Vanishing, The/A, BAAA

Image(Fox Lorber)/1988/102m

    The Vanishing is a concentrated and calculated directing effort from George Sluizer. In its Spartan style, it is rather perfect, much like a short tale from Poe, never veering from the road it has chosen. The suspense thriller is not the typical fare American audiences have been fed on, but for the adventurous, the change of diet will prove a gourmet feast.
     A Dutch man and woman, Rex and Saskia, are vacationing through France. Road frustrations lead to bickering and reconciliation in suspenseful fashion. At a highway service center, the young and beautiful Saskia disappears. What has happened to her? Both the audience and Rex find themselves in the dark together. Intercut with scenes of the vacationers, we witness mysterious preparations by Raymond, a rather ordinary family man. How will these characters intersect? The obsessive nature of the film demands total concentration of the viewer.

vanishing.jpg (9959 bytes)

A light moment before the darkness. ©Fox Lorber

      The story is presented as pieces of a puzzle spread out on a table. Whichever piece you happen to pick up is the part of the story that is being examined, until finally, the puzzle nears its obsessive completion. Just like the jigsaw fanatic pouring over similar parts of the puzzle, unable to leave the challenge until it is complete, the young man is obsessed with finding out the truth.
     Based upon his own novel, The Golden Egg, Tim Krabbe has written an uncompromisingly compelling screenplay. George Sluizer, who along with directing served as his own film editor, has kept faith with Krabbe vision. He has filmed in ordinary tones and colors. The camera witnesses the action with simplicity and directness. The unhurried pacing suits the material perfectly, and he has extracted powerful performances from his actors.
     Rex Hoffman is given the perfect blend of panic and intensity by Dutch actor Gene Bervoets. Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, as Raymond, compliments him perfectly, matching intensity with the coldness of a scientist performing an experiment. Johanna Ter Steege is appropriately innocent and alluring as Saskia.
     Using the same source material as the laser edition, the DVD adds a level of detail and cleanliness to the image that enhances the clarity of director Sluizer's vision. While the film exhibits a fair amount of grain, this is the way it was shot and the DVD compression successfully controls the way it looks, crucial to the feel of the film. The film is presented in a 1.33 cropped aspect ratio from what appears to be an original 1.66 composition. Though some scenes are slightly cramped, overall the aspect ratio does not inhibit the power of the film. The sound is thinly encoded in AC-3 one channel mono and the subtitles are easy reading  yellow.
     The Vanishing, a film that ranks with classics of the genre, must be considered a collectible.






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