36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
Beautiful, precious, heartbreaking,
This review is from: Puccini: Madame Butterfly [DVD]   (DVD)
Mitterand's version of Madame Butterfly is that extreme rarity, a beautifully acted, beautifully sung, beautifully filmed movie version of an opera. The cast is suited, in age and appearance, to their characters, which is hardly ever the case in stage productions. Ying Huang, who as Butterfly, carries most of the weight of the drama, gives a particularly heartbreaking performance. Yes, be warned, this is the weepiest of stories and you will need a good supply of tissues close to hand.
The cinematography is employed to great effect, enough to make this more than just a filmed stage production, yet not so much as would detract from the tightly focused drama. Any filmed opera has the problem of what to do with the intermezzo. Do you omit it? Do you leave the screen blank? Mitterand's solution is to retain the music and show actual film footage of early twentieth-century Japan as a visual filler. I think this works very well and helps to support the overall realistic feel of the movie.
There is just one false note: at the wedding, the gonze (Buddhist priest) appears as a supernatural figure, floating through the air. There is no good reason for this and it simply detracts from the dramatic impact of the moment. No matter, this remains an unmissable movie for all actual and potential opera lovers. Just be prepared to cry and cry and cry...