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Red Sun (Limited Edition) (Blu-ray Review)

REVIEW OVERVIEW

The Film
The Video
The Audio
The Supplements
Overall

SUMMARY

Layabout Thomas hitches a ride to Munich and finds room and board with his ex-girlfriend Peggy, who, along with her roommates, are killing the men they are sleeping with after five days.

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

One of the early breakout films from the New German Cinema, director Rudolf Thome’s Red Sun (Rote Sonne) came in 1970, eight years after the Oberhausen Manifesto, signed by a number of young German filmmakers looking to break away from the past, out from under the tar of Germany’s World War II history, and the stranglehold of U.S. censors and distributors on their film industry.

A modern, pop-culture-infused film that looked to both French New Wave and the 1960s hippie counterculture, the film is violent, sexually liberated, and feminist. The story concerns layabout Thomas (Marquard Bohm, Kings of the Road) who gets a ride from Hamburg to Munich but has no place to stay. He contacts his ex-girlfriend Peggy (counterculture activist and model Uschi Obermaier) who takes him in, allowing him to stay with her and her female roommates, where their random, communal lifestyle masks a darker secret; they are killing all the men they are sleeping with after five days. Thomas slowly starts to sense something is wrong and begins to investigate, but time is running out on him.

There is a cold detachment in Red Sun that combines with strange romanticism. Early in the film we see one of the women coldly kill one of her men by shooting him in the head with a handgun that has a silencer attached. The man just sits, restrained, and gagged, with a still stare as he awaits his fate. Thome also gives us some very early-1970s (actually late 1960s) sexual liberation, with free love, women at ease with their bodies, their seductiveness, and their power. What appears to be a touching romance between Peggy and Thomas has an undercurrent of danger.

Visually, there is a cinema verité aesthetic to Red Sun that infuses more urgency and realism to the danger and violence. Thome’s visual palette creates a strong art house feel using the language of London mod culture, and primary color vibrancy.

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The Video

Red Sun was restored in 2K from the original camera negative and overseen by Rudolf Thome at Cinegrell Postfactory in Berlin, Germany. Additional restoration work was carried out by Radiance Films in 2022 to remove instances of dirt and scratches at Silver Salt, London.

The film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and encoded in AVC 1080p. The image is very natural and presents with a very reasonable amount of detail and organic granularity. The colors look vivid, especially reds, blues, and yellows. Shadows can look a little murky and fall a bit into crush with a slight swarming graininess.

The biggest fault with the image is not an issue with the transfer at all but the inherent damage in the source. Faint splotches, scratches, and tramlines are present nearly all the way through, mostly near the sides of the frame and most heavily on the right for most of the time. Apart from this, the restoration by Thome and Radiance has obviously rescued this film and brought it back very nicely.

The Audio

The original German mono track is supplied in LPCM 2.0. The dialogue sounds clean and intelligible, but the dynamics and overall clarity are hindered by the original production.

The Supplements

Limited Edition Special Features:

  • Reversible sleeve featuring designs based on original posters
  • Limited edition 52-page booklet featuring new writing on the film by Samm Deighan, newly translated archival letters by Wim Wenders, critic Enno Patalas and the German Film Evaluation Office on the film’s official submission, newly translated archival interview with Rudolf Thome and contemporary reviews by Wenders, Patalas, and Others
  • Limited edition of 2000 copies, presented in full-height Scanavo packaging with removable OBI strip leaving packaging free of logos and markings

Bonus Features:

  • Select Scene Commentary by Rudolf Thome & Rainier Langhans – This free-flowing audio commentary finds the pair discussing various subjects. It can be played in full or individually from select scenes.
  • Rote Sonne Between Pop Sensibility and Social Critique (1080p; 00:20:39) – In this newly produced visual essay Johannes Von Moltke looks at Red Sun, the social and cultural influences on the film, an provides context for the era in which it was made. Created exclusively for Radiance in November 2022.
  • From Oberhausen to the Fall of the Wall (1080p; 00:49:53) – Margaret Deriaz looks at the signing of the Oberhausen Manifesto in 1962 which paved the way for the emergence of the New German Cinema, to challenges for filmmakers in funding in the 1980s. Created exclusively for Radiance in November 2022.

The Final Assessment

A visceral crime drama that helped to herald the arrival of the post-war New German Cinema and feminine power. Radiance continues exploring the art house classics and presenting them in satisfying releases ready for re-exploration.


Red Sun (Limited Edition) is out on Blu-ray June 20, 2023, from Radiance.


  • Studios & Distributors: Radiance
  • Director: Rudolf Thome
  • Written By: Max Zihlmann
  • Run Time: 87 Mins.
  • Street Date: 20 June 2023
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Video Format: AVC 1080p
  • Primary Audio: German LPCM 2.0 Mono
  • Subtitles: English
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Layabout Thomas hitches a ride to Munich and finds room and board with his ex-girlfriend Peggy, who, along with her roommates, are killing the men they are sleeping with after five days.Red Sun (Limited Edition) (Blu-ray Review)