Rapture (1965) Blu-ray Review: A Forgotten, Poignant Masterpiece

Prior to the advent of home video, it was very easy for a movie to simply fall far into the deepest recesses of time, where they would lie in wait to be discovered many years later. Indeed, even after we were able to watch motion pictures in private, some movies still eluded us. One such title is 1965’s Rapture — an adaptation of Phyllis Hastings’ Rapture in My Rags (oh, how I’m glad they didn’t retain the original literary title!) directed by John Guillermin — a film that most audiences have rarely had the opportunity to see outside of cable TV.

Thankfully, the good folks at Twilight Time have managed to rescue this all-but-forgotten dramatic tale from obscurity and release it to home video — on Blu-ray, nevertheless — for the first time ever and in its original widescreen aspect ratio.

Rapture is one of those rare movies wherein American and French filmmakers actually managed to put up with each other long enough to make a complete picture. The story here centers on a small family living in a remote house near the French seaside — a unit that grows ever smaller once the eldest daughter of patriarch Frederick (Melvyn Douglas) marries and moves on. From there, the retired judge is left with a promiscuous housekeeper (Gunnel Lindblom, an Ingmar Bergman regular) and his youngest daughter, the mentally imperfect Agnes (Patricia Gozzi), whom he has a very tight grip on.

One day, a stranger comes into their somewhat prosaic existence: an escaped convict (Dean Stockwell) whom Agnes hides, originally believing him to be a scarecrow she made that had come to life (like I said, the girl just isn’t right in the head!). Getting to know the family, the judge sees Joseph’s plight with the French judicial system as a key factor in the completion of his novel on the unfairness of said system. The girls, on the other hand, see Joseph in an entirely different light — especially poor Agnes, who the man on the run eventually forms a relationship with; though it probably goes without saying that a fellow wanted by the law and a somewhat crazy lass don’t make the quintessential recipe for relationships.

They do, however, form the perfect recipe for drama — and there’s plenty of that going on here. Sadly, the film went absolutely nowhere at the box office in 1965, and it’s taken us this long to not only see it, but to see it as it was intended. Twilight Time’s Blu-ray is a beautiful one, presenting the dreary, lingering, almost-dreamlike visual aesthetic the movie has. .

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Luigi Bastardo

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