Impossible Object AKA L'impossible objet AKA Story of a Love Story (Blu-ray) [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray B - United Kingdom - Powerhouse Films
Review written by and copyright: Rick Curzon (2nd January 2024).
The Film

Directed by John Frankenheimer (The Manchurian Candidate), Impossible Object (also released as Story of a Love Story) is a surreal drama starring Alan Bates (A Day in the Death of Joe Egg), Michel Auclair (The Day of the Jackal), Dominique Sanda (The Conformist), and Lea Massari (L’avventura).

Harry (Bates), a British author living in France with his wife and family, begins an affair with Natalie (Sanda), who herself is unhappily married to Georges (Auclair). However, Harry is unable to untangle the facts of his life from the fictions which he creates, and the line between fantasy and reality become blurred.

Adapted by Nicholas Mosley (Accident) from his own Booker Prize-shortlisted novel, photographed by Claude Renoir (Barbarella), and scored by Michel Legrand (Eve), Impossible Object is a long-overlooked classic of seventies European cinema.


From the booklet concerning the transfer:
Impossible Object is sourced from Studiocanal’s 4K restoration which uses the original 35mm negative. The film’s original mono soundtrack was remastered at the same time.
This is a gorgeous looking film beautifully photographed from top to bottom and has been well served by an the original elements being in fine condition. As to be expected from Powerhouse Films, the encoding is another Fidelity in Motion wonder job with a perfectly handled filmic, constant sheen of grain. Overall the film is very soft looking due to filters used to give it a mostly slightly hazy quality. Softness increases during optical fades and transitions, typical of photochemical era. Detail does suffer due to these choices and is obviously at its strongest in closeups, medium and long shots are less defined. But, this is all by design and is part of the gorgeous look of the film which is about reality vs memory.

Black levels are well balanced with satisfying shadows although shadow detail is less pronounced, although there's no unintended crush it's the way the film was lit and shot. Scenes in low light (the cellar game for instance) have more crush as part of the dim look. Contrast is soft, low key but balanced. Even skies are muted and overcast to a degree with only the dream sequence and the Moroccan scenes having vivid highlights, bright skies and greater dynamic range in the image.

Each version has it's own encode and are not branched but there are no differences in the transfers that I could see with both seemingly using the same footage. I saw no evidence of damage or age related wear and tear and no digital improvements, this is great transfer and it looks about as good as it possibly can shy of 4K UHD and HDR ('A').

1080p24 / AVC MPEG-4 / BD50 / 1.66:1 / 113:03, 104:12


French Version
French / English LPCM 1.0 (48kHz, 16-bit)
International Version
English / French LPCM 1.0 (48kHz, 16-bit)
Subtitles: English (French version), English HoH (for both versions)

My comments here apply to both versions. Sound is strong and clear with no problems that I could pick up on. Dialogue is always clear and the track has no signs of distortions even when the volume is cranked up. There's mild hiss but that's to be expected of a mono track from this era. Michel Legrand's score is mostly fairly low key and well served with decent fidelity. The subtitles provided for French dialogue get the job done well as do the excellent hard of hearing variations ('A-').


Audio commentary on the French version by film historian Tim Lucas (2023)

A Lucas commentary is always one to savour and this one is no different; carefully planned and researched he covers all bases. Topics covered: Locations, the cast, the nature of the International nature of the production (funding being French, Italian Moroccan), the author and co-screenwriter Nicholas Moseley, his career and specifically the book this film is based on as well as his fractious relationship and work with Joseph Losey and John Frankenheimer (he was fired off the production) and much more including comparing the two versions and much about Frankenheimer including his work as a chef in France. Essential. Presented in lossy English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (48kHz, 112Kbps).

"Le Cinéma ... : Interview with John Frankenheimer" excerpt recorded 25.4.1973 and broadcast 13.5.1973 (4:14)

Vintage French TV interview missing the first thirty seconds of video. It's fascinating hearing Frankenheimer speaking fluent French (he lived there with his wife Evans Evans for several years). Also interviewed are French New Wave director Gabriel Albicocco. We also see Frankenheimer at a Q&A to accompany a screening of Impossible Object. Sadly, it's far too brief an excerpt; I wanted to see the full, unexpurgated interview. Presented in 1080p24 1.37:1 monochrome with lossy French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (48kHz, 112Kbps) with optional English subtitles.

"These Objects of Desire: Objectified Women in the Lost Films of Frankenheimer and Lumet" 2023 video essay (13:20)

This is obviously a video piece designed to accompany video editions of not just Impossible Object (1972) but also Sidney Lumet's The Appointment (1968) (forthcoming from Powerhouse Films?). Daniel Kremer's academic piece focusses on the commonalities between the two films. Presented in 1080p24 1.66:1 with lossy English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo (48kHz, 112Kbps) with no subtitles.

"Stories of a Love Affair: A Comparison of the Two Versions of John Frankenheimer's 1973 Film" 2023 featurette (9:27)

Video comparison piece shows the differences betwixt the two versions of the film. Presented in 1080p24 with windowboxed 1.66:1 clips and onscreen English text. Lossy English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (48kHz, 112Kbps).

Impossible Object Image Galleries:
- Original Promotional Material (72 images)
- Story of a Love Story Image Gallery: Dialogue Continuity Script (42 images)

A couple of very extensive and satisfying HD galleries.

44-page liner notes booklet with a new essay by Adam Scovell, a new appreciation by experimental artist and record producer Russell Haswell, a look at the work of Nicholas Mosley and the themes of the source novel, excerpts from John Frankenheimer interviews, an overview of contemporary critical responses and film credits

Engrossing booklet that buttresses the disc and the film providing excellent contextual added value.


Not provided for review.


Powerhouse Films have unearthed this long unseen, rarely ever screened piece of the John Frankenheimer puzzle. Excellent image and sound and the extras are (for me) where much of the interest was. The film is a not entirely successful attempt to create a Felliniesque analysis of the creative process mixing reality and fantasy. But it's always interesting and the extras just boost that interest even more ('A').

The Film: C+ Video: A Audio: A- Extras: A Overall: A


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