Maids

The Maids

Director: Christopher Miles

Cast: Christopher Miles, Glenda Jackson, Susannah York, Vivien Merchant

     
 

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Christopher Miles' The Maids, adapted from the play by Jean Genet, comes to DVD in a decent, if rather unexceptional-looking, edition. There have long been master-material problems with the American Film Theatre series (of which this movie was a part) and it's on the DVD of The Maids that one sees the consequences. Except for a few more solid colors in

Overview

Christopher Miles' The Maids, adapted from the play by Jean Genet, comes to DVD in a decent, if rather unexceptional-looking, edition. There have long been master-material problems with the American Film Theatre series (of which this movie was a part) and it's on the DVD of The Maids that one sees the consequences. Except for a few more solid colors in some shots, the image is little better than a 1980s television transfer would have looked. The image has been letterboxed to a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, recreating the movie's original non-anamorphic theatrical image. Although some shots do look good, there is still a softness and slightly washed-out quality in about half of the film, and a darkness in certain shots that seems more a result of limited resolution in the source than a creative decision by the telecine operator. In all, despite being mastered in early 21st century technology, the disc does recall the bad old days of one-light transfers, which is an indication of just how poor the condition of some of the surviving materials must be. The chaptering is generous and, as with the rest of this part of the series, there is an essay by Michael Feingold dealing with the history and origins of the work. The supplement also includes the same interview and series trailer material that appear on other releases from the American Film Theatre and the trailer from Murderous Maids, a more recent movie dealing with the same historical incident that was the inspiration for the Genet play. The disc opens on a multi-layered menu that is reasonably easy to maneuver.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Like many of the entries in the well-intentioned American Film Theatre series, The Maids tries to remain true to both its theatrical origins and the different requirements of the cinema. It straddles the fence rather too severely, unfortunately, and, as a result, comes across as rather muddled and unsatisfying. Jean Genet's script has been faithfully recreated onscreen, but it's a transfer rather than an adaptation. As a result, dialogue that was stylized and dramatic on-stage often becomes stilted and ponderous onscreen. Genet's "Theatre of the Absurd" treatment of the story also needs a cinematic re-thinking; it cries out for a looser, more fluid lensing than it receives from director Christopher Miles. Instead, Miles has concentrated his efforts on his cast, and while this may make the film, as a whole, less than enthralling, it does provide viewers with some highly charged, occasionally overly theatrical, but always engrossing, performances from Glenda Jackson and Susannah York. No one can be as frighteningly acidic or embody evil as convincingly as Jackson, of course, but the surprise is how well York holds her own against this formidable presence. The chemistry between the two is electric and disturbing, and the intensity they bring to their parts is fascinating to watch.

Product Details

Release Date:
04/01/2003
UPC:
0738329028022
Original Release:
1975
Rating:
PG
Source:
Kino Video
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Time:
1:34:00
Sales rank:
40,692

Special Features

Theatrical trailer; "Jean Genet and The Maids," an essay by Michael Feingold, chief theatre critic of The Village Voice; The American Film Theatre Cinebill for The Maids; Stills gallery; Interview with Edie Landau, executive-in-charge of the American Film Theatre; "Ely Landau: In Front of the Camera" AFT promotion reel ; American Film Theatre trailer gallery (including a complete list of the AFT films); American Film Theatre Scrapbook; Enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs

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Cast & Crew

Scene Index

Side #1 --
2. Under Arrest [4:41]
3. "Look at Yourself in My Shoes" [6:38]
4. "The Revolution of the Maids" [7:28]
5. "What a Serving Wench Is Made Of" [8:34]
6. "We Are Saints, Solange!" [9:28]
7. Madame Returns [8:11]
8. "Of What Use Are Gowns to Me?" [7:54]
9. "Madame Must Have Her Tea!" [8:45]
10. "Naturally, Maids Are Guilty..." [9:37]
11. The Final Ceremony [6:39]
12. "Call Me Mademoiselle" [9:00]
13. "We Are Beautiful!" [6:50]

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