The King (2005)

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Released 8-Nov-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Menu Audio
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Madman Propaganda
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2005
Running Time 99:11 (Case: 105)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By James Marsh
Madman Entertainment
Starring Gael García Bernal
William Hurt
Pell James
Laura Harring
Paul Dano
E. Matthew Buckley
Derek Alvarado
Monica Peña
Veronica Bernal
Billy Joe Martinez
Sally Allen
Roger Kunshick
Milo Addica
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Max Avery Lichtenstein

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

The King (2005) is the latest film to have the involvement of Academy Award nominated writer Milo Addica, who has also shared writing credits for Marc Foster’s confronting Monster’s Ball (2001) and Jonathan Glazer’s work of art Birth (2004). Each of these films are centred on ‘pure’ relationships which are formed in ‘sin’ between characters who are searching for salvation. The definition of ‘pure’ and ‘sin’ are defined by the members of society who surround the protagonists; Monster’s Ball presented a physical relationship formed to repress guilt and shame and plagued by inherit racism while Birth controversially demonstrated a relationship between a mournful widow and a 10 year-old boy who claims to be her husband reincarnated. Both relationships are deemed morally wrong and depraved by the societies they exist in despite the same relationships being a source of emotional support and fulfilment for the characters. British film-maker James Marsh and Milo Addica who share writing credits for The King progress the theme of transgressive relationships by presenting twenty year-old Elvis Valderez (Gael García Bernal), the illegitimate son of a deceased Mexican prostitute who now searches for his only family, the father he has never met.

After Elvis is discharged from the US Navy he arrives “home” in Corpus Christi, Texas. Elvis watches his father Pastor David Sandow (William Hurt) deliver his sermon from outside the church. Eloquently dressed in his Navy uniform and excited at the prospect of meeting his father, Elvis follows Sandow to his home as he did not want to surprise his father in public. A mystified Sandow confronts this stranger who appears outside his residence and briefly denies knowing Elvis’ mother. Sandow then reacts defensively as he is unmoved by Elvis’ sudden appearance in his life and defiantly confronts young Elvis, telling him he is now a changed man, a man with a family and of moral value and he is not interested in acknowledging his sinful past. A bewildered Elvis is then introduced to the conservative Sandow family as they sit patiently and obediently in their car. Elvis sees the family he can never have and grudgingly returns to his car and leaves the Sandow family, obeying his father’s request. David Sandow then instructs his family never to interact with or acknowledge Elvis. Later that night a concerned Sandow, unaware of Elvis’ intentions, tells his wife Twyla (Laura Harring) of his past and that while he was unaware he had a son he still remains the father of Elvis. Despite his wife’s bitterness and anger both David and Twyla decide not tell their teenage children Paul (Paul Dano) and Malerie (Pell James) about Elvis in the hope their family will remain as they were.

It is no coincidence that the name of the protagonist is an anagram of Evils as Elvis returns to his predatory instincts as he feels forsaken without any sense of worth. Filled with revenge and resentment Elvis decides to stay near the Sandow residence and takes a modest delivery job in order to pay for the motel room he spends his nights in. During the days Elvis charms and seduces Malerie who is oblivious to the fact that their burgeoning relationship is incestuous. Malerie’s naivety and her need to rebel against her father’s conservative values feeds Elvis’ reckoning. The manipulated relationship is only the beginning of Elvis’ revenge on the family and is the catalyst for a tangled web of tragic events which challenge each character’s morality and faith.

Under James Marsh’s direction Texas is envisaged as raw, isolate and random while the fundamentalist Christian values of the narrative are realised as a backdrop of the environment. The film makers do not judge religion but rather explore how the characters face modern anxieties while still trying to remain faithful. The major theme of the film is the question of redemption and forgiveness and whether individuals can truly live up to their God. The King is well executed with brilliant casting and the questions the film presents are brave, but overall the film is underwhelming as the motivation for Elvis’ actions are never truly developed. As an audience we know nothing of the character’s past and what he expects of his father, rather Elvis’ actions and personality are somewhat reminiscent of the fictional character of Tom Ripley from the Patricia Highsmith crime novels. The film is a slow grim tale of Shakespearian proportions and it is confronting as it is in the vein of Charles Laughton’s Night of the Hunter (1955) and Terrence Malick’s Badlands (1973).

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Transfer Quality


While the PAL transfer is particularly good, preserving the realistic cinematography of the film it is unfortunately NOT 16x9 enhanced. Presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 the transfer is clean and free of MPEG compression artefacting. The consistent high encoding bit-rate of 8.25 Mbps achieves an overall smooth transfer with excellent and realistic colour definition. Black levels and shadow detail are also commendable. There are no subtitles included on this DVD.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


The single audio soundtrack on the DVD is English Dolby Digital 2.0 which serves the picture adequately as it is dialogue driven but it is a shame a 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack was not included on the local release. There are no issues with the soundtrack as dialogue remains clear while the score by Max Avery Lichtenstein is both suspenseful and restrained while at times whimsical.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Menu Audio

The Main Menu is the still image of the main DVD cover art accompanied by a section of the score. There are twelve scene selections and an extras option. This menu is not 16x9 enhanced.

Theatrical Trailer (2:02)

Madman Propaganda

The diverse selection of trailers included on this DVD are preceded by an anti-piracy warning. The trailers include Carne trémula (1997), Show Me Love (1998), 36 Quai des Orfèvres (2004), Calvaire (2004), Mauvaise passe (1999), Kenny (2006) and Moolaadé (2004).

The DVD cover art is reversible, however both images feature the OFLC rating. The cover art also incorrectly states the Aspect Ratio is 1.85:1 Letterbox Widescreen.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

R1 Velocity / Thinkfilm release includes:

R2 Tartan release includes:


The King is a commendable independent film with grand ambitions which unfortunately falls short due to uneven pacing and a lack of character development. However, the performances by the always impressive Bernal and the extraordinarily talented Hurt lend a quiet intensity to the film. Pell James equally gives an astonishing portrait of a young girl caught in a dangerous game between the sins of the father and the sins of the son. The local DVD unfortunately pales in comparison to the European and American DVD releases.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Vanessa Appassamy (Biography)
Friday, January 12, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1910, using DVI output
DisplayPanasonic PT-AE 700. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationYamaha DSP-A595a - 5.1 DTS
Speakers(Front) DB Dynamics Polaris AC688F loudspeakers,(Centre) DB Dynamics Polaris Mk3 Model CC030,(Rear) Polaris Mk3 Model SSD425,(Subwoofer) Jensen JPS12

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