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Institute Benjamenta... [Blu-ray]

33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

United Kingdom released, Blu-Ray/Region B : it WILL NOT play on regular DVD player, or on standard US Blu-Ray player. You need multi-region Blu-Ray player to view it in USA/Canada: LANGUAGES: English ( Dolby Digital 5.1 ), English ( Dolby DTS-HD Master Audio ), English ( Subtitles ), WIDESCREEN (1.66:1), SPECIAL FEATURES: Booklet, Interactive Menu, Scene Access, Short Film, Trailer(s), SYNOPSIS: ***ATTENTION***This is a Dual Format Edition, which contains both Blu-Ray & DVD versions*** Jakob arrives at the Institute Benjamenta (run by brother and sister Johannes and Lisa Benjamenta) to learn to become a servant. With seven other men, he studies under Lisa: absurd lessons of movement, drawing circles, and servility. He asks for a better room. No other students arrive and none leave for employment. Johannes is unhappy, imperious, and detached from the school's operation. Lisa is beautiful, at first tightly controlled, then on the verge of breakdown. There's a whiff of incest. Jakob is drawn to Lisa, and perhaps she to him. As winter sets in, she becomes catatonic. Things get worse; Johannes notes that all this has happened since Jakob came. Is there any cause and effect? SCREENED/AWARDED AT: Fantasporto Awards, Stockholm Film Festival, ...Institute Benjamenta, or This Dream That One Calls Human Life ( Institute Benjamenta )


Product Details

  • Directors: Stephen Quay, Timothy Quay
  • Writers: Stephen Quay, Timothy Quay
  • Producers: Lucie Conrad
  • Format: Blu-ray, Import, PAL
  • Language: Italian (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: BFI Video
  • DVD Release Date: June 22, 2010
  • Run Time: 104.00 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002KHMKIG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #173,195 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Institute Benjamenta... [Blu-ray]" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Heavy Theta on March 26, 2001
Format: DVD
Sun Ra lived in Germantown. David Lynch was across the street from the Mutter Museum of Pathology (that houses the remains of the original "siamese" twins amongst other oddities). And the brothers Quay obviously were influenced by the Franklin Institute. The commonality seems to be a sense of madness and epiphone that lies within the structure of discipline and study. Institute Benjamenta is not so much a story as an experience, exactly what you'd expect from a private fraternity with a history for specializing in visual abstractions. Only it is now startling to see the activity produced by live actors rather than their usual bits of shop class remnants and broken dolls. The effect is less fascinating, but more disturbing. I have a friend who contacted the distributor of this film when it was still restricted to rental, hoping to get enough friends to cover a screening. Instead, when the video came out, she couldn't sit through it. Yet she still is haunted by it. This is not an easy movie to recommend, but you may not want to take the chance of missing it.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Wayne on November 8, 2000
Format: DVD
A quiet and softly spoken man arrives at a ghostly building to enrol for the servants class taught there. He rings the doorbell and is greeted by a monkey's face through the small hole in the door. The man's name is Jakob. He enters and meets one of the two owners (a brother and sister). The brother is unpleasant, and informs Jakob that there are no favourites here.
Jakob goes into class to meet the other students. They all announce their names to him and then fall over. The lessons are presumptuous and iterative. They involve the men swaying from side to side and standing on one leg. They really are quite eccentric. The institute seems to be its own little world away from reality, with its low ceiling rooms. The sister soon has a strange fondness for Jakob. This is a very sombre film, but has a unique air to it. The pacing is pedestrian, but you stay with it. The acting is good, and the camerawork is meticulous and probing.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Michael Wigeland on August 20, 2003
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I sought to obtain this film for my collection almost immediately after seeing it. I cannot give it enough praise.
I was quite drawn into the 'perfumery' mythology the Brothers had created for this translation of Walser's work. Of course this mythology has a framework all its own, but is seamlessly fused with the story. Although I have yet to see the rest of the (stille nacht) series, it appears they had built the foundation of the visual largely from their previous pieces "Stille Nacht"(1988) and "The Comb". The photography and animation, as always, commands the highest respect.
Some may have difficulty appreciating the dialoge in this film, but I for one thought it was delivered flawlessly; the unstable vibration in Jakobs voice, the side-saddle yet wanting manner of Lisa...I have no clue as to the extent of engineering that went into the voice track, but it exhibits a clever aesthetic nonetheless.
The soundtrack is spectacular, not only according to its own merit, but also how closely it embraces the ambience and imagery of the film. Lech Jankowski is quite skilled as a composer, and I look forward to hearing more of his work.
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Jay Fenton on June 23, 2002
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I recently bought the DVD of the Quay brother's INSTITUTE BENJAMENTA, or THIS DREAM PEOPLE CALL LIFE. I bought it purely on reviews, which praised its expressionist B & W cinematography and bizarre nature.

To be honest, I've bought many film because of high praise from a dozen or so reviewers and found the films somewhat boring, e.g., THE VIRGIN SUICIDE, GHOST WORLD, etc. Yes, I know I'm a heretic. But German expressionism is a special interest of mine and so I decided to take a chance, preparing to curse my vulnerability to persuasion if I was disappointed.

The film starred Alice Krige (most famous as the Borg queen in STAR TREK, FIRST CONTACT and Mark Rylance, best known for playing William in ANGELS AND INSECTS. This time the reviewers led me to a fine film. Bizarre, to be sure, and much like ERASERHEAD, with a decided noirish atmosphere.

The story concerns a man who applies to a school for servants and learns, through a series of classes, to totally subordinate his ego to the will of an employer. Alice Krige is the sister of the headmaster, who is the catalyst for revolutionary changes------------or is she? The film may be about man's relationship to the State, revolution, class structure, obedience, or a few other things.

The expressionist atmosphere is thick enough to choke on and the possibilities of what's really going on may be as much a puzzle as MULLHOLLAND DRIVE.

If you have a taste for the strange, like noir or expressionism in B & W, or found ERASERHEAD intellectually engaging, you might like to try this film.

Jay F.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Michael Gilbert on September 15, 2001
Format: DVD
A total dream. Definitely not a film for everyone! This film can truly be called "artsy fartsy". :) If you're familiar with the Brothers Quay short animations, then you'll recognize many of their concepts here. I own this DVD and only watch it every now and then. It's one of those movies you keep around to watch when the mood is right. Warning: you should only buy this movie if you KNOW you can tolerate the bizarre.
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