By LinnieSarah Helpern
(This piece first appeared in Issue 5 of Belladonna Magazine)
|All photos courtesy of Criterion|
But black sin hath betrayed to endless night. Holy world, both parts and both parts must die. - Holy Sonnets, John Donne
Among those who fancy themselves passionate about the archiving and restoration of classic cinema, it is impossible to deny that Criterion is at the top of the game. Each film is lovingly rescued, sometimes from obscurity, and remastered so that it looks as beautiful as the day it was shot. Generations of movies have been saved by Criterion, many of them horror: The Blob, Peeping Tom, The Brood, and Eyes Without a Face are just a few of the horror classics given the Criterion treatment. Now, we can add Jacques Torneur and Val Lewton’s 1942 supernatural masterpiece, Cat People to that list.
|Simone Simon... the most beautiful cat person who ever cat peopled.|
|Tourneur did for pools what Spielberg did for oceans.|
Well, first, film theorists began to analyze Cat People through the twin lenses of female sexual empowerment and the cultural alienation of those who immigrate to the United States. Written by DeWitt Bodeen, based on producer Lewton’s own short story, the film actively approaches so many taboo (for the time… and for now, frankly) social issues, that it’s entirely unsurprising that it went unappreciated for so many years. But now, thanks to a 1982 remake that drew attention to the original, and this stunning Criterion re-master, Cat People has the chance to find the audience it deserves, in addition to the critical acclaim it so richly earned.
|Here kitty kitty kitty...|
|It comes in black, black, or... black! I recommend the black?|
Whether you are a collector of classic cinema, or just looking for a new horror film to add to your collection, you absolutely can’t go wrong with Criterion’s restoration of Cat People. Let this cinema classic claw its way into your heart…
The Restoration: 5 Lewton busses out of 5
The Extras: 4 Lewton busses out of 5
The Film: 5 Lewton busses out of 5