Miss Potter (2006)
Audio Commentary-Director Chris Noonan
Featurette-Making Of-A Real Life Fairytale
Music Video-Katie Melua
|Year Of Production||2006|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Chris Noonan|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Miss Potter is a gentle drama about the life of children's novelist Beatrix Potter. So gentle, in fact, that it might lead to the suspicion that not a lot happened in her life. That is not a criticism. I don't see scriptwriters lining up to tell my life story! Rather, it is just worth mentioning for those who like their biopics littered with drugs, sex and spousal abuse.
Miss Potter has none of these elements. What it does some is some delicately acted performances, particularly from Renee Zellweger as Beatrix and Ewan McGregor as her publisher and love interest. Texan Zellweger has trod the Brit path before, as Bridget Jones, and for a while it seems she may still be carrying some of her thoroughly modern baggage. But, as the film progresses she comes well into her own and creates a Beatrix who is something of a rebel in old high society. The level of conflict is fairly slight and director Chris Noonan (Babe) concentrates on the whimsical and endearing to give his film a suitability for all the family.
The film had an odd genesis, being a musical project for Broadway legend Richard Maltby Jr. The script gradually lost the songs and Cate Blanchett, who was originally attached to it, moved on.
Plotwise the film concentrates pretty much on the key events in her life - the release of her first book and the love affair between her and her publisher. Beatrix was born into a wealthy family and expected to follow a path into marriage and conformity. She quietly rebels against this life. Her mother is highly critical of her plans to publish her story of Peter Rabbit not to mention her steadfast refusal to accept any of the daffy suitors put forward. Her father is also keen for his daughter to settle down although he, as a keen photographer, at least understands her artistic aspirations. The film is intercut with flashbacks showing the development of her special talent.
The story is largely upbeat although there is tragedy in the wings. Through her publisher Beatrix becomes fast friends with his sister, the equally rebellious Millie (Emily Watson). Their relationship helps anchor the film and prevent it from becoming too maudlin. The film also features some animation as Beatrix's creations sometimes spring to life to misbehave. This shows us two things - that she was a supreme imaginist and also that she was a little bit batty!
If anything the film is too short as the filmmakers no doubt debated as to how to pace the central tragedy of the piece. In the end we are left wanting to know a little bit more about the latter years of her life.
Miss Potter is nicely shot and presents a great way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon.
Miss Potter is presented on DVD in a 2.35:1 transfer consistent with its original cinematic aspect ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced.
The film gets a pleasing transfer from Icon. It is softly shot and conveys a genuine air of Edwardian England. Whilst this sometimes comes at the expense of sharpness it is no great loss for the colours and contrast are all appropriate and engaging. The film is gently lit and the skin tones are accurate. The green of England of old creeps into the interiors as well as the rolling dales. Grain is not an issue.
Those looking for a dolled up Renee will find her in a ruddy English rose no make-up look.
The print is clean and there are no artefacts to be seen. Compression is not an issue as the film fills the dual layer disk.
Strangely there are no subtitles.
Miss Potter comes to DVD with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack running at 448Kb/s. It also has a Dolby Digital 2.0 track running at 224Kb/s.
The dialogue is perfectly rendered by the cast and there are no strong accents to contend with. The audio sync is fine.
There are not a great deal of surround effects in the film with the exception of a few hoofbeats. The subwoofer is hardly used.
The score is by Australian composer Nigel Westlake. It is a very appropriate mixture of whimsy and wonder with a traditional scoring which wouldn't have been too far out of place in Potters time.
|Surround Channel Use|
The director's commentary is something of a mixed bag. There is no doubting Noonan's enthusiasm for the film but, like the making of, it is high on adulation and low on substance. He comments scene by scene and tells us which bits were "pick up shots" and conveys the joy of working in locations which were often shrines to Beatrix. Interestingly, he speaks glowingly of test screenings and pointed out the few occasions where they were forced to add in material late in the piece to make the audience understand some of the subtler moments. He is also man enough to admit which bits were made up!
The commentary is at its best when he describes the technical difficulties filming key scenes.
The Making of feature is quite extensive although it is pretty much the usual studio fare with each of the cast and crew saying how much fun they were to work with and the magnitude of the talent and courage of the real Beatrix. The quirky Zellweger whispers her love for the project and Noonan explains what drew him to the project, effectively bringing him out of hibernation.
The music video by British singing star Katie Melua is a pleasant addition but its value depends on how much you like the song, which it an Edwardian styled love ballad.
This is a series of shots from the film accompanied by some of the music from the film.
The film is not yet out in Region 1. On paper it looks as though it will miss out on the Directors commentary. Choose the Region 4.
Miss Potter is a lovely gentle drama which may inspire a re-reading of the classic Potter tales.
It is well presented on DVD and has some slight but reasonable extras to add to the experience.
|DVD||Pioneer DVR 630H-S, using Component output|
|Display||Panasonic TH-50PV60A 50' Plasma. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Onkyo TX - SR603|
|Speakers||Onkyo 6.1 Surround|