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498 Ratings

Sarah Winchester, Phantom Opera

Sarah Winchester, opéra fantôme

Directed by Bertrand Bonello
France, 2016
Short, Documentary, Music


A baroque meditation on the heiress to the Winchester rifle fortune, playing like a ballet-cum-horror film; an ornate tapestry of enigmatic images, chilling synths, and traces of a tragic and eccentric life.

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Sarah Winchester, Phantom Opera Directed by Bertrand Bonello

Awards & Festivals


2016 | Winner: Institut Francais Award of the International Online Film Critic

The opera they rehearse is one that will never be performed; Kateb announces mid-film that the opera does not exist. This reorients our relationship to its artistic components… Before the final display of Gillot’s precise, constricted movements, Kateb directs her: “Do the solo in your head.” The substance of history is absent by design, so we must build upon the conjecture.
August 05, 2017
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Like Sarah Winchester, who is haunted by guilt, the image of the dancer is haunted by herself. She becomes a phantom, an appearance. The same is true for the story of Winchester, which takes place in the bodies and voices of artists. Cinema may not enter those bodies and those bodies may not enter Sarah Winchester’s story. It is due to the impossibility of entering that a different view is possible, one that adds regimes of sensuality and aesthetics to the narration.
April 21, 2017
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Bonello, master of mood, advances through several tonal and conceptual registers simultaneously here. Showing us figures entering and filling up one physical space while bluntly acknowledging a death toll from the history books might seem a simple enough juxtaposition, but when we cut back to Kateb’s Mac-bound composer inside the Bastille, and the camera tilts up from him to the gods, there’s a palpable sense of something grander at play.
April 07, 2017
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