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An Angel at My Table (The Criterion Collection)

37 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

With An Angel at My Table, Academy Award®–winning filmmaker Jane Campion brings to the screen the harrowing true story of Janet Frame, New Zealand’s most distinguished author. The film follows Frame along her inspiring journey, from a poverty-stricken childhood to a misdiagnosis of schizophrenia and electroshock therapy to, finally, international literary fame. Beautifully capturing the color and power of the New Zealand landscape, the film earned Campion a sweep of her country’s film awards and the Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival.

Special Features

  • Audio commentary featuring director Jane Campion and director of photography Stuart Dryburgh
  • A documentary about the making of An Angel at My Table
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Audio interview with Janet Frame, from 1983
  • Photo gallery
  • A new essay by film critic Amy Taubin and reprinted excerpts from Frame's autobiography

Product Details

  • Actors: Kerry Fox, Alexia Keogh, Karen Fergusson, Iris Churn, Jessie Mune
  • Directors: Jane Campion
  • Writers: Janet Frame, Laura Jones
  • Producers: Bridget Ikin, John Maynard
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: September 20, 2005
  • Run Time: 158 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000A88EUU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,259 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "An Angel at My Table (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By "valeska_" on August 10, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
Based on the autobiographies of Janet Frame. And from director Jane Campion (The Piano)
This is a wonderful portrait of the New Zealand author. Who was misdiagnosed as schizophrenic, she endured numerous treaments of electric shock therapy (over 200!) Spent eight traumatic years in a mental institution. And came very close to having a lobotomy!
It would be years before she would find the diagnosis of schizophrenia was wrong.
This movie examines Janet's early life to adulthood. A very hard childhood hampered by poverty. And many tragedies. Her older sister, Myrtle, drowned when Janet was young. One of her other sisters Isabel died (also by drowning!) when Janet was in college. And her older brother suffered from epilesy. In a time when there was not more they could do about it. He often had seizures, made him a vulnerable target for bullies at school, and it left him unfit for most work. And Janet herself suffered with terribly painful decaying teeth, she had to have ALL of them pulled at a very young age.
After her thankful release from the hospital she then went on a trip, first to England then to Spain. Where she met a young American poet, who she would formed her first relationship with.
It is a long film, but don't let that discourage you. There is never a dull moment. It's a facinating story. It's visually beautiful. Filled with tragedy but also funny and wonderfully touching moments. And the performances are fabulous. About an incredible woman who wasn't schizophrenic...just "different"
It's always remained one of my favorite films, the kind I can watch over and over.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Golden Girls fan on April 19, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
As a writer I can clearly understand the world Janet Frame lived in growing up. I myself was sent to a shrink for being a writer as well as for being shy and introverted. However, this is an outstanding drama of human proportions. It echoes forthcoming images of what Campion did with "The Piano" three years after she made this film. The life of Janet Frame is beautifully realized from her youthful days with a lower-class family, suffering heartbreak, loss, labeled as insane, and finding ultimate redemption in her talent as a writer. The film explores both her personal and social conflicts as well as with the men who changed her life and stirred her emotions. Very few writers and directors can ever tell a story so vividly real and powerful as Campion and Laura Jones have done here. It should offer hope and strength to those who have great dreams of success in this life yet feel mowed down by overnight sensations and those who threaten to tear down their goals. The music score adds to the emotion this film evokes. The world of a writer was never more stunningly pictured than how it is here. I highly recommend this film, especially to my fellow writers out there in this world. It is a gem of a film from one of the most gifted writers and directors our movie industry has ever known.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Galina on August 30, 2006
Format: DVD
"An Angel at My Table" (1990) made by Jane Campion is a true life-story of Janet Frame (1924-2004), New Zealand's most famous author. The film starts with young Jane, a funny -looking red haired girl, shy and quiet who knew too well that she was "poor, smelly, and unpopular". Then it follows her to misdiagnosis of schizophrenia and more than 200 electroshock treatments in a mental hospital where she had spent eight years and a severe, lifelong shyness that was her only problem. Even in the hospital she was writing and was able to have her book published - writing did save her from losing her mind. The film is based on three of her memoirs, "To the Is-land", "An Angel at My Table" and "The Envoy from Mirror City".

Jane Campion made a very affecting and quietly powerful portrait of a writer who also was a gentle and genuinely humble woman. The film is never a sentimental manipulating story of a talented but misunderstood artist. It does not idealize Frame but it is a very honest and sympathetic portrait of an artist.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By I. Rodriguez on April 26, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
A unique and original work from a gifted film artist. It tells the story of Janet Frame, one of New Zealand's most important writers. The film follows Janet's life from the time she's a small girl in school, trying to buy friends with candy, to the adult, painfully shy introvert played by Kerry Fox. It is an insightful look at the life of a woman who finally learns to appreciate herself. Remarkable.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J from NY VINE VOICE on January 5, 2010
Format: DVD
Jane Campion's "An Angel At My Table" recounts gorgeously the not atypical but curiously individual tale of New Zealand author/poet Janet Frame. Anyone familiar with her unfairly obscure work will consider this epic a long time coming.

I imagine it must have been difficult for Campion to film the life of an author as inner directed as Frame (even her autobiographical work has as little to do with the outward world as Joyce or Beckett) but she pulls it off, and in spades. Born to a working class family in Australia, her father a railroad worker and mother a stay at home Mom (who at one time served as a housemaid for writer Katherine Mansfield), Frame's childhood is depicted beautifully with a magical realist style she would become famous for. Frame's instinctive sympathy for outcasts of society, the disabled, alienated, and mentally ill serve as a kind of omen for things to come. Toddling around like a mini Raggedy Ann with a briefcase that she could probably fit in, her sassy sister watches her awkward plight through life with a deep empathy and slight lack of understanding.

Janet felt most comfortable at home with her books, typewriter, and all her siblings around. Her first trip to college was, predictably, a complete disaster. Kerry Fox does an astounding job portraying shy introvert with nervous terror whose neuroticism could was all to easily mistaken by a well meaning teacher of Literature who mistakes a lack of hygiene for schizophrenia. His lies all too easily woo the young Janet into viewing her non existent mental illness as something romantic. "Van Gogh, Blake, you are in their company, Janet!" He brings a team of doctors into her dorm room with the suggestion that she "go somewhere to get some peace and quiet.
Read more ›
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An Angel at My Table (The Criterion Collection)
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