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The Rabbi's Cat

31 customer reviews

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(May 07, 2013)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Based on the bestselling graphic novel by Joann Sfar, award-winning filmmaker (Gainsbourg) and one of France s most celebrated comic artists, THE RABBI S CAT tells the story of a sharp-tongued feline philosopher brimming with scathing humor.

Algeria in the 1930s is an intersection of Jewish, Arab and French culture. A cat belonging to a widowed rabbi and his beautiful daughter eats the family parrot and miraculously gains the ability to speak. Along with the power of speech comes unparalleled sardonic wit, and the cat spares no group or individual as it skewers faith, tradition and authority in a provocative exploration of God, death, lust and the search for truth. Rich with the colors, textures, flavors and music of Mediterranean Africa, the film embarks on a cross-continent comedic adventure through colonial Algiers and under vast Saharan skies in search of a lost Ethiopian city.

*In French with English Subtitles*

Special Features

  • Bonus Documentary on the Filmmaker: Joann Sfar Draws From Memory; Making Of Featurette; U.S. Trailer


Endearingly loopy…lush! --The New York Times

Grade: A. Gloriously rich! Sharp and thrilling --The AV Club

Colorful, witty and inspired --Variety

Product Details

  • Actors: Mathieu Amalric, François Damiens, Hafsia Herzi
  • Directors: Antoine Delesvaux, Joann Sfar
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Animated, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Gkids
  • DVD Release Date: May 7, 2013
  • Run Time: 89 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00ATK00TW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #55,267 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Gerard D. Launay on January 15, 2013
Format: Blu-ray
I offer a litmus test. If you adored Sylvain Chomet's "Triplets of Belleville" but were bored with "The Illusionist", this film won't work for you. Myself, I thought the colors and drawings were artistically incredible ... something like Arabic or Hindu painted miniatures. Alas, there really is not much of a story. It is instead a tale of a journey by a Sephardic rabbi, an Islamic musicologist, and a Russian Jewish painter who are searching for a hidden Jerusalem in Ethiopia where Blacks and Jews co-exist in peace. Along for the ride is the rabbi's "talking cat" - a creature which loves arguing and commenting on everything when he's not being pampered by the rabbi's voluptuous daughter. Since the rabbi is a religious man, they discuss differences in customs and spirituality and beliefs...and why that matters.

The half of the film that take place in Algiers, 1930 is simply stunning. Beautiful blue pools, Persian carpets, exotic buildings, and mosaic tiles. For that alone, I give it 4 stars. As well as the fabulous music! The discussions between the characters were engaging but they did become didactic after a while. One of the great moments is the decision by the cat to obtain a bar-mitzvah, and the objections of the orthodox community (in whatever land) to such an insanity.

The major problem of the movie is lack of a coherent narrative. Perhaps that is life itself - lack of a coherent narrative - form speaks substance.

I wish to highly recommend the extra - the autobiography of Joann Sfar - which is a fascinating exploration of how vision is reinterpreted into art. For example, the voluptuous Rabbi's daughter in the animated film (and the book upon which it is based) is based on the "personality" of the artist's grandmother, if not her looks.
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Format: Blu-ray
I was really looking forward to this newest release from the GKIDS company. The first animated film I got from them was the wonderful "Chico and Rita" - which I raved about when it played in theaters and then on BD. Next came the "Tales of the Night" which was much darker in image and storyline. This film has a bit of both with a nice sense of humor.

My fellow reviewer K. Harris has already told you much about the 89-minute film and the DVD so I won't repeat it but add some clarification.

This DVD, like Tales of the Night is in French with English subtitles. The problem - and it a big one, in my opinion, is that the font is not only smaller than most subtitles but they are in WHITE letters. Since many scenes have a white background, it is very often impossible to completely read the subtitles. I know I missed some great lines. Interestingly one of the two bonus features - "Johan Sfar Draws From Memory" (which is 43 minutes, long; not the " just short of an hour" described by K) uses YELLOW subtitles which are easy to read! The best subtitled films either place the subtitles below the images or use these bright yellow ones. I hope that GKIDS will consider this in the future. The other bonuses are the U.S. Trailer and a 24-minute "Making of" in French with WHITE subtitles - but a bit larger than the feature film.

So, I'd have given the film itself 5 stars for story and production but I have to deduct 2 stars for having to struggle through the small and hard to read subtitles. (This may not affect you as much if you have a LARGE-SCREEN television).

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Thomas R. Jackson on October 14, 2015
Format: Blu-ray
One of my favorite movies. The artwork and soundtrack are entrancing, and I find myself viewing this film many times. It is based on a series of graphic novels, and while much is lost in condensing the work to a feature film, much is also gained.

A few comments prompted by other reviews here:
No, this is not a "children's cartoon". It is smart and witty and layered and targeted to adults. Americans are still not used to this idea, but it is a well established, and wonderful, use of animation. Likewise, the graphic novels are not "comic books", but are targeted toward intellegent adult readers. However, I would disagree with the notion that the movie is not suitable for children. Perhaps not all children, but I think most enjoy intellegent and well crafted movies as much as anyone. There are scenes that are dark and deal with death and loss, and some violence and bloodshed, and, yes, even sexuality in the movie. Some children may find this upsetting, but I suspect that it is the parents that will be more disturbed. Parental discretion and all that.

Regarding the narrative structure: doesn't follow a coherent story arc, but rambles on from one adventure to the next. This is, in part, a product of it being patched together from the adventures of several graphic novels, but it is also simply part of the story. Life rambles and, other than birth and death, has not begin get or end. This is a story about life, about characters who are facing life, and examining life, sometimes in radically different ways. No morals or conclusions, that is left for the viewer to provide. Some see this as a negative. I think it is part of the brilliance of the film.

The books have been translated into English and I recommend them, as well as other graphic novels by Sfar

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