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The Royal Wedding: William & Catherine DVD Review

The Royal Wedding: William & Catherine BBC DVD cover art - click to buy DVD from Amazon.com The Royal Wedding: HRH Prince William & Catherine Middleton

Original Air Date: April 29, 2011 / Running Time: 127 Minutes / Rating: Not Rated

Groom: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge / Bride: Catherine Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge

Best Man: Prince Henry of Wales / Maid of Honour: Philippa "Pippa" Middleton

Tagline: Relive this momentous day with over 2 hours of official BBC coverage

1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, Dolby Stereo 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: None; Not Closed Captioned; Extra Not Subtitled or Captioned
DVD Release Date: May 24, 2011 / Suggested Retail Price: $9.98
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9) / Black Keepcase

Buy The Royal Wedding on DVD from Amazon.com

The world waited with bated breath for April 29, 2011, or so we were meant to believe from the onslaught of media coverage hyping the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton. Occurring thirty years after William's parents, Prince Charles and the late Diana of Wales, were wed, this was a twice-in-a-lifetime event.
Anyone who missed it would live out the rest of their years with regret and that includes Americans who opted not to wake up in the wee morning hours to watch it on one of the many channels offering a live broadcast that spring Friday. If you are one of those unfortunate people or if you caught it but are kicking yourself for not recording the ceremony to show to your grandkids, I'm pleased to tell you there is hope, because this week has seen the BBC's DVD release of The Royal Wedding: William & Catherine.

This collectible souvenir DVD offers a 2-hour, 7-minute presentation compiled from the BBC's live coverage of the historic day. It starts with the arrivals as crowds comprised of people from all over the world gather to offer whoops and hollers from the sidewalks, where armed guards keep watch over them. Some presumed experts from the BBC offer commentary on how the day should play out and what it means politically. Our first glimpses of the most significant attendants, such as Prince Charles and his wife Camilla and Queen Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip, are limited and fleeting, as they are driven to the wedding site.

That's right...Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip are among those driven over to Westminster Abbey. One young sidewalk spectator displays her support with a Flag of the United Kingdom and a cardboard Kate Middleton mask.

The fashion moment of the year is observed by a couple of excited, unseen women taking over to assess and describe the dress and hair of Ms. Middleton, whose father carefully folds her train on the seat next to her. No such comments are made regarding Prince William's premature baldness or the full orange mane of his younger brother and best man Prince Harry. But the men narrate as an assortment of Rolls Royces transport these important guests the short distance from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey, the Gothic church where monarchs are crowned and buried. William and Kate's is the sixteenth royal wedding held there, dating back over 1,000 years (with some huge gaps).

The Christian ceremony itself is as challenging or delightful as any prolonged church service. There may be as much pomp and circumstance here as anywhere (deservedly so, I suppose), but you still get the traditional vows, hymns (led by two choirs, an orchestra, and a fanfare ensemble), and readings of Scripture, all of which leave little room or need for commentary. Dr. Richard Chartres, Lord Bishop of London, delivers a nice sermon. And not once but twice do we see Elton John and partner David Furnish singing hymns with the rest of the congregation.

As the betrothed Prince William and veiled Kate Middleton smile, his brother/best man Prince Harry looks at the camera and her father/giver-awayer blinks.

After the wedded sign the official registers in private, they exit in horse-drawn carriages to the streets lined with the vocal, adoring public. In all, about an hour is spent inside Westminster Abbey, with thirty-five minutes of pre-ceremony and thirty minutes of post-ceremony fleshing out the presentation to feature film length. The latter portions are highlighted by the presence of Grace Van Cutsem, the young bridesmaid infamously dubbed "The Frowning Flower Girl" for her reaction to the noise outside and above the Buckingham Palace balcony (obligatory picture at the bottom of the article).

If I can briefly dial down some of the sarcasm I've been thickly applying to this review...

Ably but classically shot, this stands as a sufficient and practically official document of this union. Which may largely be meaningless, a marriage of a privileged figurehead famous only for his bloodline. And yet it is genuinely historic, in that this might well be considered one of the most significant things to occur in our lifetimes, when the world looks back on these times hundreds of years from now. The traditional proceedings are not very entertaining and I doubt you'll have regular urges to rewatch them, but the disc still assumes significance for what it represents.

Watch a clip: "I Will":

Newlyweds William and Kate lead the wedding party procession out of Westminster Abbey. More than a few people gather outside Buckingham Palace hoping to witness in person the now customary post-wedding balcony wave.

VIDEO and AUDIO

The DVD presents the event in this millennium's standard TV aspect ratio of 1.78:1 widescreen, naturally enhanced for 16:9 displays. The picture quality is, of course, somewhere between standard and hi-def broadcast. As there is a minimum of movement and activity, the video faces few obstacles and remains stable, vibrant, and clean throughout. Only those demanding 1080p could be disappointed by this.

Sorry, audiophiles, sound is offered only in plain two-channel Dolby stereo. It is just as fine as it should be, although the hearing impaired may be disheartened by the lack of both subtitles and closed captioning. What's up with that?

"William & Kate: A Royal Engagement" charts Kate Middleton from commoner to royalty, a journey that comes with a loss of privacy, as this unposed bus pondering photo displays. Kate Middleton and Prince William are all smiles at their engagement announcement, with which the bonus BBC documentary ends.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

The DVD includes one bonus feature in the form of the BBC documentary "William & Kate: A Royal Engagement." This 48-minute 2010 program is far more conventionally entertaining and far less stately (its cold open concludes with Piers Morgan calling the couple "a very large dose of royal Viagra") than the wedding coverage itself. The piece opens at William and Kate's shared alma mater, the University of St Andrews, where we hear from classmates, tutors, and administrators. The two's romance, first captured in ski holiday photographs, gives way to William's backstory, with video from his public appearances as a child.
Then, we hear about Kate's less public middle class upbringing and lineage with family and personal photos. From there, we move on to their life together: their 2005 graduation from St Andrews, how Kate deals with the newfound attention and paparazzi, with commentators like photographers, gossipists, and "friend" Hannah Sandling defending her choices and perceived faux pas. This okay special is presented in 1.78:1 and 2.0 stereo sound.

I've got to be honest that I was expecting some more standard DVD bonus features here: royal audio commentary, an extended director's cut, multi-angle sequences, and at the very least, deleted scenes, bloopers, and an alternate ending.

The DVD opens with a cheeky ad for BBC America narrated by "The Daily Show" and "Community" comedian John Oliver.

The static, silent menu is an exercise in simplicity, offering only the choice to watch the feature or the bonus feature. I guess that makes sense in the absence of subtitles, foreign language tracks, and additional content. A scene selection menu would have been nice, but at least both videos are fitted with reasonable chapter stops.

Inside the standard black keepcase, an Eco-Box without the usual portions removed, we find a postage-prepaid postcard with the BBC's usual consumer survey, which now includes a great question about "Blu-Ray DVD." Come on, Britain, don't make us doubt that your accents make you smarter than us.

On the balcony of Buckingham Palace, Catherine Middleton and Prince William look up to admire the traditional aircraft fly-past, while young bridesmaid Grace Van Cutsem covers her ears in disgust.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

The world will never be the same now that Prince William has married Kate Middleton. Well, it might be. In fact, I'm having trouble thinking of any way life changes on account of this for anyone but William, Kate, their families and subjects. Still, who couldn't love a wedding and a royal wedding at that?! Did I mention that this DVD is currently selling for just $4.99 on Amazon? I can think of only one question: where's the Blu-ray, BBC?!

More on the DVD / Buy from Amazon.com

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Related DVDs:
Royal Wedding of a Lifetime: An Original Lifetime Series William & Kate: An Original Lifetime Movie
William & Kate: Planning a Royal Wedding A Royal Romance: William & Kate The Royal Wedding Celebration
ABC News Classics: Royal Wedding: Prince Charles and Lady Diana British Royal Weddings of the 20th Century
Prince William & Kate: The Royal Romance National Geographic: The Last Royals Prince William: Future King

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Reviewed May 25, 2011.



Text copyright 2011 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2011 2|entertain, BBC Productions, and Warner Home Video. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.