LILITH Blu Ray review

Peter Biskind might be known as the supreme chronicler of American cinema from the American New Wave to the end of the last century but he is also something else. He is infatuated with Warren Beatty. He not only mentioned his name some 100 times in his Easy Riders, Raging Bulls but he also wrote a whole biography of the man. LILITH was only mentioned in the sides of the star (the name of the book no less) and his work. Biskind focused more on Beatty sexual prowess on the films audition phase. Now on this recent rewatch, thanks to Powerhouse films, proves how criminal it is to overlook this film.

Charting the relationship between Vincent Bruce (Beatty), ex solider returning home from war and Lilith Arthur (Jean Seberg) an inmate in an institution. He is a member of staff, tasked with looking after those in his charge. She is a case of something else. An inmate that is their for her own good but why exactly is open to question. Their relationship reveals Bruce has deep cracks in his persona. He is riddled with vulnerability. Lilith is a sneaking tiger and is manipulative but also fragile.

Robert Rossen’s film is actually far more important in the making of Beatty as a film maker than it is of Rossen filmography. This is all over the disc and its extras. It also proves the final film of Robert Rossen (Best Director Oscar winner and chronicler of American transition to empire) is an under appreciated and very important film maker. His works like THE HUSTLER and ALL THE KINGS MEN are not only relevant then but also now. However the important points raised here are how the film actually showed Beatty and Rossen worked together and how they ended up deteriorating. So they worked to find his leading lady but then clashed over his role definition and style of the piece. Beatty asks questions all the time. Funny enough on watching the extras and reading the notes, both star and director wanted the same thing. They both had a distaste for studio productions. They both wanted a modern film and both wanted a bold film. The most informative place to see this is in the Rossen interview and Combs notes. In his Interview on the disc, Beatty consistently brings up the studios but he is measured now. He possibly learned from this film (and others), that the studio is needed onside for projects. It all coalesces on the disc to bring about a film that is challenging and challenged the film makers to be bold. Which bold they were….

The Visual from the HD master is a little weaker than I would have liked. It has a slight wash on exterior scenes and an odd diffusion of the image toward its middle. However it is a massive step past anything prior. Audio is very clean. This is from a mono source that is energetic and bold. What do I mean? Well its from the archive and so has survived well. Giving quality and depth to the whole.

INDICATOR LIMITED EDITION BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES:

  • High Definition remaster
  • Original mono audio
  • The Guardian Interview with Warren Beatty (1990, 87 mins): archival audio recording of a career-spanning interview with the celebrated actor and director, hosted by Christopher Cook and conducted at London’s National Film Theatre
  • The Suffering Screen (2019, 25 mins): a visual essay by journalist and author Amy Simmons which explores cinema’s enduring fascination with narratives and representations of female madness
  • The Many Faces of Jean Seberg (2019, 8 mins): critic and film historian Pamela Hutchinson explores the life and career of the famed actor
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Image gallery: on-set and promotional photography
  • New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
  • Limited edition exclusive 36-page booklet with a new essay by Richard Combs, Robert Rossen and Seberg on Lilith, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and film credits
  • UK premiere on Blu-ray
  • Limited Edition of 3,000 copies

 

 

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