Mrs. Henderson Presents DVD: Review By Courtney O.

Absolutely beautiful sets and artwork throughout the film; it's fantastic in sight and sound.
  • Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
Absolutely beautiful sets and artwork throughout the film; it's fantastic in sight and sound.
I suppose we're so used to over-achieving special effects, that it's something unusual to enjoy a film for artwork that isn't digitally produced. But alas, I wouldn't change a thing.
Based on a true story, Mrs. Henderson Presents is a stunningly visual musical comedy about how a-let's call it innovative-musical theater got its start in a shady London district to become an absolute sensation and hot spot during the war era. One creative idea leads to another, and before they know it, not-your-average septuagenarian widow Laura Henderson (played by Judi Dench) and showbiz veteran Vivian Van Damm (played by Bob Hoskins) are running a non-stop musical revue that calls attention to everyone, including the local authorities.

The beautiful stage sets, the amazing vocals, the perfect dance routines are only part of its draw. The edge of this little underground theater, are its live nude women. The Windmill Theater is naturally a success, especially as war breaks in Europe, and many young men make their pilgrimage to see the lovely ladies of the Windmill, before heading off to battle. As Mrs. Henderson herself says, this might be the only time these men get to see a woman in the nude, which is actually, a very lovely thing.

The tension between Mrs. Henderson and Van Damm never extends so far as to impede upon the vision of the theater, but is also further sp*ce to a compelling story.

The neatest part of all of this is, is that it actually happened. The special features were actually very special. A few of the original Windmill girls, many from their 60's to 90's were interviewed and talked about what it was like taking their clothes off at a time when your own husband didn't even see you nude. Some could even still do the dance routines.

It is heartwarming, liberating and truly touching to see in the film, a widow make such a claim on her own life, get others interested and passionate about her passion, and make something mean something for generations to come.
Making of Mrs. Henderson Presents

There are five sub-features under this main category and all are interesting. Okay, I dorkily had a smile on my face the whole time. Just play all, and learn about how the crew combed through history books and old movies to scout the styles, the dance routines, and the costumes that would all have been typical during this time frame. The crew had their eye on details and a lot of care that went in to recreating that era and achieving an excellent period piece. Like they said, they want you to believe it.

Also wanting to stay true to the story, they interviewed several original Windmill girls and based the script off a book written by Vivian Van Damm. These Windmill ladies are so lively. They make me, at age 28, feel like I'm definitely in the wrong line of work. Does nudity and dancing equal a happier, longer life? Note to self: must try nudity.

Also, a very charming little piece on how they cast some of the crew and what it was like to be naked today. And they didn't want any of those "gym" bodies.

Feature Commentary by the Director

Stephen Frears offers a Director commentary. Learn to think like a director and check out what Frears has to say.
Presented in a "letterbox" widescreen format preserving the "scope" aspect ratio of its original theatrical exhibition. The film is such a sweeping look at the thirties and forties era, from the city and stage to the country and sweeping European skylines.
Dolby Digital sound. The soundtrack captures the vintage, big band, Django Reinhart-ish, ragtime musical era perfectly.
The cover shows three of the feathery show girls striking a pose while the backside is graced by one of the main showgirls. Below this are some smaller clips of Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins as well as more theatrical photos.
From the opening credits to the special features, this film's stunning sets, costumes, and theatrical production demand the push of that play button, no less the great and moving story tying it all together.

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