DVDFr | Survivor of a Parallel World: The Complete Blu-ray Review

Nothing can explain why the pilot of a Boeing 747 was the only one to emerge unscathed from a crash that left him no chance of survival.

Survivor of a parallel world


The only survivor of the Boeing 747 crash that killed more than 300 people is Captain Keller, the pilot. Contrary to all likelihood, while the co-pilot and the mechanic were found charred in the cockpit, he came out without the slightest scratch, but with amnesia. Quickly hallucinated by the apparitions of victims, he seeks to determine the cause of the accident, helped by Hobbs, a teacher who also seems to hear the complaints of the missing …

Survivor of a parallel world (The Survivor), released in 1980, is the third film directed by actor David Hemmings who, since 1957, had played roles in the United Kingdom until Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up, hailed by the Palme d’Or, in 1966 gave him an international reputation. And, perhaps, gives him the idea to also try his hand at directing, from 1972, with Running Scared, rather well received, which will be followed by The 14, a social drama distinguished in 1973 in Berlin by theSilver bear. Five other films for the big screen, four TV films and numerous episodes of series followed, including 8 of the 29 episodes of The Curse of the Werewolf (Werewolf, created by Frank Lupo in 1987).

Survivor of a parallel world, awarded with the
International Critics Award at the Sitges Festival, is the adaptation by screenwriter David Ambrose of The Survivor, published in 1976 (then in France in 1978 under the title The one who survives), the third of 24 novels by James Herbert, specializing in the paranormal and catastrophes, which has earned him the label of “the British Stephen King”. He inspired the miniseries The Secret of Crickley Hall (2912), and four other feature films, all edited in video, The Rats Attack (Deadley eyes, Robert Clouse, 1982), Fluke (Carlo Carlei, 1995), La Chapelle du Diable (The Unholy, Evan Spiliotopoulos, 2021) and, most successful for me, Haunted (Lewis Gilbert, 1995), with Kate Beckinsale and Aidan Quinn headlining.

Survivor of a parallel world enjoys a solid cast, with Robert Powell, who David Hemmings used in his first film, in the lead role. They had just found themselves headlining Harlequin (Simon Wincer, 1980). Jenny Agutter, returned to Australia ten years after the filming of the wonderful Walkabout (Nicolas Roeg, 1971), was going to return to London for the filming of The Werewolf of London (An American Werewolf in London, John Landis 1981). She had previously starred with Robert Powell in Shelley (Alan Bridges, 1972) a biopic of Mary Shelley, the author of
Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. We also see Joseph Cotten coming out of the filming of The Door to Heaven (Heaven’s Gate, Michael Cimino, 1980) in which he also played a priest role.

After the opening crash scene, impressive enough for a low-budget film without the possibilities that digital special effects will offer, the dramatic tension loosens several times. But, we can appreciate the originality of a fantastic scenario whose ambiguities, however, may not meet the expectations of too Cartesian minds.

Survivor of a parallel world


General – 4.0 / 5

Survivor of a parallel world (99 minutes, for the long version, 81 minutes for the short version) and its supplements (52 minutes), offered by Rimini Éditions, fit on a BD-50 Blu-ray and two DVD-9s, one with the long version and the two supplements of the Blu-ray, the other with the short version and the trailer. The three drives are housed in a digipack tri-fold, slipped into a case.

The animated and musical menu offers the long edit, in English, with optional subtitles, in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono format, the short edit in MPEG 2 standard definition, in English with optional subtitles, and in a dubbing in French, both in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono audio format.

Inside of digipack, a 20 page booklet written by Marc Toullec, titled Crash and rififi in Australia. It collects the impressions of James Herbert on the producers, “sympathetic but a little high rollers”, recalls the difficulties of collecting the budget, co-financed by the British company Hemdale, supplemented in part by a pre-sale of the film with the help of a ” promotional tape ”designed by renowned Brian Trenchard-Smith. The long-prepared crash scene forced production to build an aircraft wreckage, with no company willing to lend a plane involved in a disaster. The choice to water down the most horrible passages of the novel, “to make a horror film without horror”, David Hemmings specifies, probably explains the commercial failure of the film that James Herbert, invited to a screening in Adelaide, found ” incoherent and badly done ”. The short version edited a few months after the release did not work a miracle and made one of the characters incomprehensible. The novelist proposed to Robert Powell to be the narrator of the edition audiobook of the novel, released some time after his death in 1993.

Survivor of a parallel world


Bonus – 3.5 / 5

On set (30 ‘, 1981, 1.33: 1, in English, optional subtitles). The plane crash was filmed in Adelaide from different angles by five cameras. After a brief commentary on the crash scene, the presenter questions the actors at length, Joseph Cotten, Jenny Agutter and Ralph Cotterill, an English actor who has spent much of his career in Australia, and Angela Punch McGregor, renowned stage actress. in Australia, practically without asking them any questions about the film. She incorrectly indicates that the film Fog (John Carpenter, 1980) is adapted from the novel The Fog by James Herbert, while directing an original screenplay co-written by the director and Debra Hill, and does not cover Jenny Agutter when she says she previously starred with Robert Powell in the TV movie The Railway Children (Lionel Jeffries, 1970) while it was in Shelley, directed by Alan Bridges in 1972.

Interview with Antony I. Ginnane and John Seale, director of photography (22 ‘, in English, subtitled, City Films Worlwide, 2017). These interviews were recorded in 2008 by Mark Hartley for his documentary
Not Quite Hollywood, a history of Australian genre cinema from the 70s and 80s. Producer Antony I. Ginnane indicates that the films he had produced until then developed original scripts, while The Survivor adapted a bestseller. He convinced the rights holder, UK distributor Laurence Myers, to partner with him to produce the film. The option was to reduce the gore dimension of the book “to do something more cerebral (…), ambiguous, uncertain” in the vein of
The Innocents (Jack Clayton, 1961), The Haunting
(Robert Wise, 1963) or even Rosemary’s Baby (Roman Polanski, 1968). Which was perhaps a mistake because it made the film too elliptical, difficult for some to follow. The commercial success of Harlequin (Simon Wincer, 1980), together with Robert Powell and David Hemmings, facilitated the sale of The Survivor. The film was nevertheless a relative commercial failure, except in Latin America where Jesus of nazareth (Gesù di Nazareth, Franco Zeffirelli, 1977) had triumphed with Robert Powell in the title role. He underlines the difficulties of filming, in the middle of the night, the scene of the crash which allowed only one take. The production was also confronted with the “Bolshevik methods” of Actors’ Equity, the union which opposed the hiring of foreign actors.

John Seale, when he had only been the cinematographer for only two films, was surprised to be called upon for The Survivor, the first film to be shot in Australia with a budget of over a million dollars. The crash scene was a real challenge, with five cameras, 72 vehicles (ambulances, firefighters, police), quantities of extras spread over a large area. He recognizes the weaknesses of the script and an abrupt end.

Survivor of a parallel world


Image – 4.0 / 5

The image (1080p, AVC), at the ratio 2.39: 1 (while the body indicates 2.35: 1), bright, pleasantly contrasted with fairly dense blacks, very occasionally blocked, is, on the whole, a little soft with a lack of sharpness detectable in wide shots. On the other hand, color grading tends to make faces too red dominant, except in shots in bright light.

Sound – 3.5 / 5

The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono sound of the long version is characterized by a low bass, especially felt in the spectacular crash scene with the biting tone. It is however very clean, practically breathless, with satisfactory dynamics.

The standard Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound of the original version is narrower with lower dynamics. These observations apply to the sometimes distressing dubbing.

Only the sound of the long version was taken into account for the attribution of the mark.

Image credits: © Tuesday Films

Test setup

  • Video projector SONY VPL-VW790ES
  • Sony UBP-X800M2
  • Denon AVR-4520
  • Focal Profile 918, CC908, SR908 and Chorus V speakers / sub kit (7.1 configuration)
  • Diagonal image 275 cm

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DVDFr | Survivor of a Parallel World: The Complete Blu-ray Review