Release Date(s)1970 (July 27, 2021)
Studio(s)Roland Klick Production (Subkultur Entertainment/Vinegar Syndrome)
- Film/Program Grade: B
- Video Grade: A+
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: A-
Deadlock, in a lot of ways, defies categories. It's a gangster film, a Spaghetti Western, a psychological thriller, a noir film, an introspective art piece, and a love story. There are no protagonists, only survivors. Characters come to the table with different agendas, which vary greatly depending upon the situation they find themselves in at any given time. For certain audiences, these revolving courses of action might be tough to follow. After all, how can you relate to a character that's portrayed as sympathetic one minute but does something reprehensible the next? Yet in a desperate situation, like the one found in Deadlock, who knows what people are capable of? Especially when a large briefcase full of money is involved.
Roland Klick’s Deadlock features Mario Adorf (The Tin Drum) as Dump, a lowlife living out in the middle of the desert with a former brothel operator, Corinna (Betty Segal), and her daughter Jessy (Mascha Rabben), who could very well be Dump’s biological daughter. One day Dump finds a young man nearly dead by the roadside. He has a bullet wound in his arm, carries a machine gun, and has a briefcase full of money. Dump tries to take off with the money and leave him for dead, but the young man, Kid (Marquard Bohm), orders him at gunpoint to help him. The two have a rocky relationship back at Dump’s desert compound, constantly vying for supremacy over the other. Jessy is meanwhile lurking around, taking a personal interest in Kid while annoying her possible father. After Dump removes the bullet from Kid’s arm, he tells him that “Sunshine” will be here soon for both him and the money. Strolling onto the compound, Sunshine (Anthony Dawson) soon arrives and the three men find themselves at odds with each other.
Deadlock was shot by Robert van Ackeren on 35 mm photochemical film using spherical lenses and framed at 1.66:1 for its theatrical release. Subkultur Entertainment has performed a new 4K scan and restoration of the original camera negative and graded it for high dynamic range (HDR10 is the only option here). The image is crisp and organic with heavy grain that’s very well attenuated. Levels of detail are high—every last speck of dirt, grime, and dust is on full display. Textures are appropriately gritty, even sweltering. Blacks are perfect with excellent shadow detail. The color palette offers a surprising range of rich hues when not in the warm, white desert landscape, particularly when it comes to shades of red, green, and blue. The HDR grading really pushes the gamut wide open. The image is also stable and clean, outside of extremely minor speckling which is often difficult to spot. Little else need be said. It’s a gorgeous presentation.
The audio is provided in German or English mono DTS-HD Master Audio with optional subtitles in German or English. (The main menu can also be toggled between German and English as well.) Both tracks are clean with good separation, never sounding distorted or uneven. Dialogue and Can’s music and score are both vibrant and at the forefront of each mix. The sound effects tend to lack a little extra punch in a few places, but machine gun fire and the roaring of Dump’s truck push the single channel audio to its limits.
This release from Subkultur USA (distributed through Vinegar Syndrome) also includes a Blu-ray copy of the film in 1080p. Both the Ultra HD and Blu-ray discs feature extras, but the bulk of them are featured on the Blu-ray.
DISC ONE: UHD
- Audio Commentary with Roland Klick and Ulrich von Berg
- Restored German Trailer (UHD – 3:20)
- Restored English Trailer (UHD – 3:20)
DISC TWO: BD
- Audio Commentary with Roland Klick and Ulrich von Berg
- Truth and Sensuality (HD – 19:20)
- Movie as Adventure (Upscaled SD – 8:25)
- Portrait: Roland Klick (Upscaled SD – 13:06)
- German Ending with Dedication (Silent) (HD – :29)
- English Credits & Insert (Silent) (HD – 2:10)
- English Ending with Dedication (Silent) (HD – :29)
- Textless Credit Sequence (Silent) (HD – 2:02)
- Restored German Trailer (HD – 3:20)
- Unrestored German Trailer (HD – 3:19)
- Restored English Trailer (HD – 3:20)
- Still Gallery (HD – 42 in all – 5:36)
The 2005 audio commentary, which plays over the German version of the film, is also in German with English subtitles. Author and filmmaker Ulrich von Berg interviews director Roland Klick as they watch the film together. They discuss a variety of topics, including finding the desert that Klick intended to shoot the film in for the first time and discovering the story as he went along, dealing with actors individually, the two vehicles used in the film, an alternate version of the film that would have been made with different funding, social-political and foreign film influences, discovering Mascha Rabben, the film’s structure, relationships between the characters, the film’s place within New German Cinema, Klick’s entrance into filmmaking, the score, and the film’s thematics. It’s a very informative and even introspective commentary. Following that is a straight interview and two interview featurettes, all of which are in German with English subtitles. In Truth and Sensuality (aka Wahrheit und Sinnluchkeit), Klick discusses his background, where he gets his ideas, being unconcerned with genre titles, creating ideas and worlds that are natural to the medium, shooting on location, the film’s success and the critical reaction, his feelings about German cinema, an incident at the Cannes Film Festival, intellectual sensuality, and the difference between audiences and critics. Movie as Adventure (aka Film als Abenteuer) is taken from the 1997 film Das Kino des Roland Klick, which features the director talking about whether films require tension in order to succeed while shooting them, the pros and cons of film subsidies, and why Deadlock connected with audiences when it did. In Portrait: Roland Klick, a German film crew during the mid to late 1970s interviews the director while showing clips from his films.
The rest of the extras consist of four alternate German and English credit sequences and inserts, as well as restored and unrestored versions of the German trailer and a restored version of the English trailer. There’s also a still gallery consisting of 42 images of German lobby cards, the German press booklet, and stills from the unrestored version of the film. Not included from the Filmgalerie 451 German DVD release of the film is the documentary The Chance (which is mentioned in the audio commentary). Otherwise, all previous extras are accounted for. Each disc sits in a clear amaray case with double-sided artwork, featuring new artwork on one side and the original German poster art on the reverse. Everything is housed within a slipcase featuring the original Italian poster art.
Subkultur USA's 4K UHD release of Deadlock is astoundingly gorgeous, and with a heavy extras package to back it up, it makes for a fascinating find. This indefinable 1970 West German production will more than likely only be appreciated by genre fans and filmmakers. It's shot remarkably well within a meager budget in the middle of the desert, and every trashy, grimy, filthy, bloody part of the landscape and the world that these characters inhabit is presented in perfect quality.
- Tim Salmons