Saturday, April 19, 2008

Fat Girl (2001)

It took years for Fat Girl (first released in France as A ma Soeur!, "For My Sister," but Breillat has written that Fat Girl was always her original and preferred title) to come out on DVD, and for a while the prospects seemed pretty bleak. It was very well received in its limited theatrical run - I caught it at the 2 Boots Theatre in NYC, and couldn't wait for it to come out on DVD a few months later. A couple years later, I began to think I'd never see it.

Eventually, though, it came out on a budget Hong Kong DVD from Winson. I bought it right away from Poker Industries, but it wound up leaving a lot to be desired. It was a pretty dark and murky print. Almost all information online (including Poker) declare this to be a fullscreen transfer, but I swear my copy was non-anamorphic but decidedly widescreen. Either one person got it wrong initially, and the misinformation has spread around the internet like wildfire, or possibly Winson released two versions? Maybe one was a bootleg? At any rate, the picture quality stunk.

So it was a very happy moment when it was announced that Tartan was releasing this in the UK. Tartan is a great little label that releases high quality transfers of art films, even if they tend not to include a lot of extras. So I pre-ordered it and was a happy guy right up until the day it arrived and I opened it. Inside the liner notes explain why they had to cut(!) the film. I don't want to throw out any spoilers, but let's just say it was a solid chunk removed from the key, final scene, rendering the DVD essentially unwatchable. Shame, because the transfer was a real revelation compared to the HK disc.

Even before the Tartan disc, however, rumors had been circulating about a Criterion edition of this for its US release. Now, rumors have circulated about a lot of films; but apparently they'd screened a print of this at a convention to show off their new method of doing transfers or something. But years later no DVD surfaced. That is, until well after the Tartan disc - finally it did come out. And it is the decided definitive edition of the film: a great, uncut transfer (even clearer than the Tartan), as well as some nice, exclusive extras (chiefly: behind-the-scenes footage and two interviews with Breillat).

Since then, the film has come out uncut in other regions: Australia (from Madman) and Korea (Cinexus, pictured left). Both have nice, uncut transfers with English subs. But all things considered, the Criterion is still the way to go, hands down.

And yes, there is also a quality, untranslated French disc from Éditions Montparnasse (also included in that boxed set I mentioned in my previous post), with some of the same extras as the Criterion (the short behind-the-scenes feature and one of the two interviews). But for once, we have not been short-changed! In fact, we actually have the best edition available.

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