Oscilloscope Laboratories announced this past week that the surprise 2014 Cannes Film Festival winner of the Grand Prize of the Jury, filmmaker Alice Rohrwacher for her coming-of-age drama, The Wonders, will be making its domestic DVD debut on Mar. 8.
The ARR is 130 days and the film’s limited arthouse showcase generated ticket sales of $69,236.
Set against the beautiful backdrop of Tuscany, we are introduced to 12 year-old “queen bee” Gelsomina (Maria Alexandra Lungu), her three sisters, an “aunt” named Coco (Sabine Timoteo), her mother (Albe Rohrwacher) and her father, Wolfgang (Sam Louwyck) — he’s the patriarch of the family, but Gelsomina is the glue that holds things, however tenuously, together. Her mother, Angelica, is a go-along, get-along type of person … she’s not happy with Wolfgang, but does little to change things.
They are like a family stuck in time. The world drifts by, they raise honey, Wolfgang barks orders, but like a certain Shakespearean character of yore, his “sound and fury” signifies very little … he barks, no one pays much attention; nothing changes.
Rohrwacher has structured the family, their dwelling and their business of tending to the bees without either a timeframe or much detail as to how this group of Italian-speaking, French-speaking and German-speaking family members came to live in Tuscany. It’s hinted at that there was something more complex in the past, but that has long since been forgotten. It’s not important.
Like an idyllic pastel painting, quiet; serene, this country setting would continue on from one day to the next were it not for two events crashing in at the same time. A juvenile delinquent named Martin (Luis Huilca) has arrived for work-rehabilitation, which gives Wolfgang someone to hold dominion over.
And, Gelsomina has allowed the outside world in by entering the family’s business into some whacky reality television competition — “Countryside Wonders” — hosted by Milly Catena (Monica Bellucci), a wonder in herself, who is seemingly from another planet (or, perhaps she wandered away from the set of a Fellini film long ago).
These elements play out in bittersweet fashion as Wolfgang’s frustrations hide deeper issues and Gelsomina begins to feel the world around her change … it will never be the same again.
Bonus features include deleted scenes, a photo gallery prepared as a short video and the 1951 short film from producers Paul F. Moss and Thelma Schnee titled “Bee City.”
Also announced this week, Oscilloscope Laboratories has selected Mar. 15 for the domestic DVD debut of documentary filmmaker David Evans’ What Our Fathers Did: A Nazi Legacy.
The question is: Are the sins of the fathers visited upon their children?
The sins under the microscope here — as the title implies — are mass murders (ethnic cleansings) committed by high-ranking Nazi officials during World War II. Documentary filmmaker David Evans teamed with political activist and human rights lawyer Philippe Sands to recruit the sons of two such officials to revisit the same areas where over 60 years earlier mass exterminations took place and counted among the dead were Sands’ relatives.
Agreeing to be part of this “experiment” were Horst von Wächter, the son of Otto von Wächter, governor of Krakow (among other things) and Niklas Frank, the son of Hans Frank, Hitler’s personal attorney, governor-general of Polish territories occupied by the Nazis, who was convicted at Nuremberg and executed.
The trio, with Evans documenting their travels and interactions, set out to revisit the areas where their father’s ruled. It is an interesting “therapy” session, with Niklas Frank reconciled to the evil that his father had committed, while Wächter understands full-well the gravity of what took place, but retreats into defending his father with the old “just following orders” justification.
What Our Fathers Did: A Nazi Legacy is a fascinating exercise and one well worth a look-see when it arrives on DVD on Mar. 15.
Bonus features include commentary by Evans and Sands, a newly prepared video session with Philippe Sands, deleted scenes and an extended scene featuring the trio in conversation at the Purcell Room in London.