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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Saraband for Dead Lovers (1948)
(2023 Restoration)


Starring: Stewart Granger, Joan Greenwood and Flora Robson
Distributor: StudioCanal

Certificate: U
Release Date: 13 March 2023

In 1682, the sixteen-year-old Sophie Dorothea is unhappily married by arrangement to Prince George Louis of Hanover, an aristocrat destined to inherit the British crown. Despairing of ever experiencing true love, the desolate new Queen finds no solace in her life at court until she falls for a dashing Swedish mercenary, Count Konigsmark. Having hatched a plot to flee England together, the couple’s scheme is discovered by the jealous Countess Platen, Konigsmark’s previous lover, spelling disaster for the young lovers...

StudioCanal issues a brand-new restoration of the much-loved 1948 British romance classic, Saraband for Dead Lovers. The film was Ealing Studios’ first Technicolor release and, at the time of production, its most expensive film to date.

The production is lush and beautifully shot, wonderfully making use of the, then in its infancy, Technicolor process. While based on true characters and loosely on real events, the film does take quite a lot of artistic license in the interest of delivering a romantic tale.

Whilst the love story between Sophie Dorothea (Joan Greenwood) and Count Konigsmark (Stewart Granger) is where all eyes are, I couldn't help but be enamoured by Flora Robson's portrayal of Countess Clara Platen. Robson's performance is imbued with passion, ambition and desire. She also has a vulnerability which is masterfully conveyed, and all the while she exudes a raw sexuality, something rare for a female character of her age back in the time of the film's production.

I had to smile at the start of this movie. The opening shot is of Ahlden House at night. The only light from the building is from two windows... and for a brief moment I thought the pause icon was on my TV, indicating that I'd accidentally hit the pause button.

Extras include: A Strange Adventure: Phuong Le and Matthew Sweet discuss Saraband for Dead Lovers (24 min, 11 sec, the two journalists discuss the importance of the film); A Technicolor Dance: Interview with Film Historian Dr. Josephine Botting (23 min - easily the most informative feature here. Dr Botting explores almost every area of the production); Restoring Saraband for Dead Lovers (10 min, 02 sec, which talks to some of those involved with restoring the film print for this Blu-ray release); and Behind the Scenes Stills Gallery (1 min 25 sec - 16 black and white photos).

The restoration is the perfect excuse to finally add this wonderful movie to your classic Hollywood film library. It's never looked so fresh on home media.


Darren Rea

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