Blu-ray Review: Coppelia

There are those that demand that great stage works must be presented in the context of their original production. But what makes so many plays and dances great is that they can be transported into a different time and space without losing their impact. Shakespeare’s plays can have the cast dress up as if they are part of World War I or Swan Lake can take place in a corporate board room. Coppelia is a ballet that debuted in 1870 with choreography by Arthur Saint-Léon, music by Léo Delibes and a libretto by Charles-Louis-Étienne Nuitter. The original ballet has Swanilda and Franz preparing to get married when Franz’s attention gets captured by the striking and aloof Coppélia. What Franz doesn’t get is the Coppélia is a living doll created by Dr. Coppelius. Coppelia alters the ballet and updates the doll as the village becomes a CGI wonderland with a mixture of real people and animated characters.

Swan (Michaela DePrince) and Franz (Daniel Camargo) are a flirty couple on the brink of admitting how much they feel for each other. They live in a dreamy village where think are rather simple and if your bike breaks, you can just dance your way to work. Into this bright and dreamy existence arrives the dark limo of Dr. Coppelius (Vito Mazzeo). The mayor is excited since the good doctor wants to set up a huge plastic surgery clinic in the middle of the town. People are excited at the prospect of altering their image to become more attractive. What the locals don’t know is that the doctor’s real project involves his android Coppélia (played by an animated character). She is nearly perfection in the doctor’s eyes except she’s missing one little thing and he senses Franz can provide it. But will Swan let Franz pirouette into the clutches of the doctor and his creation?

This update of Coppelia really captures what the original ballet was about while immersing it into modern issues. People do seem to flock to a plastic surgery in order to look more impressive on their social media account. Sometimes we do find ourselves attracted to a person who isn’t even close to real as they are coated in various photoshop filters and camera tricks. This new version of Coppelia is based on a recent production by the Dutch National Ballet. Directors Steven DeBuel, Ben Tesseur and Jeff Tudor use the mix of live action dancers and CGI sets to create a wonderful experience that gets us deeper into the motion and desires of the characters. There’s no singing or talking so you can focus on the movements to tell the story. The cast is first rate in their performance even when they are dancing with CGI androids. DePrince is so expressive as Swan. I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be an inside joke, but Swan works at a lemonade stand. You might have seen DePrince dancing in Beyoncé’s Lemonade video.

Coppelia is the perfect gift if you have children taking dance lessons. Even better is that grown ups can watch along with the kids. It’s a work of beauty about the joy of not being worked over to find beauty.

The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The 1080p transfers lets you see the details in the ballet dancers’ motions. The audio is DTS-HD MA 5.1 and 2.0. There’s no dialogue in the ballet so the music is what swirls around your room if you choose the 5.1 option. The ballet is subtitled to give a sense of effects sounds.

A Look Behind The Scenes With Star Michaela DePrince (3:11) show how they dancers had to interact with blue, yellow and green screens. She discusses how it varied from performing on stage.

Interview (6:18) with Stars Michaela DePrince and Vito Mazzeo From Annecy International Animation Film Festival. They talk about how they enjoyed the process of making the film. They talk about going from dancers to being in a film instead of a live action process. Vito talks about dancing with your partner to be inserted later in post-production. The ending of the interview is cute.

Interview (6:39) with Filmmakers Steven DeBuel, Ben Tesseur and Jeff Tudor at Annecy International Animation Film Festival. The filmmakers have been working together since 1997. There’s discussion of how they mixed the live action dancing with the CGI animation elements.

Trailer (2:13) sets up the plot for the dance number.

DVD with the ballet and bonus features.

Shout! Kids presents Coppelia. Directed by: Steven DeBuel, Ben Tesseur and Jeff Tudor. Screenplay by Steven DeBuel, Ben Tesseur and Jeff Tudor. Starring Michaela DePrince, Darcey Bussell, Daniel Camargo, Igoné de Jongh, Jan Kooijman, Vito Mazzeo, Irek Mukhamedov and Glynis Terborg. Running Time: 82 minutes. Rating: Unrated. Release Date: October 19, 2021.

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