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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka 'Fat Girl' or 'A mia sorella!' or 'For My Sister' )

directed by Catherine Breillat
France / Italy 2001

Inspired by the eroticism of an fat teenager and the real life story about a girl saving herself by letting the murder of her family rape her, Catherine Breillat continuing her exploration of female sexuality with “A ma soeur”, aka “Fat Girl”, the perhaps most honest and at the same time provoking coming of age film to date.

 

Anaïs and Elena are sisters, but one wouldn’t know it. Where Elana is beautiful, slim and flirtatious, Anaïs is fat, introverted and eats all the time. While on vacation, Elena meets the older Fernando, who later on takes her virginity, while Anaïs is “sleeping” opposite to them. Infatuated with each other, Fernando steals his grandmothers ring and gives it to Elena. When his mother discovers this, she confronts Elena’s mother with the affair and the vacation and relationship ends there.

 

Where Elena is a naïve romantic, believing in love at first sight and the ever dying love of Fernando, even though he does little more than talking her into having sex, Anaïs believes that the person who takes her virginity should be an ugly nobody, because then she wouldn’t have any reasons to remember it. More than just two different approaches to the subject, Breillat uses their physical appearance to suggest how their perception of themselves shape their perception of sexuality: Elena is beautiful, thus sex is for her something beautiful, Anaïs is fat (ugly), thus sex is ugly. Breillat continues to use this dynamic between the two sisters throughout the film - For instance, while Elena is giving Fernando a blowjob, Anaïs is eating, later telling her sister, “eat something!” – and thru it continues examination of her motif of differentiating sex and love.

 

What may shock and repulse many viewers is the ending. While taking a nap on a rest place, a man attacks the car, killing the mother and Elena, only to pursuit Anaïs and rape her. When the police the following morning investigates the scene of the crime, they find Anaïs in the woods, and when they ask her if she is ok, she replies, “nothing happened.” Inspired by a real life event, Breillat uses this to have Anaïs lose her virginity and to make the indirect statement, that how we perceive sex will shape our sexuality. Just as Elena got her wish, so did Anaïs. Few directors would dare, even think, of making this ending, but for Breillat, its all about being honest and getting things out of her system. Its not about being controversial, its about being sincere.

 

Even though Breillat says its not so, it is tempting to look at the film as autobiographical. She was overweight as teen, while her sister was a model. Likewise she made a film about making “A ma soeur” with “Sex is comedy”, as if she wanted to distance herself, by focussing on the production. It is also the most intimate film of Breillat, and where there is a lot of Breillat’s intellect in her other films, this one is the one where there is most of her heart.

Posters

Theatrical Release: February 10 2001 (Berlin International Film Festival) Germany

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Comparison:

 Tartan - Region 0 - PAL vs. Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Big thanks to Henrik Sylow for the Tartan Screen Captures!

1) Tartan - Region 0 - PAL - LEFT

2) Criterion - Region 0- NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

DVD Box Covers

 

Distribution

Tartan Video

Region 2 - PAL

Criterion Collection Spine #259 -

Region 1- NTSC

Criterion Collection - Spine # 259- Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:21:09 (4% PAL speedup) 1:26:21 1:26:37.233
Video

1.81:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.10 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 8.1 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 35,698,196,368 bytes

Feature: 26,774,740,992 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 35.00 Mbps

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Tartan

 

Bitrate:

 

Criterion

 

Bitrate:

 

Criterion Blu-ray

 

Audio French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Dolby

French (DTS) , French (Dolby Digital 5.1) 

DTS-HD Master Audio French 4160 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4160 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Subtitles English, and none English, and none English, and none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Tartan Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.81:1

Edition Details:
• Filmography: Breillat, Anaïs Reboux, Roxane Mesquida, Arsinée Khanjian
• Film notes
• Promotion Stills Gallery
• Trailer (1:16)

DVD Release Date: June 24th, 2002
Transparent Keep Case

Chapters 16

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion 

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.85:1

Edition Details:

• The making of Fat Girl, compiled from behind-the-scenes footage
• Original French and U.S. theatrical trailers
• An essay by film scholar Ginette Vincendeau, plus an interview with Breillat, translated from the French film magazine, Positif

DVD Release Date: October 19th, 2004

Keep Case
Chapters: 18

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion 

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.85:1

Edition Details:

• Behind-the-scenes footage from the making of Fat Girl (5:38)
• Two interviews with director Catherine Breillat, one conducted the night after the film’s world premiere at the 2001 Berlin Film Festival (11:50), the other a look back at the film’s production and alternate ending (9:59)
• French  (1:11) and U.S. (1:20) theatrical trailers
• 24-page liner notes booklet featuring an essay by film scholar Ginette Vincendeau, a 2001 interview with Breillat, and a piece by Breillat on the title

Blu-ray Release Date:
May 3rd, 2011
Transparent
Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 18

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: (April 2011) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-rayI found this to be a significant improvement over the SD versions which comparatively appears flat and less film-like. The image is clean, bright, not a lot of grain but some real depth. Colors tighten up and this looks like a typical comparison advertising the advantages of the superior format over the lesser one. Simply put, the 1080P looks like film where the DVDs look like video.

 

Audio gets the lossless treatment with a DTS-HD Master 5.1 track and a formidable 4160 kbps in original French. Subtleties in the separation expression are far more easily identifiable. It's not that there are a lot but what is used with some aggression is strategically utilized. It has a notable crispness and adds support to the viewing presentation. Criterion offers optional English subtitles on the region 'A'-locked Blu-ray disc.

 

Supplements mimic the 2004 DVD with the 'Making of...' compiled from behind-the-scenes footage, the Trailers and two interviews with Breillat. One conducted the night after the film’s world premiere at the 2001 Berlin Film Festival (11:50), the other a look back at the film’s production and alternate ending (9:59). Also included is the 24-page liner notes booklet featuring an essay by film scholar Ginette Vincendeau, a 2001 interview with Breillat, and a piece by Breillat on the title.

 

Criterion's description is as succinct as any I have read: "Twelve-year-old Anaïs is fat. Her sister, fifteen-year-old Elena, is a beauty. While the girls are on vacation with their parents, Anaïs tags along as Elena explores the dreary seaside town. Elena meets Fernando, an Italian law student; he seduces her with promises of love, and the ever watchful Anaïs bears witness to the corruption of her sister’s innocence. Fat Girl is not only a portrayal of female adolescent sexuality and the complicated bond between siblings but also a shocking assertion by the always controversial Catherine Breillat that violent oppression exists at the core of male-female relations." A must see... the Blu-ray is worth a double dip, IMO.   

 - Gary W. Tooze

***

ON THE DVDs: Mathematics tells us the Tartan image is cropped: 2.75% left and 3.45% bottom, but I guess the biggest issue is the censorship. The Tartan video DVD is approx. 81 min. (accounting for 4% PAL speedup) and is cut by 1min 28sec (see more below). Also colors look so faded next to the Criterion. It is also not as sharp and looks a little vertically stretched beside the NTSC release. No surprise that the Criterion extras are superior and they also offer a 5.1 audio mix along with the DTS. Really no contest at all. 

 - Henrik Sylow


Comments regarding the running time.

 

MAY BE SPOILERS!: 

From Adam:

The official running time for Fat Girl is 87 min.  The Tartan video DVD is 82 min. (accounting for 4% PAL speedup) and is cut by 1min 28sec. On the inside of the box it states...
 “Although Fat Girl was passed fully uncut for for its original UK cinema release, it was subsequently decided , by the British Board of Film Classification, that the video version should be cut by 1min 28sec in order to receive an ‘18’ certificate, and gain approval for release in the UK. After taking specialist advice, the BBFC have concluded that video copies may be harmfully used as part of the process of child abuse.
It goes on to explain the scene at the end and what it contains, and to save me the time of typing it all I’ll paraphrase. It could just as easily read “We at the BBFC are a bunch of wankers, and we are proud to inform you that we have ruined the DVD you have just purchased. Have a nice day.”

 

 

Michael Brooke says:

To defend the BBFC, they had very little choice - the 1984 Video Recordings Act makes it a legal requirement not only for all UK videos to be BBFC-approved (this is not true for theatrical releases) but also for the BBFC to ensure that no UK video contains illegal material.  In the case of this film, that means ensuring compliance with the 1978 Protection of Children Act - which, notoriously, does not take context into account when proscribing scenes of underage sex.
So there's no point hurling childish insults at the BBFC, whose hands were tied - if you want a change in the law(s), lobby your MP (once you've worked out how to persuade him/her that advocating greater underage sexual explicitness will be a vote winner!).  I've had dealings with the BBFC in the past over issues like this, and can confirm first-hand that they're just as frustrated by this situation as anyone else, especially if the film has obvious artistic merit.

From Per-Olaf:

The Australian DVD is uncut (I suppose). The only explicit sex scene (if mood is not counted) is when the boy goes in bed with the older sister (I think 3 - 5 seconds).

Catherine Breillat explains why the scene is in the film trough the worlds of Anne Parilaud  in the fiction film SEX IS COMEDY, SEX IS COMEDY is a film about the creating process of  A MA SEUR!

 

From Henrik:

The Berlinale version (February 10, 2001) ran 95 minutes and was subsequently shown at festivals over the following year. Breillat however recut the film for the French theatrical release (March 7, 2001), which runs 86 minutes. This is the directorial preferred version.

 

I'm not sure why Breillat chose to recut "A ma soeur", but I believe Breillat recut the film for theatrical release, because she didn't wanted to run into censorship problems. In an interview, Breillat notes upon that Anaïs Reboux developed breasts during the production (she was 13 at the time).

 

And the breasts was in fact the thorn in BBFC's eye, when they had to review it for the DVD release - That, and the rape sequence. The BBFC cut runs 1:21:09 (4% PAL Speed-up) and was cut 1:28. Until the CC release, the only other uncut versions are the French "Editions Montparnasse" and the Australian "Madman" DVD, both running a few seconds short of 83 minutes (1:22:39 "Madman" (uncut)).

 

I completely agree, that the BBFC cut destroys the film. It directly addresses a central motif in the film of her desire to lose her virginity to being raped by an ugly man, so that the "first time" then can be dismissed, as it never is what one expects anyway. Being a lacanian desire, it is important that we witness and suffer with Anaïs.

 

There are also some misprints around on the internet, as for instance the French uncut DVD "Editions Montparnasse" runs 83 minutes, but on some sites are noted as 93 minutes. This is true, if you add the 10 minute conversation with Breillat, but the total running time is actually 100 minutes, as there also is a 5 minute "behind the scenes" and a 2 minute trailer.

 

For those having or buying "A ma soeur!", I can only encourage them also to pick up "Sex is Comedy", as it, as Per-Olaf says, is about the making of.

Recommended Reading in French Cinema (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

The Films in My Life
by Francois Truffaut, Leonard Mayhew

French Cinema: A Student's Guide
by Philip Powrie, Keith Reader
Agnes Varda by Alison Smith Godard on Godard : Critical Writings by Jean-Luc Godard The Art of Cinema by Jean Cocteau French New Wave
by Jean Douchet, Robert Bonnono, Cedric Anger, Robert Bononno
French Cinema: From Its Beginnings to the Present
by Remi Fournier Lanzoni
Truffaut: A Biography by Antoine do Baecque and Serge Toubiana

Check out more in "The Library"


DVD Menus

(Tartan - Region 0 - PAL LEFT vs. Criterion - Region 0- NTSC - RIGHT)


 

 

Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray

 


 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Samples

 

1) Tartan - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 0- NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray - BOTTOM



Screen Captures

1) Tartan - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 0- NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Tartan - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 0- NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Tartan - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 0- NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Tartan - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 0- NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Tartan - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 0- NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Tartan - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 0- NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray


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Report Card:

 

Image:

Criterion Blu-ray

Sound:

Criterion Blu-ray

Extras:

Criterion Blu-ray

 

DVD Box Covers

 

Distribution

Tartan Video

Region 2 - PAL

Criterion Collection Spine #259 -

Region 1- NTSC

Criterion Collection - Spine # 259- Region 'A' - Blu-ray




 

 

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