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An Angel at My Table (The Criterion Collection) (1990)

Kerry Fox , Alexia Keogh , Jane Campion  |  R |  DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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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: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000A88EUU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #145,526 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "An Angel at My Table (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

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

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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Portrait of an Artist August 30, 2006
By Galina
"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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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very nice biographical film January 2, 2006
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.

"An Angel at My Table" is a film based on the autobiographies of the famous New Zealand writer, Janet Frame. It begins with her as a toddler and moves to her in elementary school, as a teenager, and her adulthood.

It is a nice movie and has great scenes of New Zealand. The film has good acting in it and is well photographed.

There are some good bonus features too.

Audio commentary by director Jane Campion, actress Kerry Fox, and cinematographer, Stuart Dryburgh, Six deleted scenes, a theatrical trailer a documentary on the film's production, a stills gallery, and an audio interview with Janet Frame.

This is a must see for those interested in Janet Frame.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece January 5, 2010
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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Angel At My Table July 11, 2007
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Based on Frame's celebrated autobiographies and lovingly photographed in verdant, coastal New Zealand, this poetically fashioned account of a truly extraordinary life is a testament to the sensitive vision of director Jane Campion ("The Piano"), who fastens onto dark emotional details in Frame's harrowing story. With a deft, moving performance from Kerry Fox, who plays the fragile, childlike Frame with an eccentric purity of heart, not to mention stunning visuals and exemplary acting from a marvelous cast of pros and amateurs, "Angel" is tailor-made for those who value dense, literate drama.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Hush...Hush...Hush..." June 28, 2006
Writers, take note: Here is a very, very rare example of the creative spirit--and the creative process--captured on film. This story of the formative years of Janet Frame, New Zealand's most celebrated poet and novelist, is fascinating from start to finish.

Director Jane Campion's great achievement (aided immeasurably by three marvelous actresses playing Janet Frame at various ages) is to bring to a wide audience a sense of what it is like to be a creative artist. Watch Janet throughout her odd, harrowing, uplifting early years, and you will see the evolution of a true genius, a human sponge who soaks up all her experiences (good and bad) and converts them into gorgeous words. Rarely has a film been able to illustrate this so convincingly.

I recommend this film to anyone interested in the nature of genius. But for writers, in particular, it is required viewing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Memorable Film May 19, 2014
"An Angel at My Table" is the story of New Zealand writer Janet Frame, based on her memoirs. Though Campion's movie doesn't specify the years involved, the events took place in the 1930's, 40's, 50's, and very early 60's. Like later movies of Campion's ("The Piano"), this film examines the intersection of art and repression.

The thing I find most appreciable about Jane Campion's movies is their insistence on portraying aspects of female experience that are far removed from the idealized depictions of women in most movies. Campion depicts introversion, awkwardness, and outright geekiness in the character of Janet Frame. The filmmaker employs an enchanting style which occasionally floods the frame with color and pattern in an effectively naïve way. In one shot, railway cars spin through the center of the frame as if they were projections from a magic lantern on a wall. Campion is conveying the actual way that young Janet Frame perceived the world around her, tinged with imagination as the "Grimm Fairy Tales" that Janet absorbed and related to her own life.

At the center of the film's "palette" is the bright red of Janet Frame's crown of frizzy hair. The hair becomes the obvious symbol of Frame's extraordinary nature, and her "apartness" as a budding artist/writer.

As the plot unfolds, Frame emerges from a hard, rustic childhood in a family where the father is a railway worker, a young brother suffers from epilepsy, and two sisters are fated to drown in separate incidents (actually, both succumbed to heart failure while swimming). Frame realizes early in her education that she wants to write, but she winds up becoming a teacher ( a role she dreaded, possibly because of her abuse at the hands of her early instructors).
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars ANGEL AT MY TABLE
An amazing true story, wonderfully acted by Kerry Fox. Your heart cannot fail to go out to the heroin. BRILLIANT
Published 13 months ago by Susie P. Mason non receival of my Elkie Brooks CD
5.0 out of 5 stars Compassionate Witness to a Life At The Edge
Jane Campions subtle patient touch allows us to witness and be simply present to the "at the fringe" life of writer Janet Frame without judgment or interpretive narrative. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Lindsay N. Bowker
5.0 out of 5 stars A Misfit Finds Success
Everyone has felt hopeless and helpless at some moments. This woman spent 8 years in an asylum then became a best selling novelist and poet in real life. Read more
Published on September 27, 2012 by mr. contrarian
1.0 out of 5 stars Soylent Dick Says: The usual lot of Jane Campion dreariness and...
I fail to understand what people see in Jane Campion movies. They are dark, dreary and depressing. And this one is the same.
Published on January 24, 2012 by Topaz Pig
4.0 out of 5 stars A piece of art...
Truly haunting from start to finish, `An Angel at My Table' was certainly NOT what I was expecting. I love (and I mean LOVE) Jane Campion. Read more
Published on August 16, 2011 by Andrew Ellington
5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely tune
I suppose since this movie was originally made for Austrailian TV it never has achieved the status of some of Campion's other films, notably THE PIANO. Read more
Published on March 14, 2010 by Richard Guida
5.0 out of 5 stars Brillant Film
Jane Campion offers a well crafted inspirational look at the fortitude of the gifted writer Janet Frame. Beautifully filmed and well acted.
Published on July 4, 2009 by Susan Trubow
5.0 out of 5 stars A Biography of Beauty
The story of Janet Frame is not a happy one. As I look through the shelves of books that I have within my home, I notice that the stories I have of theirs are not of the happiest... Read more
Published on December 26, 2007 by A. Gyurisin
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