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4.3 out of 5 stars71
4.3 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 25 March 2004
Unlike the commentator from Stockport, I'd disagree that the remake is better than the original; matter of opinion, but I'd say classic farce is always better with reference to its context and time.
Since the days of Feydeau, the French have done farce far better than Americans, largely because American audiences miss the deep undercurrents of irony and see only the surface froth. The French version is drenched more naturally in social tension in the way only a collective and paternalistic society can, but retains a patina of freshness and charm. It's also more theatrical, though I rather like the performance element - it seems somehow more spontaneous.
Furthermore, Ugo Tognazzi and Michel Serrault are delightful. By comparison, the performances of Nathan Lane and Robin Williams seem worthy but derivative.
While I'd agree that the DVD translation could be better, many of the extras are worth having.
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on 21 April 2006
Although to younger viewers the style and presentation of this film may seem dated- stick with it. This is classic French farce. There are moments in this film which cannot be copied or bettered (i.e.the opening of the bottle of champagne). For best results, watch the film with the original soundtrack and use the subtitles. The dubbed soundtrack is camp and silly (Andrew Sachs sounds very silly and soppy). The French version is camp but brilliantly playful and in parts, trés elegante!

A great film that never disappoints, even after multiple viewings.
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on 10 September 2010
I saw this film at the Edinburgh Film Festival, with my now husband, in 1982. We laughed so hard we cried.Ugo Tognazzi and Michel Sessault are superb. I think this film has it all, humour, wit, vulnerability, lust,empathy to name but a few. To have it on DVD is just great as our VCR copy was poor.My 17 year old daughter now thinks it is hilarious.Somehow you dont need to read the subtitles, it just unfolds naturally and hearing it in the French accent just adds to the whole ambiance. The press in this film definitely are portrayed very realistically.Whenever I feel like life is too much, I watch this and my spirits are lifted.Why? I can't explain- Just watching the John Wayne scene makes me howl with laughter and sadness . I'd love to know how others feel about it. Each time I watch it another subtle pointabot human nature is revealed. A must for those who can laugh at themselves!! The American version 'The Birdcage' is not a patch on this.
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on 3 August 2003
Some years ago, Hollywood decided that there was a reason to retell this story, and the result was a pathetic excuse for a film called "Birdcage". Though it featured one of the great actors of the American film industry, Gene Hackman, it absolutely paled in comparison to the French original. In 1979, "La Cage Aux Folles" was not encumbered with the thoroughly modern concept of "political correctness", pathetic as that concept is. "Birdcage" was, and enough said about that. I defy any viewer to keep from laughing out loud at the antics of the magnificent Zaza and, especially, of the houseboy Jacob. This is a love story, a comedy and a farce all rolled up into one, and if you don't like subtitles, suspend your disbelief for a while. This film is entirely and more than entirely worth it!
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La Cage aux Folles is a bighearted film, generous in tone even if it does use clichés and is written from outside the gay lifestyle it shows. But it can get away with this because of the way it is pitched as a farce, unlike, say, Outrageous!, which deals with somewhat similar themes but has more serious undercurrents as well. It has a very funny set piece when the politician and his wife, very proper and straight-laced, go to dinner with the parents of their daughter's fiancé, and Albin (Michel Serrault) surprises everyone by trying to pass himself off as the mother. It is a brilliant scene, the best you could possibly hope to see in the genre. Albin trying to butter a biscotte without getting hysterical when it flies out of his hand is also quite inimitable. It would normally be more obvious, but here it has some special quality. The way the central couple are shown to be loving in spite of evident frustrations (Ugo Tognazzi makes an excellent, more restrained foil), and the way the son seems to have turned out such a kind, tolerant individual, place the film way ahead of its time in political terms, even if this wasn't the main point in making it. But you feel the director Edouard Molinaro's heart must have been in the right place, as was Serrault's. The sequel (not in this box) is a bit less successful, lacking the obvious rightness of the plot of the original film, but I love it too. It has one or two moments of delirious comedy and repeated viewing pushes it close to the first. They show you the value of being able to laugh at silly goings-on. Both Molinaro and Serrault are dead now, but they go on giving much pleasure in these two life-affirming films.
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on 28 February 2000
What an unforgetable hugely funny film this was. It is all about two aging homosexuals who run a transvestite club called La Cage Aux Folles. One of them has a son from a very brief hetrosexual moment who, although brought up by the unorthodox pair is eager to get married. Problems arise because the girl (the one he wants to marry) has a father who is the chief of the Dept of Morals and so obviously would not approve of the inlaws to be. Therefore, for the sake of their sons happiness they decide to try and curb their normally outragious behaviour. The results are simply hilarious, though there is an underlying sense of pathos that shows love can conquer all.
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on 9 September 2010
Having watched the Hollywood remake of this wonderful French farce, I always wondered what the original film would be like. I read previous reviews of the DVD on Amazon, and decided to buy it and make my own comparison. I was not dissapointed, and whilst the Hollywood version, "The Bridcage," sticks to the story and is fairly well acted by Robin Williams and Gene Hackman, the real essence of the drama queen is portrayed and beautifully underacted in the French version.

It has to be watched in French with subtitles, and this detracts nothing from the story. Some of the more subtle nuances only appear after several watchings of the film, for example when the parents arrive and everyone is on their "best" masculine behaviour, the champaign cork pops!

For me, this is the difinitive version of the story, very gentle camp humour, superbably acted by all the cast.
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on 17 July 2010
The original and best version of this script that Holywood ruined in the remake with Williams,Hackman et al.(The musical has enjoyed a new lease of life on Broadway and in the West End and is far more faithful to the gentle humour of this film).For some a minor niggle will be the fact it is subtitled, but this is far preferable to the dubbed versions... Albin's voice in French is what we want to hear...and tells us more about him than any dubbing could,as camp a delight as you could find.Its farce as it should be-gentle and subtly pointed.Relax,sit back,and enjoy with a glass of wine.
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on 21 November 2011
This is the best French comedy, don't worry about subtitles, it is worth it also after watching this you'll never bother to watch the American remake The Birdcage again as it is so inferior.
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This film, the original inspiration for the Robin Williams / Nathan Lane remake, was written by much the same team and so if you've already seen the US one you'll be picking out lines before they're said. I used to find the idea of a gay couple trying to hoodwink a political couple in a flat above a Florida nightclub, well, hard to believe in, but that's exactly the idea even in this French version (St Tropez). I guess the major difference is in the political couple as presented here vs the US version. It's easier to believe in the French couple's pretence of dignity and bearing, whereas you suspect Dianne Wiest and Gene Hackmann wouldn't refuse their daughter anything if pressed.

So, a tad less sentimental and maybe the original's dinner scene is funnier for being played straight-faced, even if the French drag queen goes hilariously overboard trying to present himself as a housewife.

A toss-up then, either/or. Or not, as the case may be.
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