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Blu-Ray Preview: Toto the Hero

When it comes to life, have you ever thought that the grass is greener on the other side? Ever felt jealous of someone in your life from a very young age? Ever believed perhaps that you were not in living the life that you supposed to be? Maybe you even wondered if you had potentially been switched at birth?

Then you need to check out Jaco van Doramel's delightfully odd 1991 movie Toto the Hero (Toto le héros) which Arrow Home Video is releasing as a special edition Blu-Ray.

The new artwork commisioned by Arrow. Nice design.

Ostensibly set in the near future, the film tells the life story of an elderly man named Thomas Van Hasebroeck (who has dubbed himself Toto, after a childhood fantasy), looking back on his ordinary and apparently uneventful life in flashbacks, interspersed with fantasies he has about how events could have turned out differently. Thomas is a very unreliable narrator, but Thomas firmly believes his life to have been "stolen" from him by Alfred Kant, born around the same time as Thomas. Thomas firmly believes he was inadvertently switched with himself as a baby when there was a fire in the nursery which had nurses scrambling to rescue the newborns. Thomas' jealousy of Alfred has overshadowed all his life, often with tragic consequences for his loved ones, and now he is plotting revenge. Throughout most of the film, his intended revenge takes shape in the form of a plot to kill Alfred, but in the end, Thomas finds a much more creative and surprising way to "take back" his life from his bitter enemy.

Released 29 years ago, this movie feels timeless. It is a beautiful piece of film and I wish I'd had the opportunity to see this at the cinema as this would have been a lovely experience on the big screen.

Despite this movie being a wonderfully strange piece, filled with jealousy, revenge, and what could have been, it's lovingly interwoven with such brilliance and it is certainly worth watching. After watching this, I was looking at things that would usually seem rather insignificant with the wonder of a 5-year-old (things like rain hitting the windowpane, watching birds "dancing" on the grass to bring up the worms and so on).

Don't let the fact that this is a French movie with English subtitles put you off as I have known several people to have watched this and not pay attention to the subtitles and still fully understand what is going on despite the complexities of the movie, which I feel is quite the achievement.

This is the original artwork, not much difference really.

Arrow Home Video has released a lovely Special Edition, with a gorgeous high-definition digital transfer, original uncompressed mono audio, and newly translated English subtitles. There is also an extensive documentary called Memories of a Hero that delves into the making of the movie featuring the cast and crew.

The Blu-Ray has a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Scott Saslow and the first pressing also has a collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Jon Towlson.

Toto the Hero is a rated 15 and will be released on Blu-Ray on 3rd August 2020 by Arrow Home Entertainment. You can pre-order your copy HERE.

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