When it comes to bizarre films, I’ll give just about anything a chance (granted the subject matter is not illegal or repulsive). Sometimes, I think you just have to indulge in a bit of the freaky to get a nice dose of entertainment. So when I heard about LA GRANDE BOUFFE, I knew I had to give it a shot. I had heard the title whispered in video stores decades ago, but I never thought I’d have the chance to watch it. Now, thanks to Arrow Video and MVD Distribution, this cult-classic is available in HD.
LA GRANDE BOUFFE is one of those films that almost defies classification. It’s part horrific, part hilarious, and part, well, social commentary. But despite how you label it, the film is crazy and a lot of fun.
If you are not familiar with LA GRANDE BOUFFE, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Arrow Video:
The most famous film by Italian provocateur Marco Ferreri (Dillinger is Dead), La Grande bouffe was reviled on release for its perversity, decadence and attack on the bourgeoisie yet won the prestigious FIPRESCI prize after its controversial screening at the Cannes Film Festival.
Four friends, played by international superstars Marcello Mastroianni (Fellini’s 8½), Michel Piccoli (Belle de jour), Ugo Tognazzi (Barbarella) and Philippe Noiret (Zazie dans le métro) retreat to a country mansion where they determine to eat themselves to death whilst engaging in group activities with ladies of the night and a local school teacher (Andréa Ferréol, The Tin Drum), who seems to be up for anything…
At once jovial and sinister, the film’s jet-black humor has a further twist as the reputed actors (whose characters use their own names) buck their respectable trend for a descent into chaos that delivers a feast for the eyes and mind.
I have to confess this is one of the more bizarre films I’ve seen in the past few years. Is that a bad thing? Not at all…but I feel I have to warn you up front, so you know what you’re in for.
LA GRANDE BOUFFE is shot fairly well, and it looks good as a whole, but you can definitely tell it is dated. Still, the HD restoration seems well done, and the resulting picture is very clear.
The acting is excellent, with an all-star cast of international stars. I don’t think director Marco Ferreri could have picked a better cast, particularly given the time period.
As for the story, it is beyond strange and downright disturbing in some rights. But that’s a big part of what makes it so much fun. Watching these guys work themselves into the grave is shocking but yet funny and whimsical at times. My sole complaint about the film is the length; it clocks in at over two hours, but could have easily been wrapped up in 90 minutes.
With that aside, LA GRANDE BOUFFE is a big, weird win for me, and I recommend giving it a look. The Blu-ray hosts a slew of Special Features that include:
• Brand new 2K restoration of the original camera negative
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation
• Original French audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
• Newly translated English subtitles
• The Farcical Movie – A French television profile of Marco Ferreri from 1975 in which the director discusses, among other things, the influence of Tex Avery, Luis Buñuel and Tod Browning’s Freaks
• Behind-the-scenes footage of the making of La Grande bouffe, containing interviews with Ferrari and actors Marcello Mastroianni, Michel Piccoli, Ugo Tognazzi and Philippe Noiret
• Extracts from the television series Couleurs autour d’un festival featuring interviews with the cast and crew recorded during the Cannes Film Festival
• A visual essay on the film with by Italian film scholar Pasquale Iannone
• Select scene audio commentary by Iannone
• News report from the Cannes Film Festival where La Grande bouffe caused a controversial stir, including Ferreri at the press conference
• Original Trailer
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx
• Booklet featuring new writing on the film by Johnny Mains, illustrated with original archive stills and posters