The Help comes to Region Free UK Blu-ray complete with a superb 1080p High Definition presentation in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen. In fact it’s so good that it takes a while to get used to such an immaculate presentation for a period-set film, so used are we to thick grain and saturation being used to give us an intentionally stylised aged look. Detail is excellent throughout, picking up on the clothing textures, the skin pores, and each individual strand of hair, with strong line definition yet no signs of edge enhancement, and with no overcooked DNR either. The colour scheme is vivid and broad and perfectly faithful with regards to the sumptuous, sun-cooked Mississippi setting, giving us vibrant blacks, healthy (often suitably sweaty) skin tones and rich, deep mahogany browns; the black levels strong and allowing for superior shadowing. Digital defects are practically non-existent – you’d have to be eagle-eyed to catch anything wrong with the picture, and there’s certainly nothing that will distract from your viewing pleasure. Just shy of a perfect score, it’s an easily reference quality rendition of this new movie.
The accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is also pretty impressive, presenting an accurate aural rendition of the movie that showcases the Sixties Mississippi locale off as being a heady, intoxicating environment, rich with background noises and a persistent ambience that makes for a thoroughly immersive atmosphere. Of course the all-important dialogue comes across clearly and coherently throughout, largely dominating the frontal array for the most part, and we get a nice – if unmemorable – score that attempts to give the movie its own defining theme music, but it’s the effects-driven atmosphere which truly makes this film stand out aurally. From the gusting wind to the swaying trees; from the persistently chirping crickets to the crowded house functions, restaurants and church gatherings, Mississippi has simply never been this intoxicating. It may not be a bombastic track for a Michael Bay movie, but The Help’s aural accompaniment still works wondered with the subtle, nuance-driven soundtrack.
Whilst not boasting a plethora of extras – and an Audio Commentary from the writer, the director and/or the cast is certainly missed – we still get a nice selection of supplements which should satisfy most fans.
The Making of The Help: From Friendship to Film offers up a 23 minute look behind-the-film, with the author Kathryn Stockett, the director Tate Taylor and several members of the cast chipping in to tell you about the project, mostly looking at the original story and the sources from which it was culled, the history of Mississippi, the locations used, the characters portrayed and the cast who brought them to life. An interesting, informative feature that’s worth checking out.
In Their Own Words: A Tribute to the Maids of Mississippi provides 12 minutes of interview snippets with some of the real-life women whose stories inspired the author and provided the meat of her book. Director Tate Taylor and actress Octavia Spencer chat with the women in what is a revealing but ultimately marginally short extra.
Deleted Scenes with Introductions by Director Tate Taylor gives us access to 5 cut scenes – A Senator’s Son; Humiliated; Johnny’s Home; A Book About Jackson; Keep on Walkin’. Totalling ten minutes of extra footage there is plenty here that should have been left in the final cut; arguably all but the first are quality scenes. The trouble is, as the Director himself explains, there simply was not enough room – it’s already a long movie and these would have arguably made it unmanageably so. Shame they weren’t put back in for the home release, however. Definitely worth a watch.
“The Living Proof” Music Video is a Mary J. Blige number produced specifically for the film.
The disc is rounded off by a number of Preview Trailers.
Driven by an ensemble cast of superb contributors, The Help retains the powerful underlying spirit of its source novel, combining a few striking pause-for-thought socio-political issues with a warm energy that often results in welcome comic relief. If you’re a fan of the book then there’s still plenty to enjoy here in seeing the words brought to life, but those who have only heard about how good the book was and read about how acclaimed the movie is should invest the time in actually watching it. Whether you laugh, cry; are outraged or impassioned, The Help remains a quality period drama that reflects upon an untold part of the racist history of America. Even if prejudice is still rife in many parts of the world, at least a large majority of the modern generation can look back on the events here and hopefully see just how wrong it all was.
On Region Free UK Blu-ray we get demo presentation and a nice selection of extras to round off a superior release; one which fans will be proud to have in their collection. Newcomers shouldn’t be too put off by the female slant of the story – it may be driven by women but it’s also about a bad time which we could all do with being reminded of once in a while. Recommended.
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