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HBO presents
The Vagina Monologues (2002)

"Violence against women is a feminist issue? I don't think it is."
- Eve Ensler

Review By: Kevin Clemons   
Published: December 05, 2002

Stars: Eve Ensler
Director: Joe Mantello

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for language, frank sexual discussion
Run Time: 01h:30m:41s
Release Date: June 04, 2002
UPC: 026359190827
Genre: black comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- BB+B+ D+

DVD Review

The Vagina Monologues have become a sort of pop culture phenomenon since dramatist Eve Ensler first performed her one-woman show several years ago. Now everyone is taking part, including celebrities, and HBO celebrated the experience in February of 2002 by bringing Ensler center stage for a taped performance. The result is a mixed bag, but one that is undeniably entertaining regardless of your gender.

While I have no doubt I would enjoy this program if I were a woman, the content and intelligence of Ensler's work succeeds and transcends gender. What she does so well is confront hot button issues in a frank and forthcoming manner. One section detailing with a Bosnian rape camp is brutally honest, so much so that Ensler simply makes the viewer uncomfortable by the way in which she delivers the story: With great passion, Ensler details the account of some thirty victims from the Bosnian camp as she describes the horrors forced upon the victims by their captors. When describing a particular assault with a gun, Ensler effectively builds the drama as well as the horror of the moment, leaving the viewer waiting on her every word. Other moments are played more for humor though, including a chapter entitled "The Flood," where Ensler recounts her discussions with elderly women about their vaginas, including one seventy-two-year-old woman who had never even seen her own vagina and subsequently spent time in therapy.

What is most impressive about The Vagina Monologues is that Ensler is relentlessly straightforward. This is a sensitive topic and many performance artists could have easily fallen into the trappings of making the it either too erotic or perhaps even too tongue-in-cheek.

The downside to having just one filmed version of The Vagina Monologues is that we as viewers are never afforded an opportunity to see some of the celebrity versions that have been done numerous times at the same New York theater where the show began three years ago. Celebrities including Claire Danes, Oprah Winfrey, and Glenn Close have each taken turns behind the microphone, and I for one would be truly pleased to see these gifted actresses take a turn at Ensler's written work.

For any gender, The Vagina Monologues is a pleasure to watch, covering every degree of human emotion.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Presented in the same full-frame format as the original HBO viewing, The Vagina Monologues has the look of a documentary in that it seems to have been shot on high grade digital video. The image, as a result of this, looks very sharp and detailed throughout. Colors are fine, though the dark backdrop of the stage shows no real chance for any sort of vibrant colors. Overall this is a very nice, but rather bland image.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Surround track is fine, but nothing more. Dialogue sounds crystal clear from the center channel, though this is as active as the mix gets.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Packaging: Snapper
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: A biography for Eve Ensler is the lone extra feature for The Vagina Monologues.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

For fans of The Vagina Monologues, this DVD is the easiest way to enjoy Eve Ensler without fighting for tickets, yet at the same time something is lost. Ensler's passion is on display here, but I can only imagine that varying performances may have been more of a treat.


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