The King's Speech Blu-ray Review
‘The King’s Speech’ comes to American Region A locked Blu-ray with a very atmospheric 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer, framed in the widescreen 1.78:1 aspect ratio. There’s great subtlety in the lighting of most scenes that lends the film a very natural look due to its directionality i.e. emulating light coming from windows – and the transfer replicates this well. To give everything a Hollywood golden glow would have been totally wrong as it would not have suited the period or the piece. What we get is a slightly less vibrant image with a careful use of shadow detail and an overall brownish tinge. Skin tones reflect the pale British pallor effectively and the focus on faces is sharp without being clinical. For much of the movie, it’s a two hander and the scenes between Bertie and Logue in the room with the undecorated wall look superb with great density. There’s a very fine veil of grain throughout that is amplified occasionally in darker scenes where a faster film stock would have been used. Overall, the film has a satisfyingly realistic look that is quite comfortable on the High Def format.
The audio on ‘The King’s Speech’ comes in a DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround flavour which you might think would be wasted on such a dialogue led production. Well, you’d be wrong for, although this is not a movie in the blockbuster tradition, there are a few ‘wow’ moments that really do impress. The first comes early on when Bertie makes his painful speech at the close of the Empire Exhibition at Wembley. As the crowd falls silent, his voice echoes around the listening room with interference delays between speakers. It really places you right there in that crowd. At other times the surround effects are very subtle, but when Bertie and Elizabeth get in the creaking, rattling old lift en route to Logue’s office you are in there too and it feels as if it might break down at any minute.
The dialogue just can’t be faulted at all. It’s completely intelligible and crisp as a fresh lettuce leaf throughout. The main stereo pair tinkles with Alexandre Desplat’s score while the classical tracks sound very pleasant to the ear. This is a very nice, delicate sound track – mixed by a gentle, caring hand.
Audio Commentary— Director Tom Hooper flies solo here with quite a lively commentary where he displays his knowledge of the real life characters and history which he recalls as the movie plays. His technical knowledge of the film-making process is second to none as he explains why he shot scenes in a particular way together with his reasons for the musical choices. He also reveals his tremendous respect for actors. This is a really worthwhile listen for film buffs and Royal watchers.
'The King's Speech': An Inspirational Story of an Unlikely Friendship (SD, 23 mins) — This 'making-of' featurette is really a relatively long promo for the movie where the cast and crew discuss their interest in the story of the friendship between Logue and the King. It covers the real-life events as well as the period look of the movie and a whole host of other things. Interesting for production buffs and completists alike.
Q&A With the Director & the Cast (HD, 22 mins) — As it says on the tin, this is a question and answer session hosted by KCRW’s Matt Holzman with an on stage line up that includes Colin Firth, Guy Pearce, Tom Hooper, Helena Bonham Carter and Claire Bloom. They cover a great deal of the movie, the pain of stuttering and the real-life events of King George VI.
Speeches From the Real King George VI (SD, 8 mins) — Here’s your chance to find out just how accurate Colin Firth’s performance gets to the real King through two original speeches. The pre-war speech of September 3, 1939 is audio only while the post war speech from May 14, 1945 is newsreel footage.
The Real Lionel Logue (SD, 10 mins) — A fascinating interview with Lionel Logue's grandson, Mark, where we get to hear about the real man and how he was able to help the King overcome his speech impediment with most of the information being gleaned from the diaries.
The Stuttering Foundation – (SD, 1 min.) — Quite a touching public service announcement featuring children who suffer from stuttering. Your heart goes out to them.
The multi-Oscar and BAFTA award winning ‘The King’s Speech’ makes its debut on American Region A locked Blu-ray with a good looking 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer, framed in the widescreen 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The image benefits from subtle lighting and a slightly muted colour palette to provide us with a very realistic period look with great picture density – all of which are reflected in the transfer.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio ensures we catch every word of dialogue and there are several very effective surround sound treats, while Alexandre Desplat’s tinkly score combined with a variety of classical pieces enliven the main stereo pair.
A lively director’s commentary from Tom Hooper, a ‘making of’ featurette, a couple of the real King George VI’s speeches and a fascinating interview with Lionel Logue’s grandson make up the bonus material.
As a movie ‘The King’s Speech’ is entrancing with superb performances from Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush supported by a fine British cast in this tale of a King in search of his voice and a lifelong friendship. A first rate movie!
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.79
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