Regardless of the fact that the film was adapted from a major, award-winning play and had a relatively high budget for a Cronenberg film (he was able, for the first time, to film outside of North America in locations as far-flung as The Great Wall of China, Budapest, and Paris), the film tanked in a major way at the box office at the end of 1993. For this, one can probably blame Warner Bros., who clearly had no idea how to market this film, but one can blame equally a viewing public whose response to two men kissing on screen (even if they are supposed to think one of them is a woman) is squeamish at best, and whose appetite for cross-dressing surprises, if it existed at all, was probably sated by Neil Jordan’s The Crying Game a year earlier. Since then, the film virtually has vanished from public memory and video store shelves, available only as a pan-and-scan videotape release and featureless laserdisc.
Theatrical Release: September 8th, 1993 - Toronto Film Festival
DVD Review: Warner - Region 1, 4 - NTSC
|DVD Box Cover||
CLICK to order from:
|Distribution||Warner Home Video - Region 1, 4 - NTSC|
Average Bitrate: 6.3 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.
|Audio||English (Dolby Digital 2.0)|
|Subtitles||English (SDH), French, Spanish, None|
Cronenberg discusses M. Butterfly (15:55)
Warner have given Cronenberg's M. Butterfly a healthy dual-layered, anamorphic transfer. It really has no flaws aside from exhibiting the flatness of SD. Detail and color shows surprising strength but it appears to be a film that would have benefited from a hi-def, 1080, rendering by giving the visuals some tightness and depth. It's extremely clean with solid contrast. It gives a good presentation on the image front.
The audio is only two channel and maybe 5.1 would have been richer. The music is wonderful and dialogue consistent and clear. There are optional subtitles.
There is a new, 2009, featurette where Cronenberg talks about the theme of transformation and 'hidden communities' of unusual individuals that he tends to lean to as a filmmaker. About 1/3 of the way through he declares that those who haven't seen the film yet should stop as he is about to give away spoilers. Cronenberg speaks plainly and is gives some other information about filming in China and Hungary and the choice of actor John Lone. There is also a theatrical trailer.
As Matt Bailey pointed out the film has been almost 'out of circulation' for years with, after the laserdisc, this being the first home theater digital edition since then. I'm very glad I saw it. Wow. It seems a bit passive from what one might expect from Cronenberg but this is 15 years ago but it's a film I may revisit as I found it quite beautiful.