Film Reviews

Arrebato (1979) – Blu-ray Review

Some would be tempted to make an easy reading of Arrebato (Rapture) as an analogue for drug addiction, but that would be an easy way out. Iván Zulueta’s 1979 cult Spanish picture almost defies classification, and you now have a chance to see it in the best way possible, with a new 4K restoration from Radiance Films and Altered Innocence.

Jose is a director of low-budget horror movies and his latest is nearly finished. At the same time he receives a package containing an audio cassette and a reel of film from Pedro, an acquaintance who is also immersed in the movies, albeit in a more severe way. Jose plays the cassette, which has an audio journal from Pedro of recent events, where his obsession with Pedro’s work has driven a wedge between himself and his girlfriend, Ana.

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Arrebato is a fascinatingly transgressive piece of cinema. It’s certainly a challenging picture, and that comes from its refusal to conform to the usual narrative standards of film. Indeed, Arrebato is about the medium of film itself and the act of filming, with that act itself being one of sexuality and hallucination and addiction. Zulueta packs the film full of substance abuse, with Jose getting his girlfriend hooked on heroin, but he doesn’t push it like many other directors might.

© 1979 Nicolás Astiarraga P.C.

But makes the film truly unique is the way it blurs the intersecting lines between reality and Pedro’s seemingly insane symbiotic relationship with film and his embracing of cinema as something more than a simple relationship between man and camera. It’s here when it delves into the kind of things David Cronenberg has discussed in his work, although to be honest, there is a lot you could infer from Arrebato, especially on multiple viewings.

Pedro’s philosophies also affect Jose and Ana, to the point where Jose is completely obsessed with everything Pedro has done, as if it’s something he wants or needs to attain, or even might not be able to. The new flesh, as it were. The freedom of Pedro’s work versus Jose and his low-budget horror narratives. Ironically, the camera itself seems to be draining Pedro’s life like a vampire, and the effect on him is quite haunting, supported by actor Will More’s intense performance.

© 1979 Nicolás Astiarraga P.C.

Because of the way Zulueta plays with form and narrative, it’s difficult to place Arrebato in a genre, although perhaps psychological horror would be the most accurate. It’s disorientating and haunting and sometimes terrifying, with tension running at a high level throughout. It’s perhaps not the easiest film to recommend, but if you want a challenge, you’ll be rewarded with something extremely unique and captivating.

Altered Innocence has presented Arrebato in its original 1.66:1 aspect ratio in a 4K scan that accurately presents its interesting visual style, which includes different film stocks which make up some heady imagery. On the audio side, a 2.0 Spanish track is provided, supplying a powerful and often dissonant soundtrack for the film. The thoughtful bonus features include a excellent commentary by Mike White of the podcast The Projection Booth, as well as a documentary on Zulueta and the US theatrical trailer.

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Arrebato is a fascinating film that is happy to challenge your perceptions of narrative film and the traditional form we take for granted. Altered Innocence’s new presentation of the film is excellent, and it’s just fantastic to see films like this out there in this kind of condition.

Arrebato is out on 17th April from Radiance Films and Altered Innocence.

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