Miss Potter DVD: Review By Courtney O.

It is lovely to see someone so in love with the world of drawing and animals, and also pursuing their ambitions in the midst of disapproval.
  • OVERALL
    3.5
    GREAT
  • Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
THE GOOD
It is lovely to see someone so in love with the world of drawing and animals, and also pursuing their ambitions in the midst of disapproval.
THE BAD
There is something very clean about this movie, and yet it's also not exactly a children's movie. Also, the film rearranged some facts and omitted things about the real Potter.
THE FEATURE
Who didn't grow up with some awareness of Peter Rabbit? Some might even have had their bedrooms decorated in Peter Rabbit wallpapers and borders with matching curtains and tissue boxes. This film brings us into the story, behind the products and legacies created by Beatrix Potter, and into the context that created such an enchanted artist.

Potter, played by Renee Zellweger, grew up in London and spent time in the countryside in Victorian-era England. Surrounded by animals and insects, Potter grew an affection for these critters and developed a passion of sketching from life. Soon her sketching matured as well as a knack for telling stories involving these animals.

Not wanting to conform to the Victorian Britain expectation of getting married to a suitor in the same class and managing a household like her mother before her, Potter stayed a Miss, and fueled her goals and aspirations instead.

The film doesn't go into all the details of Miss Potter's life, like for example, she was an accomplished botanical and fungi illustrator, and greeting card maker before embarking on the Peter Rabbit novels. And when she did embark on the novels, after being rejected by a publisher, she self-published an edition of 250, and then another 250 when that sold out.

But alas, she decided to hit up a large publisher a second time around, and this time was successful. The books sold like fresh baked cookies. So she went on to create more stories, around 20 novels in all, and eventually a relationship developed between her publisher Norman Warne (Ewan McGregor) and herself, and finally, at the age of 46, accepted his marriage proposal.

Warne fell sick and didn't make it to the wedding, but Potter moved herself to the Lake District where she had frequented as a child and lived herself a rather simple and environmental life, buying up farms that would have been developed, and marrying well into her 50's.
THE EXTRAS
Feature Commentary with Director Chris Noonan

Director Chris Noonan talks very frankly about how he didn't know a lot about Breatrix Potter before filming and the concepts behind the film. Interestingly, Cate Blanchett was originally cast as Beatrix and when that fell through, Renee was asked.

The Tale of Peter Rabbit and Beatrix Potter

This is a very interesting special feature that includes interviews with historians and collections curators about the real life of Beatrix Potter and also the legacy of the Peter Rabbit stories. It goes more into her botanical and fungi interests as a child and into her activism in older age.

The Making of a Real-Life Fairy Tale

Here the actors talk about what it was like to make the film, and how much went into Beatrix Potter's life that made it sound like a movie before it ever was one. I must admit I was amazed when Norman died. But there are some interesting things uncovered here, like how Renee often kept her accent and stayed in character even when not filming and how an artist had to help her with her brush technique and how to hold a brush etc.

When you Taught Me Ho To Dance Music Video Performed by Katie Melua

This girl has a really unique pretty voice, and I must say this video is the only one you will want to watch by her. Her other ones were wacky. But this one is cool.

Theatrical Trailer

This shows a lot more of the animation than was actually in the film. Which is good, it was very subtle, and didn't take away from the story.
THE VIDEO
Presented in Letterbox Widescreen format preserving the scope aspect ratio of its original theatrical version. The cinematography is very beautiful of both London city and the countryside Lake district where much of it was shot.
THE AUDIO
Dolby Digital sound. The soundtrack is very magical and perfect for the film's feel. It is mostly instrumental pieces as this is a period piece.
THE PACKAGE
Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor grace the cover with a closeup shot of embrace and magic, above a smaller more panoramic shot of them dancing at the memorable Christmas party. The back of the cover shows more photo stills and a description of the movie.
THE FINAL WORD
This film sparks an interest in the life of a very modern woman with vision and passion plopped in a historically repressed, prim-and-proper era. Her idea of personifying animals is amazing for the time, and it's no wonder her children's books flew off the shelves.

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