Blame It on Fidel! (Faute ŗ Fidel!, La) (2006)

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Released 5-Nov-2008

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Featurette-Making Of-(26.07)
Theatrical Trailer-(1.57)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2006
Running Time 99:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Julie Gavras
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Nina Kervel-Bey
Julie Depardieu
Stefano Accorsi
Benjamin Feuillet
Martine Chevallier
Olivier Perrier
Marie Kremer
RaphaŽl Personnaz
Mar Sodupe
Gabrielle ValliŤres
RaphaŽlle Molinier
Carole Franck
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music Armand Amar


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

††† It's hard enough being a 9 year old girl as it is without having to cope with crazy parents!

In 1970 Little Empress Anna (newcomer Nina Kerval) is a no-nonsense French school kid happy with her comfortable surroundings. Her father (Stefano Accorsi) is a successful lawyer and her mother (Julie Depardieu) is a Marie Claire journalist. They live in a beautiful old house with a devoted nanny. She does well in school and is the resident teachers pet, particularly in religious classes at her catholic school.

One day things change and, as far as Anna is concerned, not for the better. Her father sits her down and explains that her Spanish aunt and young cousin have arrived in France as exiles from the Franco regime. Her uncle was not so lucky. Her father was born into privilege in Spain. Perhaps due to guilt over his past he throws himself headlong into the revolutionary movement adopting the cause of the poor and oppressed in Chile and Spain.

For Anna life has turned a sharp bend. Unable to afford the grand house on revolutionary wages they move to modest digs, filling the corridors with strangers debating Socialist philosophy and solidarity long into the night. Shock horror, she is asked to sit outside during religious studies and her nannies change from the fearsome though lovable anti-Communist ex-Cuban to a succession of "political appointees". The title of the film comes from a comment made by the original nanny - the whole of the changes in the household can be blamed on "bearded men dressed in red"!

Blame It on Fidel is a moving and always engaging study of youth coming to terms with change. It is the first feature for Julie Gavras, daughter of lefty icon Costa Gavras. Although the film was based on a book by an Italian author it could perhaps have been the director's own story growing up in a radicalized household. Interestingly, the director says in the Making of feature on the DVD that Missing, starring Jack Lemmon was the first of her fathers' films she understood. That film told the sad story of a young American who disappeared , as so many did, during the aftermath of the coup that deposed Allende in Chile. Little wonder that she connected with this story in which the Chilean elections that brought Allende to power are so central.

Blame it on Fidel is no political film. Instead Gavras gives us a rare children's-eye view of a family undergoing considerable change. The father is so obsessed with his political views that he cannot reason with his conservative daughter. "Mickey Mouse is fascist!", he explains asking her to throw away anything Disney. Her younger brother adapts immediately into the new lifestyle but Anna is resolute. It is, however, in her gradual understanding and acceptance of her family's chosen life that the film gains great drama and insight. It is light in tone though and bereft of heavy political dialogue.

The film is well cast. Special mention must go to newcomer Kerval who plays a typical disgruntled tween without a shred of pretence. May she have many films to come. The adults fare just as well but it is really Kerval who is the heart of the film.

Well recommended.

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Transfer Quality

Video

††† Blame It on Fidel was shot on 35mm film and projected cinematically at a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. That ratio has been retained for the DVD release. It is 16x9 enhanced.

The film is set in 1970 and every attempt has been made to keep it looking consistent with the times. For that reason it is not a bright or showy film and the colours are somewhat muted. Even so the general quality of the image is quite good.

The transfer is reasonably sharp and there is only a mild patina of grain on show. There are no problems with compression on this dual layered DVD.

The shadows are well defined and the colours consistent and well saturated.

There are removable English subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

††† Blame it on Fidel ! carries a French Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack running at 224Kb/s.

This is perfectly fine for this chamber drama film. The voices are clear and easy to hear and, if you speak French, probably easy to understand. There are no technical problems with the sound and the lack of a surround track is no bar to enjoyment.

The voices are in audio sync.

The music is by Armand Amar. He uses Spanish influences to give a revolutionary flavour to the track. The effect is subtle though and the music is quite delicate yet memorable.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

There are two extras on this DVD.

Making of

This lengthy featurette gives a good insight into the making of the film. It is more of a video diary of the production process and is miles away from a studio puff piece. There are a few interview segments with the director and actors but mostly we get to see the film as it is being shot. The old adage about children and animals comes to vivid life here - the actor playing the little boy has no real concept of acting so the trick was to capture him in the act of being a child.

Theatrical Trailer

A fine trailer giving a good summary of the film.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

††† Blame it on Fidel ! is available in Regions 1 and 2.

Unfortunately, real fans of this film will need to look offshore for the best version. The Region 2 French version contains the following extras:

Further, it has a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

The Region 1 version is similar but misses the 5.1 track and the short films.

DVD Compare awards the Region 2 as the best although it also states that this version has a cropped 1.78:1 transfer. The Region 1 sounds best.

Summary

††† Blame it on Fidel ! is an engaging film about growing up and change that refuses to portray the parents, and grandparents, as intrinsically right or wrong.

The audio and visuals are pretty good and the extras are not great by comparison with the extras available overseas but are still a nice addition to the package.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer BDP-LX70A Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayPioneer PDP-5000EX. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR605
SpeakersJBL 5.1 Surround and Subwoofer

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