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Voices (Indicator) Blu-ray Review

    Ian Jane

  • Voices (Indicator) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Indicator
    Released on: February 22nd, 2022.
    Director: Kevin Billington
    Cast: David Hemmings, Gayle Hunnicutt
    Year: 1973
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    Voices – Movie Review:

    Kevin Billington’s 1973 film, Voices, starts when married couple Robert (David Hemmings) and Claire (Gayle Hunnicut), dock their boat near a waterfall to relax. Their young son goes out to play, and the couple, very much in love, retires to the bed chamber in the boat to enjoy a little time alone. After the marital relations have finished, they realize that their son has vanished. They search the shore of the river and nearby woods but come up empty – they cannot find him.

    After this happens, Claire suffers a serious mental breakdown, and really, you can’t fault her for it. After a few unsuccessful attempts at taking her own life, Claire winds up being placed in an institution for a while and after she’s released back into Robert’s care, they decide to retreat to a massive old country home that was once the property of her late aunt, the theory here being that getting away from it all will do Claire some good.

    Things are fine at first, but it doesn’t take long before tensions rise and they start fighting for various reasons. Around the same time, ghostly apparitions begin to appear in the home, at which point their collective fragile insanity starts to show signs of obvious distress.

    Based on the play by Richard Lortz, the opening and closing segments of Voices were shot on film while the rest on video. This gives the movie a very strange look, but it works in terms of the mood and atmosphere that Billington and company are trying to create with this film. As to the story itself, it’s well-told and quite interesting, sharing some concepts and themes with better known pictures like Don’t Look Know and Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist (the opening of the later film had to have been influenced by the opening of Voices!). Loss is obviously a big part of what brings on Claire’s descent, and it’s impossible not to feel for she and Robert as they deal with the death of their son, but the way that the supernatural angle is brought into the proceedings it quite clever and done with enough subtlety, at least initially, so as not to take away from the more dramatic elements of the storyline.

    The acting is strong. Hemmings and Hunnicut were married in real life when the film was made, and there is a noticeably believable intimacy between the pair in this film that goes a long way towards making certain aspects of the story more believable than it would have been had this not been a factor. The amount of yelling and hysterics in the film’s middle stretch will almost certainly put some viewers off, and that same middle stretch would probably have been improved with some more judicious editing choices, but the acting is strong enough the and the finale good enough that Voices is definitely worth checking out.

    Voices – Blu-ray Review:

    Indicator brings Voices to region free Blu-ray framed at 1.66.1 widescreen in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer that is taken from a new 4k restoration from the original separation masters by Powerhouse Films. With the feature using up 28.2GBs of space, this looks as good as the source material will likely allow it to, given that the opening and closing sequences were shot on film and the longer middle stretch on video. The material shot on film looks excellent, boasting great detail and fantastic color reproduction, while the material shot on video looks a good bit less impressive, with flat colors, visible banding and obviously hampered detail. That said, given the way that the film was made, Indicator’s disc looks pretty solid, particularly when you take into account that this is how the movie is supposed to look. It’s well-authored and shows no noticeable compression problems, and the filmed sequences look like film.

    A 24-bit LPCM Mono option is provided in the film's original English language with English subtitles. No problems to note here, the audio quality is good if, again, limited by the source material. The score does have some presence and the track is properly balanced. Hiss and distortion are never especially problematic.

    Extras start off with an audio commentary with writers Barry Forshaw and Kim Newman that is both interesting and quite listenable. They cover how the story evolved into the version that we see in the film, how Hemmings and Hunnicutt came to work on the production, the filmed sequences versus the video sequences, how the story compares to other (sometimes similar) ghost stories, details on the life and times of the different cast and crew members who worked on the picture, including director Kevin Billington, and quite a bit more.

    In the eighteen minute Wide Boys featurette, film historian Vic Pratt examines David Hemmings’ production company, Hemdale. We learn hear how he teamed up with producer John Daly, how they went into business together, some of the bigger films that the company was responsible for getting into theaters and why Daly and Hemmings eventually broke up.

    Mon Brave! is a seven minute piece where filmmaker Peter Crane recollects his experiences working with and befriending David Hemmings. The two worked together on a TV series called Masquerade and hit it off, and they formed a friendship that lasted until Hemmings’ death in 2003.

    Rounding out the extras on the disc is a quick three minute restoration video titled Voices From The Past, a still gallery of promotional and publicity material, menus and chapter selection options.

    As far as the packaging goes, Indicator supplies some nice reversible cover sleeve art as well as a full color limited edition exclusive booklet that contains a new essay on the film by Julian Upton titled ‘Scenes From A Marriage,’ archival interviews with star Hemmings and Hunnicutt, a look at the source play, an overview of contemporary critical responses, credits for the feature and notes on the restoration used for the presentation.

    Voices - The Final Word:

    Indicator’s Blu-ray release of Voices, which is limited to only two thousand copies, is a good, presenting a worthwhile film in as good a presentation as we’re likely to see, given the available elements. The movie itself has some pacing problems but makes up for that with a strong finish and some good acting. The extra features on the disc are also very worthwhile, making this a strong package overall.

    Click on the images below, or right click and open in a new window, for full sized Voices Blu-ray screen caps!

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