1931 Spain is the setting for the wonderful romantic drama, ďBELLE EPOQUE.Ē  In this tumultuous time, itís not uncommon to find soldiers choosing to desert rather than kill their fellow citizens. Fernando is captured as a deserter, but escapes, finding haven in a rural brothel.  Where he meets and finds a friend in Don Manolo.  Manolo owns a farm, and has not ďoneĒ but four beautiful daughters, all of whom are coming to visit the very next day!

On whatís expected to be his last night as a guest, he uses his expert cooking skills to prepare a great meal for Don Manolo. Afterwards, he leaves for the train station, planning to continue on to Madrid.  However, after meeting the four daughters, each with their own problems and needs, and each quite beautiful, he decides to stay longer, making up an excuse that he missed the train.  Returning to the farmhouse, he prepares another great meal, for the girls, and in short order, is bedded by each one. In spite of how this might sound, his character is completely endearing. In a role reversal, itís the girls that seduce him!  However, itís Luz,(Penelope Cruz)the prettiest one, who makes him fall in love.

COLUMBIA TRISTAR has preserved the filmís 2.35:1 aspect ratio, with 16:9 enhancement.  Itís a decent transfer, and sharper than the laserdisc presentation, however, itís a bit of a disappointment to find the image to be so soft in key spots that call for sharpness.  Contrast is solid, with great detail in darker scenes.  Fleshtones appear natural throughout.

COLUMBIA TRISTAR has presented a Spanish and English dubbed mix, both in Dolby 2.0 surround.  Itís not an aggressive mix, nor does it need to be. Surrounds are used sparingly for ambient effects, but most of the film is presented in stereo, with little separation/directional effects. Dialogue is always intelligible and free from distortion. The English mix is poorly dubbed, and we recommend it be skipped right over.

COLUMBIA TRISTAR has presented an audio commentary, featuring director and co-writer, Fernando Trueba.  Itís a great commentary, offering a deep, thematic dialogue about the film and the actors.  Little technical or story development is discussed, but one comes away appreciating the film far more after hearing it.
Several trailers are included.