Mrs. Henderson Presents appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though the flick usually looked fine, it exhibited a few problems.
For the most part, sharpness appeared solid. A bit of edge enhancement resulted in a few slightly soft wide shots, but those didn’t show up frequently. Instead, the movie normally came across as distinctive and crisp. I saw no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, and source flaws remained minor. A few specks popped up, and I did witness a large hair at one point. Otherwise this was a clean print.
Henderson went with a palette that favored natural hues with just a hint of a golden nostalgic flavor. The DVD replicated all the colors well. They looked lively and firm throughout the movie. Blacks were reasonably dense and deep, while shadows usually appeared fine. A few shots seemed a bit dense, but those weren’t big concerns. Overall, this was a more than adequate transfer.
I felt the same way about the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Mrs. Henderson Presents. Actually, it opened up the mix in a more active way than I expected. I thought this would be nothing more than a quiet, chatty track, but the war-related sequences brought life to the mix. Those presented nice localization of bombs and planes and used the five channels to good effect.
Most of the movie stayed pretty restrained, though. We got gentle ambience and nice stereo imaging for the music. The surrounds usually reinforced these elements but didn’t have a whole lot else to do. This was a consistently good soundfield for a film of this sort.
Audio quality also worked very well. The effects added a lot much punch than I expected. The war-related bits showed very good accuracy and range. They packed a deep wallop when necessary.
Speech was always natural and concise, and I noticed no edginess or other problems. Music seemed lively and bright. The score offered good clarity and was well reproduced. The track wasn’t quite active enough to merit a “B+”, but it satisfied at all times.
When we check out the set’s extras, we begin with an audio commentary from director Stephen Frears. He provides a running, screen-specific chat. Frears talks about the movie’s opening, sets and locations, the cast, the film’s handling of nudity, filming musical numbers, reshoots and editing, influences and history, and cut sequences.
The main problem with the commentary stems from the moderate level of dead air, as Frears lets much of the film pass without speaking. However, when he talks, he usually provides worthwhile material. The director gets into the expected topics and elaborates on them well. Actually, he’s awfully fuzzy on the “electronic” visual effects that seem to mystify him, but otherwise he makes this an informative chat despite the gaps.
The Making of Mrs. Henderson Presents lasts 24 minutes and seven seconds. It features movie clips, behind the scenes materials, and interviews. We find notes from Frears, actor/executive producer Bob Hoskins, producer Norma Heyman, production designer Hugo Luczyc-Wyhowski, hair and makeup designer Jenny Shircore, costume designer Sandy Powell, choreographers Eleanor Fazan and Debbie Astell, original Windmill Girls Doris Barry and Linda Carroll, screenwriter Martin Sherman, and actors Judi Dench, Kelly Reilly, Christopher Guest, Camille O’Sullivan, and Will Young.
“Making” looks at the original Windmill Girls and some of the history behind the movie’s inspiration, casting and performances, the movie’s look and design elements, choreography and the musical numbers, script development and shooting the film. This acts as a decent overview of the various areas. Many of them fly by without too much insight, but the examination of design and choreographer works especially well. There’s just enough material to make this a fairly useful piece.
24 pictures appear in the Production Photography section. None seem particularly interesting. The set includes the theatrical trailer for Henderson and a few ads open the DVD. We get promos for The Libertine and Transamerica.
Mrs. Henderson Presents works best as light comedy. That’s what we get in its first half, and those parts entertain. Once matters turn more serious, however, the movie loses its bearings and becomes less interesting. The DVD presents pretty good picture and audio as well as some informative extras. This is a better than average DVD for an erratic movie.