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Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
La Fille Mal Gardée [DVD] [1981] [2001]
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on 31 March 2012
Some interpretations of a work are such perfect realisations that other versions are almost bound to seem pointless and a disappointing falling away from the high spot reached. I have tried other versions of this ballet, but none that I have seen come near to capturing the life enhancing charm, humour and tongue-in-cheek fantasy of this one. It is an absolute delight, and allows the joyful spirit of the music to soar to its fullest possible height. I fear that anyone who comes away from it feeling short changed is likely to have a similar experience of disappointment should they wake up after their eventual demise in Paradise, feeling short changed by some aspect of celestial life which the rest of us will be only too relieved about.
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on 9 January 2017
The fabulous Lesley Collier a wonderful ballerina, captured here in one of her most famous roles. She is totally gorgeous in the role of Lise.
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on 9 April 2014
Bought this for my tiny grand-daughter who absolutely loves it, chickens and all. She watches it in preference to Peppa pig. So do I.As well as the chickens also has the famous clog dance. An excellent elegant and humorous introduction to classical ballet.
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on 29 December 2016
It was a present for my 98 year old father and he loved it even the paper work that came with it.
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on 30 August 2017
A performance from long ago, still unsurpassed in my experience..
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on 27 April 2017
Lesley & Michael make a perfect partnership for this Happiest of The Ballet portfolio.
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VINE VOICEon 14 May 2012
This is an absolute gem of a production, a real masterpiece as near perfection as anything is ever likely to get. Since I'm old enough to remember when most farms had free range chickens wandering around the farmyard I can appreciate how true to life Sir Frederick Ashton's chickens are. Living, as he did, in the heart of the Suffolk countryside he, too, would have been familiar with the way chickens behaved leading him to choreograph it so brilliantly into the dance of the cock and four hens. My late sister Biddy, whose husband used to farm at Wickham Skeith, Thorndon and Yaxley in Suffolk, bought Sir Frederick's Yaxley property from him after she was widowed. Sir Frederick went to live in the nearby town of Eye and he would often walk the footpaths back to his old abode where he would enjoy refreshment before returning home. Famous dancers and ballerinas would visit with him from time to time and one or other of them, including Dame Margot Fonteyn, would sometimes accompany him on his walks. As he never married, he sometimes asked my sister to host for him in his house in Eye.

La Fille Mal Garde is redolent of Suffolk country life as it used to be. Having been brought up in the heart of the beautiful Suffolk countryside I can vouch for the accuracy of Sir Frederick's interpretation of country life. Childhood in Suffolk was just like a ballet, in which everything was dancing around me with me joining in just like in the ballet. I think I was like the clownish fellow (Thomas?) who left his umbrella behind. As for Widow Simone, this character epitomises some of the elderly ladies I used to know. I can recall one old lady coming into our house and doing a tap dance and there was a lot of match making going on. My mother could skip with a rope when she was in her seventies and I can still do the same in my twilight years. So you see, this ballet is so true to life. In fact, it's the choreographing of reality. Although life expectancy was less in the days depicted in this ballet, Suffolk country folk tended to live much longer than people living in towns and cities. My father and grandfathers all lived into their nineties and my mother into her late eighties and I knew an elderly, fat farmer just like the one in the ballet. This ballet is not really taking us into a fantasy world. The plain truth is that it's enhancing the joys and sorrows of country life as they used to be. It may now be an old production, but I don't think it has been bettered. It's a ten star masterpiece and I thoroughly recommend it.
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on 9 December 2008
There are now two Royal Ballet performsnces of this. This first version has the edge slightly because of the personalities involved. Leslie Collier and the farmer's some have a cheekyness and simplicity which fits both roles exactly. The Acosta / Nunez version has a slight edge on recording quality but their faces do not fit the roles so well. Get both!
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on 14 February 2011
Reading a book about ballet, I got to read about La Fille and decided to add it to my collection. I must admit YouTube came in my rescue (apart from the reviews here!) in order to have an idea of what to expect from the 2 versions of the Royal Ballet available. I finally decided to buy this one because of Leslie Collier (delightful as the Sugar Plum Fairy) and because as much as I enjoyed Acosta as Des Grieux and Romeo, I found him a bit clumsy with ribbons (that's the scene I saw).

Well, others have explained the story so I won't add anything apart from confirming that this is a highly enjoyable ballet, full of witty situations, superb dancing, beautiful costumes and sets (including the old good carton sets with the old good paintings... so simple and effective).

You will laugh most of the way. And as a bonus, there's a lot of kissing :-) and all ends well.

A pleasure to watch, a ballet to treasure for many more years to come (and it's 30 years old now!).
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on 14 December 2009
Now this one's a cracker.

It's the most entertaining ballet in the repertoire, it doesn't date and it doesn't tire. There are some comments on here about the look of the production: some people say it looks 'dated' - well, that's the whole point. The decor, which is 100% traditional, and by a very English cartoonist (Osbert Lancaster), is not afraid to send itself up a bit, and the ballet is hazily nostalgic in a countryside that could never exist except in our fondest imaginings. It's all the more glorious because of it. (If you don't believe me, ask yourself how many times you have seen chickens dancing!)

There are now quite a few versions of the ballet available on DVD. Think carefully before leaping for your wallet. 'La Fille Mal Gardee' was created for the Royal Ballet by Sir Frederick Ashton, so I'd go for this one that was produced in 1981 - during his lifetime. It has all Ashton's hallmarks, and it's far and away the best and most enjoyable performance.

Some people of course will go for the more recent DVD featuring (or rather 'starring') Carlos Acosta, simply because they've heard of him. Let's face it, he's good at publicity in the way that a lot of modern stars are good at publicity - and the Royal Ballet has been quick to cash in on this. He's also very showy, and a crowd-pleaser - but he's not really suitable for 'La Fille Mal Gardee'. (While he may be excellent in certain roles, nobody could accuse him of being subtle, and subtlety is something you need by the bucketload with an Ashton ballet. You certainly need it with 'Fille' - and you also have to look as though you don't mind dancing with lengths of ribbon. I can't help feeling that Acosta finds ribbon a bit of a challenge to his macho image.)

There are no such problems with Michael Coleman in this earlier BBC production. He is perfect for the role of Colas, and the lovely Lesley Collier (Lise) is fortunate in her partner, who has warmth and tenderness stamped all over him. Coleman also executes the bravura bits to spectacular perfection, and if you want to see more of his leaps and jumps, have a look at his performance of Jeremy Fisher in 'The Tales of Beatrix Potter' - a delightful feature film with some exquisite dancing, also created by Ashton.

'La Fille Mal Gardee' is here conducted by John Lanchberry, who adapted Herold's original score - and he milks it for all it's worth, obviously relishing every swipe of his baton. This is ballet to enjoy on every level: chickens, clog-dancing widows, village idiots, haymaking peasants - all human life is here, wrapped up in the dusty warmth of a summer afternoon, and you'll need a box of tissues handy for the romantic bits. They never fail.

Trust me: this is one for the collection - give me vintage Collier and Coleman every time!
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