Jeremy Irons - M Butterfly - DVD Release

26 May, 2009 (01:20) | Animation, DVD, David Cronenberg, by Sean Axmaker | By: Sean Axmaker

M Butterfly (Warner)

       Jeremy Irons and John Lone in M ButterflyJeremy Irons in M Butterfly

View more photos from M Butterfly in our JeremyIrons.Org Galleries!

M Butterfly on DVD

David Cronenberg’s M Butterfly was largely misunderstood or, worse yet, dismissed by most critics when it was released in 1993. The coolly dispassionate screen adaptation of the David Henry Hwang’s Broadway play, itself based on a true story, is in the same key as Cronenberg’s Crash and A History of Violence, and explores the same issues of identity, sexuality and self-definition that he’s been exploring all his career. But in 1993, coming in the wake of The Crying Game and Farewell My Concubine, this elegantly directed period film struck critics as wrong-footed. Jeremy Irons’ René Gallimard, a French diplomat in 1964 Peking, falls in love with Chinese Opera star Song Liling (John Lone), who becomes his fantasy of the submissive Asian woman, as much René’s creation as Song’s. Because, of course, Song is a man. Critics called Cronenberg to task for not fooling the audience, but they missed the point. It’s not only obvious to us but to everyone around René that Song is a man (if not as it plays out, then in retrospect - the odd looks René gets as he comes backstage at the Chinese Opera to see Song and the disgust on the face of Song’s servant as René visits Song’s home are not for Song but for René). His mistake is not a misreading of the culture – that would require some knowledge of it – but a complete ignorance of it.  Anyone who knows anything about Chinese Opera understands that the female parts are  all played by men, as least before the Cultural Revolution put an end to all such decadent and chauvinistic practices. There’s plenty of evidence that René sees only what he wishes to in the Chinese culture, from the trap that he and his wife fall in to accepting all the western assumptions of Chinese clichés to his disastrous predictions of the Chinese response to American policy in Vietnam. Just like the opera that gives the film its name (and the name that René gives Song: Butterfly), it’s a western fantasy of idealized, self-sacrificing Asian submitting to the power of the west with demure grace and romanticized tragedy. In other words (Song’s words specifically), another example of imperialist arrogance in a foreign land.

What makes Cronenberg’s M Butterfly so beautiful is not the fantasy of the opera, but the story that René has spun in a real-world reflection. He’s created his own tragedy, but he’s confused the roles. By the time the finally affair plays out, with René cuckolded not by another lover but by a false identity and a mercenary motive, he’s recast himself as the Butterfly of the story, the innocent romantic betrayed by the foreign lover, and he embraces his emotional wounds like a lover’s scar, a badge of his purity and idealism in a corrupted world. But Song has endured his own tragedy in the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution as well. No matter how effective he is as an intelligence agent siphoning off information from René, he’s still an effeminate diva and a decadent artist, an embarrassment to the Communist ideal in need of reeducation.

DVD Specifications and trailer

  • Actors: Jeremy Irons, John Lone, Barbara Sukowa, Ian Richardson, Annabel Leventon
  • Directors: David Cronenberg
  • Writers: David Henry Hwang
  • Producers: David Henry Hwang, Gabriella Martinelli, Philip Sandhaus
  • Format: Color, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rating: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: May 26, 2009
  • Run Time: 101 minutes

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- M. Butterfly
1. Credits [2:31]
2. Certainly Different [1:38]
3. Entrance of Butterfly [2:42]
4. Beautiful to a Westerner [2:55]
5. Piece of Beautiful Music [3:02]
6. At the Opera [5:35]
7. Wings Fluttering in the Dark [3:56]
8. Implications [4:56]
9. Unfriendly Party [2:43]
10. Letters to a White Devil [2:14]
11. Unexpected Good News [2:30]
12. Most Forbidden of Loves [5:30]
13. New Vice-Consul [1:38]
14. At the Great Wall [2:00]
15. Theories on Oriental Culture [2:17]
16. Practice of Deception [2:04]
17. Still Playing Missionary [2:33]
18. Slave's Revelation [4:36]
19. Farwell to His Concubine [2:14]
20. What Only a Man Knows [2:00]
21. Flames of Revolution [4:23]
22. Bittersweet Reunion [2:36]
23. Demotion; Hard Labor [3:29]
24. Tear-Stained Memory [3:38]
25. Here in My Arms [2:22]
26. The Trial [5:41]
27. Loving the Lie [6:44]
28. His Biggest Performance [2:29]
29. Madama Butterfly [6:04]
30. End Credits [3:42]


Disc #1 -- M. Butterfly
   Play Movie
   Scene Selections
   Special Features
      David Cornenberg Discusses M Butterfly
      Theatrical Trailer
      Spoken Languages: English
      Subtitles: English (For the Hearing Impaired)
      Subtitles: Français
      Subtitles: Español
      Subtitles: Off



Here is a review of the DVD with screen captures!



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