Phoenix (2014) DVD9 and Blu-Ray Criterion Collection
“Phoenix” opens with a face profiled in darkness. It is the face of Lene (Nina Kunzendorf), a woman driving a bandaged and bloodied passenger back to Berlin. Her face has been badly damaged, but she is a survivor of a concentration camp. After a brief encounter at a checkpoint, the pair drives further and headlights fill the screen before the title comes up. This story will clearly be one of darkness to light, even if it’s a light that sometimes blinds you.

We learn that the passenger is Nelly Lenz (Petzold’s collaborator, Nina Hoss), a German-Jewish nightclub singer, who, from the appearance of photographs and discussions with friend Lene, had a happy life. She was married to a handsome, confident man named Johnny (another Petzold regular, Ronald Zehrfeld). On October 4th, Johnny was taken in for questioning by the SS. Two days later, he was released, and Nelly was transported to a concentration camp. Did Johnny betray his wife’s Jewish background? Clearly. And yet Nelly refuses to believe it. She wants her old life back. And that means denial that her husband was and is a self-serving monster. When the surgeon asks her who she'd like to look like, offering some popular stars, Nelly insists that she wants her old face back. This wasn't possible and although her new face is very pretty she suffers from a loss of identity.

Over Lene’s objections, Nelly returns to Berlin, seeking out Johnny. She is a shattered woman in a city of rubble. She feels like she doesn't exist. The relationship, the friends she now sees only in pictures, even the city she once lived in—they’re all gone. She finds some semblance of familiarity in Phoenix, the nightclub that literally looks like an oasis in ruins. It’s like a dream that people find amidst the rubble of a bombed-out city. And that’s where she finds Johnny. He grabs her one night. He has a plan. He needs someone to pretend to be his dead wife, so he can claim her inheritance as there’s no evidence that his wife is dead. “You have to play my wife.” She agrees and moves in with Johnny as he coaches her to dress and act like Nelly. Despite the bizarre arrangement she feels that she is now like herself again...

Director: Christian Petzold
Cast: Nina Hoss, Ronald Zehrfeld, Nina Kunzendorf
Country: Germany, Poland

• New conversation between director Christian Petzold and actor Nina Hoss (25:50)
• New interview with cinematographer Hans Fromm (12:57)
• The Making of “Phoenix,” a 2014 documentary featuring interviews with Petzold, Hoss, actors Nina Kunzendorf and Ronald Zehrfeld, and production designer K. D. Gruber (20:56)
• Trailer (2:00)

DVD9 | NTSC 16:9 | 01:38:27 | 7.19 Gb + 3% rec
Language: Deutsch
Subtitles: English

BD50 | 1080p AVC | 01:38:33 | 43.4 Gb + 3% rec
Language: Deutsch
Subtitles: English

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