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Insignificance (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] (1985)

Michael Emil , Theresa Russell , Nicolas Roeg  |  R |  Blu-ray
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Region 28034 encoding (This DVD will not play on most DVD players sold in the US or Canada [Region 1]. This item requires a region specific or multi-region DVD player and compatible TV. More about DVD formats.)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Michael Emil, Theresa Russell, Tony Curtis, Gary Busey
  • Directors: Nicolas Roeg
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: June 14, 2011
  • Run Time: 108 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004S8020S
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #237,130 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Insignificance (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]" on IMDb

Special Features

Newly restored digital transfer, supervised and approved by director Nicolas Roeg and producer Jeremy Thomas, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack

New video interviews with Roeg, Thomas, and editor Tony Lawson

Making Insignificance, a short documentary shot on the set of the film

Original theatrical trailer

PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Chuck Stephens and a reprinted exchange between Roeg and screenwriter Terry Johnson

Editorial Reviews

Four unnamed people who look and sound a lot like Albert Einstein, Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio, and Joseph McCarthy converge in one New York City hotel room for this compelling, visually inventive adaptation of Terry Johnson’s play, from director Nicolas Roeg (Walkabout, The Man Who Fell to Earth). With a combination of whimsy and dread, Roeg creates a fun-house-mirror picture of cold war America that questions the nature of celebrity and plays on a society’s simmering nuclear fears. Insignificance is a delirious, intelligent drama, featuring magnetic performances by Michael Emil (Tracks, Always) as “the professor,” Theresa Russell (Bad Timing, Black Widow) as “the actress,” Gary Busey (The Buddy Holly Story, Lethal Weapon) as “the ballplayer,” and Tony Curtis (Sweet Smell of Success, Spartacus) as “the senator.”

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Feast for the Mind and Eyes March 12, 2002
Format:VHS Tape
Those who say that "The Man Who Fell To Earth" (1976) was Nicolas Roeg's last great movie either have not seen "Insignificance"(1985) or have vastly underestimated it. All the trademarks of a Roeg film are here; surrealism, spectacular visuals and a uniquely intelligent story.The idea that Marilyn Monroe and Albert Einstien had an intimate relationship is explored here with great gusto. Misconceptions about Monroe's intelligence and Einstien's intellectual elitism are shattered here although her baseball player husband(DiMaggio)is what the viewer would expect.The climax is both unpredictable and mind blowing. All in all, Russell and veteran cast are great and Roeg's craftsmanship is uniformly excellent.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
In this quirky highly original film director Nicolas Roeg posits the theoretical question, what would happen if Albert Einstein, Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio and Senator Joe McCarthy were all gathered together in the same hotel room for one evening in 1953?

An eclectic gathering indeed. If it helps you to conceptualize where this film is headed, think of this as an evening of psychotherapy for the rich and famous. Marilyn wants to be loved for her brain, yet continually relies on her sex appeal for attention. Her husband and sports legend Joe DiMaggio wants to express his deep feelings of love for his wife but can't seem to express himself without a pack of baseball cards in his hand. Meanwhile Senator Joe McCarthy is busy scowling and perfusely sweating as he continues a campaign of threats and intimidation against everyone in the room.

Einstein's quiet evening alone has definitely taken an unexpected turn. Between the emotional angst displayed by the vulnerable sex kitten, the inept attempt at reconcillation by her superstar husband and the politics of fear levied by the Senator, the usually aloof, unattached scientist finds himself in an environment beyond his control, even for one of his mental capabilities. It turns out to be an evening of personal discovery for all involved.

'Insignificance' is really a mixed bag, one of those films you either get it or you don't. Not by any means a great movie, but it has its moments, the best moment being Marilyn's attempt to impress Dr. Einstein by explaining his theory of relativity using toy trains and flashlights as props. Very cute, thank you Theresa Russell!

This may not be a film that would stand up well to alot of repeat viewings but worth a viewing nonetheless. Starring; Michael Emil as Albert Einstein, Theresa Russell as Marilyn Monroe, Gary Busey as Joe DiMaggio and Tony Curtis as Joe McCarthy.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Roeg's Last Great Film December 13, 2009
CONTAINS A FEW SPOILERS. While "Two Deaths" (1995) showed a few flashes of the directorial brilliance that seemed to come so easily to Nicholas Roeg between the early seventies and the mid-eighties, I would argue that "Insignificance" was his last great film. Roeg was not a writer, but he managed to put his unique stamp on nearly every film he directed between his mesmerizing solo directing debut, "Walkabout" (he was co-director on "Performance" prior to that), and this allegorical gem, "Insignificance." This film followed by two years Roeg's underrated "Eureka," a film which baffled the suits at MGM/UA, and was not released until a couple years after it was completed. "Insignificance," with a script adapted by Terry Johnson from his stage play, was a more low budget film than "Eureka," and, to paraphrase another interesting director, Whit Stillman, when a lot of dollars are involved your movie is more likely to get sabotaged by "jerks." I can't decide myself if Theresa Russell's portrayal of "the actress" in this film is the high water mark of her career, or if that came in 1981 in "Bad Timing: a Sensual Obsession," her first collaboration with Roeg, whose wife she had become by the time "Insignificance" was shot. I had the pleasure of interviewing Ms. Russell in 1981, during her promotional tour for "Bad Timing," and she told me at the time she considered her work opposite Dustin Hoffman in "Straight Time" the acting she was most proud of to that point in her career. But to "Insignificance" itself, this is a movie I find fascinating, but which I'm sure some would find utterly pretentious. Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Burden of "Celebrity" June 23, 2011
I've never been a fan of director Nicolas Roeg.

I prefer straightforward storytelling in my movies and his work is just too cryptic and experimental for my taste.

Nevertheless, even aside from Roeg's kaleidoscopic images, I'm not quite sure I get the complete message that screenwriter Terry Johnson is trying to put across in INSIGNIFICANCE, an adaptation of his stage play that deals with a fictional meeting between 1950s icons Marilyn Monroe (Theresa Russell), Albert Einstein (Michael Emil), Joe DiMaggio (Gary Busey) and Senator Joseph McCarthy (Tony Curtis), none of whom are specifically identified in the film.

Perhaps the movie is about the burden of "celebrity," or the fact that "knowledge is not necessarily truth," or maybe it's about those ideas and a few others. Certainly there are many different thoughts tossed about in the picture's 108 minute running time.

Einstein, played by Emil with a childlike innocence, and Monroe are the central figures in the piece, and the scene in which she uses flashlights and various toys to explain to him his "theory of relativity" is a delight. Also memorable is a scene with the scientist and the DiMaggio character where the great athlete justifies his "celebrity" with the fact that he was featured in 13 series of bubblegum baseball cards.

Busey is marvelous as DiMaggio, as is Ms. Russell in capturing the persona of Monroe. Indeed, all of the actors shine in their individual roles. It is their performances, as well as many of the well-written scenes from the original stage play, rather than Roeg's flair for "opening up" the action, that make INSIGNIFICANCE worth watching.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars witty
Albert Einstein, Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio and Senator Joseph MacCarthy together to talk relativity.
Weird, Interesting if you like "off beat"
Published 9 months ago by wayne a clem
4.0 out of 5 stars Confusing, but I still enjoyed it quite a bit.
All of Nicolas Roeg's films are well-framed, interestingly edited and not entirely possible to completely understand in one viewing, but they do reward multiple viewings as you... Read more
Published 13 months ago by C. Hyatt
3.0 out of 5 stars Nowhere To Go
I'm not sure how faithful either the script or the performances were to the broadway play, but most of this seems shallow and overacted today. Read more
Published 15 months ago by mr. contrarian
3.0 out of 5 stars Will Sampson is in thir film?!
Was looking for all Will Sampsonw movies, found this great movie on his list, but can't fined him listed. hope the rest will be better! ~:-|
Published on April 21, 2012 by oklahoma
5.0 out of 5 stars An Imaginative Meeting of Legends.
This film is a classic not only in it's originality but in it's ability to capture the mood and craziness of a time period. Read more
Published on August 7, 2011 by Jonathan M. Winell
5.0 out of 5 stars The customer is 'Insignificant'
This is without doubt a hidden / forgotten gem of cinema. The scene where the Maralyn Monroe charater is explaining the theory of relativity to Albert Einstein using a toy train is... Read more
Published on November 28, 2010 by William M Nesham
5.0 out of 5 stars A MARVELLOUS PARODY
I have always loved Mr Roeg's approach to films and this particular example is no exception. In fact, it has been a favourite for many years and I've watched it several times. Read more
Published on February 1, 2010 by Yogesh. Pama
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie!
Great product arrived promptly! As indicated in the item description, this DVD is in Australian format.
Published on October 19, 2009 by J. Russo
4.0 out of 5 stars A Babe, A Brain, A Baseball Legend And A Blackballing Senator
Note: Will require a multi-region DVD player to view in the America's.

In this quirky highly original film director Nicolas Roeg posits the theoretical question, what... Read more
Published on December 16, 2007 by Brian E. Erland
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth watching at least once
What if Albert Einstein, Marilyn Monroe, Babe Ruth and Senator McCarthy were all in the same hotel during the same night, and their lives crossed ? Read more
Published on August 9, 2003 by Francois Tremblay
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