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Atopia presents
Panache (Antlers) (2006)

"I love it. The feeling when you shoot."
- a hunter

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: January 21, 2008

Director: André-Line Beauparlant

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (language, hunting sequences)
Run Time: 01h:29m:36s
Release Date: October 02, 2007
UPC: 692074005106
Genre: documentary

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B B-B-B- D-

DVD Review

I'll admit that I carry something of a double standard when it comes to the subject of hunting. A part of me "gets it" somehow when a hunter will use the animal for food, but I never fully understood the idea of simply shooting for shooting sakes. And this comes from a guy who used to enjoy fishing. I know it isn't really isn't all that different, because there have been many times when I fished just for the "fun" of it, though I'm sure the fish didn't have the same degree of fun, what with a set of sharp treble hooks in their mouth.

However hypocritical that is, hunting deer or moose or bear or whatever has always seemed completely alien and unrelatable to me.

Filmmaker André-Line Beauparlant has attempted to untangle this knotty subject in her 2006 French-language Canadian documentary Panache (Antlers). Beauparlant looks at six hunters in the seemingly remote Montcerf region of Canada, alternatingly following them on hunts and then interviewing them, allowing their words to form some sort of structure on why it is they live to hunt. Their comments paint them not as gun-toting nuts, but reveals a mixture of deep family tradition that the act of the hunt brings to them, as well as some much more practical motivations.

Beauparlant tries to play fly-on-the-wall, allowing her subjects the room to expound on what it all means. Yet naturally that also means plenty of closeup footage of animals being cleaned (aka disemboweled), so there's likely an automatic ick factor for some viewers. And while this never seems wholly gratuitous—and it is certainly part of the process Beauparlant is exploring—these sequences serve to make her documentary more of an unpleasant visual experience for non-hunters willing to sit down and listen to the "other side". But to the men Beauparlant follows, this process is shown as so natural that during one sequence a hunter's young daughter (she can't be more than six) watches with adorably inquisitive fascination as her father guts and cleans one of his kills. Normal for her. Maybe not so much for me.

I read an interview with Beauparlant where she discussed her original aversion to hunting prior to making Panache (Antlers), and that over time she came to understand what she referred to as the "complex and unsettling universe". Her film clearly wants to take viewers—especially non-hunters I imagine—on that same type of journey of seeing an emotional subject such as this from a different angle.

There's no issue with the men she profiles, whose reasons and outlooks are remarkably pragmatic, it's just all of that closeup gutting may make the message a tougher one to deliver to the audience she intended.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Rationo

Image Transfer Review: The backcover lists this as enhanced for 16x9 sets, though the presentation is actually nonanamorphic widescreen. Shot in often hand-held documentary style in the Canadian woods, the overall fluctuates dependent on scene and location. Edges tend to be soft, but colors hold up fairly well for the duration. No major evidence of dirt or blemishes.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Frenchno

Audio Transfer Review: No issues with the sound quality of the original 2.0 French language audio track. No hiss or crackle, and voice clarity is consistent under a variety of conditions.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 10 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Short Life of Jose Antonio Gutierrez, Missing Victor Pellerin, Jimmywork, Imitation
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Upon loading the disc, there is an option for either French or English language menu options. Other than that there's not much here, short of a theatrical trailer and four other previews.

The single layer disc is cut into 10 chapters, with optional English subs.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

Hunting can be a very derisive subject, but filmmaker André-Line Beauparlant has managed to mix the graphic realities of something like field dressing a moose with an almost poetic subtext of just what it all means to six Canadian hunters.

Sometimes ugly, but very insightful.


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