Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Screenplay: Gilbert Adair
Starring: Michael Pitt, Eva Green and Louis Garrel
Country: United Kingdom, Italy, France
Running Time: 115 min
Year: 2003

When it comes to controversial filmmakers, one of my biggest blind-spots is Italy’s Bernardo Bertolucci, director of Last Tango in Paris, The Last Emperor and The Conformist. While his work is mostly acclaimed across the board, some of the content in his films has raised eyebrows for its provocative nature, and nowhere is that more apparent than his 2003 film The Dreamers. When I heard that Icon were releasing the film on 4K (their first venture into the format), I had to request a copy to check out my first Bertolucci film and it was an experience.

The film follows three characters in Paris, Matthew, an American exchange student, who falls in love with cinema during the 1968 student riots in the city, and two siblings, Théo and Isabelle. While looking for a place to stay, Matthew is offered a room in the siblings’ household and finds that the pair are comfortable with sexual discussions and nudity, which initially shocks Matthew, given his American background.

Without spoiling too much, things become a bit more intimate between the trio and while that’s the element of the film that most people usually find the most interesting to dissect, the part that really hooked me were the human interactions between the characters. About half an hour into the film, there’s a very humorous debate about the works of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton which I found incredibly entertaining and when The Dreamers is focusing on moments like that, it’s where it succeeded the most for me. During many of the interactions between the trio, clips from the films they’re discussing are spliced into the picture, which initially felt jarring but eventually worked super well for me. 

It’s mostly a vibe picture, with a rock ‘n roll spirit that came as a surprise to me, as the film contains needle-drops from The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Doors, Grateful Dead and The Steve Miller Band to name a few of the great licensed pieces that play throughout the film. It works well with the sexual content that shocked audiences when the film was released back in 2003, and it still has the power to shock today, given the lack of sexual content and nudity in most modern films. Released with the dreaded NC-17 rating in the US, the film wasn’t a huge commercial success but found its audience on home video (it’s not shocking why!) and given that over twenty years on from its release, this snazzy UHD release is hitting shelves, it’s clear that the film has staying power. 

I’m excited to check out more of Bertolucci’s work in the future, even if I didn’t adore this feature like I was hoping to. While there’s moments of greatness here, and I enjoyed spending time with the characters for the 115 minute runtime, there were moments that didn’t land like I was hoping and I think a good ten minutes could have been trimmed from the runtime to make the experience feel tighter (no pun intended). When it’s at its best, The Dreamers is a perfect, adult, summer vibe. At its worst, it’s a tad self-indulgent and a little too loose for its own good. It feels like the type of film that’ll click more on a rewatch, which I’m excited to do in the future but as it stands, I thought it was a pretty good time!


The Dreamers releases on the 13th May via Icon Film Distribution in a 4K UHD and Blu-ray combo package. Included in the release are some limited edition goodies such as art cards and a poster. I viewed the 4K disc and the transfer has a HDR grade, which looks gorgeous. Given that this was my first time watching the film, I can’t compare it to any prior releases but the summer aesthetic of the film shines bright, with fairly decent bit-rates across the board (usually hovering between the 40 and 65MBps). It’s far from the best release the format has to offer, but it’s a solid first outing from Icon on UHD. Audio wise, there’s two tracks, English DTS-HD MA 5.1 and 2.0. I checked out the 5.1 track and everything sounded excellent on my setup. English subtitles are also included. It’s a promising start for Icon in the UHD market and providing this sells well, I look forward to seeing more from them on the format in the future. The following extras are included: 

Cinema, Sex and Politics: Bertolucci makes The Dreamers and The Making of The Dreamers – Across two in-depth featurettes, experience how the film was brought to life from script to screen and uncover the real events of 1968 that inspired this remarkable story. Featuring extensive behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with cast and crew

Feature commentary with Bernardo Bertolucci, writer Gilbert Adair and producer Jeremy Thomas

Interviews with Bernardo Bertolucci, Eva Green, Michael Pitt, Louis Garrel, Gilbert Adair and Jeremy Thomas

B-Roll – take a step behind the camera to witness the filmmaking process and iconic sets from a unique perspective

Original trailer and 4K remastered trailer 

Also included are four exclusive art cards and an A3 print of the film’s original poster

The commentary with Bernardo Bertolucci, Gilbert Adair and Jeremy Thomas is an archival track and it’s a pretty good listen. The trio cover all of the topics you’d expect and hearing Bertolucci’s reasoning behind splicing in the clips of the films discussed was interesting and hearing writer Adair tough on the changes made from his original novel were fascinating too. Recommended for fans of the film, or those interested in hearing about the production. 

The Making of The Dreamers is an archival five minute piece made to promote the film. It doesn’t dive into much, but there’s interviews with the cast and crew that are pretty interesting. Presented in standard definition. 

Cinema, Sex and Politics: Bertolucci Makes The Dreamers is an archival documentary that lasts for around 50 minutes and it’s easily the best extra on the disc. Narrated by Zoë Wanamaker, Cinema, Sex and Politics covers all aspects of the production, with great behind-the-scenes footage, interviews with the cast and crew and dives into the themes and inspiration behind the film. It’s an insightful documentary that’s absolutely worth watching.

25 minutes of archival interviews with Bernardo Bertolucci, Eva Green, Michael Pitt, Louis Garrel, Gilbert Adair and Jeremy Thomas are included in standard definition. The interviews seem to be visually stretched to fill the screen, which may bug some people but the content in the interviews is solid. A variety of questions are asked to each member of the production and while some of the interviews are shorter than the others (Bertolucci’s interview lasts for 11 minutes while most of the others range for around 2 and a half minutes), they’re a neat addition to the release, even if the information is already conveyed in the documentary on the disc.

11 minutes of B-roll footage are included, which offers an insight into the production.

An original trailer, as well as a 4K remastered trailer are included. 

I wasn’t provided with the art cards or the poster, unfortunately.

Fans of the film will be delighted by the new release, with a pretty 4K transfer, a  decent selection of archival bonus features and from the looks of things, a couple of great physical goodes to boot. It’s up in the air for new viewers on whether or not this’ll win them over, but if this sounds up your alley, give it a shot!


Where to watch The Dreamers
The Dreamers - Icon Film Distribution
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