Berberian Sound Studio
|Berberian Sound Studio|
British poster for Berberian Sound Studio
|Directed by||Peter Strickland|
|Written by||Peter Strickland|
|Cinematography||Nicholas D. Knowland|
|Edited by||Chris Dickens|
|Running time||94 minutes|
Berberian Sound Studio is the second feature film by British director and screenwriter Peter Strickland. The film, starring Toby Jones, is a psychological thriller set in a 1970s Italian horror film studio.
British sound engineer Gilderoy (Toby Jones) arrives at the Berberian film studio in Italy to work on what he believes is a film about horses. During a surreal meeting with Francesco, the film's producer, Gilderoy is shocked to find the film is actually an Italian giallo film, The Equestrian Vortex. He nonetheless begins work in the studio, at one point made to do foley work, using vegetables to create sound effects for the film's increasingly gory torture sequences, and mixing voiceovers from session artists, Silvia and Claudia, into the score.
As time passes, and Gilderoy feels more and more disconnected from his mother at home, he begins to fear he's out of his depth. His colleagues seem increasingly rude – to both himself and to each other. The horror sequences grow ever more shocking, yet Santini, the director, refuses to admit they are working on a horror film. And, after a long passage through the bureaucracy of the film studio's accounts department, it turns out the plane ticket Gilderoy submitted for a refund can't be processed because the flight didn't actually exist.
The plot, from here on in, grows increasingly erratic. Gilderoy hears and sees things in the night. He discovers Silvia, the voiceover artist, was molested by Santini. She storms out, destroying much of their work, forcing Gilderoy to re-record the dialogue with a new actress, Elisa. As Silvia's recording sequences are revisited again, and tension grows between Gilderoy and the others, the boundaries between the blood-drenched giallo thriller and real life begin to erode. Gilderoy imagines he himself is in a film about his life – suddenly fluent in Italian and increasingly detached and vicious. After he and Francesco essentially torture Elisa during a recording session, she walks out, leaving history to repeat itself yet again, and Gilderoy to contemplate the monster he has become.
- Tonia Sotiropoulou as Elena
- Toby Jones as Gilderoy
- Susanna Cappellaro as Veronica
- Cosimo Fusco as Francesco
- Suzy Kendall as Gilderoy's mother
Strickland made a version in 2005 as a short film, prior to working on his first feature film, Katalin Varga, in 2006. He said that with the film, he wanted to "make a film where everything that is usually hidden in cinema, the mechanics of film itself, is made visible. Berberian... turns this on its head. Here, the film is out of view, and you only see the mechanics behind it".
Berberian Sound Studio premiered on 28 June 2012 at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, where The Daily Telegraph described it as the "stand-out movie". It was presented at the London FrightFest Film Festival in August 2012. Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian has described the film as "seriously weird and seriously good" and said that it marks Strickland's emergence as "a key British film-maker of his generation".
Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 83% based on 89 reviews, with an average rating of 7.1/10. The critical consensus states that "Its reach may exceed its grasp, but with Berberian Sound Studio, director Peter Strickland assembles a suitably twisted, creepy tribute to the Italian Giallo horror movies of the '70s that benefits from a strong central performance by Toby Jones."  Metacritic gives a weighted average rating of 80 based on reviews from 22 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews ."
Sight & Sound film magazine listed the film at number 5 on its list of best films of 2012. The film tied with A Royal Affair as Mark Kermode's best film of the year. The film won awards at the 2012 British Independent Film Awards Best Director, Best Actor, Best Technical Achievement (Sound) and Best Achievement In Production. In 2013, the film obtained the Best (International) Film Award at BAFICI.
Home video release
- French, Philip (2 September 2012). "Berberian Sound Studio – review". The Observer. Retrieved 2 September 2012.
- Cummings, Basia. "Foley Cow! Berberian Sound Studio Director Peter Strickland Interviewed". The Quietus. Retrieved 2 September 2012.
- Collin, Robbie (28 June 2012). "Berberian Sound Studio, Edinburgh International Film Festival 2012, review". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2 September 2012.
- Bradshaw, Peter (1 September 2012). "Berberian Sound Studio – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 September 2012.
- "Berberian Sound Studio". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 12 January 2014.
- "Berberian Sound Studio". Metacritic. CBS. Retrieved 16 December 2013.
- Best of 2012 from Kermode and Mayo's Film Review at the BBC
- Andy Gill (5 January 2013). "Album review: Broadcast, Berberian Sound Studio (Warp)". The Independent.