The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Touchstone - 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 146 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish/French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Viola Davis, Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer, Dallas Bryce Howard, Jessica Chastain, Allison Janey, Cicely Tyson,
Written & Directed by: Tate Taylor based on the novel by Kathryn Stockett
Music by: Thomas Newman
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: December 6, 2011
"You is kind. You is smart. You is important."
Adapted from the NY Times #1 bestseller by Kathryn Stockett The Help is about a young white woman, Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan, and her relationship with two black maids during Civil Rights era America in the early 1960s. Skeeter is a budding journalist who decides to write a controversial book from the point of view of the maids (known as the Help), exposing the racism they are faced with as they work for white families.
In reading the supplied press jacket from Disney I felt that it mirrored my thoughts about this wonderful film so closely that I decided to include it here.
The Help is an inspirational, courageous and empowering story about very different, extraordinary women in the 1960s South who build an unlikely friendship around a secret writing project — one that breaks society’s rules and puts them all at risk. The Help stars Emma Stone as the courageous Eugenia “Skeeter‟ Phelan, who goes against the beliefs of her family and friends to find her own voice. The critically praised, emotional performance of Viola Davis as Aibileen Clark, a woman who secretly dreams of one day having more than she has been given, offers a deep emotional storyline. The breakthrough performance of Octavia Spencer as Minny Jackson, whose sass and tough exterior disguise the pain and fear she faces every day, brings both drama and humor to the film. Bryce Dallas Howard breathes life into the catty Jackson socialite Hilly Holbrook and Jessica Chastain brings charm and humor as Celia Foote, a kind housewife living outside of town who longs to fit in. Sissy Spacek, Allison Janney and Ahna O‟Reilly also provide vivacious performances that round out this all-star female ensemble.
Listening to author Kathryn Stockett and best friend/filmmaker Tate Taylor talk about the novel and film it is obvious that both were personal projects stemming from life experiences growing up in Mississippi. Obviously they didn’t grow up in the era depicted in the story however each grew up in a household that employed a black maid who became an integral part of their childhood/family. My wife and daughter read the book and felt that the film as written and portrayed captured its essence vividly. I found The Help to be stirring, poignant, funny and relevant. It paints in broad strokes and touches on several societal issues, the most obvious of which is racism, but the thematic tone remains consistent. There is a genuine quality that imbues the characters especially Aibileen, Minny, and Hilly. Viola Davis and Dallas Bryce Howard give incredible performances. There is no denying that The Help is purposefully a statement piece, a testimonial, but that doesn’t make it any less effecting. It speaks from the heart and does so with the best intentions despite its manipulative trappings. I loved it for all of the subtleties found not only in the performances but in the transcendent emotion found in its context. I look forward to watching it again.
The rating is for thematic material.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
The Help comes to Blu-ray Disc from Touchstone/Disney featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 28 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio that has an average bitrate of 3.5 Mbps.
A variety of colors are effectively used in this film to help set the tone/setting based upon the mood of the scene and characters within it. The cinematography is beautiful. Images are crisp with well balanced color and definitive resolution that provide a transparent and lustrous quality. Skin tones are varied with natural looking complexions that appear lifelike. Shadow detail is strong which enhances depth during dark segments that contain limited light. Blacks are deep and dynamic which adds punch to sequences containing mixed light and dark elements. Contrast is stable which delivers bright punchy whites and vivid eye popping primary colors. The exterior shots and earth tones of the southern landscapes exhibit excellent delineation with viable long range acuity. Grain is visible, in light, even layers that provides a filmic texture. This is a rewarding and pristine quality presentation that looks terrific.
This isn’t the type of film that requires extended dynamic range, frequent surround use or deep bass but it certainly benefited from lossless audio’s higher fidelity. The front oriented DTS-HD Master Audio sound mix features dialogue that is full bodied with defining tonal characteristics and prominent soundstage position. High level detail is readily apparent as subtle sound effects, music and voices are rendered with superior clarity and depth. There is little call for discrete surround activity however the film’s music utilized the entire soundstage to provide a satisfying sense of dimension.
- HD The making of The Help: From friendship to film – 23 minute retrospective/documentary
- (HD) In their words: A tribute to the maids of Mississippi – 11 minutes
- (HD) 5 deleted scenes with introduction by director Tate Taylor
- (HD) “The living proof” music video by Mary J. Blige
- Bonus DVD of The Help
Based on Kathryn Stockett’s novel The Help is an inspirational film that tells the poignant story about very different, extraordinary women in the 1960s South who build an unlikely friendship around a secret writing project. I found this film to be evocative, funny and relevant as it paints in broad strokes that touch on several societal issues, the most obvious of which is racism, but the thematic tone remains consistent. It speaks from the heart and does so with the best intentions despite its manipulative trappings. I loved it for all of the subtleties found not only in the performances but in the transcendent emotion found in its context. The Help debuts on Blu-ray Disc from Disney in a nicely balanced package that features top notch high definition video, crystal clear lossless sound quality and worthwhile bonus material. It comes highly recommended.
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