The Mystery of Oberwald

"Weak"

The Mystery of Oberwald Review


A minor work of Michelangelo Antonioni, The Mystery of Oberwald is not something many outside the Antonioni-obsessed will care to seek out. Shot on videotape in 1980, the movie once stood as a daring experiment in feature filmmaking by using the nascent format of tape. Today, it looks cheesy and cheap, akin to a low-budget soap opera shot in a hurry.

And soap opera isn't far from the mark. Oberwald's story, based on Jean Cocteau's play L'Aigle a Deux Tetes, involves a mourning queen (Antonioni regular Monica Vitti) whose husband has recently been killed. An assassin is on her tail as well, but when the two finally meet, she sees he has been injured, and owing in part to his resemblance to her late husband, the two fall in love, Romeo & Juliet style. Like I said, a soap opera.

Antonioni fiddles with all manner of things he shouldn't have -- most notably mucking about with color filters to turn the entire frame green when one person is on screen, blue when another is on screen, and so on. This wears thin after only a few minutes, but we have two long hours to go. Most unfortunate, though, is the choice of medium. The videotape passes for respectability in a few select scenes, but most of the time it ends up looking like a bad home movie, and even the film's elaborate sets and costumes come off looking like plywood and Goodwill rejects.

Don't write off the poor Italian director, though. The early 1980s were not a good time for the then 68-year-old Antonioni -- as his greatest works were produced a decade or two earlier. Better you seek those out instead.

Aka Il Mistero di Oberwald.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 129 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 9th September 1981

Distributed by: Polytel International Film

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 57%
Fresh: 4 Rotten: 3

IMDB: 6.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Starring: as The Queen, as Count of Foehn, as Sebastian

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