Review: Separation DVD

STUDIO: Microcinema | DIRECTOR: Jack Bond | CAST: Jane Arden, David De Keyser, Ann Lynn, Iain Quarrier, Terence de Marney
RELEASE DATE: 3/30/2010 | PRICE: DVD $29.99
BONUSES: filmed commentary, 1967 TV interview with Jack Bond,
SPECS: NR | 89 min. | Drama | 1.85:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital | English and Spanishs

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

When Jack Bond’s Separation premiered in New York in the spring of 1968, it’s advertising copy tagged it as being “in the tradition” of Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-up and Ingmar Bergman’s Persona, which is reasonable jumping-off point for describing this avant-garde curio.

Written by and starring Jane Arden, the late feminist/artist who collaborated frequently with filmmaker Bond in the late 1960s and 1970s, this drama tells the story of a middle-age woman on a pre-Almodovarian verge of a nervous breakdown as her marriage with her husband (David de Keyser) crumbles and she gets involved with a new young lover (Iain Quarrier).

The story, filmed in crisp black-and-white, unspools in a stylishly splintered chronology with occasional splashes of color footage which frequently find Jane and her lover naked in front of a flickering film that burns away in a sizzle of emulsion. The strikingly composed and well-edited visuals are underscored by a trippy organ-heavy score by Procol Harum.

Illusion and reality, humor and tragedy, alienation and acceptance — the requisites of 1960s experimental cinema — all come out in the mix, which plays quite well for those who groove on the experimental, non-linear art house cinema of the period. And as the film was recently restored by the British Film Institute (BFI), it all looks and sounds gorgeous.

Worth noting is the supplemental filmed commentary, which finds director Bond joined by the BFI’s Sam Dunn, whom prompts Dunn in talking about the making, motivations and meaning of the film.

The movie proper is shown in a picture-in-picture frame at the bottom corner of the screen as Bond and Dunn proceed while in remain in the full frame. Over the course of the film, the images of Separation and the two commentators toggle back and forth, giving viewers an opportunity to appreciate both the specifics of the film as they are discussed and the reaction of its director as he offers them. It’s a nifty, simple gimmick that we’d like to see more of.


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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.