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Institute Benjamenta (With Bonus DVD) (2 Discs) (Blu-ray)

Released on 24 May 2010

Featuring: Mark Rylance, Alice Krige & Gottfried John

Format: Blu-ray | Rating: 12 years & over

5.0 out of 5 (1 customer review) | Write a review

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Inspired by the writings of the Swiss novelist Robert Walser, Institute Benjamenta is the first live-action feature from the acclaimed surrealist animators, the Quay Brothers. Jakob (Mark Rylance) enrols into the Benjamenta Institute, a dilapidated boarding school for the training of servants. He then tries to unravel the hidden mysteries of the school, his fellow pupils, and Frau and Herr Benjamenta, the siblings who run it. A fascinating symphony of light and shade constructed on the prevailing Quay themes of death, decay, and nothingness.
  • * Artwork subject to change
  • Region 0
  • Dual Format Edition: Includes both the Blu-ray and the DVD of the film and extras
  • Inside the Institute: an in-between world (BFI, 2010, c.30 mins): a brand new documentary about the making of the film, featuring actors Mark Rylance, Alice Krige, as well as the directors, writer, DoP and film editor.
  • Original trailer
  • Eurydice - She, So Beloved (Quay Brothers, 2007, 12 mins): Monteverdi's opera L'Orfeo
  • The Comb (Quay Brothers, 1990, 17 mins): this short animation explores some of the themes of Institute Benjamenta
  • On-set footage (15 mins, DVD only)
  • Songs for Dead Children (Quay Brothers / Steve Martland, 2003, 23 mins): Steve Martland's Street Songs as seen by the visionary animators
  • Fully illustrated booklet containing newly commissioned essays, biographies and stills by celebrated photographer Jill Furmanovsky

customer Reviews

 Average rating (1 review)

 Highly commendable package from BFI

| | See all PaulWJM's reviews (12)

The movie can best be described as a surreal dream/nightmare-like experience, something that reminds me of Carl Dreyer's Vampyr in tone and even look, perhaps mixed with the weirder David Lynch material. It was shot in the mid nineties by animators The Quay Brothers, however this is a live-action film with a very sinister antiquated atmosphere. The images and sounds are fascinating in their ability to send the brain on to a strange journey, though there is a loose narrative structure also.

This release from BFI is a collector's gem - the film and most extras are included on separate Blu-ray and DVD platters, ensuring that nobody has an excuse not to buy this. The film is presented in B&W 1.66:1, looking sometimes very sharp, sometimes quite grainy on blu-ray but representing the film's actual appearance accurately. Sound is provided by a 2 channel DTS Master Audio track, again reflecting what comes with the negative as accurately as possible. There is a stunning half hour documentary that looks like it was most likely shot in HD because even the definition here is amazing (the Quays are interviewed quite extensively along with the writer and several cast members). There are also three short films by the Quays.

Rounding out the package is a gorgeously presented booklet offering plenty of background information. The case is a distinctive transparent type rather than the now traditional translucent blue type, more akin to the Playstation 3 games. For such a niche film this is all round a stupendous Blu-ray/DVD package that makes me want to buy more from BFI.

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ActorsMark Rylance, Alice Krige, Gottfried John, Daniel Smith, Joseph Alessi, Jonathan Stone, César Sarachu, Peter Lovstrom, Uri Roodner & Peter Whitfield
DirectorStephen Quay & Timothy Quay
Certificate12 years and over
Year1995
LanguagesEnglish/German
SubtitlesEnglish
Duration1 hour and 44 minutes (approx)