Henry the 4th (Henri 4) (2010)

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Released 24-Aug-2011

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Historical Epic Gallery-Photo
Trailer-x 5, but not for this film
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2010
Running Time 148:32
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Jo Baier
Studio
Distributor

Eagle Entertainment
Starring Julien Boisselier
Joachim Król
Andreas Schmidt
Roger Casamajor
Armelle Deutsch
Chloé Stefani
Sven Pippig
Sandra Hüller
Hannelore Hoger
Ulrich Noethen
Devid Striesow
Adam Markiewicz
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Henry Jackman
Hans Zimmer


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None French Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English (Burned In) Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     16th Century France is wracked by religious wars. The ineffectual Catholic King Charles IX (Ulrich Noethen) rules in Paris, but the real power is exercised by his fearsome mother Queen Catherine de Medicis (Hannelore Hoger). One of the leaders of the Huguenot Protestants is King Henry III of Navarre (Julien Boisselier), a small kingdom in the south of France. In an act of reconciliation Queen Catherine offers Henry her daughter Margot (Armelle Deutsch) in marriage to Henry, and he accepts. The wedding takes place in Paris but a couple of days later the Queen initiates a slaughter of the Huguenots, a slaughter known in history as the St Bartholomew massacre. Henry survives, but is kept a prisoner in the Louvre, and converts to Catholicism.

    When Charles IX dies, the throne is taken by his brother, the homosexual Henry de Valois (Devid Striesow). On a hunting trip, Henry escapes and returns to Navarre, renounces the Catholic faith and the religious wars start all over again. After a battle Henry stops at the d’Estrees’ chateau and falls deeply in love with Gabrielle d’Estrees (Chloe Stefani) who becomes the love of his life. When the King is murdered, Henry is next in line but the Catholics in Paris will not accept a Protestant King. Henry initiates a siege of Paris, but in the end decides to again become a Catholic, alienating some of his Protestant supporters. However, he gains the Catholic support and is crowned Henry IV of France.

     His coronation does not end Henry’s troubles. Gabrielle uses her influence with the King to advance her father to positions for which he is totally unsuited, and the Spaniards invade France. However, with Gabrielle’s help in raising finance Henry defeats the Spaniards in a decisive battle. Looking to secure his throne, Henry seeks to annul his childless marriage to Margot and marry Gabrielle who is pregnant. But the Pope is unwilling to annul the marriage unless Henry marries a Catholic. As well, Henry still has plenty of enemies, and those close to him will pay a high price.

     Henry the 4th (Henri 4, or Henry of Navarre), was originally a two part German TV mini-series. It covers 50 years of tumultuous French history, a period already covered in the sumptuous Queen Margot (La reine Margot) in 1994 that starred Isabelle Adjani in the title role and which won an award at Cannes as well as a host of French Cesars. That film, as well as an earlier version made in 1954, was based on a novel published in 1845 by Alexandre Dumas Snr. In contrast, Henry the 4th is based upon the 1935 novel by Heinrich Mann (brother of Thomas Mann) so that while a lot of the events in the two stories are the same the emphasis is quite different.

     Henry the 4th follows a straightforward chronology, starting in 1563 and (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) finishing with Henry’s assassination in 1610 in Paris. Cut down from the 3 hour TV running time to just under 150 minutes, it is by necessity episodic, with the first hour covering the period to the massacre, while the period after Henry became king receiving less of an emphasis. This means also that major characters come and go, and that pivotal characters such as Gabrielle and Rosny (Roger Casamajor) do not appear for over an hour, while the character of Agrippa (Joachim Krol), who remained a close confidant of Henry for decades, flits in and out of the proceedings. I have read some criticism of Boisselier’s performance as Henry, but in a part that requires him to age 50 years while reacting to historical events he does a good job, while Chloe Stefani as Gabrielle makes the most of her screen time.

     Henry the 4th is a reasonable historical epic. The battle sequences betray a lack of budget but the sets look good and the plot generally allows the audience to follow the complex family and religious relationships of 16th Century France.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Henry the 4th is presented in a ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The IMDb lists the original TV aspect ratio of 1.78:1, but this current DVD is the theatrical release version. The Region B UK BD I own also has the ratio of 2.35:1.

     This is a nice print. The colour scheme is deliberately dull, even the Bishop’s red robes, Paris is suitably drab and many scenes look to have a brown overlay. Skin tones are good, as is sharpness, blacks and shadow detail are fine. Contrast and brightness are consistent. I saw no film are video to film artefacts.

     The burnt in English subtitles were in a clear white font and are easy to read. They are Ok but have an annoying habit of frequently omitting the apostrophe giving “youll” instead of “you’ll”, “cant” for “can’t”, “Im” for “I’m” and so on. It is the worst example I have seem of this.

    The layer change at 70:44 resulted in the slight pause.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is French Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224 Kbps that is not surround encoded.

     There is nothing wrong with the audio, although it obviously lacks the enveloping feel of a 5.1 audio. Dialogue is clear, footsteps, hooves and cannon have reasonable depth. There is no surround or sub-woofer use.

     The film has a cast of German and French actors. This is the French version, and it is obvious that many of the cast were speaking German as the lip synchronisation is quite poor in a number of scenes.

     The music is credited to Henry Jackson (composer) and Hans Zimmer (producer). It had a nice epic feel and supported the visuals well.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Image Gallery

     20 film and behind the scenes stills. No music, use the remote to advance to the next still.

Movie Previews

     These trailers play on start up (and need to be skipped. They can also be selected from “Extras” in the Main Menu. Included is The Terrorist (2:32), Essential Killing (1:38), Like Dandelion Dust (2:25), Godfathers of Ganja (2:24) and Pope Joan (1:45).

R4 vs R1

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

     There does not appear to be a Region 1 US release of the film as yet. The Region 2 UK release is called Henry of Navarre and includes a “making of” and trailers. I own the Region B UK BD, which has the “making of”. Running only 4:27 it is not essential viewing although the trailers, one the original theatrical trailer (in German) and the other the UK trailer, are worthwhile. This gives the Region 2 a slight edge.

Summary

     Henry the 4th started life as a German TV mini-series. It is a reasonable historical epic covering the same period as the sumptuous Queen Margot (1994). The battle sequences betray a lack of budget, but the sets look good and the plot generally allows the audience to follow the complex family and religious relationships of 16th Century France.

     The video is good, the audio only a 2.0 mix. There are essentially no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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