THE MISSIONARY BLU RAY REVIEW

1982. Handmade films are at a crossroads. They have had a few hits and a few very expensive misses. They were bankrolled by George Harrison and he had to dig into the pockets to pay for the debt.Audio commentary with director Richard Loncraine and film historian Sam Dunn (2019), not only reflects the making of the film, the history behind it (both social and economic) but it also explores the moneyside in very insightful detail. Now, Handmades most popular film THE LIFE OF BRIAN, had been banned in some parts. Causing monetary issues from the offing. Two years later, they needed money. Written by (and starring) Michael Palin, THE MISSIONARY was a socially critical piece. A film that looked at the current political system (ie Thatcherism and the religious right), via the eyes of Victorian Britian and it’s difficult colonial legacy.

Reverend Charles Fortescue (Palin) began as a missionary in Africa. Now ten years later, he returns to England. On the boat back, he meets an enchanting woman but it is little more than a flash. Charles is to wed Deborah Fitzbanks (Phoebe Nicholls), the daughter of a fellow clergyman. She was a child when he left, now she is a young woman. Albeit not liking his touch. He is offered a new post by the Bishop of London. This will be to raise a misson with the working ladies of London. To assist him, Deborah writes to Lord Ames, the richest man in England. Who agrees to see Charles. Lady Isabel Ames (Maggie Smith), is  the former enchanting woman. She has agreed to meet him as Lord Ames loathes missionaries. Lady Ames is inclined to contribute however, especially as she finds Charles attractive. Charles is torn between helping the women of the streets and rejection of Lady Ames advances.

So to the Disc. 2K restoration from the original negative, supervised and approved by cinematographer Peter Hannan and director Richard Loncraine. Worth the ticket price? I would have to start by saying that it competes with an old DVD version that was standard definition and would not hold up much to review. Well it has clarified the light issues the DVD had. This means that the flat and drained images become a bit more energetic. A bit more vibrant. The scene that really decayed onscreen is that of the streets (obviously sets inside a studio). They were so dull and drained. Now they have balance but its not a tub thmping increase. More it just makes the scene viewable.

What is THE MISSIONARY really getting at? Is it mocking the state of things (at the time?) The truth is yes, obviously it was a major slap in the face. Palin was known for this (as was Monty Python). Hard to believe now from some of these faces connected to the group. The disc has a rich vein of detail on this. Also the money ties to the film (from above) and the place that THE MISSIONARY lives in the Handmade film cannon. Audio commentary with writer and actor Michael Palin (2002), Palins already heard commentary covers all of this but does so while giving us a laugh. Now i would have loved this to have been recorded post Brexit. It would have had more texture. Limited edition exclusive 40-page booklet with an extract from Robert Sellers’ Very Naughty Boys: The Amazing True Story of HandMade Film, the booklet extracts focus directly on the films making. Sellers keeps detail blended with anacdote, blended with robust writing and the extracts are taken from an amazing book which is worth digging out.

INDICATOR LIMITED EDITION BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES:
  • New 2K restoration by Powerhouse Films from the original negative, supervised and approved by cinematographer Peter Hannan and director Richard Loncraine
  • Presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio for the first time on home video
  • Original mono audio
  • Audio commentary with writer and actor Michael Palin (2002)
  • Audio commentary with director Richard Loncraine and film historian Sam Dunn (2019)
  • Compulsively Entertaining (2019, 38 mins): Palin and Maggie Smith reflect on the making of The Missionary
  • A Good Collar (2019, 8 mins): costume designer Shuna Harwood discusses her work on the film
  • A Very British Sound (2019, 8 mins): veteran composer and record producer Mike Moran explores the score of The Missionary
  • Playing the Part (2019, 4 mins): Ken Lintott recalls his approach to the film’s make-up
  • Snapshots of Sound (2019, 10 mins): interview with sound recordist Tony Jackson
  • A Stiff Old Fashioned (2019, 23 mins): appreciation by comedian, musician and writer Rob Deering
  • Deleted scenes (8 mins, mute with subtitled dialogue)
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Image gallery: promotional and publicity material
  • New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
  • Limited edition exclusive 40-page booklet with an extract from Robert Sellers’ Very Naughty Boys: The Amazing True Story of HandMade Films, extracts from Palin’s Halfway to Hollywood: Diaries 1980–88, Palin on The Missionary, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and film credits
  • World premiere on Blu-ray
  • Limited edition of 5,000 copies

THE MISSIONARY – LE

THE MISSIONARY – LE

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