[Editor's Note: Be sure to check out Jackson's February interview with director Fernando Trueba.]
Chico & Rita hit theaters in February of this year after receiving a surprise Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature and near universal raves from critics. The visually-stunning film packed audiences into arthouses, and led to the release of a graphic novelization of the film and an accompanying soundtrack. The film releases today on DVD and as a Blu-ray/DVD making it finally available to the largest possible audience. The Blu-ray/DVD release of Chico & Rita is the finest home video release that any film has received so far this year. What makes this particular release so special isn’t so much a wealth of material that’s presented, as quality rather than quantity is what’s on display here. What makes the Blu-ray/DVD release of Chico & Rita a rare treat is the beauty, variety, and uniqueness of the presentation, creating an experience that’s as transcendent as the film itself. Here’s a look inside the Blu-ray/DVD release of Chico & Rita, to help you decide if you should take the film home with you tonight.
Directors: Oscar-winner Fernando Trueba (Belle Epoque), award-winning artist and designer Javier Mariscal, and music video director Tono Errando
Writers: Fernando Trueba and Ignacio Martinez de Pison (Backroads).
Chico & Rita begins as a love story between a visionary piano player and a beautiful singer set against the backdrop of 1948 Cuba. Their love story is a bittersweet and tumultuous one, spanning decades and taking them all over the world as they follow the popularity and evolution of Cuban music and its relationship with the global jazz scene. Their love story also ends up intersecting with the Cuban revolution, and ultimately serves an allegory for a truly remarkable and beautiful country coming to terms with its past. The film is filled with music from and inspired by the time period, featuring music composed and performed by five-time Grammy-winning Cuban pianist Bebo Valdes. Chico and Rita also includes the music of and animated cameos by Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Cole Porter, Dizzy Gillespie, and a literal and figurative score of others.
WHAT YOU’LL LOVE:
The twenty-eight minute “Making of Chico & Rita Featurette” in which Trueba, Mariscal, Errando, Valdes, and others provide an in-depth and comprehensive look at the innovative techniques used to craft the music, look, and feel of Chico & Rita.
The Audio Commentary with Directors Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal not only expands the look into the making of the film, but also provides a Master Class of sorts into the history and culture of Cuba in the 20th century and the evolution of Cuban music and global jazz.
The Blu-ray/DVD set includes a 14-page excerpt from the bestselling graphic novel inspired by the film.
The set also includes the full-length CD soundtrack with an hour of music. The soundtrack features the music Valdes composed for the film, as well as a group of world-class musicians reinterpreting the compositions and performances of Leonard Bernstein, George and Ira Gershwin, Tito Puente, Chano Pozo, and others. Whether you’re a seasoned expert on Cuban music, jazz, and the standards of the Great American Songbook, or a first-time listener of these musicians and compositions, these recordings have a deeply stirring and universal appeal. The ability to see the gorgeous animation in Chico & Rita on Blu-ray and then hear these beautiful recordings presented in their entirety make this Blu-ray/DVD set a worthy purchase for those of us who take pleasure in experiencing the intersection of cinema and song when both brilliantly combined for maximum emotional impact.
Filed under: Home Video