The Stendhal Syndrome: Special Edition – DVD Review

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Dario Argento


Asia Argento………Detective Anna Manni
Thomas Kretschmann………Alfredo Grossi
Marco Leonardi………Marco Longhi
Luigi Diberti………Inspector Manetti

DVD Release Date: September 25, 2007
Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 119 Minutes

The Movie

Stendhal syndrome or Stendhal’s syndrome is a psychosomatic illness that causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness, confusion and even hallucinations when an individual is exposed to art – usually when the art is particularly ‘beautiful’ or a large amount of art is in a single place. Credit:

Detective Anna Manni works for the Rome police force – rape division – and is always trying to both bring hardened criminals to justice and keep women safe. Currently, she is on the tail of a noted serial killer and will do whatever she can to capture him. So when she receives a tip that he will show up at a public art museum, it’s where she intends to be when he arrives. As she is looking at the paintings to be inconspicuous, she suddenly suffers dizziness and ends up passing out, slipping into a strange underwater world. Upon her coming to, it isn’t easy to get back to normal as now her memory is gone.

Many try to help Anna recover from her sudden amnesia and Stendhal’s Syndrome including her forgotten boyfriend, friends, and colleagues. But seeing as she isn’t under constant watch, Anna ends up becoming one of those she was trying to protect as the serial killer Alfredo Grossi rapes her and threatens to kill her. Luckily though, things quickly look up for her as Grossi is chased away and she is now seeking psychological help for her Stendhal Syndrome.

Trying to get her life back on track, Anna retreats to her family to relax and begin learning self defense. She changes her look, takes up boxing, and wants to get her mind back in order so she can defend herself against Grossi or any villain that may come her way. With the help and training from her brothers, Anna is ready to face any challenge ahead of her. She has relied on people long enough and wants to be her own person again.

As soon as she begins feeling confident in herself once more, Grossi appears again raping and beating her within an inch of her life. He makes sure he is constantly in her mind and always scaring her. Her training truly pays off as she manages to defeat her arch enemy once and for all by fighting past his strength mentally and physically. Anna feels she is finally free, and she ends up falling in love and starts her life over again. No matter what how much she moves on though, she still has yet to get past her Stendhal Syndrome and always feels like someone is watching her.

Here is a film that screams of Argento’s style but also goes a lot further in to the psychological thriller aspect of things instead of just blood and death. Stendhal Syndrome is such a complex mental illness that it seems very difficult to understand unless you are actually suffering from it. After doing some research, I found out that it can hinder the sufferer long after the art has been removed from view, and affects them for quite some time. This makes the film go down two different paths. One being quite disturbing; the other is that of a mental mind cluster.

Asia Argento plays the role of Anna wonderfully and truly seems like she is going through traumatic times even when she isn’t forcefully raped or beaten. Her depression and confusion are portrayed to perfection as she tries to get her life back in order. She always made me feel as if she was really just in total distress and I started to feel so bad for her because once she’d catch the slightest break, something else would drag her back down.

The Video

The film is shown in 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen and even though much of the film is in shadow and dark, it looks great. Argento has a good eye as he does in most of his films, but the beautiful art pieces and architecture help here and they all show up masterfully.

The Audio

The film is heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and is perfectly fine. The music can be heard nicely and helps many scenes set the mood. All dialogue is spoken in Italian which can be heard at a good volume throughout and has well-timed subtitles. There is also an English dubbed version of the film which is better left unseen.

Special Features

Theatrical Trailer

Director: Dario Argento – This is essentially a twenty minute interview with Argento where he discusses how he got the idea for the film and actually goes into great detail about the syndrome itself. Interestingly enough, he says that 80 percent of people suffer from Stendhal Syndrome when they are in front of a work of art or a great architectural creation. He goes on some about his filming locations and how it was working with the actors. A very informative feature that is well worth checking out, but watch the film first because it does contain spoilers.

Inspiration: Psychological Consultant Graziella Magherini – Magherini is an expert on psychological counsel and goes into great detail about the disorder and cases she has experienced. She goes on for twenty-two minutes about how a lot of tourists, usually on art tours, were constantly going to the emergency room after strange occurrences. She continues about books written by Stendhal and how the entire thing started with him. This is another great feature with plenty of information.

Special Effects: Sergio Stilvaletti – Stilvaletti is no stranger to working with Argento and in this sixteen-minute feature, he explains that a lot. They have worked together on a number of films before he was brought in for this one. He goes through some of the new types of effects he needed to use for this film and that Tom Savini had actually clued him into big time effects that were being used in such films as T2 and The Abyss.

Assistant Director: Luigi Cozzi – Cozzi talks for twenty-two minutes about all the work he has done with Argento since the seventies. He discusses a little about the film itself, but this feature was rather boring. If you do check it out, do so after the film because it also contains spoilers.

Production Designer: Massimo Antonello Geleng – Geleng’s twenty-three minute interview shows that he also has worked with Argento before on previous films. He discusses how he was very enthusiastic about working on this project because the art galleries gave him such great sets to work with. Geleng loved creating the sets that had to be made from the paintings and thought it was necessary to make them as realistic as possible. Spoilers are also included in this feature, and it is worth checking out.

The Inside Pulse

Dario Argento does it again with a masterful film that will make your stomach queasy and your mind do flip-flops. It looks beautiful from start to finish and while some of it will be hard to watch, that doesn’t stop it from being a well-made film and outright enjoyable. When reality (such as the Stendhal Syndrome) is used instead of simply making up something like a “hate virus” or “rage cold,” it hits home a bit more knowing that it could actually happen to you or anyone. The special features in this two-disc set go really in depth into every aspect of the film from the top of the crew food chain all the way to the bottom. And clocking in at right under two hours total, the DVD provides an entire night of entertainment. Horror and thriller fans alike should pick up a copy of this and see how a true mind-twisting master does his work.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for
The Stendhal Syndrome: Special Edition
(OUT OF 10)






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