Tie me up! Tie me down! – The Criterion Collection #722 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 30, 2014 by  


“Tie me up! Tie me down!” may not be for everyone.  But for those who are open to dark comedies especially controversial themes, then they will surely enjoy this non-banal love story from filmmaker Pedro Almodovar.  Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2014 The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Tie me up! Tie me down! – The Criterion Collection #722


DURATION: 102 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:85:1 aspect ratio, Spanish 5.1 with English Subtitles


RELEASE DATE: August 19, 2014

Directed by Pedro Almodovar

Screenplay and story by Pedro Almodovar

Produced by Enrique Posner

Executive Producer as Agustin Almodovar

Music by Ennio Morricone

Cinematography by Jose Luis Alcaine

Edited by Jose Salcedo

Production Design by Esther Garcia

Art Direction by Ferran Sanchez

Set Decoration by Pepon Sigler

Costume Design by Jose Maria De Cossio


Victoria Abril as Marina Osorio

Antonio Banderas as Ricky

Loles Leon as Lola

Julieta Serrano as Alma

Maria Barranco as Medica

Rossy de Palma as Camello en Vespa

Francisco Rabal as Maximo Espejo

Lola Cardona as Directora psiquiatrico

Pedro Almodóvar’s colorful and controversial tribute to the pleasures and perils of Stockholm syndrome, Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! is a rambunctious dark comedy starring Antonio Banderas as an unbalanced but alluring ex-mental-patient and Victoria Abril as the B-movie and former porn star he takes prisoner in the hopes of convincing her to marry him. A highly unconventional romance that came on the spike heels of Almodóvar’s international sensation Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, this is a splashy, sexy central work in the career of one of the world’s most beloved and provocative auteurs, radiantly shot by the director’s great cinematographer, José Luis Alcaine.

With the success of Pedro Almodovar’s 1988 film “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown”, the Spanish filmmaker began to work on his 1990 dark comedy titled “Atame!” (Tie me up! Tie me down!”).

Starring Antonio Banderas (“Desperado”, “Once Upon a time in Mexico”), Victoria Abril (“High Heels”, “Don’t Tempt Me”) and Loles Leon (“Talk to Her”, “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown”).  The dark comedy would become a box office success in Spain becoming the highest-grossing domestic film.

But despite its success in Spain, the film was criticized for its violence and sex scenes which became a problem for the film as it received an X rating  from the MPAA, leading to a lawsuit filed by Miramax.  And eventually as other filmmakers have had complained about the X-rating given by the MPAA for a film that is not pornographic, the MPAA would eventually create the NC-17 rating.

“Tie me up! Tie me down!” begins with Ricky (portrayed by Antonio Banderas) being released from a mental institution, to the chagrin of the female director of the hospital (who loved having a sexual relationship with him).

As Ricky begins his new life, he decides to pursue former porn star turned actress Marina Ozores (portrayed by Victoria Abril), stalking her during the shooting of “The Midnight Phantom”.  We learn from an interview with the director Maximo Espejo, that he lusts after Marina and does not want anyone bringing up her past as a drug addict and a porn star on the set.

While Marina is busy working, Ricky goes on the set and steals her keys to her apartment.  He shows up to her apartment and heads butt her and knocks her down to prevent her from screaming.

Ricky ties her up and puts tape on her mouth and tells her that he is not there to hurt her (he did hurt her but that was because she was about to scream).  He tells her that he is there in order for her to get him to know him better and that they will get married and have children.

Suffering from her injury from Ricky, she needs morphine to numb the pain, as regular painkillers no longer work on her.

Meanwhile, her sister Lola (portrayed by Loles Leon) begins to worry about her sister and why she has suddenly disappeared and continually visits Marina’s apartment.  But how long can Ricky keep Marina captured and will Ricky eventually win her heart?


“Tie me up! Tie me down!” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio).  I have done my criticizing of films on Blu-ray made around 1990, partly because many companies overuse the DNR.  But one thing that I have been appreciate of about Criterion Collection releases, they have been mindful of picture quality and for this film, “Tie me up! Tie me down! looks fantastic.  Everythign from Ricky’s cuts or even Marina’s bruises can be seen quite effectively.  There is a good amount of grain and skin tones are natural and look fantastic!

There are no blemishes, nor are there any problems with aging, this film looks magnificent considering it is a 25-year-old film.

According to the Criterion Collection, “This new digital transfer was created in 2K resolution on an ARRISCAN film scanner from the 35mm original camera negative at Deluxe, Madrid, where the film was also restored, under the supervision of director Pedro Almodovar and executive producer Augustin Almodovar. The original 5.1 surround soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from a 35mm magnetic track. Clicks, thumps, hiss, hum, and crackle were manually removed using Pro Tools HD, AudioCube’s integrated workstation, and iZotope RX 3”


As for audio, “Tie me up! Tie me down!” is presented in Spanish DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1.  Dialogue is crisp and clear through the center and front channels.  As one can expect, the film is driven by its dialogue and music soundtrack.  I detected no hiss, crackle or any problems with the lossless soundtrack.

According to the Criterion Collection, “The original 5.1 surround soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from a 35mm magnetic track. Clicks, thumps, hiss, hum, and crackle were manually removed using Pro Tools HD, AudioCube’s integrated workstation, and iZotope RX 3”.


“Tie me up! Tie me down! – The Criterion Collection #722” comes with the following special features:

  • Untied! Reflections on Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! – (28:16) A 2014 documentary about the making of “Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!” featuring with interview with director Pedro Almodovar, Antonio Banderas, Victoria Abril, Loles Leon, Rossy de Palma, producer Agustin Almodovar, production manager Esther Garcia and Cinematographer Jose Luis Alcaine.
  • Pedro and Antonio – (26:06) A conversation between director Pedro Almodovar and Antonio Banderas back in 2003.
  • Michael Barker – (14:57) Sony Pictures Classics co-founder Michael Barker reflects on his many years working with director Pedro Almodovar.
  • “Resistire” – (14:00) Cast and crew perform the hit pop song “Resistire” at the film’s premiere in Madrid in 1989.
  • Trailer – (2:26) The original theatrical trailer for “Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!”.


“Tie me up! Tie me down! – The Criterion Collection #722″comes with a 26-page booklet. Featuring the essay “The Birth of Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!” by Pedro Almodovar, “Visions of Desire – Ken Jones Talkes to Wes Anderson about Almodovar”, “Aimed at the Heart – An Interview with Almodovar and the Genitals”

The Blu-ray version comes with both Blu-ray and DVD versions of the film and special features.

For those who have an open mind to dark comedies, “Tie me up! Tie me down!” is an entertaining, sexually-charged film from Pedro Almodovar that is meant to be a romantic comedy, but because of it’s dark elements, it becomes a bit of a creepy love story.

One one side of the spectrum, I found this unique love story to be entertaining and fun.  But it’s hard to believe considering that you have a character that is unlikable because he is a stalker that came out of a mental hospital kidnapping a woman.   By no means would a character like this be accepted by audiences.

But the storyline is how one woman who was a former porn star and junkie begins to find the positive qualities of her captor and they begin to fall in love.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, you can mention the sheer brutality of this character who is unlikable and have a hard time enjoying it because, you feel guilty of enjoying this film because the whole act of kidnap and assault and then finding the character to be likable seems so wrong!

In fact, there is no doubt that the film is a product of its time.  A story of a man who stalks and assaults a woman in order to get close to her, while controversial for its time for its sex scenes, will no doubt be scrutinized today for its treatment towards women.

And because home invasion robberies, cases of rape, assault or murder are unfortunate in today’s modern society and the end result is not a love story between the victim and the perpetrator.

Of course, one can look towards earlier cinema such as “Beauty and the Beast”, but while one is executed as fantasy, “Tie me up! Tie me down!” is bizarre because of its violent and sexual nature that not everyone is going to find this film humorous.  In fact, American film critics were among to criticize Pedro Almodovar’s film as lack of humor and banal.

I see it as opposite when viewing the film as cinema and not reality.  It’s black comedy at its finest filled with its colorful characters.  May it be the horny director, the sister who wants the attention, the actress who enjoys a toy swimming up to her crotch or its sexual protagonist, which is a former mental patient who stalks and kidnaps the woman he desires.  Everything seems unrealistic but because of its comedy and its erotic tone, Pedro Almodovar is able to create a non-banal and controversial film.

As for the Blu-ray release, you are treated with a 2014 documentary and revisiting of the film’s cast and crew, you are treated with special features that revolve around the working relationship with director Pedro Almodovar plus footage from the film’s 1990 premiere party.  Picture quality for this film is fantastic and the lossless audio is crystal clear.

Overall, “Tie me up! Tie me down!” may not be for everyone.  But for those who are open to dark comedies especially controversial themes, then they will surely enjoy this non-banal love story from filmmaker Pedro Almodovar.  Recommended!


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