Henry of Navarre (UK - BD RB)
Our Marcus is bored by another period epic even if this one was a bit sexier....
France in the mid-16th century; the story of Henry IV (Julien Boisselier) plays out as he battles in a religious war that is full of deadly plots, scandals, love affairs and of course epic battles.
Originally shot as a two part TV series, it is presented here as a two and a half hour movie and really rather than being like Gladiator or something Ridley Scott-esq like this is being advertised as, Henry Of Navarre fits more snugly into the current wave of sexed up TV period dramas.
Henry of Navarre (or Henri 4) is a long film and when I found out it was originally made as a two part TV series it made a bit more sense. This is all about small segments of drama to stop an audience switching channels. There’s some hokey plotting with some madcap characters and when that gets dull there’s some male bonding or a battle. Then of course there’s the sex to stop all that other stuff getting boring. Weirdly out of the drawn out the many drawn out scenes, it’s the sex scenes that stick around the longest which is a good thing because the script here is pretty routine and it gets tiresome very early on.
As for the characters no one is all that great outside of Henry himself. Boisselier has a genuine charm to his performance and makes Henry a likable guy for the most part. Everyone else doesn’t quite match up to him and the very run-of-the-mill nature of this entire project made for a pretty boring watch even with sex scenes spicing it up a bit.
This is one pretty looking transfer. The image is bright, full of that glow only HD can muster and is literally packed full of incredible detail. Whether night scenes or daylight, the visuals here just look great.
Delving deeper, stand out elements are faces. Whether the wrinkled faces of older characters or Henry’s stubbled jaw, small details just pop. Bone structure, sweat and dirt all look natural and sharp enough to touch. Clothing also stands out, from small designs in the fabric to the layers of dust built up from the long journeys; everything feels very weighty and really shows off the work from the wardrobe department.
As for the locations, it has to be said the interior sets can look a little fake, well-made but fake none the less, especially when compared to some of the real world interior sets like old houses and castles. The exteriors are a different story as they pop off the screen every single time they are revealed to us. There’s a scene in a snow covered forest where the autumnal colours and the dark clothes of the horse riders galloping through it look incredibly rich in detail despite the overcast skies and some of the open field battles are filled with some very well presented (and grisly visuals). Henry of Navarre really is an impressive looking disc and every ounce of work that’s gone into recreating this period is on show to enjoy.
Outside of terrible lip sync issues that are distracting to say the least, the DTS-HD Master Audio track feels very powerful. Dialogue is very clear (mainly because it appears it was recorded separately). It seems the TV show/film was shot with a mix of German and French dialogue but this release has a full French dub - complicated right (hence the sync issues)? There’s also a powerful bit of bass here to add some oomph to the track.
The score has a strong presence with its fairly routine sounding epicness firing on all cylinders and filling the room. The battle sequences are layered with multiple clangs and scrapes of swords and armour and of course there’s a strong presence of the participants shouting at one another. The same can be said for simple scenes like walking through a busy street. It’s obviously not packed with quite the same amount of power but the track is still peppered with small nuances to make the crowds feel larger than they actually are (and to sell some of those fake-ish looking sets again).
The making of (04:27 SD) is a bit of a joke. It’s literally just footage shot on set of people getting into costume and the director checking them out. It’s not even five minutes in length.
The trailer gallery has the UK Trailer (02:07 HD) and the original trailer—which is in original German dialogue (02:27 HD) and the only other extras are the 'also available' trailers.
Henry of Navarre was dull and I don't think it's because I generally think the epic period drama genre is dull anyway—this was genuinely pretty lifeless. There were some good looking ladies in period costumes (and out of them) but this whole thing felt like all the other tepid period dramas on TV, with all the same typical characters and all the same typical story arcs. The Blu-ray thankfully looks and sounds fantastic but with no extras giving us insight to the historical elements or even the making of the TV show/movie this all feels very weak.
* Note: The below images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 4th July 2011
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 French, Dolby Digital 2.0 French
Extras: Making of, Trailers
Easter Egg: No
Director: Jo Baier
Cast: Julien Boisselier, Joachim Król, Andreas Schmidt, Roger Casamajor
Genre: Drama and War
Length: 148 minutes
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