The Queen appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The transfer offered decent but flawed visuals.
Some of the concerns stemmed from definition. Sharpness usually seemed good, but more than a few exceptions occurred. Some shots came across as a bit soft and without great clarity. Still, most of the movie was fine, and I noticed no signs of jagged edges or shimmering – at least not in elements filmed for this project. I didn’t consider archival video footage when I graded the transfer, and I included material intended to match those elements in that consideration; it used some shots meant to simulate videotapes and tried to fit it into real historical shots.
Edge haloes created some distractions. These weren’t especially heavy, but they seemed more noticeable than I’d like. Outside of some light grain, no source issues materialized through the film.
In terms of colors, The Queen went with a decidedly low-key presentation. The hues tended to seem somewhat pale and a little blown-out, though they manifested good delineation at times. Much of this stemmed from the visual design, though I thought the tones tended to be a bit less vivid than anticipated. Blacks were deep and firm, and shadows were fairly clear, though a few shots appeared somewhat dense. Overall, the image looked good enough for a “B-“, but it wasn’t a memorable presentation.
Similar thoughts greeted the restrained Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of The Queen. Given the chatty nature of the flick, I didn’t anticipate a lively soundfield, and the movie delivered the expected subdued affair. Dialogue and score dominated the mix, with effects in a passive role. Those offered a moderate sense of atmosphere with little more on display. A couple of scenes – like the recreation of the chase through the streets of Paris – opened up a bit more, but usually the music became the main element in spots other than the center speaker. This was fine for the material, though it didn’t make for a memorable impression.
Audio quality was perfectly satisfactory. Speech sounded distinctive and concise, with no problems connected to the lines. Effects didn’t challenge my system, but they seemed appropriately full and well-defined given their low-key parameters. Music was rich and lush throughout the flick, as the score appeared well-rendered. This was an appropriate mix for a character-driven flick.
In terms of extras, the DVD includes two separate audio commentaries. The first comes from director Stephen Frears and writer Peter Morgan. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific track – this very screen-specific track, I might add. The men chat about the script and changes made for the final flick, sets and locations, research, facts and liberties, and a few general production topics.
Don’t anticipate a great amount of insight during this fairly slow-paced chat. We get a fair amount of dead air, and the remarks tend to be superficial. These don’t give us a particularly good look at the flick, as the commentary fails to cover the production in a rich manner. A few decent facts emerge along with a smattering of amusingly acerbic remarks, but overall, the commentary doesn’t tell us much.
For the second track, we hear from British historian and royal expert Robert Lacey. He also offers a running, screen-specific discussion. Lacey looks at facts and liberties in the movie. He gets into research, background for some elements, and issues that impacted the production. Since he also worked as a consultant on The Queen, he can throw in his perspective on his involvement as well.
Lacey’s chat seems more satisfying than the first one. He tells us a lot of notes that prove useful for those of us without much knowledge of the royals, and he offers a decent glimpse of some production issues as well. This isn’t a great piece, but it’s informative and enjoyable.
The Making of The Queen lasts 19 minutes and 29 seconds. It mixes movie clips, behind the scenes bits, and interviews. We get remarks from Frears, Morgan, producer Andy Harries, production designer Alan MacDonald, costume designer Consolata Boyle, and actors Helen Mirren, Michael Sheen, James Cromwell, Alex Jennings, Roger Allam and Sylvia Syms. The program looks at cast and performances, set and costume design, and thoughts about the film’s subject matter.
Though “Making” doesn’t provide a remotely comprehensive view of the production, it does offer some nice details. I especially like the aspects that look at the actors and their work. We get good notes about the challenges they faced and how they reacted. This turns into a surprisingly tight and useful program.
The DVD opens with some ads. We get promos for Miramax, Ratatouille, Kyle XY and Becoming Jane. These also appear in the DVD’s Sneak Peeks area along with clips for Déjŕ Vu, the Roger Corman Collection and Soap.net.
My favorite of the 2006 Oscar nominees, The Queen gives us a revealing and insightful look at recent history. We get a good feel for the inside perspective of these events and find a consistently interesting and intriguing take on the participants. The DVD presents fairly lackluster picture and audio along with some decent extras. While I can’t call this an exceptional DVD, I like the movie very much and give it my recommendation.