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The King's Speech [Blu-ray]
(Tom Hooper, 2010)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: See-Saw Films
Video: The Weinstein Company/Anchor Bay Entertainment
Region: 'A'-locked (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 42,878,483,172 bytes
Feature Size: 34,530,600,960 bytes
Video Bitrate: 32.56 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case inside cardboard slipcase
Release date: April 19th, 2011
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 3319 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3319 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit / DN -4dB)
Dolby Digital Audio French 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
English (SDH), French, Spanish, none
•Audio Commentary with director Tom Hooper
• Making Of Featurette - The King's Speech - An Inspirational Story of Unlikely Friendship (23:01 in 480i)
• Q+A with the Director and Cast (22:02 - in 1080i)
Speeches from the real King George VI (5:40 in DD 2.0)
Description: After the death of his father King George V (Michael Gambon) and the scandalous abdication of King Edward VIII (Guy Pearce), Bertie (Colin Firth) who has suffered from a debilitating speech impediment all his life, is suddenly crowned King George VI of England. With his country on the brink of war and in desperate need of a leader, his wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter), the future Queen Mother, arranges for her husband to see an eccentric speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). After a rough start, the two delve into an unorthodox course of treatment and eventually form an unbreakable bond. With the support of Logue, his family, his government and Winston Churchill (Timothy Spall), the King will overcome his stammer and deliver a radio-address that inspires his people and unites them in battle. Based on the true story of King George VI, THE KING'S SPEECH follows the Royal Monarch's quest to find his voice.
The gift of "The King's Speech" is that it allows us to look on as a pair of masterful actors re-create a monumental test of wills between an imperturbable layman and a king who insists with royal certitude, "I stammer. No one can fix it." Their dilemma never feels anything less than real, and when they reach the end of their journey together, we share more fully in their emotions and accomplishments than we would have thought possible.
Some films turn out to be unexpectedly good. Not that you’ve written them off, only they ply their craft on the hush-hush. Before we even took our seats, Inception had trailed a blaze of its cleverness the size of a Parisian arrondissement. We were ready to be dazzled. If you had even heard of it, Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech looked no more than well-spoken Merchant Ivoriness optimistically promoted from Sunday teatime: decent cast, nice costumes, posh carpets. That was until the film finished a sneak-peak at a festival in deepest America, and the standing ovations began. Tweeters, bloggers and internet spokespeople of various levels of elocution announced it the Oscar favourite, and this also-ran arrives in our cinemas in a fanfare of trumpets.
Director Tom Hooper makes an interesting decision with his sets and visuals. The movie is largely shot in interiors, and most of those spaces are long and narrow. That's unusual in historical dramas, which emphasize sweep and majesty and so on. Here we have long corridors, a deep and narrow master control room for the BBC, rooms that seem peculiarly oblong. I suspect he may be evoking the narrow, constricting walls of Albert's throat as he struggles to get words out.
Hooper's handling of that fraught scene is masterful. Firth internalizes his tension and keeps the required stiff upper lip, but his staff and household are terrified on his behalf as he marches toward a microphone as if it is a guillotine. It is the one scene in the film that must work, and it does, and its emotional impact is surprisingly strong. At the end, what we have here is a superior historical drama and a powerful personal one. And two opposites who remain friends for the rest of their lives.Excerpt from Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun-Times located HERE
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The King's Speech looks just fine on Blu-ray from Weinstein/Anchor Bay. The image quality shows a fine level of grit and minor grain and there is some visible depth. It exports the film's color scheme - often dark grey and drab touching on a sense of the era. There is some revealing blues and strong black levels. Detail, notable in close-ups, is at the high end as is contrast - a function of bringing up the sharpness. This is a dual-layered transfer with a higher-end bitrate and is essentially flawless visually-speaking. The brief archive footage of Hitler looks to have been boosted (EE) but this is certainly no complaint. This Blu-ray looks exactly as I remember it theatrically. I have an inkling I was sent the 'Canadian' edition but I have no reason to believe it will, at all, be different from the U.S. release.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
The film doesn't require any aural-magic from the DTS-HD Master 5.1 track at a healthy 3319 kbps. There is some infrequent separation and depth easily supplied by the lossless track. Echo (radio transmission of the 30s) and other effects play a small part as the HD rendering fulfills its duty as aptly as the King himself. The original score by Alexandre Desplat comes through with some zest supporting the film at every turn - sounding crisp and pleasing.My Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked although The King's Speech will be available in Region 'B' (UK, France, Germany etc.) locations throughout the world.
Supplements offer an excellent commentary with director Tom Hooper discussing a myriad of concepts and decisions that made that gave The King's Speech life. Fans of the film will definitely want to indulge. There is also a Making Of... featurette entitled The King's Speech - An Inspirational Story of Unlikely Friendship which runs shy of 25-minutes and has interview excerpts from just about all the major individuals involved in the film from cast (Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce) and more. There is also a Q+A with the Director and Cast running about the same length in HD which I found enjoyable without overbaked glad-handing. Some keen on the historical aspects may get some curious pleasure from a section playing Speeches from the real King George VI and there is 10-minutes entitled The Real Lionel Logue in the form of an interview with Mark Logue (grandson and co-author of The King's Speech: How One Man Saved the British Monarchy.
April 10th, 2011
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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