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White Material (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] (2009)

Isabelle Huppert , Christopher Lambert , Claire Denis  |  Unrated |  Blu-ray
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Isabelle Huppert, Christopher Lambert, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Isaach De Bankole, William Nadylam
  • Directors: Claire Denis
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: April 12, 2011
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #180,986 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

New digital transfer, supervised and approved by director Claire Denis and cinematographer Yves Cape, with DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition

New interviews with Denis and actors Isabelle Huppert and Isaach de Bankolé

Short documentary by Denis on the film’s premiere at the Écrans Noirs Film Festival 2010 in Cameroon

Deleted scene

Theatrical trailer

New and improved English subtitle translation

PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by film writer Amy Taubin

Editorial Reviews

In White Material, the great contemporary French filmmaker Claire Denis (Chocolat, Beau travail), known for her restless, intimate dramas, introduces an unforgettably crazed character. Played ferociously by Isabelle Huppert (Story of Women, The Piano Teacher), Maria is an entitled white woman living in Africa, desperately unwilling to give up her family’s crumbling coffee plantation despite the civil war closing in on her. Created with Denis’ signature full-throttle visual style, which places the viewer in the center of the maelstrom, White Material is a gripping evocation of the death throes of European colonialism and a fascinating look at a woman lost in her own mind.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A poetic picture February 26, 2011
This film handily surpassed everything I saw this year--pure poetry in cinema. When a ragtag group of child soldiers emerges from the jungle brush to a melancholy jazz-like tune by Tindersticks, I could not help but think, These are the true Lost Boys. Shot for shot, Claire Denis' film blew me away with its composition. Rarely have I heard so much spoken in imagery alone. The only time the movie may have dragged for me was when there was dialogue.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nightmare out of Africa April 27, 2011
A languid and slow paced film most likely to appeal to those with an interest in political/historical dramas. This one covers a violent conflict between wealthy French settlers and the indigenous peoples of a poverty-ridden African nation in the throes of a revolution for self-rule. Actually, neither side in this conflict is presented in a sympathetic way. But the movie itself will be of sufficient interest to viewers attuned to geopolitical changes and upheavals.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Desperation and opressive anguish! May 26, 2011
Usually, we don't have the chance to feel with such level of crudeness, the unbearable reality that uses to happen in Africa. Claire Dennis shows us a film with certain documental atmosphere, the terrible destiny that awaits for a French family owner of a coffee plantation, who is surrounded more and more until levels of struggling, the intoxicating opression of a political regime, that practices the common game of populism in order to create expectations around thousand and thousand people who expect to improve their horrid social condition.

Dennis handles with firm hand this harrowing script, plenty of compelling stress and tragic finale, when you are not capable to perceive the light at the end of the tunnel.

Isabelle Huppert (an artistic French patrimony) as always, shines with radiant splendor in this formidable and certainly not easy to watch movie.

Don't miss it.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
As civil war rages on about her in an unnamed African country, a white French woman refuses to abandon the coffee plantation that has been in her family for years. Claire Denis directs, and the imagery is stunning. Isabelle Huppert is perfect as Maria Vial, who runs the plantation with her ex-husband (Cristopher Lambert). She needs to be fierce and intelligent and deeply in denial of the true nature of her situation, and she manages to channel just the right combination of toughness and vulnerability.

The story itself is told elliptically, and while it starts out realistic, with moments of obscure violence we don't understand until much later, in the end it begins to seem more like a fable. Moments of the film, such as when Maria's son shaves his head and runs wild with the lost boys of the rebel army, feel like something out of Apocalypse Now, or even Lord of the Flies. The viewer's thrown into the midst of the situation, and the narrative moves back and forth between past and present without much in the way of warning. The film's depictions border on surreal in several instances, where you lose track of what is reality or dream or symbol. The "white material" of the title refers, seemingly, to the "stuff" that the whites who flee the country leave behind, that is there to be scavenged, whether by the local armies and leaders who had been supported by an international military presence, or by the hungry young armies that make up the rebellion.
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