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Etoile - Blu-ray Review

4 beers

This theatre is damned!  Sorry, Aronofsky, you aren’t as unique as was once thought.  Étoile reveals all the reasons why.

With Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” at its center, Étoile – a rather enigmatic movie concerning ghosts, satanic possessions, and ballerinas – provides viewers with a black-suited possession to rival the ages as the past becomes present due to a satanic pact made years and years ago.  And we suspect not a thing.

Thanks to writer Franco Ferrini, the film feels more like a Dario Argento flick, minus all the fabulous lighting and camerawork, as one American coryphée disappears from her known self and becomes a 19th century lead ballerina who died many years ago under mysterious conditions.   Suddenly, she is getting lifts in period accurate vehicles and, thanks to the foreign surrounding of the movie, more and more out of step with reality.

She’s even signing her name as someone else and succumbing to sensual desires.  The possession is as simple as a single kiss snuck onto the lips of a sleeping girl and, with only a few clues to go by, it is up to us to figure out the passionate mystery at the heart of this extraordinary tale at life on the other side of the broken mirror.

It is a mood-swirling and very much haunted landscape that greets Jennifer Connelly and Gary McCleery in Italian-American filmmaker Peter Del Monte’s Étoile.  While it is no secret that Aronofsky’s Black Swan owes its entire life to the events and situations in Étoile, it might come as a bit of a surprise to witness just what makes, in my opinion, Étoile the better film.

Thanks to a wide-eyed approach to horror, Étoile begins as a young American ballet student, arriving as a prestigious dance academy., discovers that her hopes of becoming something more in Hungary might be more than she bargained for.  Claire (Connelly) might not have what it takes.  But all that changes when she and her American friend, Jason (McCleery), discover an old house tucked away in the forest. 

Claire is enthralled with the house and its large mirrors.  She even dances in front of one and, thus, the change in identification begins.  Soon, Claire is signing autographs as Natalie and, convinced that there is no Claire anymore, she slips into everything that a Natalie Horvath once was.  That includes necromancy and talent and, in this manner, she seals the deal with Satan himself, bringing every bit of Natalie back from the other side. 

Throughout the film, Connelly nails the characteristics of the two roles she plays, who must both keep up the pace as their shows approach, while remaining mysterious and out of touch.  There’s no denying that she had the “it” factor at an early age.  She is both ethereal and aloof and, when called upon, can be quite sexy and deadly, especially when clutching a knife at her lover’s chest.

With wonderful imagery involving wild swan attacks, shadows, and mirrored images, Étoile arrives on blu-ray thanks to a superb 2k scan with extensive color corrections from Scorpion Releasing.  The film breathes again with this rather telling release.  The results are exquisite and truly open up this movie to be appreciated as the cult classic that it should be seen as.  Sure, it isn’t always on point thanks to a lack of stylistic choices but, for my money, it is executed in a manner that is much better than Aronofsky’s version of this duplicitous dream concerning a white and black swan and the dancers who portray them.

Co-starring Laurent Terzieff, Olimpia Carlisi, and featuring a wonderfully insane side story concerning clocks featuring the late, great Charles Durning as Uncle Joshua, Étoile achieves its sur le cou-de-pied position with eager and articulate grace and rattles the walls with a demented and disturbing attack by the freakiest black swan in horror history.


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Etoile - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: R.
101 mins
: Peter Del Monte
Peter Del Monte; Franco Ferrini; Sandro Petraglia
Jennifer Connelly, Gary McCleery, Laurent Terzieff
: Fantasy | Romance
Official Site:
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: November 9, 2017
Synopsis: A haunting, mysterious tale of the supernatural, made back to back early in her career with Dario Argento’s PHENOMENA. When American ballet student Clair Hamilton arrives in Budapest to attend an exclusive dance school, she soon becomes entranced with the legend of a famous dancer who died long ago. Soon Claire is being groomed for a fateful performance of Swan Lake that will merge past and present with the an otherworldly twist.


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Etoile - Blu-ray Review


Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Scorpion Releasing | Diabolik
Available on Blu-ray
- November 9, 2017
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
: None
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (48kHz, 24-bit)
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Region-free playback

Scorpion Releasing provides Étoile with a rather solid 1080p transfer.  Colors are crisp and bold and no lines appear throughout the transfer.   The red of the cushioned seats pops through the darkness and a yellow hue from candlelight soaks in the black levels.  The film is released with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 soundtrack that serve the needs of this haunted tale quite well.  Blues and browns dominate and black levels never crush the picture.  This is a solid release that haunts with strong visuals that, here, are made better with a transfer that brings out the atmosphere.  There is very little still visible damage to the new 2017-rendered transfer.  Enjoy!



  • None

Special Features:

As far as supplemental items are concerned, this on camera interviews with director Peter Del Monte, who talks about what works for him about the movie, and another interview with producer Claudio Mancin, who rips Peter Del Monte a new one for the lack of style in the movie.   Even the director knows he could have made a few changes. 

  • Black Swan, White Swan (19 min)
  • Little White Shoes (10 min)  


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Etoile - Blu-ray Review