DVD Release: Institute Benjamenta

DVD Release Date: July 24, 2012
Price: DVD $29.99
Studio: Zeitgeist

Institute Benjamenta movie scene

Alice Krige readies for her students as Institute Benjamenta.

Following more than a decade of creating animated short film, The Brothers Quay made feature film directorial debut with 1995’s cult drama Institute Benjamenta, or This Dream People Call Human Life.

Offering the trademark fantastical feel that distinguishes the Quays’ well-known shorts, Institute Benjamenta concerns a dilapidated, moribund boarding school for the training of servants, whose curriculum consists of the endless repetition of a single lesson. Jakob (Mark Rylance, Angels and Insects) enrolls at the Institute, and becomes gradually embroiled in the world of the enigmatic siblings who run the school: the sadistic Johannes Benjamenta (Gottfried John, TV’s Berlin Alexanderplatz) and his sorrowful sister Lisa (Alice Krige, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice). Johannes soon notes that trouble has been brewing ever since the arrival of Jakob. Could this new student be the cause…?

Inspired by the writings of Swiss author Robert Walser, the Quays’ first feature received positive reviews upon its limited release to U.S. arthouse theaters in 1996.

Oh, and there are some animated bit mixed in the with film’s largely-human drama!

A DVD edition of the film was previously released by Kino in 2000; it’s been out of print for a while.

Bonus features on the DVD of the unrated film include the following:

• New restored HD master, director supervised and enhanced for widescreen viewing
Eurydice, She So Beloved, a 2007 Quay Brothers short film
• Behind-the-scenes footage
• Original theatrical trailer

Here’s the film’s trailer:

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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.