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Lux Aeterna (Yellow Veil) Blu-ray Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • Lux Aeterna (Yellow Veil) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Yellow Veil
    Released on: July 28th, 2022.
    Director: Gaspar Noé
    Cast: Béatrice Dalle, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Félix Maritaud, Clara Deshayes
    Year: 2019
    Purchase From Amazon

    Lux Aeterna – Movie Review:

    Meant as an expression of his thoughts on filmmaking and a tribute to both his two leading ladies and the filmmakers that inspired him, Gaspar Noé’s 2019 picture, Lux Aeterna, opens with clips opens with some clips from Carl Theodor Dreyer's Day Of Wrath before then taking us to a room where actors Béatrice Dalle and Charlotte Gainsbourg are relaxing. They’re working on a film together and are in between scenes, having a casual conversation about the films they’ve made and enjoying some red wine before the conversation shifts towards witches and how, in the past, they were burned at the stake. It might seem like an odd conversation choice, but they’re working on a movie titled ‘God’s Work’ that deals with that subject.

    After this segment, we’re introduced to a few different supporting characters - a writer with his own ideas, a journalist who wants an interview, various production assistant types, makeup and wardrobe people and some of the supporting actors. This leads into the movie’s finale, which involves the cast and crew preparing to stage and then shoot a scene where three witches – Gainsbourg (who has just had an intense phone conversation with her young daughter), flanked by Abbey Lee and Mica Argañaraz) - are burned at the stake, but it doesn’t go well. Not at all.

    With verbatim quotes from filmmakers like Carl Theodor Dreyer, Luis Buñuel, Rainier Fassbinder and Jean-Luc Godard, as well as from Dostoevsky, posted up on the screen throughout the movie, Noé isn’t trying to hide his influences with this picture. That said, it never feels like it’s ripping anyone else’s work off, it definitely ‘feels’ like a Noé film through and through, especially once the movie’s senses-pounding finale starts to play out on screen. Clearly meant to provoke a strong response in its audience, Lux Aeterna’s final quarter is probably the most visually antagonizing thing the man has ever put up on screen, which is saying something considering that his past work has never pulled any punches. It’s extremely difficult to watch, not because the content is especially extreme (at least not by the standards of Noé’s other films), but because its use of high contrast lights and visually pummeling strobes. Given that the film’s title translates to ‘Eternal Light’ maybe viewers should have a bit of an idea of what to expect, but Noé really goes for it with this one.

    Don’t go into this one expecting much of a story, as there really isn’t much to the plot. Noé is upfront about the fact that much of this picture was improvised and the final product certainly has that feel to it. The visuals switch back and forth between different split screen variations, fullframe and scope, which gives things a dizzying feel even before the finale blasts us in the eyes. The performances are loose but good, believable and quite casual. Stick it out through the end credits for some amusing accreditations. Noé’s sense of dark humor also plays a big part in all of this, although understandably his sense of humor won’t be to all tastes, as it tends to be pretty bleak.

    Lux Aeterna – Blu-ray Review:

    Yellow Veil brings Lux Aeterna to Region A Blu-ray famed at 2.35.1 widescreen in AVC encoded 1080p high definition, with the fifty-one minute movie taking up just under 13GBS of space on the 25GB disc. Shot digitally, the image is spotless. There are no problems with any visible damage and colors look fantastic, the strobing effect of reds and greens used during the movie’s finale taking on an almost blinding quality when they hit. Black levels are nice and deep and detail is very strong throughout the duration of the movie.

    The main audio option for Lux Aeterna is a 24-bit DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track, in French, although Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo and Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound tracks, also in French, have also been provided. Forced English and optional English SDH subtitles are also provided. The DTS-HD track is excellent, quite forceful when it needs to be, much more subtle when it doesn’t. Dialogue is typically easy enough to follow and the levels are as balanced as they should be. When it all hits the fan in the finale, the track does a fantastic job of pulling you into the insanity.

    Extras are spread across the two discs in the set as follows:

    Disc One:

    First up is an introduction to Lux Aeterna by Gaspar Noé that runs for eleven minutes and sees the director speaking at New York City’s Metrograph Theater about making the film, the quick production schedule and very loose script. The disc also includes an audio commentary by Noé and actress Béatrice Dalle which is definitely worth listening to. It’s surprisingly lighthearted at times, with the pair clearly having a good time watching the movie, picking apart the different references that Noé has worked into the movie, discussing why the quotes used in the movie are important and why they were chosen in the first place, how the cast and crew all got along, casting the film, some of the post production work required to finish the film and quite a bit more.

    Lux in Praticus is an interview with cast member Karl Glusman that runs just under eleven minutes. He talks here about how his part came to be, his character and what it was like working on the movie as well as what it’s like working with Noé. An eight minute video essay from Chris O’Neill, titled Split Screen Stories, does a nice job of exploring how Noé uses the different split screen techniques employed in the film to manipulate and distort how the viewer interprets specific sequences in the movie and almost coerces us into seeing specifically what Noé wants us to see at the exact time he wants us to see it.

    French and English language trailers for the feature round out the extras on disc one, along with Lux In Tenebris, which is a selection of behind the scenes photos from the production that were shot by Tom Kan.

    Disc Two:

    The second disc contains a selection of short films that inspired Lux Aeterna.

    We start with the fourteen minute Ray Gun Virus made by Paul Sharits in 1966 as a rejection of conventional cinema. Meant to demonstrate how the very medium of film itself can be manipulated, it was clearly an influence on the director, as it uses black, clear and colored frames all set to a very specific rhythm to elicit a response from the viewer.

    Up next is the half hour Tony Conrad directed short, The Flicker, from 1965. This experimental piece is a black and white experimental piece that is made up of alternating black and white images and which likely served as inspiration for the way that Noé concocted the almost nauseating strobe effect used in Lux Aeterna and like the finale of Lux Aeterna it’s fairly hallucinatory.

    Pier Pasolini’s La Ricotta is a forty minute segment from the 1963 film Ro.Go.Pa.G., which also featured contributions from Jean-Luc Godard, Roberto Rossellini and Ugo Gregoretti. The story features Orson Welles as a Marxist filmmaker working on a narrative about the life of Jesus. The film is being made in a very impoverished area and a local cast member, Stracci (Mario Cipriani), would love nothing more than to have some of the food available on the set. As he tries to eat what he can sneak away, he's called for various scenes, leading to a series of events that lands him a big piece of ricotta cheese and to his ultimate fate on screen, a crucifixion.

    The thirty-eight minute Inauguration Of The Pleasure Dome, directed by Keneth Anger in 1954, is set to a rather odd score by Leos Janack. This is essentially Anger's first crack at filming a Crowley ritual. We witness an occultist named Lord Shiva (effeminate Hollywood eccentric Sampson De Brier who let Anger film in his home and use many of his antiques and clothes in this film) waking up, eating jewelry (a direct reference to Crowley's idea of a God-eater) and methodically transform from a man into a beast. As he transforms he meets the beautiful female bringer of light (an almost naked Anais Nin with a bird cage over her head to symbolize her untouchable status), a slave (Curtis Harrington), and a Scarlet Woman. More bizarre than it sounds, this is an incredibly colorful film, one that is at times almost entirely hallucinogenic.

    Note that the limited edition release of Lux Aeterna, which is available directly from the Vinegar Syndrome website, is limited to 2,000 copies and comes with a slipcase and a sixty page color insert book.

    Lux Aeterna - The Final Word:

    Lux Aeterna is an interesting and typically atypical effort from Gaspar Noé, a movie that sees the director experimenting with tone and with visuals to create something wholly unique and yet somehow completely what you’d expect from cinema’s reigning enfant terrible. Yellow Veil’s two-disc Blu-ray set presents the movie in an excellent presentation and with an interesting and varied selection of extra features that both explore the making of the feature and complement its ideals.


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    Ian Jane
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    Last edited by Ian Jane; 08-05-2022, 08:41 AM.
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