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Monday, April 18, 2016

'Antonia's Line' BD: Dutch Treat Portrays Feminist Ideal

Product Details
Film Movement, which already brings the best of modern international cinema to the United States through its main and "Film of the Month Club" catalogs, wonderfully expands its range via a relatively new "Classics" division. The April 19, 2106 Blu-ray release of the 1996 Oscar winning "Antonia's Line" is the latest addition to this catalog, which includes other classic titles such as the (Unreal TV reviewed) French farce "The Tall Blond Man With One Black Shoe."

"Antonia" takes a page from "Citizen Kane" in opening a few hours before the pending demise of the titular farm owner/leader of an informal Dutch Utopian society.  The action then goes back several decades to Antonia arriving at said agricultural enterprise with her teen daughter soon after WWII ends.  The free-spirited ways of these early Gilmore Girls soon earns the scorn of community leaders to the extent that a Sunday sermon is a barely disguised rebuke of them. (The awesome manner in which Antonia achieves justice perfectly represents the spirit of the film.)

The appeal of this feminist fable is divided between the story that receives further treatment below and the gorgeous rural scenery that looks beautiful in Blu-ray. The following YouTube clip of the trailer for "Antonia" showcases both elements of the film.

Antonia equally opens her heart and her home to every abused misfit that crosses her path. These include the "slow" young man who is the subject of cruelty by rotten 10 year-old boys, the equally slow young woman who finds refuge following a traumatic ordeal, and the woman who enjoys having children far more than sharing her life with a man.

On a larger level. "Antonia" depicts a terrific form of feminism. Our leading lady has no problem with men per-se and merely feels a need to put right what once went wrong. She further considers each sex to be generally equal while recognizing basic differences. Great understated examples of this philosophy include a scene in which Antonia invites a man to come around to help with  the rare farm chore that she and her daughter cannot handle. A subsequent scene has Antonia acknowledging the biological need for sex.

Director Marleen Gorris, who is featured in an interview that is a BD special feature, does an excellent job making every character very human. The good guys are liked, the villains are disliked but not made out as complete psychotics, and each scene conveys the proper mood.  You will laugh, may cry (and possibly even cheer). In other words, the world of Antonia is like any other close-knit community over the past few hundred years.

In addition to the aforementioned interview, the BD release includes a lengthier and more insightful essay than this review on the film. The author of that more in-depth analysis is veteran film critic Thelma Adams. (Waiting to read this until after watching the film is advised.)

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Antonia" is strongly encouraged to email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.