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Madame Butterfly

98 customer reviews

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1-Disc Version
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Madame Butterfly + Carmen + Puccini: La Boheme
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

An acclaimed cinematic adaptation of Puccini's popular opera about the tragic love affair between a naive geisha and the American naval officer who deserts her and their young child. Nominated for two French Cesar awards.

Like the finest of film scores with its fluid beauty and succession of intensely romantic tunes, Puccini's opera Madame Butterfly has a surprisingly cinematic feel. In 1995 director Frederic Mitterand exploited this quality of the story, exposing a young woman's disillusionment against a backdrop of cultural chasms. Shot on location, with Tunisia doubling convincingly as a turn-of-the-century Nagasaki, this Butterfly shines with fragile beauty. The house becomes a brilliantly used set, at once airy and full of the scent of flowers and at the same time a cage for the trapped woman. Archive footage of bygone Nagasaki is used skillfully to underline the distance between the 15-year-old bride and Pinkerton.

Purists may prefer a more traditionally robust, stage-bound Butterfly, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a more visually heartbreaking interpretation. Chinese soprano Ying Huang doesn't rock the rafters with her vocal power; hers is a tender, delicately observed performance. Tenor Richard Troxell's self-seeking Pinkerton is well sung. Overall, this is a haunting cinematic treatment of an enduringly popular opera. --Piers Ford

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Yoshi Oida
  • Directors: Frederic Mitterrand
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Italian
  • Subtitles: Chinese, English, Portuguese, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: January 1, 2002
  • Run Time: 134 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005UVDM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,602 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Madame Butterfly" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

137 of 141 people found the following review helpful By Sacha on June 25, 1999
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
When considering the characteristics of opera, it naturally follows that the genre would be difficult to film. Not so for Mitterrand with his Madame Butterfly; from casting to direction to filming, Mitterrand wins. The title role must do far more than "look Asian," she must also live the role...even more so when being filmed as "Butterfly." Ying Huang proves herself a sensitive and sensible actress as well as a singer with an expressive and powerful voice. Richard Troxell as "B. F. Pinkerton" shines in his role, allowing the callousness of his character clash with an accidental love. Troxell uses the flexibility of the film medium to act as many opera singers seem unable to do upon finding themselves on a stage. In fact, the power of this video lies in the fact that the singers realize that they have the opportunity to be better actors than they could be in a staged version of the same work. There are retakes, more natural positions, beautiful scenery, and an amazing acoustic, even when outdoors! All in all,it is a fine work by Frederic Mitterand, Huang, Troxell, Cowan ("Sharpless"), Liang ("Suzuki"), and the rest. None of the roles had less than an accomplished actor and singer; even the role of "Kate Pinkerton" played by Constance Hauman was rendered with a delicate hand aware of a conflicting position and an involuntary hostility. Enjoyable for the everyday opera viewer as a fresh, beautiful feast for the eye and ear, and a first-rate film for the opera newcomer.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Ned Fuller on August 31, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
The format of this production is unusual: a movie of an opera, and believe me, it works, and it works exceedingly well. A measure of Mitterand's outstanding direction is that there are no weak performances, not even for the smallest roles. Troxell is a wonderful Pinkerton and Ning Lian's Suzuki is superb (by the way, it's very refreshing to see so many Asians played by...well, Asians). The famous Scorsese attention to detail is everywhere evident, and the filming is masterful.
But Madame Butterfly is the story of a woman, and Ying Huang is the real power of this production. She captures the grace, the constancy, and the heartbreaking vulnerability of Butterfly to near perfection. Her singing and her acting are absolutely marvelous.
I am an opera fan from way back, but I watched this film with a bunch of my buddies who don't understand anything that isn't shaped like a football, and it pulled them in completely. Take it from me, it'll get you too...don't care who you are.
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44 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Michael D. Villecco on October 29, 2000
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
Martin Scorsese's cinematography is utterly unparralleled in his filming of the beautiful Puccini opera "Madame Butterfly". It is with a reserved caution that I say it surpasses any staged version of the opera I have ever seen! I say that cautiously so as not to offend those die-hard traditionalists, myself having been one. Scorsese transports us to an authentic Japan and his photography captures all of the intricate details and beauty for the setting of one of the worlds most beautiful stories. The film is so real that one is truly moved to tears by the end and emotionally overwhelmed. The mixed cast of both Asian and Western singers makes it even more beliebable. Soprano Ying Huang sings and acts delicately the fragile geisha who will wed the American lieutenant Pinkerton, sung by American Richard Troxell. Both are aptly cast in the film and compliment one another. Ying Huang plays the child-like Butterfly accurately as the composer would have intended. Troxell is handsome, charming and plays well the role of a not so nice character, leading Butterfly to believe he will one day return to Japan and take her back to America. He's so charming, in fact, that at times one feels he may have a change of heart along the way. From the beginning of the film with the torii standing in the Nagasaki harbor through the duration of the film, much in the leased 100 year paper and wood house built for Butterfly, one experiences many visual nuances. Scorsese can even film the softness of a breeze blowing at sundown through the house, captured by flowers moving in the dimming sunlight in a vase. The only fault I can find with the film, and it's considerable enough to detract from the overall experience, is the very unrealistic Bonze flying down from the sky at the end of the wedding ceremony.Read more ›
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By R. W. Holliston on December 17, 1999
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
Despite some puzzling directorial choices - in an otherwise realistic staging, the Bonze flies in and out like a menacing Peter Pan, and the Humming Chorus is accompanied by irrelevant archival silent film footage - this is beautifully and affectionately presented. Ying Huang has said herself that her voice is too light to sing this taxing role live, but onscreen her performance is definitive: she captures every aspect of this bewitching character, and her performance deepens as Butterfly attains maturity. She is well-matched by the handsome Richard Troxell as her Pinkerton, who gives a more sympathetic portrayal of this odious character than is customary. As her maid/friend/confidante Suzuki, Ning Liang is perfect, and Jing Ma Fan is simply spectacular in the small but pivotal role of Goro. Once seen, this film is not easily forgotten. Have Kleenex at hand, though....
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