first-rate and masterful, so much so that it somewhat detracts from the film - I was sometimes too busy watching his directing flourishes to pay attention to small plot details. Overall, "Images" is an intriguing movie-going experience that will likely appeal to many fans of Altman and viewers who appreciate films that can be obscure in nature.

Great 70s horror classic
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I have not seen IMAGES on DVD so I cannot honestly comment on the DVD's quality, but I saw this film last year at a film archive screening, and I have to say I was genuinely freaked out by it. Again, to be honest, a number of my friends found it to be a bit silly, but I was genuinely disturbed by it, in much the same way that I was disturbed by ONIBABA, ROSMARY'S BABY, DON'T LOOK NOW, and DEAD RINGERS. Putting the spectator in the position of a mentally unbalanced person (a la DR. CALIGARI), IMAGES masterfully creates the effect of being trapped within an unstable subjectivity. By the way, the acting and the cinematography are flawless..."
Most exciting psychological triller!
mi-de-ja | Japan | 12/14/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is the most exciting psychological thriller ever made,I thought.Direcior Robert Altman's unique style on this film magnificiently presents the see into tormented woman'madness, same as Altman's other film like "that cold day in the park('69)"and "three women('77)". The music on this film(by John Williams) is still more exciting, espesially for the percussion of Stomu Yamash'ta(the famous japanese percussionist known by Red Buddah Theatre of '70s).To my regret, this film isn't released on theatre in Japan."
Reappearance of a Long Lost Masterpiece
Doug Anderson | Miami Beach, Florida United States | 07/26/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)

"The first thing that I think Altman fans will notice when they watch this is that this is the only 70's Altman film that takes place in another country. And that other country, Ireland, is in many ways the star of this film, or at least Ireland as it is seen through the lens of cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond.

The other star of the film is the musical score. John Williams did the musical score but there is also a "sound" credit given to Stomu Yamashta who is referred to as a creator of sound sculptures.

The cinematography and the music (which sounds, at times, like Japanese horror film music) combine to give this film more atmosphere than all of Altman's other films combined. For a film with a comparable atmospheric setting think Peckinpah's STRAW DOGS or Skolimowski's THE SHOUT.

Also the writing credits are divided between Robert Altman and Susannah York. Altman wrote the story but York wrote the story within the story called "In Search of Unicorns" and this Hobbit-like fantasy story about a medieval tribe searching for unicorns was actually published. In the Altman film York's character, Catherine, is writing this fantasy story and we can see that she is very good at allowing herself to completely float away from reality. Plus the Irish landscape that surrounds the cottage, populated by sheep and shetland ponies, and the cottage itself, seem more fantastical than real. Its an excellent setting for a story about psychoses (a person who experiences a break from reality).

As Altman films go this is in a different category altogether from his usual ensemble pieces. This is the film he made after McCabe and Mrs. Miller and, in some ways, it picks up where that film left off. Imagine McCabe and Mrs. Miller told entirely through Mrs. Miller's opium-induced vision and you get some idea where Images comes from and where Altman is going.

On the surface it seems that there is really very little story at all in Images and yet when you begin to study this film you realize that everything is in its proper place, and that this character, Catherine, has been thoroughly imagined by Altman/York. The atmospheres, both the interiors of the remote country house and the exterior landscapes, are alluring and hypnotic. The John Williams music seems to stress the actual reality while the harsh and dissonant Yamashta soundscapes stress that something within this landscape is disjointed, disconnected, disturbed. This is the kind of place you would dream of living but it also seems to be a place that is so isolated from the mainstream of society that it requires its inhabitants to foster an intense fantasy life. Catherine's psychoses seems to either be caused or aggravated by the landscape itself.

The fact that this film has not been seen for so many years just adds to its almost mystical allure. The year it was released it did garner a couple of awards at Cannes (an acting award for York and a Golden Palm for Altman) so it was appreciated in 1972. For many years this film was thought to have been burned in a fire, and then a copy was found in a rarity shop. Its reappearance after so many years is a very unexpected surprise and i think that is the response most people will have to the film itself as well. One difficulty that this film presents is how to categorize it. It has elements of fantasy, psychological thriller, and horror. The point of originality here I think is that everything we know about this character, Catherine, all comes from a very unstable source, Catherine herself. The unreliability of all that we see makes the film particularly disturbing and particularly effective. More conventional psychological horror films eventually allow us some way of verifying just what was real and just what was coming from the haunted character's psyche. But we really never depart from the main character's psyche in this film and so we never get anything like distance or closure.

Plot details below (so read no further if you haven't seen the film yet).

The plot in a nutshell: Catherine is married to Hugh. While Hugh is at work one night and Catherine is home writing her children's story she begins receiving phone calls from an unidentified source who claims to have information about her husband and another woman. Apparently (and I stress the "apparently" because nothing is certain in this film) Catherine in years past was something of a philanderer herself and in her present life she has a habit of talking to her ex-lovers who she is pretty certain, but not altogether certain, are not really there. Certain clues are dropped that tell us that one reason Catherine may have been unfaithful is because she desperately wants to have a child but she may be barren (and this may partially explain her obession with children's books and children and all may stem from Catherine's own childhood traumas which are intertwined with her family cottage that she and her husband now live in). The dramatic tension of the story is Catherine's attempt to overcome her psychic imbalance and determine once and for all what is hallucination and what is real. But just when we think she has found her psychic equilibrium there is one more surprise.

I love the cinematography and the music and the splendid atmospheres this film offers us; the story is also structured with incredible care. There are clues scattered everywhere but Altman seems to enjoy leaving things in a state of disarray. One of the visual metaphors of the film is the jigsaw puzzle and this film in many ways is just that. This film will appeal to fans of psychological films like Bergman's PERSONA, Polanski's REPULSION, DePalma's SISTERS & Altman's own 3 WOMEN.

In addition to the psychoses the film also has a supernatural element to it that may appeal to some and that made me think of the strange flashbacks and flash forwards in Nicolas Roeg's DON'T LOOK NOW. Some of the most powerful scenes in the film have Catherine viewing herself from afar and these scenes emphasize Catherines growing disconnectedness to the world and herself; as the film goes on the other Catherine gets closer and closer. These are frightening scenes precisly because we do not know if it will be a good thing or a bad thing if Catherine's parallel worlds come together.

If you're not a person who feels the need to rationally understand all you see, or, if that is precisely the kind of experience that you seek, then you may enjoy this element of the film.

For me the pieces of this puzzle come together this way: Everything Catherine sees is an emanation from her own psyche. Catherine's childhood was spent in the cottage where she now writes. As a child she was left alone for days at a stretch and it was then that she began the habit of creating imaginary companions. Later, when she became an adult, she wanted to create a real companion by having a child of her own. Since she could not have a child of her own she had to settle for male companions that made demands on her that she did not want to or could not fulfill and thus she desires to kill them off in order to preserve the sanctity and order of her imaginary realm. In addition to the male lovers (who both have French names, Rene and Marcel, and this contributes to our wandering if they are just products of Catherine's imagination) Catherine imagines a young girlfriend, Susannah, that also may or may not be just another imagined figure. Catherine seems to prefer her fantasy world to the real one but the tragedy and horror of her life is that she can no longer tell the difference between the two. Who is real? Who is merely imagined? We and she never really can say."