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DVD Review

DVD cover

Henry of Navarre


Starring: Julien Boisselier. Chloe Stefani, Armelle Deutsch and Roger Casamajor
Showbox Home Entertainment
RRP: £14.99
Certificate: 15
Available 04 July 2011

Having been raised a protestant, by his mother, Henry of Navarre’s youth is filed with the war against the catholic north. With France tearing itself apart, the king’s mother proposes a marriage between Henry and Margot, which would join the families and seal the breech in the country. However, Catherine d’Medici follows up this with the St Bartholomew’s Massacre which butchers 30,000 of Henry’s followers, who are in Paris for the wedding. Escaping his captivity Henry leads his forces against the royal army and wins, at last attaining the throne. But for all his good intentions and plans for his country, even winning the throne does not bring Henry Happiness...

Henry of Navarre (2010 - 2 hr, 28 min, 25 sec) is a French historical drama set in the 16th century, which is written and directed by Jo Baier. The movie traces the story of Henry from childhood to the point where he becomes king of France. The film was nominated for only two awards, winning neither. Originally designed as a French/German two part miniseries, the story has been combined into a single film. The movie covers the same historical period and much of the same story as La Reine Margot (1994), though the latter is somewhat superior. The film was based on Heinrich Mann’s novel.

The sprawling epic is held together by the fine portrayal of Henry by Julien Boisselier, who plays the man as kind hearted, poised and regal, many of the qualities which the real Henry was supposed to possess. The makers of the film have gone to great lengths to make it as historically accurate as possible, with impressive sets and costumes.

Where the film falls down a little is in its portrayal of the various battles which, due to the limits of a television budget, are forced to use clever tricks to suggest a much bigger battle than you actually get to see. Although presented with a French audio track, it is obvious that many of the German actors have been dubbed, which is a little distracting at times.

The disc is a little short of extras giving you only the UK trailer (2 min, 02 sec) the original theatrical trailer (2 min, 07 sec), in German and The Making of (4 min, 27 sec) which has some behind-the-scene shows of the film's making. Audio is either French 2.0 of 5.1 with burnt in subtitles.

Baier has done a fine job of condensing forty years of French history into two and a half hours of court intrigues, bloody battles and a string of women who are happy to drop their clothes at a moment’s notice.


Charles Packer

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