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Dead Ringers (The Criterion Collection)

Jeremy Irons , Geneviève Bujold , David Cronenberg    R (Restricted)   DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
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Product Description


Like many other films by Canadian director David Cronenberg (especially Crash), Dead Ringers presents the cinematic and psychological equivalent of an automobile accident--you dare not look, but you can't turn away. The film marked a directorial breakthrough for Cronenberg, who was able to continue some of the themes explored in his earlier horror films while graduating to a higher, more critically "respectable" level of artistic sophistication. The film is loosely based, amazingly enough, on a true story about twin gynecologists who routinely traded each others' identities, lives and even lovers. Utilizing innovative split-screen technology (years before computer manipulation made such trickery much easier), the film stars Jeremy Irons in flawless dual roles as the identical brothers Beverly and Elliot Mantle. Their ability to instantly switch identities leads them to a shared relationship with a well-known actress (Genevieve Bujold) and, ultimately, a physical and psychological tailspin that sends them both to the brink of madness and death. The scenario suggests that both men are halves of a whole, and that one cannot exist without the other. But when Beverly pursues a kinky, drug-addicted affair with the actress, his more self-controlled brother is helpless to prevent their mutual decline. In this way Dead Ringers becomes a fascinating and stylistically clinical study of duality, and Cronenberg doesn't shy away from the dark and unpleasant aspects of the story. (One look at the movie's display of bizarre gynecological instruments and you'll know why women find this film particularly--and unforgettably--disturbing.) The Criterion Collection DVD includes illuminating commentary by Cronenberg, Irons, production designer Carol Spier, and others; extensive production information; interviews with the principal cast; and a detailed examination of the film's groundbreaking use of invisible special effects. --Jeff Shannon

Product Description

In Dead Ringers, David Cronenberg tells the chilling story of identical twin gynecologists-suave Elliot and sensitive Beverly, bipolar sides of one personality-who share the same practice, the same apartment, the same women. When a new patient, glamorous actress Claire Niveau, challenges their eerie bond, they descend into a whirlpool of sexual confusion, drugs, and madness. Jeremy Irons' tour-de-force performance-as both twins-raises disturbing questions about the nature of personal identity.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
As of this writing, there's no artwork posted here, but if you get this DVD, at the top of the front cover, there's a black banner with white text that says "15th ANNIVERSARY EDITION FEATURING SUPPLEMENTS ORIGINALLY PRODUCED BY THE CRITERION COLLECTION." The transfer seems to be the same: non-anamorphic, 1.66:1 aspect ratio. The extras are spectacular, especially the commentary with Jeremy Irons and David Croenberg.
Another DVD released in Europe also licensed the same extras, but it's missing an essay and uses a different transfer with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. THIS DVD, which seems to be only available in Canada, uses the director's PREFERRED aspect ratio of 1.66:1, and is complete, almost an exact duplicate of the original Criterion Collection DVD in terms of content.
This is a bit more expensive than other DVD's, but a bit cheaper than the original Criterion Collection DVD, which is out-of-print and fetches 40+ U.S. dollars on ebay. Definitely worth buying if you love this picture, which is Croenberg's best work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You want to buy this Feb. 7 2005
The two most esteemed works by Cronenberg are Videodrome (1983) and Dead Ringers (1988). Third is usually Naked Lunch (1991). All three are available on Criterion, though Dead Ringers has been out of print for a long time. But no worries. This release has all the goods from the Criterion version, and at a more reasonable price.
Cronenberg maintained his artistic integrity with this film (and has since). While most directors would water themselves down after a blockbuster (1986's The Fly), Cronenberg moved onto a movie about twin gynaecologists (which is pretty risky in itself) and their descent into insanity. It is the beginning of the more internalised works by Cronenberg, though there are still some horror elements (the Giger-esque instruments for operating on mutant women and the dream sequence).
If you enjoy Dead Ringers, be sure to check out Videodrome and his 2002 film Spider, and if you make it that far, move onto Naked Lunch and Crash.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars welcome to cronenbergs brutal beautiful world July 10 2004
the criterion collection is a superb presentation of david cronenbergs masterwork; dead ringers.
this film stands with crash, rabid, the brood, and spider as essential cronenberg.
his whole body of work has been impressive and one is hard pressed to come up with a more individualistic auteur in cinema today.
dead ringers contains two of the most incredibly acted performances in recent memory. irons, of course , and bujold.
much has rightly been made of irons' dual performance and he deservedly (and surprisingly)won an oscar nomination for that performance.
but as much as irons performance was celebrated, bujolds was somewhat ignored. her character is smoldering in tormented sexuality and she balances coolness, vulnerability and agressive sexuality in a truly jarring performance. bujold, with barbara hershey,remains one of the most underrated actresses of her generation and she (unlike actresses such as nicole kidman) is an actress we need have no fear of ever going 'merchant ivory'
the visuals in this film are numbing and one walks away with various shades of horrific red seared into your brain (and of course we know red equals both sex and death, an understandably favorite obsession with cronenberg).
the images of gynological instruments transformed into sculpural torture devices is one of the most horrific ever shown on celluloid and this takes that whole sex and death theme to the nth degree.predictably enough, it is one of the most squirm inducing moments of the entire film.
by the time this film is finished you are mentally drained and i remember walking out of the theatre mumbling (probably incoherently) to myslef.
there are not many films that can make me feel like ive just been run over by a freight train.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Jeremy Irons' Best Work April 24 2004
Maybe it's the combined effect of having two Jeremy Irons for the price of one, but I believe -and Irons has been quoted to the same effect- that this is the finest work this fine actor has commited to the screen. Much more deserving of the oscar than his recessive Claus Von Bulow in 'Reversal of Fortune.'
The way he plays the weak twin off the stronger one, whose influence fades when a woman comes between them, is extraordinary. If you don't mind the pervasive grimness of the story in general, than do yourself a favor (God, starting to sound like that pretentious guy from the Actors Studio on Bravo), and get 'Dead Ringers.'
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5.0 out of 5 stars Irons' greatest performance. April 6 2004
By R Jess
Format:VHS Tape
'Dead Ringers' may indeed be David Cronenberg's best film. Jeremy Irons performance is truly extraordinary. Far from not being able to tell the difference between the two brothers, I could sense immediatedly which brother was which by simple body language and how each brother carried himself. Which is a testament to the subtlties of Irons' acting, that he could make you believe he was two different people at the same time on screen. This belief was largely created however by the amazing motion-control camera sequences which allowed Irons to "act with himself" in the same frame. The clean perpendicular lines of the twins' appartment was especially chosen to make it easier to cut the film together.
Viewers should be warned beforehand that 'Dead Ringers' is not a horror movie, it's more of a psychological character study. The twin brothers have a pseudo-homosexual relationship. Elliot as the suave, unfeeling male who's "no good with the serious ones" and Beverly (with the girl's name) as the sensitive, caring female. By the end of the film they recognize that they are one entity, forever seperated as two physical beings.
In talking about the film, Cronenberg has said that men have been much more squeamish over this film than women, as lying on the gynocological chair is an experience that many women have gone through, yet many men have no idea what it's like. Cronenberg was fascinated by these male doctors who knew more about their patients most private parts than their husbands did.
The only drawback abou this whole project is that the marvellous soundtrack is not available anywhere!
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Cronenberg is the greatest Canadian director by far.
I'm kinda new to Cronenberg only previously seeing "Videodrome" and loving the hell out of it. Same goes for Dead Ringers. Read more
Published on Jan. 6 2005 by Antonio Giusto
5.0 out of 5 stars Cronenberg-Irons tour de force.
'Dead Ringers' may indeed be David Cronenberg's best film. Jeremy Irons performance is truly extraordinary. Read more
Published on March 31 2004 by R Jess
4.0 out of 5 stars another good film with impressive special effects
This review id for the Criterion Collection edition of the film.
This film based on the book "Twins" by Bari Wood and Jack Geasland, which is based loosely on a... Read more
Published on March 25 2004 by Ted
5.0 out of 5 stars More depressing than seconal ...
I've seen this movie twice, one at 12 years and another when I was 17 ...God, this movie is as depressive as the seconal. Read more
Published on Feb. 1 2004 by Yuri Huitron Alvarado
1.0 out of 5 stars long time buff of weird cinema
This movie deserves no stars (ok, maybe one because it wasn't produced on super 8). I saw it the week it was originally released in the theaters. Read more
Published on Jan. 11 2004
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring and forgettable
Disturbing? Not one bit. Haunting? Yeah right. Slow? Absolutely. Cronenberg usually impresses me, but with Dead Ringers, he bored the hell outta me. Read more
Published on Nov. 25 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars TRULY BIZARRE!!!
This Criterion release is out of print, but you may find a copy in a local video store, like I did. It is a truly disturbing film, with a really depressing ending. Read more
Published on Feb. 20 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars An Terrific Cronenberg's film that is a Masterpiece.
Two successful twin gynecologits (Both Played by Jeremy Irons) have all the fame, fortune, drugs and the woman. Read more
Published on Nov. 28 2002 by Christian Pelchat
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