Peterloo Blu-ray Review
"They are ignorant souls. They know not what they want."
Peterloo Film Review
Commemorating 200 years since the infamous massacre, we look at Mike Leigh's Peterloo, a timely period drama on the desperate demand for political reform.Best known for his working class, kitchen-sink 'comedy' dramas (Life is Sweet, All or Nothing, Naked), acclaimed auteur Mike Leigh - who has written every single film he directed - already crossed over into working class period politics with Vera Drake, and goes full throttle here, with arguably his most expansive, epic and audacious project.
In the early 19th Century, after the end of the Napoleonic Wars, there is turmoil across the land as a result of famine, food taxation and rampant unemployment. The chasm between the ruling class and those most greatly affected only exacerbates the situation, with the 'people' attempting to champion political reforms - for starters they would like some manner of representation across the counties in the UK to address the fact that even relatively major locations, like Manchester, are devoid of representation - butting heads with the Royalty-backed politicians, who elect to deal with the perceived revolution by taking drastic steps to quell any uprising.
A good film but easily half an hour too long
Leigh provides a comprehensive study on the events that led up the titular massacre, pitching an ensemble cast of colourful characters on both sides, and building inexorably to the tragic conclusion, painting his picture with florid language that only further convinces of the period. As a result it is quite a tough piece of endurance - you know exactly where it is heading - and Leigh only sparks up a few trademark moments of biting humour along the way (the brief court case montage that sees, for example, a man sent to be hanged for stealing a spare coat so he could keep warm), instead more focussed on the dozens of pre-speech speeches that led to the tragic day.
There is a good film in here, and it's certainly an earnest one borne from Leigh's long-enduring 'working-class anger', but the celebrated Brit auteur is clearly also not immune to a little self-indulgence, clocking in a lavish tale that's easily half an hour too long (154 minutes is a tough ask when you know the ending), and struggling to keep you fully involved as a result.
Peterloo Blu-ray PicturePeterloo comes to Region B-locked UK Blu-ray courtesy of Entertainment One, affording the film a largely excellent 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen.
A largely excellent presentation
Graded with a highly saturated look, and given a suitably organic period stylisation, Leigh's epic certainly looks the part, with a fine layer of suitably filmic grain almost imperceptibly veiling the piece, whilst detail remains outstanding throughout - from the wig-wearing visages of the pompous politicians to the dirty and worn faces of the crowd - with the setting authentic and finely textured throughout. Black levels are rich and actually rather impressive, with few dashes of vibrant tones - some flags and banners stand out, and the occasional uniform, when it's not been faded by use - but nonetheless faithful and natural tones throughout, not least in the faces and period garbs.
Peterloo Blu-ray SoundThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track does a superb job capturing the scale of the crowded affair, taking in the bustle and the gathering storm, both on the streets and in Parliament.
The audio track does a superb job capturing the scale of the crowded affair
Dialogue remains firmly prioritised across the front and centre channels, coming across clearly and coherently throughout, whilst the sorrowful and frequently melancholy score gets fine coverage across the array, sweeping you up in the mood of the piece. Effects are limited but authentic, and at their best in the frequently immersive crowds, as the bustle and heave of the sheer volume of bodies provides a more engulfing offering. Hardly demo, it's still a decent and faithful promotion of the material.
Peterloo Blu-ray ExtrasA trio of informative Featurettes as well as a headlining Director's Commentary comprise the nice extras package
Peterloo Blu-ray VerdictThere is a good film in here
Peterloo earns a decent enough Region B-locked UK Blu-ray release from Entertainment One, with very good video and audio and a nice few extra features, leaving it likely a must-have for Mike Leigh completists and fans of the film.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £14.99
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