Monarch
R0 - United Kingdom - Fremantle Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Samuel Scott (11th July 2014).
The Film

***This is a technical review only. For reviews on the movie from various critics, we recommend visiting HERE.***

One night of torment.

King Henry VIII reigned for 38 years. Young and handsome, his Court was the most colourful and extravagant in Europe. Yet this glamorous exterior partly disguised his unpredictable and savagely ruthless nature. His obsession to father a legitimate male heir led him through six marriages, to make himself Supreme Head of the English Church and to cut down those who stood in his way.

Monarch is part fact, part fiction and unfolds around one night when the injured ruler arrives at a manor house closed for the season. Henry is without the power and control of his palace and is vulnerable from those around him, and from his own sanity. Henry left England financially and morally bankrupt; his collection of enemies his only constant. Even today there is a question mark surrounding his burial and possible exhumation.

TP McKenna plays Henry; after starring alongside Richard Burton's Henry VIII in the epic Anne of a Thousand Days and Charge of the Light Brigade with Jean Marsh (Upstairs Downstairs, Willow and Fatherland) playing an amalgamation of his ex-wives. Monarch unfolds on one night in the year of Henry's death, 1547.

Video

Fremantle Media have released the believed to be lost "Monarch" onto DVD format in the United Kingdom using the original camera negatives as their source. The transfer is 1.78:1 and has been anamorphically enhanced, and looks pretty good, though perhaps flawed.

"Monarch" is very much a film that takes place in a darkened location in the dead of night, and with that, comes a need for shadow detail to be focused upon. Thankfully, for the vast majority, these details look good and really come to the forefront of the picture, with good clarity and a defined sharpness. There are very occasional signs of damage to the print, such as minor specks, but over 10,000 particles were removed during the restoration process, and the transfer is all the more substantial for it. Colours can be overly dark, especially the occasional reds, but are fine for the majority of the run time, and although there are no signs of aliasing, edge enhancement, or incessant banding, some scenes do suffer some slight blockiness and crush in the backgrounds.

For a film that was obviously made on a tight budget, and was deemed to be lost, Monarch's transfer is surprisingly good, and shows what a full restoration and can provide.

The film is in PAL format, and runs 83:21.

Audio

Fremantle have provided two audio options for this release:
- English Dolby Digital 5.1
- English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo

For my viewing I opted for the English Dolby Digital 5.1 track, which, like the transfer, has been fully restored. It has also been newly mixed. As far as films of this ilk and genre go, there is nothing surprising or particularly noteworthy with this track, but that isn't to say there is anything wrong with it. Dialogue is clear at all times, with volume levels between the dialogue and the score consistent. There are some good subtle ambient effects which make use of the surrounds, whilst the LFE is overall on the quiet side. I noticed no signs of damage with the track, such as drop outs, scratches or background hiss.

Optional subtitles have been provided in English for the hard of hearing.

Extras

The first extra on this disc is a featurette entitled "Monarch Memories" (16:08). This is a retrospective look back at the film that interviews various members of the cast and crew. They talk about a surprisingly varied amount of subjects in such a short space, including the location, other cast members, the story, director and writer John Walsh, and more.

Next up, we have the "Restoring a King" featurette (4:15), which is a closer look at the films restoration. Simon Marbrook, head of restoration at Premier Post, talks us through the long process of film restoration, and how much can depend on variances in the condition of the print they have to work with. In this case, the original negatives were in a pretty good condition, but when you see the before and after comparisons, you'll be amazed. Great work, and a nice little featurette.

An interview with the late actor TP McKenna (2:53) from on-set in October 1996, is the last of the video extras. Unfortunately it is very brief, but I'm so glad this was also found as TP McKenna was an exceptional actor who never got the recognition he deserved from the general public. A worthy addition to the disc.

The extras end with your standard photo gallery (2:02).

Overall

For anyone with a passing interest in historical period films, Monarch is certainly worth more than just a passing look. The film features an extraordinary British cast, is well written, and is perfectly paced. The disc is far from reference material, but the restoration has certainly been worthwhile and everyone involved should be happy with a job well done. The extras are interesting and more are included than one should expect, I just wish there were more of them!

The Film: B Video: B Audio: C+ Extras: D+ Overall: B-

 


DVD Compare is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and the Amazon Europe S.a.r.l. Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.co.uk, amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.fr, and amazon.de.